How do horses survive the winter?

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I wake at night, or sometimes early morning, in the hours when everyone else is sleeping. When everyone else should be sleeping. The times when if we had a clock I would be able to hear the articulation of its ticking. It could be my time to cry, to reflect, to remember the fragments my body begs me to forget. Instead, I am plagued with thoughts so arbitrary that they keep me alert just long enough to gobble up my sleep, but not long enough to permeate my dreams.

What is paprika made from?

Why do we cough when we’re nervous?

How do horses survive the winter?

I’m fixated on this one. I imagine a horse trying to make its way to a water trough, slippy on surrounding ice the way I careen down my driveway when I forget to walk like a penguin. A horse, who typically embodies gracefulness, made spastic and frantic only to find the drinking water is frozen anyway. Do they know how unusually cold this winter is? Can they sense how much we miss the sun?

Do they make Yaktrax for horses?

I think of all the horses I periodically drive by and I try to take a mental inventory of when was the last time I saw them and did they look like they were cold? I think of this, or anything else, anything but…

until I fall back asleep.

I read about the contentious subject of blanketing horses. How some people insist it helps and others think horses are designed to survive the winter without blankets. I have no opinion on the matter. I’ve never even owned a horse. Yet, for some reason I need to know the feelings around the subject. I need to know that someone is thinking about these things, maybe even at this very moment.

I read about their thick winter coat designed to protect them from the elements. I learn about the extra calories they must consume to generate enough energy to keep their bodies warm. I come to understand that moisture is the enemy, shelter is recommended, and that there are no easy answers when it comes to winterizing your horses.

Maybe horses survive the winter in the same way that any of us survive anything, really. Their body knows how to sustain them. Their mind knows how to occupy them. And they get some support from those around them when they need it.

I’m resolute in the answer. They survive because they have to.

But still, I don’t sleep.

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