Horse & Pony Nov 2017-Jan 2018

Giving thanks
    Here we are with the snow biting at our heels. Summer always seems to pass by in fast-forward. Give me the month of May – when all of the good stuff lies ahead. 
    It’s Thanksgiving weekend as I write this and a time to count blessings. There’s lots to be grateful for, even though cancer is here and sitting with my family. We’re not alone – so many of us are going through the same potent mix of emotions. Gratitude for treatments that buy time and ease pain, and grief because that’s where we are. And all the while life must go on.
    Preparing for winter is not optional. The loft is full of beautiful dyke hay, and the mow floor is piled high with a mix of sawdust and shavings, locally milled by a family we’ve been buying from for more than 20 years. The piles of wood have been transformed into woodpiles (yes, there’s a difference) and some of the gardens have even been tidied up. The early departure of the maple leaves due to a fungus has made fall come early this year – at least visually. 
    We were down to two horses for most of the summer, so grass is more than plentiful and it continues to grow like crazy. Our three-year-old gelding returned home last week after being started under saddle and immediately took it upon himself to scope out (and immerse himself in) the roughly one dozen burdock plants that were missed in the mid-summer bush hog. For reference we have 15 acres, so he took the self-imposed challenge quite seriously. The sight of a mane, tail, and forelock stuffed full and erect with burdocks, almost makes one’s own hair stand on end. 
    All of this late lush grass is great for the cows across the road, but can be problematic for our equine friends, especially those prone to carrying a few extra pounds. Regular contributor Judith Scrimger takes us through her Haflinger Bert’s journey with laminitis. Treatments, technology, and potential outcomes have certainly improved since the late ’70s, when wiping our tears, crossing our fingers, and standing for hours in the cold mud of the pond was thought to be the best option (right or wrong) for alleviating the pain and damage of laminitis.  
    Staying on the topic of legs in cold water, Nicole Kitchener visited recently with former “mossers” from the western tip of Prince Edward Island, to talk about the impact of the disappearing Irish moss on the once thriving horse-driven industry. Beautiful photos of horse and human working the shoreline complement this interesting story.    
    There’s also plenty of competition news in this issue and a visit with two Atlantic Canadians living away and staying busy in the industry. We’re saying so long and thank you to our N.B. Reporter, Carolyn Wanamaker, with this issue. We wish Carolyn all the best, and greatly appreciate her many years of service.   
    Soon we’ll be under the cover of snow. It’ll be cold and bitter outside, but there will also be warm socks, crackling fires, and the sweet smell of last summer’s hay.