Winter Wonderland (it’s friggin’ cold)

February is the coldest winter month in Denmark and this week we’re feeling it for sure. I’ve been taking pictures left, right, and centre of the ponies — some of them with the snow of a winter wonderland, some of them without. We do get a lot of snow, but unfortunately, most of it only lasts a few days before melting. Temperature today? Minus five degrees Celsius in the mid-day sun.

Emilie is a beautiful girl in all her hairy winter shaggyness!
Emilie is a beautiful girl in all her hairy winter shaggyness!
Cassie the magical reindeer.
Cassie the magical reindeer.
Winter is cold, cold, cold!
Brrr.
Winter really is cold.
Well, at least the hill’s not slippery when it’s frozen.
Emilie posing with the old manor Billeshave in the background.
Emilie posing with the old manor Billeshave in the background.
That horse is a bit of a poseur on the whole.
That horse is a bit of a poseur on the whole.
Whenever we take Emilie out the entire herd turns up in minutes, just to make sure they're not missing out on anything interesting.
Whenever we take Emilie out the entire herd turns up in minutes, just to make sure they’re not missing out on anything interesting.
Sometimes things do happen, such as best friends playing tag!
Sometimes things do happen, such as best friends playing tag!
Or someone taking on the dreaded challenge of the single cavaletti. Those things are dangerous in the wild!
Or someone taking on the dreaded challenge of the single cavaletti. Those things are dangerous in the wild!
But wherever the road goes, Emilie’s still enough of a teenager to appreciate older and wiser Cassie taking the lead.
Emilie's shape and form has improved so much just in one month of free range grazing.
Emilie’s shape and form has improved so much just in one month of free range grazing.

Ponies in the Mist

Ponies in the mist

The weather is being very strange of late. It’s considerably warmer than you’d expect for January, for one. And with all the rain and occasional snow we’ve been getting, the ground is really wet. Add heat to damp fields, and what you get is bizarre mistscapes as the moisture evaporates, blotting out the sun.

And horses being turned out in the morning to inspect the outdoors arena for the first time. It had grass so … Well, the husband was welcome to exercise himself but the girls were busy.

The world ends 200 metres down that hill. Sorry. Jutland no longer exists.
Emilie was very fascinated by the mistscapes.
I keep saying it. Cassie is grey. In theory.

Winter Mornings

Brrr.

The only two horses new enough to large pasture to bother going out into the white, cold nothing. Everyone else was smart enough to stay inside.
The only two horses new enough to large pasture to bother going out into the white, cold nothing. Everyone else was smart enough to stay inside.
Winter wonderland looks rather chilly.
Winter wonderland looks rather chilly.
Cassie thinks we need to let her out faster.
Cassie thinks we need to let her out faster.
Emilie, on the other hand, is open to negotiations if they involve treats.
Emilie, on the other hand, is open to negotiations if they involve treats.
No? Fine, I'll just eat the railing, then.
No? Fine, I’ll just eat the railing, then.

New Horizons!

Cassie and Emilie do the celebratory gallop all along the fence, with everyone else joining in on the fun.
Cassie and Emilie do the celebratory gallop all along the fence, with everyone else joining in on the fun.

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.

Wheeeeeeeee!
Wheeeeeeeee!

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.

Day Two Challenge: Luring ponies with carrots. It worked — more so on the barn’s oldest pony, Sally (29).
They heard us, and they are approaching, one mouthful of grass at a time.
They heard us, and they are approaching, one mouthful of grass at a time.
The pony is white. In theory.
The pony is white. In theory.
The pasture isn't bone dry -- nowhere is, with the warm, wet winter we've had. But the mud is not knee deep, there's still a bit of green, and of course Emilie managed to find somewhere to roll around until she's properly camouflaged.
The pasture isn’t bone dry — nowhere is, with the warm, wet winter we’ve had. But the mud is not knee deep, there’s still a bit of green, and of course Emilie managed to find somewhere to roll around until she’s properly camouflaged.
Both horses seem to integrate well into the new herd. Cassie leads, Emilie gets between her and anyone that looks vaguely grumpy.
Both horses seem to integrate well into the new herd. Cassie leads, Emilie gets between her and anyone that looks vaguely grumpy.
So much space.
So much space.
Sleep tight, girls.
Sleep tight, girls.

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.