With the end of winter, I've separated Grif from Q and Stan yet again. This suits everyone better and guarantees each horse has sufficient resource access with as little stress as possible. They can certainly exist in one big space together, but they are all so much happier in their discrete areas. In fact, while I was resistant at first, I'll likely get Grif his own trough and trough heater for next winter so that they can remain separated all the time.
The newest slight-modification is that I'm now leaving their stall doors open 24/7. I had dreamed of doing this from the very beginning, but was hesitant about it because of my worries that Stan would flit into a stall unannounced and cause one of the other two to panic and flee and injure themselves in the process. However, as time has passed, this worry became much less as we all became more accustomed with our routines at home. And so, for some weeks now, the horses have had the ability to be in or out of their stalls as they see fit.
At first, I worried that I had reverse-litter box trained them. They all wanted to make quite a mess of their stalls! UGH. Fortunately, this only lasted a few days before they realized that they liked loafing in their stalls and really didn't want to loaf in a mess of their own making. From that point on, they pretty exclusively use the bathroom in the dry lot and use the stalls for shelter and naps.
I feed in the morning and evening. Almost every time I enter the barn, at least one of the boys is in their stalls. Often both of them! Q, who prefers a much closer social proximity despite her mareish ways, tends to stand right outside the stall Stan has chosen (which is usually the center stall these days) under the overhang. However, whenever the weather is really inclement (rain/snow + wind) each horse holes up in a stall for the duration.
In fact, it's kind of amusing to watch Griffin - who is most visible from the windows in my loft - turn tail and hide in his stall with every single strong gust of wind. Such a goober.
|Note Grif's copious buckets of water. A temporary solution while I devise the best trough setup for him.|
The setup has been perfect for our topsy-turvy spring weather patterns. I haven't worried much at all about blanketing. I know the horses have amazing shelter options for when temperatures drop 40-60 degrees in less than 24 hours. As long as I make sure they have more than enough hay, I know they'll regulate themselves as needed with their shelter situation. Despite their shedding coats and the crazy temperature swings, I have yet to see clenched tail or shivering behavior from any of them!
This slight change seems to have made my already-happy horses even more content. If they weren't spoiled before, they're sure as shit spoiled now. It makes me so happy to see them so relaxed and happy day in and day out. 💙