I have wanted to move Emilie to a barn with more pasture for a while and now things have finally come into place. Her and her mate, Cassie, have moved to Vestfyns Rideklub on Funen where she will be sharing roughly 14 hectares, or 34 acres, of pasture with fifteen other horses and ponies.
Emilie and Cassie are both horses that require a lot of all-round exercise. Welsh Mountain ponies are inclined towards getting tubby, and Jutland Drafts tend to develop arthritis and leg problems if they stand still a lot. They don’t need to follow a sadistic fitness routine, but walking around at their own pace on enough land all day will have a large impact on their health regimen. Cassie has been struggling with her weight and Emilie needs to build up muscle mass after her vacation year after surgery. There’s enough grass that it’s worth plodding around to find, but not enough to influence their weight and diet much.
Mud has been a severe challenge in Denmark this winter. Even barns that usually don’t particularly struggle with wetness, have been literally swamped. I went to look at several farmsteads and barns closer to where we live than Vestfyns, and the one challenge they all faced? Mud. Horses standing in knee deep slush everywhere. Most farms are desperately trying to save their pastures from the extreme amount of moisture this winter, which means that the horses also get cooped up in smaller areas in order to not churn the fields into mud beyond repair.
This is how it went on the first day:
Draft horses such as Emilie, with their heavily feathered legs, are particularly prone to fungal infections due to dampness. We have managed to fend it off so far this winter with a healthy dosage of zink in her food, but finding a 14 ha pasture that’s decently dry (except the muddy area by the barn door) is fantastic. Having both indoors and outdoors arena, as well as good options for hacking out in the area, well, that turns it into a godsend.
As a bonus twist of fate: Vestfyns Rideklub is where we used to board my Arabian, Kvik, and my mother’s Knapstrupper/Thoroughbred cross, Silverfox, back in the early 1990s. My longest lived cat (18 years!) was born there. It’s a bit like coming home.
This is Emilie the Stoic, wearing diodes on her head, rump and right front hoof. She stayed a night at Andsager Animal Hospital to use their lameness locating system to find out why the heck she keeps being randomly lame and insecure on her feet.
The verdict? Well, first she had surgery and did nothing for six months. Then she got kicked hard and did nothing for another five months. She basically is fine, but she has no muscle and no balance. We’re going to gently start her on easy work and get her into shape, then revisit the situation in 12 weeks (or earlier if she develops an express lameness instead of just randomly sorefooting around).
So, good news!
Also, it’s wonderful to own that horse who’s afraid of nufink. Trailers, new places, people prodding you with things, Emilie dun care none.