Monday, June 28, 2021

PNW Heat Wave: First Day of Hell

We are entering what I call, The First Day of Hell, four days where the temperatures will break all time heat records. Today, 106. Tomorrow, 111, then 108, 102, 100, 100, and down into the 90's. 

When you think the 90's are a cooling off, you are, for lack of a better word, screwed.

Yesterday, was a mere 100. pfft. Child's play. But hot, nonetheless. 

We did the cold showers. Here's Tumbleweed getting his cold bath. 

Beautiful Girl and Lily came to me for theirs, and they just stood there loving it. They'd turn their bodies around to get different spots. Here mom, get my left butt cheek!

And I did. They all got a bath, and I sprayed Cowgirl & Epona in their actual stall after having poured cold buckets of water on both mama and baby. 

I let Tumbleweed out of his stall to roll it off, and he went off bucking and running, he felt so good. I was like, Tumbleweed, dear, that defeats the purpose, now doesn't it?!?

When the temps finally cooled into the 80's, I let them out for the their night of grazing, and worked with Epona on leading. She is doing so well. 

Epona is wearing the halter and lead that Shirley made for Tumbleweed before he came home. It's a little big for her, as you can see, but does the trick. When we go to her next vet appointment, which we had to cancel and reschedule due to 109 degree forecast, she will be leading into the vet barn.

We have the breezeway open, and the fans on full blast, but there comes a point where they're blowing in super hot air. Not sure what to do about that. We might install a mister into the foal stall today, and hope that cools it off a bit for Epona.  Speaking of which, I have a new thing to add to the Surviving Extreme Heat list, and that is spraying down the ground with cold water. I'm spraying their small pastures, turnouts, and even the inside of their stalls and runs. It puts off cool air for a while.

And poor Foxy continues to pine away for Epona to be her baby. She came from a ranch nearby, and I'm trying to locate those owners to find out where her actual babies are. I would love to have one of her offspring. She's such an exceptional, loving horse.

The pastures are dying, and that doesn't bode well for hay this year. I am in the fortunate / unfortunate position of having many tons of hay leftover from last year. Unfortunate, because I need to feed them out before I can bring in new, but the pasture horses aren't interested in hay right now. They will be very soon, and when they are, it will go fast.

I tried to feed Cowgirl supplements with all you can eat grass, but she acted like she wanted alfalfa. I started giving her some, and she really loves it. There must be something in it her body needs, or maybe it gives her more bang for her buck--or, more nutrients with less time munching--during this heatwave. Our old gelding, Red, lived on alfalfa his whole life, and he made it to 37. My trainer wanted me to start Tumbleweed on it, and I did. He gets a mixture of grass and alfalfa and a grain formulated for our area. The older equines get a Senior Feed, supplements, and now, a bit of alfalfa--all they can eat grass.

My 13 year old niece came up for the bridal lunch the other day, and she and I had a long talk about horses.  She has her own golden gelding, Captain, which is one of those well-trained, babysitter horses you dream about owning. Like all young girls, she's interested in barrel racing. So, we had a long talk about what a life with horses is like, and how you can spend your whole life with them and still not know everything. I told her she needed to be a vet, a detective, a trainer, a nutritionist, --pretty much everything. Horses are semi-feral animals, and it's impossible to anticipate every scenario.

I also told her how we've all learned different lessons, and some of them the hard way, some of them by losing a horse or seeing a friend lose a horse. You look at those situations in hindsight and say, X could have done this or that thing to have saved their horse. I'm going to do this or that thing so my horse doesn't end like X's.  Or, X had this or that bad thing happen to them, I'm going to learn how to handle my horse so that the bad thing doesn't happen to me. 

Most of the time, we, ourselves, are person X.

No one person has all the answers, but everyone with a horse knows something. I encouraged her to jump in and help other equestrians, and learn everything she can from them--and their experiences. For example, Captain can load in a trailer all day....however, some horses have issues with that. What happens if your horse has issues? Again, jump in when you see someone trying to load a difficult horse, and offer to help--even it's to hold open their door. If you see a vet out at the barn, sneak over and watch. Talk to everyone, observe everything--always assume you know very little.

