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Philly horse owner wintertime musings: Can dangling icicles impale my horse?

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With an estimated 58.4" of snowfall so far this season it’s certainly a winter wonderland in the Philadelphia area. In fact, to put it plainly, it has been pretty darn cold out there. When nighttime temperatures hit 13 degrees (like they were last night) and you think to yourself, “Hey that’s not so bad” well, then you know it's been a cold one. But, as all horse owners know, the going usually does get a bit tough during the winter months so we must slog through till spring. Alas, frozen water buckets, broken pipes, snowy paddocks, snow-packed hooves and frigid barn temperatures come with the territory of horse ownership.

At our breeding farm we work extra hard to keep the herd comfortable, well fed and hydrated. And even on the coldest of days our horses get turned out for exercise -- sometimes later in the morning than usual on particularly icy and snowy mornings -- but they get turned out nonetheless.

This morning, after some of chores were finished I came into the house for my usual cup a joe. As I sat in the kitchen looking outdoors I admired the snowy winter scene before me... bright white snow-covered fields accented by a brilliant blue sky, pine tree branches dancing in the wind dappled with freshly deposited snow, a shed decorated by mother nature herself with glistening icicles and "Holy crow! A mare standing near the shed under a monster four-foot long icicle!"

Icicles are one thing that never really concerned me in the past. In this neck of the woods the most common size is about five or six inches max.

Could my horse be impaled by a monster icicle should it suddenly break loose in the afternoon sun and plummet downward like a giant law dart?

I needed to know immediately.

I put down my coffee mug and ran to the computer... (click to continue to page 2 of this article)

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