Winter Thaw Footing

By Terry Golson

Around here, weather in February can give you whiplash. There’s always a thaw day; this year’s has been extreme. We suddenly went from frigid arctic temperatures to a sunny 60° F. You’d think that horse people would be celebrating.


Our horses still have their winter coats. Tonka doesn’t get clipped because he doesn’t get wooly, however, hot sun in February can still give him heat stress. A little bit of exertion and his nostrils flare in an effort to stay cool.

(Once again, my attempt to take a selfie with my horse is a fail!)


You’d think that we could take a nice meandering walk in the woods.


When ground has been frozen, and then suddenly thaws, it creates frost heaves – hollows under the top layer. Tonka noticed before I did and refused to proceed. Smart horse. (This is why he’s such a super trail horse. He knows that if he tells me that it’s not safe, that I’ll listen to him and won’t force him to continue on if it’s dangerous. We have an agreement. He only stops if there’s a good reason, and if I insist that we go on, he knows that I have a good reason, too.) Besides, a horse can tear up muddy ground with their hooves. It’s not polite to ruin trails because you want to go for a ride.


So I hand-walked Tonka on the farm’s paved paths.


Boring but pleasant. That’s okay. It’s back to below-freezing today and we’ll resume our normal riding schedule.

One thought on “Winter Thaw Footing

  • Gin

    That is the way the weather has been here. The other day it was 70° and sunny, they were sweating just standing around. Now we are getting a lot of rain. We are in a sea of mud. Horses are in the barn, which opens into the round pen, so they get some exercise. You are fortunate to have an indoor arena to ride or walk him. I like to hike with one of my riding buddies, but that is out now also. Oh well, it will get better.

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