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Horse Blankets? And Another Story


This is I'm a Kittyhawk (our thoroughbred broodmare) wearing a nice warm blanket. But do horses really need blankets in the winter?

It depends.

In my opinion it's good to encourage horses to grow thick winter coats, and to avoid blankets if possible. They are large animals and generate a lot of heat. Here, we give them free-choice hay (they never run out) and that is good for generating warmth. And they have access to our barn (not the stalls) during the day (excellent shelter) where there is heated water to drink.

We don't blanket unless the temperature goes below -20C. But temperatures fluctuate so much that sometimes the horses are wearing blankets when the temperature is higher.

I'm not a fan of blankets because they can move around (slipping off to one side), they rub patches bare of hair (if worn for a long time), the leg straps seem to have a mind of their own, and other horses chew and yank on them. And when the horses roll in them I see the potential for legs getting tangled or the blanket getting hooked on something. Yes, I'm a worry-wart!

Our horses don't have blankets on today. It was -18C here this morning, but it's sunny and they like to sunbathe on the south side of the barn.

They seem fine.


As you know, I'm writing the fifth book in the Meg Sheppard Mystery Series. In the meantime, here's another story that I wrote for the Uxbridge Writers' Circle a while ago: the words I had to use are in italics.


Melanie


It was like walking the plank, or what Jackdaw assumed it would be like. He wasn’t sure if a person doomed to the depths would have been blindfolded, but he wished he could be blind to what was coming. He saw clearly in his mind’s eye the end of the plank, the end of his relationship with Melanie, and the dark depths of despair that would follow. He’d be swimming around like a lost fish, alone, in darkness and with no escape.

Jackdaw sat on the dock watching the seagulls as they floated down to the various yachts, squawking and then landing, each leaving a pasty white mark. But their antics weren’t enough to distract him from what had happened during the past couple of months. It was all too much for him to digest.

He grieved the fact that he’d no longer be able to find solace on the sea, his refuge and escape.

Out at sea, he could leave his worries behind him, a trite sentiment, but true. Sailing his yacht, catching the wind, feeling the bracing salt air, would always clear his mind and settle his spirit. He could manage the twenty-two-foot yacht on his own. Jackdaw had the innate ability to sense a change in the wind almost before it happened, and to accurately judge swell, tides and currents. He treated the sea with the respect it demanded and stayed safe. But that didn’t mean that he didn’t enjoy some spectacular and thrilling sails, with the water running along the gunnel and the boat leaning heavily as it sliced through the waves.

He’d needed those escapes. And his bones ached as he contemplated the time ahead. He wouldn’t feel Melanie moving underneath him ever again. But, of course, it served him right. He shouldn’t have been such a rogue.

He was paying a hefty price for being a businessman who was willing to take risks. He was an excellent salesman. He’d developed a method which worked because just about everyone dreams of getting rich quick. The most recent business venture he planned to get off the ground was a green energy project involving the construction of a vast floating platform on which windmills would be installed. His perfect sales pitch never failed. Of course, he’d done his research and approached people he thought would take the bait and made the promise of huge returns on a relatively small investment. But he’s not called Jackdaw for nothing. He pocketed some of the money for himself, since he’d done all the work. That would have been okay except that the Canadian Government had agreed to be a significant partner and there was an audit, which Jackdaw hadn’t taken seriously and thought he could charm his way through. He got caught.

Jackdaw closed his eyes, but opened them as if he’d been stabbed. He’d been hit by a determination to do something. Although his whole body felt charged by electricity, he moved slowly, but deliberately, towards his penthouse condo. He threw a few clothes and some basic food supplies into his large backpack and struggled along the dock towards his dinghy. The row out to Melanie was exhilarating, liberating. The salt air cleared his head and brightened his eyes.

He tied the dinghy to the back of the yacht, flung his backpack up onto the deck and climbed on board.

Melanie had never let him down. He set the sails and breathed the bracing sea air, confident that Melanie would take him to safety.

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