As I stood shivering in my pajamas in the middle of a Sunday night trying to attach a hose and an icy hydrant by the light of my iPhone, I contemplated the cascade of events that led to this moment.

That previous Friday I caught a startling glimpse of gray roots in the mirror. I called my hairdresser, and she surprisingly had an appointment opening. If I left my desk right at 3 p.m. and gave the horses a quick snack I could make it to the salon.

By 5:30 I had a sassy short haircut with not a gray in sight. Since my hair rarely leaves a ponytail during the work week, I decided this called for an evening in town. I texted my husband and secured a dinner date, and we didn’t get home until after dark.

This trough is half empty and ready for a mid-week dump, scrub, and fill.

Photo: Michelle N. Anderson

Now, earlier that day, our puppy had caught and killed one of our hens (life and death on the ranchette), and our senior Corgi girl, Wynifred, had gutted the poor thing, enjoying the freshest meal of her life. Upon returning from dinner, we found dog vomit in, no joke, every room of the house, along with a dry-heaving, bloated, and lethargic Corgi.

I rushed feeding the horses, distracted by my sick dog and the need to clean the house. I looked for the reflection of starlight in the water troughs, judged them half full, and headed inside. Wynifred got worse as the night progressed, so we headed to the emergency vet for a midnight appointment.

I won’t hold you in suspense—Wyni lived to see another vet bill.

The next morning I awoke exhausted from the late night. I tossed hay to the horses again, and then my husband and I headed into town to spend 12 hours moving his business to a new office. That job included transferring desks, computers, and a full architecture and interior design materials library (think concrete block, tile, roofing, and carpet). Home again, toss horses hay, collapse. Sunday, repeat.

Around midnight I awoke feeling panicked. Yes, I had confirmed the troughs had water in them throughout the weekend, but I hadn’t consciously looked at the water in the daylight or checked its quality.

Marathon constantly dunks his hay as he eats, creating what I call “swamp soup.” He’s also picky and won’t drink if the water is even a little off. With our crazy busy weekend, I hadn’t followed through on my twice-a-week chore of dumping, scrubbing, and filling troughs. That meant my horse was likely dehydrated and not drinking, and I couldn’t sleep.

So if my neighbor had come out with a shotgun at the sound of something rummaging around on this very early morning, he would’ve found me—clad in a night shirt, cowboy boots, and a down jacket—half submerged in a smelly 100-gallon tank as I scrubbed it clean.

Not one of my finer horse care moments. 

But I’ve found, when you have horses at home, sometimes life gets in the way of doing the best job possible. Unfortunately, not giving 100% to your horses can have major consequences, such as colic, so I take my missteps seriously and work to remedy them.

How about you: When has life gotten in the way of your horse care at home? And have you ever done horse chores past midnight?