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A cautionary tale for those of you with ice and snow...

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  • A cautionary tale for those of you with ice and snow...

    Please be very, very careful in turning your horses back outside if they have been in through this ice/ snow storm. We got a bunch of ice, then about 3-4" of snow on top. My horses had been in for 36+ hours (are usually out 24/7), so I turned the boys out for just a little bit yesterday. Everyone was GOOFY and my young eventer managed to try to do the splits with his hind legs. Turned out that "all" he had was either an adductor pull or possible tear, but man oh man was he ever lame!! My vet said that he had been called out to see a yearling earlier in the day and although he was there within 10 minutes, the horse was dead by the time he arrived. He had done the same thing my gelding did, only he fractured something that severed his femoral artery and he didn't make it. My vet was heading a mile on down the road after leaving my farm to see another horse with the same type of injury. Please, just keep an eye on your horses when turning them out in this mess.

  • #2
    I almost always turn my guys out, but...

    Here in NOVA we got snow and some icing. Not a major ice storm, and roads are fine now, but driveways and walkways are still very slick in some places. I fell on my arse walking down to the barn this morning. I saw that most all of my neighbors have their horses out but I am keeping mine in. I HATE to do that and can count on one hand the times I have, but it is still slick/melting/messy in some spots. Ice is the one turnout condition that I avoid. They are mad, but better safe than sorry, I say.
    Second Fiddle Farm


    • Original Poster

      I figured the snow made everything more manageable and considering that it will be below freezing until Sunday, they really needed to get out. I also thought about tranquilizing my young horse knowing that he can be an idiot, but figured a tranquilized horse might be more dangerous than a goofy one given the conditions. If I would have had a smaller area to turn out in, I would have most definitely done so. Anyway, just watch out for your horses.


      • #4
        My horses were ok but I'm sorry yours suffered an injury.

        The only incident we had here was with the chickens. They will not leave their coop.

        One tried to come out this morning and skidded across the chicken yard. She'd land and skid, and then fly and then land and skid and fly.

        Poor thing looked like a rock skipping on a pond surface.

        So I picked her up and walked her over to the ramp leading out of the coop - last I heard she was in there clucking madly. Haven't seen any of them since.
        Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
        Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
        -Rudyard Kipling


        • #5
          That's so scary, and something I would turn myself inside out stressing over. I actually leave the stalls open to the pastures and let the horses come in and out even during the worst icing. Granted, I have curlies when tend to have a very mustang sort of sensibility, but even they'd go coo-coo if kept in a few days then turned out on ice. Leaving the doors open allows them to stretch their legs intermittently so there's never that big blowup.

          3 years ago we had snow, then a half-melt, then 1.5 solid inches of ice. The ground was so hard and smooth I could hear each hoof-fall as the broodmares went for a very slow, careful walk around their paddock every 2-3 hours. They just seemed to know what they need to do.
          my horse trailer was stolen from kentucky horse park. Seen it?


          • #6
            Ice under the snow is very deceptive. I had an OTTB mare that slipped while trying to walk (with me leading her) through a door into the indoor arena. She slipped and got two bone chips on the front of her left hind fetlock. She had won the first and only CT event in which she was ridden. She became a broodmare.

            Her son, five years down the road, slipped in an icy paddock while playing halter tag. The BO had turned him out despite my insistance that none of my horses were to be turned out when icy. He broke a vertebrae in his croup, could not lift his tail and got an impaction colic that took four days to resolve in a Vet Hospital. It took me six months of my own version of PT tail lifts to have him be able to use his tail, so that he could swish it to the left. A bad fly season fixed it so that he could swish both directions.


            I am sorry to hear about your boy. I hope that he will recover. It has been a tough winter for our horses.
            When in Doubt, let your horse do the Thinking!


            • #7
              Yeah... thanks to the snow Tuesday, Trav is now on stall rest for 2 weeks from a fall, and Rico is stuck in there with him. I guess we were lucky it wasn't more serious, but he will be out of comission for months.

              I don't plan on letting Rico out at all once the ice is gone, except for the small area right in front of the barn where he can visit Trav over the stall door for a few days, then in the small paddock once its dry. I'll be sacrificing my new grass in there, but its better than an injury.

              Foxchaser: I'm so sorry about your guy. Hopefully he'll be feeling better soon.
              Lowly Farm Hand with Delusions of Barn Biddieom.
              Witherun Farm


              • #8
                I'm glad your boy is doing okay.

                We had a gelding a few years ago who did the splits w/ his hind....tore a lot of muscle and there was a lot of vessel damage. Luckily, it was so stinking cold that he didn't bleed out before we could get the vet there. Was a long recovery, but he did eventually recover fully.
                A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

                Might be a reason, never an excuse...


                • #9
                  Scary, glad your boy is okay...
                  "The Son Dee Times" "Sustained" "Somerset" "Franklin Square"


                  • #10
                    JSwan - we have to shovel a path around the coop so mine can get out onto "dry land" when it's snowy. They stand in the doorway and make unhappy chicken noises until there's a place cleared for them. Right now, they've made their way to my front porch and all seven of them are trying to fit on the cocoa mat...


