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Daylight Savings Time with Horses
 By Winniefield Park   •   1st Nov 2018   •   410 views   •   0 comments


The switch back to regular time is upon us again and we put our clocks back an hour. Daylight Savings Time was invented by some idiot intent on ensuring that we spend a week or two every autumn feeling like weíve been dipped in slow drying glue. The story goes that he was out riding his horse one morning and noticed his neighbors hadnít yet opened their blinds. Instead of minding his own business, he came up with the idea of daylight savings time. As if it isnít bad enough that there are fewer daylight hours as autumn advanced, his concept of daylight savings time ensured that an extra hour is lopped off too. That lost hour of time, whether weíd normally spend it sleeping or otherwise, affects how we enjoy and care for our horses. There are fewer daylight hours, and the darkness seems to come on much faster.

The shortening of daylight hours triggers our horses to grow their winter coats. This happens long before we start to realize the daylight hours are diminishing as they can start shedding their summer coats as early as mid-August. With less sunlight and colder temperatures, wound healing and coat growth slow down. Sunlight also affects maresí reproductive cycles. All this isnít affected by daylight savings time, but we start to notice the change the shortened daylight hours bring about the time DST ends.

Horses are surprisingly habitual creatures and will know when breakfast, lunch, dinner, turn out and stabling times are if you yourself are consistent. If you follow the clock and not the sun, you might find you have a bunch of anxious horses, although when the time changes, no one complains about being fed or put in too early. But, if you have to change your feeding times because of the time change you might have some cranky horses. If youíre time allows, you can change your feeding schedule, dropping it back or moving it forward with the time changes.

If youíre lucky enough to live by your own schedule, itís easy enough to adjust things so you can do your outside work and play during the daylight hours. Those who work at 9 to 5 type jobs, find they run out of daylight pretty quickly. There are several ways people adjust. Lights, headlamps and other artificial lights make things a bit easier. Some people donít hesitate to ride at night, using head lamps and reflective clothing. If you normally do chores before you ride, you might switch the routine so you can grab the last bits of daylight to ride. You might be able to adjust your work hours, arriving earlier and leaving earlier so you still get home in the light.

But for some of us, cold as well as dark cause us to ride less. Some may have to resort to weekend-only rides, especially if you have no indoor facility to ride in. Some people board their horses in the winter months, specifically to take advantage of an indoor arena. Really frigid winter temperatures might bring your riding to a stop altogether. That means we have to bring our horses back into condition come spring time because of the enforced leisure during the winter.

Of course there are some places where Daylight Savings Time is not observed. Those of you in Arizona, Puerto Rico and Hawaii, and parts of Quebec, Canada donít know the delights of DST changes unless youíve experienced jet lag. Saskatchewan Canada observes DST year round, which just makes sense and simplifies things for everyone. For the rest of us in North America, tell your horses to change their clocks November 4.
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