People and animals prepare for chilly night ahead in SWFL

CREATED Jan. 16, 2014

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LEE COUNTY, Fla. - As residents of Southwest Florida bundle up for a chilly night, the work continues for those helping the ones that can't help themselves; animals. 

 
At DaVinci Farms in Buckingham, the 20 horses there settle in for some rest during the cold night, while their caretakers earlier Thursday did everything but rest to get them ready for the chilly night. 
 
Diane Corti is the barn manager. The horses there are her family. 
 
They're all my babies," Corti said. "Each one of them are mine. I tell the owners to pay the bills and I keep them," she said with a laugh. 
 
The extra preparation it takes before the cold weather hits is worth every bit of the hard work for Diane.
 
"Make sure that they're covered," she said, explaining her work. "You can see they're all blanketed as they're walking, but we try to keep them warm, keep their body temperatures up. For a lot of them its very hard I think because we get a lot of breeze and it's chilly! I kind of go by whatever I wear, they've got to wear." 
 
Different weather calls for different tasks. With Florida's rain and changing temperatures, Diane is always at the ready. 
 
"Our temperatures fluctuate so much," she said. "There are some nights when it doesn't get cold until real late and we'll come here late at night and put the blankets on the horses."
 
Diane says horses are just like humans, when we get used to the Florida heat even cool temperatures can be chilling. And, just like humans, the cold nights are perfect nights to snuggle under their covers.  
 
"I treat them like they're all mine," she said. "Just what I would do with my own horse, they get."
 
Along with the blankets, the horses have extra hay because the digestion helps them stay warm. 
Diane and her crew will be back out early in the morning to bring all the horses into the barn for breakfast and a little extra TLC.