And, I gave her a big talk about keeping her horse hydrated during this heat wave, which she took to heart and got busy doing. (She lives two hours to the south of me, and they are experiencing even hotter temps.)  

In a nutshell, so little about horsemanship is the actual riding. It's 99% caretaking. How many horses are there in the world or will be born into the world in the future? Well, that's how much there is to still learn about horses.

Currently, I am learning about a subject I did not have to worry about so much before this year--keeping horses alive in extreme heat. Wish me luck.


  1. You don't need luck, because you are doing all the right things. Your horses will all survive these hot days that feel like hell, because they've got you.

    As far as the fans sucking in hot air, ideally you run them and then trap the cool air. However that might not work in your case, but it does works in the right scenario. I would be doing exactly that if our temps were so high. For us, we turn our fans way down during the heat of the day (but our horses are turned out). They circulate just enough to keep air already inside moving. As soon as it cools off and/or horses come in, fans go back up higher.

    Also, if ice is readily available you could try putting a big bowl of ice cubes behind the fan for short term cooling relief. Of course, with your temps anything longer would be a full time job. Just some thoughts that might help.

    Loved the videos of T & Epona! Looks like he is enjoying the hose, and wanting to drink like my Koda. Your school of horsemanship is spot on, always great to pass inspiration onto younger impressionable ears.

    1. Do you think it would be better for me to turn them out of the barn? Mine have the option of being in their runs, too. Cowgirl wants out, but she lets Epona melt, and Epona follows her everywhere. I like the idea of ice behind it. I might give that a try today. I’ve been going out and spraying down the stalls, which does create temporary cool air.

      My niece was really soaking it up. She told my sister afterward that she wants to be brought up here more to learn. I think kids, especially, get the idea that there are those who know everything, and that makes them feel like they should act like they know everything, but when they hear none of know it all, you can see the relief. Like, whew, I’m not a failure. She wants horses forever, and not just temporary, so she wants to succeed as well as she can.

    2. As far as daytime turnout during extreme heat, my suggestion would be only if it's cooler outside. Do you have a thermometer in your barn? Also consider things like shade and breeze, along with temps. After our tack room fiasco, we got a few inexpensive digital wall thermometers in key locations that also give humidity readings. Because it's WI, and it's pouring as I type outside. Again. It sounds like what you are doing is working. Another thought would be to position fans so it mostly circulates air that is already in barn vs pulling in heat from outside. Easier said than done. You are almost out of the heat wave, hang in there!!

      My younger daughter was so impressionable that she latched onto what I consider bad habits as gospel, that continue onto today. I hope your niece continues to learn from you, as well as others. Keeping an open minded, and then deciding what works best for you is good thinking (IMO).

    3. You’re spot on. I don’t have thermometers, but I can feel when the barn becomes hotter than the outside, usually around 7 pm. Last night, I watered their turnout, then fed them in the shade, and it was much cooler than the barn. It still allows them to move away, into full sun, which Epona did, but she returned to the shade, and didn’t seem affected by the heat. Today we get to 109, but my son in law installed misters into their stall last night, and I think everything we did worked well. I’m much more optimistic we can do this!

  2. I have one more thing to add to the toolbox for heat- electrolyte paste. Not sure if you had it on your list already. I have a tube on hand that I thought I might need for Gussie last year, and I will probably give it to Jayne either today or tomorrow, or half of it each day. The next 2 days are supposed to be brutal.
    Nice to see Tumbleweed enjoying his shower! Beamer comes up for hosing, Gussie does too but Jayne says nuh-uh so I sponge her off.
    One of the hallmarks of true horsemanship is sharing what you know or your experiences with others, especially youngsters or beginners. God says not to hide your talents; they are a gift meant to be shared and used productively. I am certainly grateful for all the amazing horsemen/women in my life who have influenced my journey.
    Alfalfa- one of the things about it is its higher calcium which is excellent for milk. I usually put my broodies on a supplemental alfalfa from a month before expected foaling date to when baby is a month to 6 weeks old and grazing well and drinking water. I just cut Jayne off a few days ago.

