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The New Equine Weather Report: Exclusively for Horses & Their Humans

“So why not the Equine Report? We could incorporate Accuweather’s excellent rain predictor tool which is amazingly accurate on exactly how many minutes I have left to sprint to the other side of the ranch, cover the hay with a tarp, and slam the barn door before the next downpour.”

Images courtesy of Mary Ann Johnstone

By Mary Ann Johnstone

“It’s such a beautiful day!” Eric said, smiling.

“No, it’s not!” I said, stomping my foot like a horse.

I then realized two different weather reports were bucking around inside me every single day.

Yes, it was a beautiful, warm spring day. Everything was blooming and there was a refreshing, cool wind, which we humans found exciting and delightful.

The horses, however, were dodging around the swirling gusts. Leaves, twigs and various barn items flew past their high heads and flaring nostrils. The wind roared through the towering acacia branches and palm fronds waved their arms wildly. The fillies snorted and whirled, tails flying high, finally choosing the quiet shelter of their box stalls to eat from their hay nets in peace. Gone with the wind went another precious day of training right down the washrack drain.

The mud had only just recently dried up from a very wet winter where I often found myself in a teeth­gritting exchange with cheerful, non­horsey friends who just loved the continuously pouring rain and all that fireside reading, tea drinking and napping under warm blankets.

For us horsey people, the weather report was a tad bit different.

Continuous rain meant slogging through thick, slippery mud and hourly decisions about whether to keep the horses in or let them out between microbursts. Waterproof blankets turned into liars. I found my little blue roan standing in her stall soaked through her little blue spots and shivering under her new dripping wet turnout blanket.

Because of the weather and my horses, I have lost a fair amount of sleep.

Where we live, I dread the rain in winter, the wind in spring, the extreme heat of summer and high fire danger of fall. Somewhere in between May and June though, the pressure is finally off. Me, the fillies, my friends, and the thermometer fall into a peaceful agreement and enjoy the same delightful weather report.

So I am proposing a new report be added to Weather.com’s “Specialty Forecasts.”

Currently, they offer:

  • “Allergy Tracker” with three kinds of pollen meters and a historical map of sneezing attacks.
  • “Farming” forecast with daily ratings of wet dirt.
  • “Boat & Beach” with waxing moons and ebbing tides.
  • “Fishing” (for crying out loud) with lots of videos of big men hauling in dead fish.
  • “Cold and Flu” with a “sick score” and a scary orange blotted map to make us all utterly paranoid about going out.

So why not the Equine Report? We could incorporate Accuweather’s excellent rain predictor tool which is amazingly accurate on exactly how many minutes I have left to sprint to the other side of the ranch, cover the hay with a tarp, and slam the barn door before the next downpour.

Having our own specialized report might help on those sleepless nights too when we are up googling optimum temperature ranges for horses for the millionth time. Or rereading that amazing Norwegian study where horses were trained to tell you when they wanted their blanket put on or taken off by pointing to symbols with their noses. Think of the possibilities of that kind of communication!!!

This new Equine Weather Report could at least validate our disgruntled personalities to our non­horsey friends who are always confused. The same friends who will never understand why we can’t possibly meet them at “normal” dinnertime when “everyone else eats.”

So while our pals are brewing chamomile tea and waving from their toasty nests, we are yanking on our heavy muckers and pulling on our soggy fleece so we can return to the barn one more time to check on our babies.

Shovels in hand, digging out our muddy trenches, we know as sure as our beating hearts, that we wouldn’t trade our ever­-changing barn conditions for cozy living rooms in any season. As long as we are with our horses, we are home.

Mary Ann Johnstone is a Grammy Award-winning documentary filmmaker, writer, Master Coach and Master Mucker. Mary Ann recently wanted a quarter horse again, so she drove to Montana and somehow ended up with three, plus two goats. Most of her time is happily spent at the barn with her husband, Eric, feeding, cleaning and playing with their animals. She has been published in Elephant Journal and Huffington Post.

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