                    • #11
                      Depending on what's UNDER the ice and snow, you can do a couple of things to improve traction.

                      Urea - a fertilizer or Nitrogen... something like 26-0-0 on the bag.
                      Then sprinkle shavings or sawdust about when the ice starts to get small holes in it from the melter. Sand if you have it.

                      Calcium Chloride ("dowflake" around here) is safe for grass and concrete. But expensive.

                      Or - plain old rock salt if it doesn't matter what vegetation gets killed - if any. Think about run-off!!!

                      I find that using the fertilizer and sprinkling shavings over it works pretty well and I don't worry about their feet as much. The calcium chloride makes a yucky mess if you put too much down. I don't use RS around the barn due to my situation.


                      • #12
                        I don't understand why anyone would put a horse out on a sheet of ice???
                        Maybe it's just me, but I find icy turnouts extremely dangerous.


                        • #13
                          Another concern with ice is for horses that like to lay down outside. Two of my friends have had horses down on the ice and unable to get back up. Thankfully they each had observant neighbors that sprung into action, in addition to calling the owners. One was a clydesdale mare. Took some work to get her up on her feet after sliding her a ways...

                          One gal's horse (in her 30s) with a blanket, laid down and the blanket froze to the ground. She wasn't able to get up without assistance due to arthritis and slippery ground - plus the blanket was hindering her.


                          • #14
                            It's a tough call, to turn out or not in icy conditions. My field has large patches of sheer ice too today. This morning I was really debating what to do.
                            The thing is, if I keep my horses routine the same and they don't miss a single day of turn out, then they will go out calmy without hooning & racing. Keep them stalled for just one single day and the next turnout will be one of utter frenzy.
                            So this morning I screwed in the pointiest and sharpest ice studs I had in their shoes, plus the borium already part of the shoe and I did a testwalk in hand. I was wearing my YakTrax, but my horse decided he'd show me he'd be fine and pulled me into the field, my YakTrax proved to be totally useless and I got smacked onto the ice whilst Mr horse just walked further into the field, looking back at me saying, why are you on your butt.
                            They did fine all day and have way better traction out there then I do.

                            But it is very scary and I'd say if unsure, better safe then sorry and keep them in. And remember in winter it's worthwhile to provide them with traction if you want to be able to turn them out continuously.

                            To the OP, I hope your boy heals fully quick and you are very lucky indeed it wasn't any wors.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by JanWeber
                              Right now, they've made their way to my front porch and all seven of them are trying to fit on the cocoa mat...
                              Oh this sounds so funny & cute at the same time, I think you should take a picture.


                              • #16
                                My horses are all safely tucked in their stalls until the ice melts. That isn't an option for my dogs though, they have to go outside however briefly. My elderly lab has always been terrified of non carpeted floors, I think she awoke to her worst nightmare this morning that the whole world had been transferred to vinyl flooring! I went outside with her and used my heel to break through an area for her to use. Poor thing was just standing there shaking until I did that.
                                McDowell Racing Stables

                                Home Away From Home


                                • #17
                                  There is always a bit of a risk to leaving them in if they aren't used to it, but the risk of them slipping on the ice and getting quite hurt is FAR greater, in my book. Taking care of them properly, backing down their hard feeds, and keeping them happy goes along way when they are stuck in. My guys are very good at entertaining themselves...the biggest risk right now is me falling down because I'm laughing so hard at them (and the dog, who is also very bored).

                                  I will not turn out on ice. It is just too risky. I've heard some horrible stories, thankfully never witnessed any. Snow is ok (they all like to play in the snow), but any ice makes it all very, very bad.


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by JanWeber View Post
                                    JSwan - we have to shovel a path around the coop so mine can get out onto "dry land" when it's snowy. They stand in the doorway and make unhappy chicken noises until there's a place cleared for them. Right now, they've made their way to my front porch and all seven of them are trying to fit on the cocoa mat...
                                    Late this afternoon it had melted enough that there was a small spot of grass outside the coop door.

                                    The entire flock was trying to stand in a spot large enough for maybe two birds. Reminded me of a bunch of teenagers trying to stuff themselves into a car or phone booth. All I saw was heads sticking out at odd angles and lots of feathers.

                                    And of course - scolding noises. Now I know where the phrases, "hen pecked," "hen party", "madder than a wet hen" come from.

                                    My horses and goats did ok but didn't do anything stupid for a change. Winter's not over yet, though.....
                                    Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
                                    Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
                                    -Rudyard Kipling


                                    • #19
                                      and this timely message from The Horse:

                                      about winter turnout.


                                      • #20
                                        That is the one thing I don't miss from living farther north. We haven't seen actual ice for a good long time. So glad your fellow is going to be just fine! When we did have ice issues, my kids stayed in. So much safer for everyone involved.