By Patty Wilber
I don’t mind riding in the winter all that much, but my lower-end criteria tends to be 25F and sunny. Sunny makes a huge difference.
Last week it started snowing and blowing and being overcast and cold. I don’t like skipping days, but I don’t think there is much point in riding colts in that kind of weather. So, Thursday was out, and Friday I had to work at the college.
I got my arena dragged Saturday, and it was in good shape on Sunday. So, after binge-watching Fool Me Once on Netflix while eating breakfast (um…until lunchtime) I braved 36F, (“braved” because it was windy, cloudy and it felt cold) and rode Gino. The arena was good! He was good! But, he was the only one I managed. Wimp.
Sunday night it snowed around 4 or 5 inches and the wind blew from the north. My beautiful drag job was blanketed! When I fed in the morning, it was 21, and the snow was coming down horizontally. I finished feeding then went in and put more wood on the fire.
Usually, our storms come from the southwest and most of the shelters are set up with that in mind. The wrong-direction-wind blew snow into the shelters.
Fortunately, the horses all have winter coats. Their coats are working. We can tell because the snow on their backs is not melting, so heat is not escaping! That is amazing to me, every time I see it. This is normal for for healthy horses, but I am still impressed.
Well, no Monday morning riding for me, and I had to go to the college in the afternoon when the weather calmed down–a little.
On Tuesday it was 28 and sunny! But the arena was still snow-covered and the horses do not have snow rims on their shoes, so if I try to ride in the snow, they get snow balls in their feet. I redragged and that broke up the snow enough to make it look good for getting a little riding in. Then a friend dropped by and pulled into my innocent-looking driveway. It has a slope that doesn’t seem steep until you try to get out in snow. Without 4WD or chains, it is a lost cause. She got stuck.
So, I tried pushing her out with the tractor. Nope. That succeeded in getting her more sideways and veering toward the fence and a drop-off.
I got out a tow strap, but we needed to hook to her truck frame and that set was had loops not hooks. I got another strap that was not really robust enough for towing, but hey it had the requisite hooks. We found a spot on her truck frame to hook to. But would the tractor get her out? Nope. That kind of surprised me. But the tractor, even in 4WD was too light in front and couldn’t get enough grip.
One last try before we had to call for help. I got my truck, put it in four low, first gear, and looped the tow strap, still hooked to her truck, of course, over the trailer hitch. I stepped on the gas and started pulling. Not much happened, but then with a little more power, we started slewing forward! We got momentum! We were within feet of the pavement! We were going to make it!
But no! My not-a-tow-strap proved it was, indeed, not a tow strap, and the nylon snapped. (The hooks held up perfectly, though.)
But, (another but) ha! Mr. Not-a Tow-Strap! We showed it! We tied it back together with an overhand knot, and even though my friend was at the steepest part of the driveway, we were close enough that when I got back into position, my truck had two tires on the asphalt, providing grip. We fired up and pulled right out! Whoop!
I have to say it was kind of fun to solve that problem in the driveway where the consequences of failing would just have meant waiting for alternate help to arrive.
There was plenty of light left for a short ride, but the sun was angling low over the mountains and the arena had re-frozen. I am glad the days are getting longer, but this snow thing has put a damper (pun intended) on my riding! I guess I am changing my riding criteria to sunny, 25, and unfrozen ground!
Wednesday was out because the arena was still ridged ice in the morning before I had to go teach biology, and we left for Tennessee Thursday. It was a balmy 56 when we arrived and may be a snowing 30F the day we leave. So much for southern hospitality, Tennessee! (But seeing baby Juniper is totally worth it!)
This is going to be a rough month for moving forward in training, and our first training show for the newly 3-year-olds, Gette and Gino, is February 4th!! I am sure it will be a nice learning experience, at minimum!