Here we are in the midst of another lockdown. Christmas is a distant memory and as yet there is little to plan for, with more shows being cancelled than being planned. However, it is not all doom and gloom, as the Shetland Breed Show and the Shetland Performance Show are held later in the year and may well go ahead. These were two of my aims for last season, so fingers crossed.

Shetland covered in snow

I have to say that unlike many, I have actually enjoyed the recent snow. Frozen, snow covered ground was more pleasant than the mud I had been previously tackling. And with Diva being a black Shetland pony, I looked forward to the photo opportunities. Imagine my total disappointment at forgetting my phone on the day of the first blizzard! Luckily, a friend took a couple of shots showing Diva with snow settling on her back. A couple of days later, another dump of snow enabled me to get the photo I wanted with Diva's mane frosted with snow.

The extremely cold temperatures sparked the usual online debates on rugging. As you can see from the photos, Diva and Jackson are completely unbothered by the white stuff as their thick coats kept them well insulated. Mabel too is properly roughed off and has been warm throughout with no rug. I do tend to put a lightweight rug on her when it rains, as her coat isn’t quite as waterproof as that of the Shetlands.

Shetland in the snow

However, whether to rug or not depends on several factors such as age, whether clipped or not, whether the field is sheltered, how much feed is being given, etc. All circumstances and horses are individual and so are their needs. One thing that is certain: horses and ponies turned out in snow always seem to want to play and roll!

Another concern in the cold weather is the risk of impaction colic. The fact that horses and ponies spend more time in their stables and perhaps don’t drink as much as normal elevates the chance of colic. In the winter when my grazing is more restricted, I add Fibre-Beet to their feeds. I make it up so it is quite sloppy to ensure they get some moisture from their feed. I have to take measures to stop it from freezing! Adding some hot water to their water buckets to raise the temperature to tepid also really helps to encourage them to drink their normal amount.

Shetland drinking

Diva is certainly living up to her name at the moment and gets stroppy if she doesn’t get seen to first of my crew. Her shrill little whinny reminding me of her presence is so cute. I have nicknamed her “Gym Bunny” as she literally races to go on the horse walker. I will get some video of her getting cross if I don’t open the door quick enough and also of her practically putting herself on the walker if the door is already open.

Through the bleak weather and sometimes bleak mood, Diva is guaranteed to put a smile on my face, and her tolerance of full body hugs certainly helps lighten anyone’s mood. She really is the yard’s therapy pony this winter.

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