It’s the third of May, and it’s snowing. This isn’t unusual. I remember one May when we had five feet during the month, the biggest single accumulation was eighteen inches. But while these May storms may be normal, they are the hardest sort of snowstorm for the ponies.
Most of the ponies start shedding in April, so when these May snow storms hit, the ponies don’t have a good coat to protect themselves. Any hair that hasn’t shed seems to act like a sponge, absorbing the high-water-content snow that is typical of May, so the ponies get wetter than usual. I can tell when they’re wet to the skin not only because they often are shivering but also because the snow hasn’t accumulated on their backs like it does in the winter. They end up colder from warm May snows than they are in colder January.
My oldest pony, a Shetland/Welsh cross, hasn’t been shedding in April. Because she’s well into her twenties, I’ve thought perhaps it’s because she’s becoming insulin resistant with age; holding onto her coat would be one symptom. But now I’m wondering if she’s just adapted to our climate. She’s shedding later to protect herself from May snows. She’s had more years here than all my Fells, and being also originally of British native stock, I wonder if the hardiness inherent in British natives is serving her well here.
I fed well before sunrise because I’ve learned that digestion is one thing that helps ponies keep warm. And the way that I feed makes the ponies move, and movement is another way that the ponies keep warm. I was pleasantly surprised that, during this storm at least, no one was shivering. Maybe we’re all adapting!
© Jenifer Morrissey, 2018
More stories like this one can be found in my book The Partnered Pony, available internationally by clicking here or on the book cover.