The Windchill Legacy

Dedicated to Ending Equine Abuse and Neglect

The Windchill Legacy

Windchill: A Day In The Life

A Day In The Life of Windchill

(following is an excerpt from Warmed by Windchill, University of Wisconsin Press, 2013)

After deciding to keep Windchill here, the ups and downs continued. He got so excited about being hoisted up, but lacked the strength sometimes to stay up more than 15 minutes. Another 45 minutes will pass, and he started insisting he get another chance. It was like watching a boat adrift at low tide, waiting for the next rush of water to bring it all the way home, all the way to shore. Windchill’s shore was standing, and having to lie down meant he was adrift, frustrated at having to wait…

It broke my heart to see how badly he wanted to stand but couldn’t always stay up for long. But still, every morning, he nickered “good morning” -- a beautiful sound in the quiet of a pre-dawn barn. He continued to rest under his favorite red blanket. He ate and drank. And when I came home from work, Windchill heard me enter the barn and tried to stand by leaning on a hay bale, all the while calling me …He even began taking himself for walks around the stall by pushing himself up either the hay bales or stall walls and sliding along the perimeter …

Every day began with uncertainty. Will Windchill stand today? Will he lapse back into a defeated state? Will his legs feel less cold? Will he just want to sleep all day? But as each evening passed into night, we felt like we were given a gift – one more day with Windchill.

We would turn off the overhead stall lighting, leaving only the aisle lights, so the horses could wind down. Volunteers would go home and it was just Kathi and I. We would watch him for awhile to make sure he was settling in for the night okay, and then it was lights out except for a night light, leaving six colts and fillies to slumber with visions of hay bales dancing in their heads. We would quietly leave the barn, entrusting the brood to a crabby old lady named Annie, who we knew would quickly quell any after-hours uprising, and a tired Australian Shepherd who set up camp in Windchill’s stall each night on a bale of hay in the corner.