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I should have . . .

Christmas surprised me again this year, and I found myself saying once more, “I should have done my shopping earlier.”  This article is a small collection of regrets that I have heard from people in our horse community.  Perhaps the new year is a good time to get some stuff taken care of now,  and then you’ll be able to say, “I’m glad I….”

“I should have either gotten rid of it or fenced this side of it,” Charlie said.   His horse’s legs were snagged by barbed wire.  The old wire circled his property long before he bought it 20 years ago.  It rusts, but it doesn’t rust away.   It took us a half an hour with rugged wire cutters to completely unwind Charlie’s gelding.   All four legs were a tattered mess.   Barb wire was a great invention, but it was invented with cows in mind.  It fenced in the Wild West and made cattle drives a thing of the past.   Bovines literally have a thicker skin than horses, and aren’t quite as “goosey.”   When they push up against barb wire they tend to slowly back away.   In the same situation horses may panic and once trapped things tend to escalate.  It’s just a fact.   Barb wire and horses don’t mix.  .

“I should have cleared around it after the storm.”   In my part of Maine at least 90% of horse trailer are outside year round.   When we get a good snow storm and the plow truck does its thing, there are mounds of snow all around that trailer.  A little rain comes next, and you have a horse conveyance locked in by several hundred pounds of ice.  Pulling the trailer out means a lot of ice chipping to free the locked in wheels.  What if yours is iced in right now and you get a colicky horse that needs surgery tonight?  I have been part of a couple of emergency trailer dig out parties at midnight.  Not so much fun when the wind is blowing, it’s near zero and the horse should have been in the trailer an hour ago.

“I should have ordered that hay before the storm”  While weather forecasting isn’t 100%, it’s really pretty darn good.   If you are like me you have only so much room to store hay. Maybe you too have a convenient hay supplier who will bring you what you need even on short notice.   When you hear about a  3 day storm coming, it’s time to count bales and get on the phone.   Wait and you’ll be borrowing a few bales from a neighbor because your hay guy may be in Florida.  Those of us that were around for the big ice storm years ago learned another lesson about making plans to have water available.  One of my neighbors was without power for 10 days.  Every day was a drive to the fire station to haul water back in two 50 gallon drums for her four horses and her house needs.   It was a good lesson in how much water one horse drinks.   After that Ann always made sure she had plenty of drawn and stored water when it looked like power might be out.   It’s just another place where our New England weather forces us to plan way ahead or say, “I should have…”

“I guess I should have had that taken down.”   As I drive around it amazes me how many big, really big, trees I see that are hanging over barns, sheds, and homes leaning toward the roof.    It might make sense to stand back, way back,  once a year and assess your trees.   If a strong wind came from the right direction, would that one go through the roof, or maybe through that fence?    Go ahead and cut it down.  You or a neighbor could probably use the wood in the stove.

“I should never have left it on him…” Right on the door to your horse’s  stall or within easy reach hang that animal’s  halter with lead attached.   In my opinion halters should never be left on stalled horses.  They can and do get caught on just about anything, and it is the nature of horses when trapped to pull back hard and fast.  I have known of instances where horses have been hung up for hours when their halter got snagged by a hook when no one was in the barn to hear the ruckus.   Sometimes the injuries that result are not always fixable.  I have heard the argument that “I use break away halters,” but they don’t always break away, and certainly there are times during training when you don’t want them to.  I like to see halters either hung on the door or just beside it so if there is a barn emergency that halter is always at hand ready to grab and put on.  A lead should be attached to each and every one so that there needn’t be a hunt for one.

This list could go on and I know that you must have said “I should have..” many times yourself and you could add to the list.   When you notice something that unless fixed may  affect you horse’s health or safety, fix it.  Now.  Then you’ll be able to say, “ I’m glad I . . .

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