30kt winds, sideways pouring rain, water drops the size of gumdrops. Sloppy paddocks and gutterless barns. Not entirely a picture perfect tropical post card.
We love the rain…really we do. The rain makes our pastures green and our waterfalls flow. But, we really aren’t set up for rainy weather. The ground, with a base of of lava rock and coated with a clay like dirt, doesn’t absorb the heavy rainfall that we get a few times a year with a tropical storm.
Our storms come in the form of hurricanes, and low pressure systems… the good old pineapple express. Our roads flood, and sometimes you can actually find people paddle boarding down the street. The horses always look miserable as they aren’t used to the nasty weather. Luckily we don’t get storms like this very often.. and thankfully it doesn’t get that cold…usually.
The cold, but not that cold weather does present a challenge when wanting to keep the horses comfortable. I don’t believe in keeping the horses locked in their stalls. They are accustomed to having the freedom to go back and forth from stall to paddock at their leisure. Locking them in would add more stress to the already stressful stormy conditions. Not ideal and yet the rain mixed with the wind can get quite chilly. So what to do??? Typical turnout sheets can be made of a heavy waterproof 1200 denier fabric and even when the blanket or “Rug” as they call them in the UK and New Zealand, doesn’t have any fill for warmth they can still be too heavy and warm. The other challenge is our weather tends to move through in bands. Very rarely does it rain for hours and hours on end. Instead, a squall will blow through bringing pounding rain and high winds. But, it doesn’t last that long, a few hours at most and then it moves along leaving a break in the nasty weather until the next band moves through. Sometimes this “break in the storm” still has clouds and light sprinkles, other times it clears completely and the sun pops out for a minute or two. Sometimes it stays over cast but gets muggy.
The last thing you want is a heavily blanketed horse now baking in the lull between weather fronts. It’s important to note that it’s more of a concern that a horse will be too warm, then too cold. So I error on the side of “less is more”. Horses also generate heat by eating. I always make sure the girls have an ample supply of hay to keep them both entertained and warm on stormy days/nights. Izzie is more of a challenge as she doesn’t eat when she gets stressed or she resorts to a nibble here and a nibble there. Athena on the other hand LOVES her food and will eat whatever you put down.
So back to the original question…what do we do? I’m proud to say that after hours of research… and I do mean hours… I discovered the Bucas Sun Shower rain sheet. The Sun Shower rain sheet is made of a lighter weight 840 denier. Athena and Izzie both have one. Can you say “twins”. They are a reflective silver color, with a mesh lining to keep air circulating under the blanket. The mesh linning and reflective color, combined with the lighter weight fabric all help the horses stay cool and also perfectly warm and comfortable. Because of the mesh lining you can put the blanket on when the horses are wet. I love this feature, as I’m often not at the barn before the rain starts… and let’s be honest..who puts a blanket on BEFORE the rain starts. That may also be a Maui problem… with our warm weather you really don’t want to blanket before the weather turns nasty anyway. So there I am, trying to dry a wet horse off with a towel. It takes forever and you usually don’t get them that dry anyway. With the Bucas Sunshower I can do a quick towel dry and then put their sheets on. It gives me a little more wiggle room when it comes to putting the blanket on and also removing when the storm has passed. The fit is also fantastic. I love the darts on the shoulder. It puffs out and doesn’t rub the girls big Friesians shoulders. The overall cut fits both the girls so well. Happy horses!
So here we are, riding out another winter storm. But the girls are all tucked in. Being from the Northwest I’m ready for the rain..I slip on my rubber boots and long rain coat. If it gets really bad I go straight for the foul weather sailing bibs and Musto off shore racing smock and into the elements I go. There is something odly satisfying about spending an afternoon taking care of the girls; making sure they have dry stalls, loaded hay nets to keep them happily eating all day and through the night and have their blankets on and are all dry, cozy and as comfortable as they can be to ride out the storm.
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