    1. I have electrolyte powder I need to put in their water. None of them look particularly stressed yet, but we’re just tipping over 100. I didn’t know there was a paste. Thanks for that tip. Yes, I have been blessed, too. You, and all the blog crew, are part of that circle of wisdom. I have a few friends who help, too. I’m not ashamed to ask! When I was a teen, and boarding at a barn, I was embarrassed by my lack of knowledge, and that made me feel unable to ask for help. If I could turn back the clock, I’d reach out to people more. Barns can be judgy and competitive though. I returned to the barn a few years after, as a grown woman, and I became the biggest eavesdropper ever. I’d tiptoe over to whatever was going on and either be a fly on the wall, or assist and ask questions. I saw a girl get kicked in the face while cleaning hooves, and I hired my farrier to show me how to avoid that. I was always trying to seek out the experts in each field, and they were more than happy to share. I mean, who knows how to stay safe from getting kicked better than a farrier?

      Alfalfa seems very important to lactating mares. Cowgirl prefers it over her Omolene 300. I try to listen to what she’s telling me she wants and needs. I was probably a little late on that one.

  3. Looks like they're enjoying their baths! I feel sorry for Foxy, poor girl, she's so sweet.

    It's good to share what you've learned and help others who want to learn. I asked a lot of questions when I didn't understand or "get it". There's always something to learn from someone who knows better than I do.

    I wish you good luck with this heat wave. We've got 95 today and 98 tomorrow but it's nothing like you have. Mine are all getting showers tonight too. They do appreciate that.

    1. Foxy was meant to be a mama. Cowgirl, however, is very defensive of her. As soon as she was bred, they went from being best buddies to mortal enemies. Foxy didn’t do anything, but Cowgirl just started attacking her. I had to keep Cowgirl separated for her entire pregnancy, because I’m sure Beautiful defended Foxy and kicked Cowgirl. I really thought they’d work it out, but came out one morning and found her leg swollen. I had been watching their drama for a day and a half, so I knew the dynamics. Cowgirl’s would run towards foxy, and start kicking at her, and beautiful would run in and start kicking at Cowgirl. Bee also defends Tweed. If another gelding goes into his stall before him, she will run that horse off aggressively so that T can walk in undisturbed. I’m glad he’s on her good side. For now, anyway.

      They downgraded us to 104 today, so I’m happy about that. I’ll take anything! And we have a bit of a breeze. I’ll take that, too! 3-4 more hours, and we start to descend with the temps. So far, so good.

      Have fun with shower time tonight!

  4. We lost power and our well. Not a good start.

    1. Oh nooo!! So sorry. Hang in there and let us know you are okay, when you get a chance and things are back up and running.

    2. Well that sucks. Hope it comes back soon. Give us an update when you can. Think about getting a generator for the future, it’s a life saver for us. Have them at the house and barn.

    3. It’s back on. We installed a generator last November, and it was the best investment we ever made. For some reason, the well pump malfunctioned when we turned it back on, but this morning it began working again.

    4. Not sure why we lost power. The outage report said “bird.”

    5. And our major power company is starting planned, rolling blackouts today. We don’t use them, but so much of our energy comes from mutual hydroelectric sources, it may affect us, too.

  5. Okay, I'm laughing at the reason for the power outage! Mostly in sympathy. We had a new company take over our provincial power grid and there were a lot of outages at first. One excuse we saw was 'fog' which made nova scotians laugh and be incensed as it's often foggy here and was a ridiculous excuse.

    1. Ha! Yes, I highly doubt a bird had to do with it. Earlier they said there was shortage from their supplier. That sounds more logical.


Please feel welcome to join our discussion by telling us about your own thoughts and experiences.