Winter is… here

The first snow last year was Dec 7th.  This morning, we awoke to this :


It’s more than two weeks earlier than last year.  Friends who have been here longer than us are saying things like “It’s very early” and “I’ve never seen snow this early before!”  I’m just hoping it’s not an early warning for an extra severe winter.  Gulp.

I’ve been looking at the late roses in the garden for the last week or so.  Maybe I should have picked them…


Having sympathised with the roses, I took Cookie for a walk in the snow.  She loves it.  There’s lots of crazy “dragging her belly through the snow.”


Really.  Lots & lots of it.


And some crazy-dog-fun running around, too.  Whee!


We visited the local lavender field


and then carried on down the bike path.


I think this year’s Christmas card is sorted!  Comtois horse and donkey in Provence :


In the afternoon, I went up to the horses.  It was c-c-c-cold up there

DSCN4670I have to confess, I have caved.  Aero is now sporting a pretty blue rug.  By the end of last winter, he had lost condition, but it happened so slowly I wasn’t aware of it.  This winter, he’s going to wear a rug whenever it’s wet and cold or windy.

DSCN4671And Flurry?  Flurry is half Aero’s age and has twice as much hair.  He doesn’t need a rug right now.

Anyway, my plan was for some…um…routine maintenance.

DSCN4673Following advice from the Chronicle of the Horse forums, I squidged a bit of KY Jelly Up There and took him off to the round pen for some exercise.  Apparently it loosens up the Guck.  We ran through our Equitation Ethologique stuff.


He was really good and really tuned in to me.  Clever boy!


Then we went back to the stables, I warmed up some water and… um… this lady says it far better than I ever could!

Anyhoo, we’re still talking.  That’s good.

On a side note,  to anyone out there who does sheath cleaning on a regular basis.  Just inside the entrance to his sheath, on the tummy/forehand side, it feels very ridgey and uneven.  Is this normal?  Aero has a history of dermatitis Up There.  I’m reading the ridginess and unevenness as continuing dermatitis, but I’m wondering… I slathered a bit of derma-gel on it anyway… think I’ll check out Flurry tomorrow and see if he feels the same.  Jayses, both of my horses will be getting on to the SPCA…

Seeing as I was on a roll with this routine maintenance stuff, I trimmed his feet too, focussing on rounding off the edges on his front feet where there is some white line separation going on.  I’ve also just started packing his very-deep-sulci with some tea-tree oil soaked cotton wool.  It’s all looking very clean right now, but maybe that’s because of the snow.  I’ll withhold judgement for another week or so.

I took some photos of some of the other inmates enjoying the snow.  First, there was Bubu, the two year old anglo/SF, who was romping around his field, looking for someone to play with.


Next there was Kamsin, an Arabian horse endurance horse, who was convinced my camera was edible.


Then there was Max, Alexandrine’s TB who is an Equitation Ethologique star (6th in French championships! Woohoo!)  I think he is envious of Flurry’s moustache and decided to try to make a falsie.

DSCN4709He just can’t keep a straight face!

Finally, there’s my lovely boys…

DSCN4692…with Aero saying “I think you have more carrots in your right hand pocket. You’d better check.  Or else.”

On the way home, Le Grand Luberon was looking pretty damn impressive.

DSCN4711Yup.  Life is good.

PS For more photos, visit Tails From Provence on Facebook.

29 thoughts on “Winter is… here

  1. My fleabit grey gelding Jordan had melanomas lining the inside of his sheath as far as the vet dared to reach.(Jordan had to be sedated…he did NOT like having Mr. Happy handled). They were so bad that he had to have sheath cleanings at least three times a year. I am not convinced the melanomas didn’t have a part in his death…he had Cushing’s, too, but the vet said ‘there’s something else going on here”. I’d have the vet out to look at it. But I think someone else said it, it’s probably just hardened guck. Or it may be a ligament.
    Gads…the things we do for our horses. This is one of the things we do to them that we don’t let the neighbors see….
    Luckily, Raven accepts sheath cleaning with the same aplomb as everything else we do to him. Maybe it helps that Sue is a nurse??


    • I’ll have another fumble Up There in a month or so and check it out. I’m pretty sure it was hard skin/crusted guck because it came off so easily in the end.


  2. whoa! Look at all that snow!
    Hmm..KY jelly for sheath cleaning…that’s new to me. Harley’s never pleased when I mess around down there…may need na-na juice first!


  3. Fun photos & captions! We don’t do routine sheath cleaning, every time I ask if we should I get the “not unless there is a problem” answer. We haven’t gotten any snow yet, I can’t wait!!


  4. Gorgeous snowy pics! I’m jealous – I don’t remember the last time I saw snow (in real life as opposed to pics). It’s chucking down rain in So.Cal at the moment, and due to continue for two more days… so I guess our winter came early too. I’m sure the other Jack is envying Cookie right now – he HATES rain.


  5. Pretty snow! I love all those photos! Cookie is hilarious with the belly dragging! I love the first snow, the dogs get so excited about it.
    And Max and Flurry are just too cute!


  6. Re. the sheath cleaning, I second calm, forward. However, if you are sure you are down to skin, it is probably normal. There is a lot of extra skin there to accommodate, um, expansion.

    Re. the white line and deep sulci – get a hay test done and make sure you have balanced minerals. If you are uncertain about this or how to go about it, get in touch, I’ll try to help. I am finding that anything you do with frog and white line is just unending crisis management until you get the minerals right. I will be writing about this soon, I’m just slow:)


    • Thanks Kris. My gut feeling is that the ridginess is not normal, it doesn’t feel like the soft folds elsewhere Up There. Re a hay test, I’m not sure how to go about this in France. I agree hooves are best fixed from the inside out. hmmm… thinking….


    • The ridgeiness is most likely more crud. It will often peel off in chunks once you get it started. If it is dermatitis, which usually feels more like a lot of little bumps and scabs, a good cleaning with very mild soap generally helps.

      The frequent dermatitis is another sign of mineral imbalances. The hoof is just another form of skin after all. I don’t know if this will help, but here is a link to a forage testing lab in the UK:


  7. Seems early for snow even if it is pretty. Great pictures. Love the rose.

    Horses love the first snow I think. Mine always lie to romp and play too.

    Good job on the “part cleaning”. That lady’s instructions were very funny.


  8. Fab photos, especially loving the horses’ reactions! Newspaper headline, here, for the SW today – “snow coming and it’s just the beginning” … ugh, just when the weather’s been great for riding … oh well, time to get the thermals out again 🙂


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