-Jay after the storm
By Diana Wanamaker
Be patient with this post, for I have to set up the circumstances at the time.
One of the barns I had boarded Jay at in previous years had offered little to no shelter. There was a large run-in shed in the pasture that clearly offered plenty of shelter. However, when I moved Jay in, he would never use the shelter, no matter how many ways I introduce him to it. It was a ‘pasture board’ arrangement, so a stall was not allowed. The other horses at the farm were brought in each night, and Jay was left out in a pasture by himself. During the summer months, the doors at the back of the barn were left open. Jay’s primary living spot was at the back of the barn where he could enjoy the companionship of the farm horses, as if he was in the barn.
At the back of the barn, were two large sliding doors. A mound of dirt lead up to the back doors, which leveled off for a smooth entry into the barn. It offered a high ground, where water drained off nicely and kept that usual muddy spot at a barn’s entrance, dry. On the mound of dirt, were two large rubber matts that sat on top of the mound of dirt. Those rubber matts are where Jay lived when he was not grazing. Where his hay was and his water near by. This was his comfort zone, close to the other horses. As long as the weather was not too extreme or harsh, the daily routines brought Jay comfort and contentment. But the back of the barn was left wide open to north, west and south winds, which offered little protection.
It was not ideal by far, as most boarding places offer less than satisfactory situations, but you make the best of them. Each time you learn something new and look to avoid those situations that did not work so well.
Then one day, after a windy storm, I arrived at the barn, only to find the entire run-in shed had tipped entirely over. It was pretty clear to me now, why Jay didn’t want to use the run-in shed. Horses know these things, intuitively know.
One year a spring rain storm came like I have never seen before in all my years here in Michigan. It poured hard, hard, rains for 8 hours straight. Not once letting up in it’s fierce intensity. The winds were blowing at 25-30 mph, coming from SW. The temperature was about 40-45 degrees.
I happened to be at the barn when the rains started. They came on strong and hard. Jay started pacing at the back of the barn. Started neighing and became clearly upset. The farm owner would not let me bring him in and I had to close the back doors of the barn. I became more and more anxious, seeking solutions to ease Jays’ angst with the storm.
I went outside, at the back of the barn, closed the barn doors and stood in the rain with Jay for many minutes. My hand gently holding his head. His head leaned into my arm. His head hung low, as the rain pounded down so hard on the both of us, we could barely see in front of us. His eyes were closing from the water pounding down so hard from above. My clothes were drenched from top to bottom. I could feel the puddles forming in my shoes. Yet, I could not bare to leave my Jay. I talked to him and offered my apologies that I had no choice but to leave him in such unprotective conditions.
As the minutes passed, I knew I could not stand out there all night. The rain still coming down relentlessly. I spoke to Jay and told him how sorry I was, and that I would be leaving. As I opened the barn doors, I stepped into the barn and had to do the unspeakable. I slowly closed the barn doors and continued to apologize to my sweet boy. Jay tried to reach his head into the barn. In agony, I had to slowly push his head out so I could close the doors.
I never could have felt worse then at that moment. I left the barn and walked around the side of the barn to peak at Jay at the back of the barn. He wasn’t pacing or upset, but clearly was uncomfortable. At least his anxiety had diminshed and the little time I had stood in the rain with him, had offered something.
A sleepless night awakened me to the sound of rain continuing to pound on the roof top. It’s fiery only offered me more concern for Jay, as I had visions of him standing in the ongoing storm.
The next day, after the rain had finally stopped, there stood Jay, as if nothing had happened. Despite his unaffected appearance, I knew something had to change. I pleaded with the farm owner to allow nights in, on such stormy nights. With some negotiation, I was able, for a short period, to offer true shelter to Jay during those times of extreme weather. In time, I did what was best, and found another barn.
Copyright May 2012. All Rights Reserved