By Patty Wilber
It had been a mild fall and winter, it is February now, and it is light until nearly 6 pm, so shouldn’t it be warm(ish–like highs in the 40’s or something?) during the day?
It snowed all day last Wednesday and was cold (several nights at or below zero) and icy enough that school got cancelled last Thursday (because, you know, we are not Upstate New York).
The snow was only about eight inches deep, but it didn’t feel like melting much, so geez, I had to skip a couple days of riding and work at getting the arena in shape.
I disked first and then dragged the arena last Friday to churn the sand up onto the snow to help the snow melt. It got to 35F and sunny Saturday so it worked–the snow all melted, which turned the arena into a swamp (and I can ride in a swamp because the footing is fine under the water).
I had to quit riding when the sun got low and the arena became shadowed because it started to refreeze.
Of course, that night, with a low of 14F, it froze hard.
I was looking forward to more swamp work on Sunday, but the high was 32F, no sun, and it spit some more snow, so the arena stayed in the realm of “froze up”.
This week was warm (yes, mid 40’s) and sunny. I got to ride every day and by Wednesday the puddles were drying up (except the big one at the back, and because I did not disk or drag the round pen, it is still a mess and probably will be until mid next week!).
By Thursday, I was even able to ride out on the dirt road (but my trails are still snowy and very muddy). I could sort of pretend that spring is just around the corner.
(Of course, we always need more precipitation, so, if more snow wants to come our way, we will welcome the moisture. And whine a little on the side about lost riding days!)
Definitely welcome the moisture–but still whine! Because oh! The mess it made of my tracking training!
SOOO MUDDY! But at least the moisture is sinking in and not blowing away!
We had almost the same sequence of weather, but somewhat less severe (we did get down to 13F one night.) Sleet and snow and freezing rain, but less than last year (thank heavens!) and the power went out only a couple of times and didn’t stay out long. No riding during that, and for me no riding until today because of serious mud (much of it on the horses, who persisted in rolling again–wallowing–in mud after being more or less clean. Then I got a gut bug that had me spending far too much time in a small tiled room, and then it was hoof-trim day and the day after I was still not sure the ICK wasn’t coming back.
But today–today I got on Rags around 9 am and had a lovely ride around the south half of the West Grass (which is less than a half, but the concept is the same), keeping him at a steady fast walk because I had to be back and dismounted by 9:30 when R- needed to leave for the city. He’s really muscled up in the gaskins, and his shoulders are showing muscle under the Hay Bandit plumpness he had. His hindquarters are much firmer, too. The land is all sloping, one way or another: nothing steep, so every ride includes alternating ups and downs. I liked his walk when I first rode him; now that we’ve got more behind us, I really find him fun to ride out on, not just “OK, nice walk.” I don’t know if a horse bow-legged behind (as Rags is) can ever really change, but it looks like his hocks aren’t as far out, nor his cannons sloping in to his closer-set hoofs as they used to be. His muscles are all firmer; his back still shows no soreness before or after a ride. When he and Tigger were playing in the snow (very cute) I noticed Rags was moving better.
Another week or two of just walking and we’ll be ready to start some short stretches of trot. I have the trail sections picked out for that…I’d like to have him loping smoothly before the heat settles in.
I am loving Rags! After all trouble you had with the previous horses, he sounds like a charmer and a lot of fun, too! I can believe that with proper care and shoeing and exercise he can move better. Lucy, with all her body work and chiro and exercise is definitely moving better nowadays.