Lovin’ Through the Cold Months

I realized something recently. It was something I already knew, but recent events made it SO much more obvious. Here’s the scenario:

The weather is much colder, and Frankie is clipped. I worry about him getting cold while grooming, so I try to work around a cooler and move as quickly as possible so I can hop on and get his muscles warmed up. After riding, I brush him and get him snugged back in his blankets as quickly as possible.

Frankie becomes less affectionate and snuggly. He doesn’t do anything bad, but he isn’t his usual sweet self on the crossties and ignores me when I go into his stall.

So after a few days of this I pop a second cooler on, switch on the heat lamps, and groom him for a much longer time. After riding, I put his blankets back on but then take the time to brush his mane and tail, rub his ears, and polish his hooves.

Frankie tries to get in my pockets and has his ears up watching me the whole time. The next day I walk into his stall and he leaves his hay to come say hello and get scratches.

Um. WOW.

I hear you loud and clear, Francis. Message received. More quality grooming time moved up the priority ladder to “Crucial.” I’ve always known that Frankie loves himself some lovin’, but this really drove the point home that his mood and attitude towards work is SO so so tied to that time together.

I’ve made an effort to spend more time on the ground with Frankie over the past couple of weeks and it’s been noticeable how much happier he is to see me. Which totally makes my heart so happy! Even without giving him any treats, he mooches on me for scratches and ear rubs. He even returns the favor for me sometimes by using his nose to “groom” my shoulder or hip.

So this is my reminder to myself: no matter how caught up in training and competing I get, I need to make Frankie’s comfort and happiness a priority by making sure we spend plenty of time bonding together. Even when it’s cold out and all I want to do is go to my heated car. Frankie is worth braving the weather.

Even when I’m wearing literally 5 layers and can barely move my body

How do you build in bonding time when the temperature gets low?

13 thoughts on “Lovin’ Through the Cold Months

  1. Susan 01/17/2017 / 11:13 am

    My horse abhors snuggles of any kind, so it’s really not an issue for me! I wish he liked attention more.


  2. tntibbetts 01/17/2017 / 11:33 am

    I have FIVE horses at home right now. FIVE. Did I mention, FIVE! I’m the only one who rides and this post drives home the guilt I’m feeling for not giving them enough one-on-one time. I imagine this is how a mother of multiple children feels. Sheesh. My geriatric QH doesn’t need much lovin’, he just wants food. He’s easy. My 5yo warmblood filly just wants, well, whatever her heart desires in the moment. Usually food. Sometimes just to be near the geriatric QH. Turnout. But usually not human loves. The 10yo TB wants love. He’s been ear pinny lately and I think it is because he’s not getting much, if any, individual attention. He is furry so isn’t getting blanketed like the QH and filly. Plus I don’t ride him much since the weather has been gross and the days are short. I’m hoping to body clip him this weekend in preparation for a show in mid-February so will have to step up my game! I bought a 3yo OTTB last week (my brain fell out of my head) and he’s the sweetest muffin in the whole wide world. He’s less than 60 days out from his last race and he’s the most docile horse on the property! His legs are banged up so he’s been getting all the extra TLC lately and I think the 10yo is getting jealous. Lastly, I am borrowing my Mom’s 5yo QH for fox hunting this season and he’s much like the geriatric QH, bring the groceries and no one will get hurt. He’s body clipped so gets blanketed and even that seems to annoy him, except when it gets really cold (cold for Texas, it’s been -30 where he came from so he should count his lucky stars).
    Now that the days are getting longer I’m hoping to get into a bit more of a routine in the barn before and after work just spending time grooming the creatures and getting rides or lunges in if time and daylight allow. Barn time is the best time, even when it is super cold and yucky out.


  3. Amanda C 01/17/2017 / 12:21 pm

    Mine isn’t snuggly either. He wants treats and then he wants me to leave him alone to have his personal (horsenal?) time. I’m happy to oblige.


  4. Zea 01/17/2017 / 2:32 pm

    My mare has gotten super grouchy due to the cold and so she basically just throws herself a pity party when I groom her more than the bare necessity. But she loves to snuggle if I don’t have a brush in hand!


  5. Stacie Seidman 01/17/2017 / 3:48 pm

    Rio and Jampy LOVE groomies and hanging with mom. Romey hates groomies. And possibly me as well. So we’re not doing a very good job of bonding. Especially given we can’t ride since everything is frozen over, so all we CAN do is groom. I told trainer, from now on, I only want horses that like groomies because these groomie hating ponies are an enigma to me.


  6. Tracy - Fly On Over 01/17/2017 / 5:59 pm

    Oh Francis — will teach my guy to be cuddly?


  7. Heather 01/17/2017 / 7:40 pm

    Val is such a personable guy that I kind of always want to spend the time with him, but I imagine he would react similarly if I skimped for a few days. Honestly I think grooming is so good for a horse-person relationship that I really appreciate having a horse that wants all the attention I’ll give him. We don’t tend to have the same kind of cold you guys do, so if it’s so cold I’d want to skimp on grooming, I usually just don’t go at all. Lol.


  8. Sarah 01/18/2017 / 9:51 am

    I think Copper is the same way. I haven’t done much at all with him the last few weeks except dump grain and run. 😉 He’s the opposite with his reaction though in that he gets into everything. Races around like a wild man in his paddock and when I brought him and tied him yesterday he pulled all the things down that he could reach. His blanket (2x), two leads and almost my hoodie hit the dirt. :/ It gets bored way too easily…


  9. shelbyrallen 01/19/2017 / 3:38 pm

    Awww precious! Justin is more of a grumpy old man, so his occasional displays of affection are few and far between (Unless you are armed with cookies). I would do the same as you’ve described – fold the blanket halfway back to groom the front, then fold it toward the front to groom the back. He also gets a lot of work on his mane and tail since those areas I can reach without taking his blanket off 🙂


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