Frolicking in the Snow

Its likely I don’t have to tell you about the snowstorm we got on Saturday.  I won’t waste my time here discussing weather (save that for the water cooler!), but I will say that it snowed enough here for me to opt out of riding on Saturday, in favor of going home before the roads got even more miserable.  So after stalls were done and the “lungables” were done, I headed home and locked myself up for the rest of the day with Christmas movies and a kg of garlic to pickle.

Sunday came fresh with good spirits and peaceful calm.  Lee had to work early, so I drove him in and ended up at the barn about 45 minutes before my shift started.  I took the time to get Bentley and bring him in (expecting to ride at some point that day) as well as visit all the ponies.  It was so peaceful watching the sun rise over the farm, not a footprint to be seen in the fresh powder.

IMG_00000350
Wow, can it get any dreamier than this?
Bentley surveys his kingdom
Bentley surveys his kingdom
Ponies are so cute in winter.  90% mane, 10% pony
Ponies are so cute in winter. 90% mane, 10% pony
Bentley asks, are we going in yet?  Or are you just going to sit here taking pictures of my friends all day?
Bentley asks, are we going in yet? Or are you just going to sit here taking pictures of my friends all day?
Bentley and Teacup share a drink.  It was so cold overnight that despite the water heater in the trough, it still froze over.  Everyone was quite thirsty and I was thankful I arrived early!
Bentley and Teacup share a drink. It was so cold overnight that despite the water heater in the trough, it still froze over. Everyone was quite thirsty and I was thankful I arrived early!

Then as per usual, I got to my chores in the big barn. Don is now working each day so we got through everything really quickly.  All the stalls and all the lungables & walkables were done by 10:30!

Grace Kelly was of course my favorite handwalk of the day.  She is so sweet, but since tripping and pulling something she has been on stall rest and is going nutty.  She trucked me around the arena with excitement.  Then Irish, who should be lunged (but was being naughty) got some walk/trot in hand work.  I stuffed my pockets full of treats.  First time she couldn’t figure out how to eat it, it was so funny (it was just a little treat kibble) because she would play with it in her lips for a bit, then grind it… treat dust falling everywhere.  Eventually she figured it out and became voracious for my pocket.  She picked up quickly on what I was asking her to do in hand – transitions up and down, and even worked on sidepass and turn on forehand.  She has a tendency to get worked up really fast however, so we kept the lesson short and sweet because she started to be TOO eager to perform (and accept her reward) and I had to quit before she got out of hand.  Of course, I count this as double the running as I jogged her around the arena – sand and my -60C boots make it twice the workout!

Merry Christmas Grace Kelly!
Merry Christmas Grace Kelly!

With all that behind me, I took a journey down to our local tack shop to do some Christmas shopping.  They had additional amounts off their already clearance items, so I couldnt help but take a look – and I walked out with a fancy new winter jacket!  Its puffy and warm and goes down to mid calf – but it has all sorts of wonderful features for riding: straps for my legs to keep the coat from blowing (thereby keeping legs warm!), fans at the back to cover the saddle, long arms with stretchy wool cuffs, and the hood seems to be the perfect size and shape to go over my helmet without being restrictive!  So what to do now, but put it to the test!

My first ride for the day would be Romance, I did some ring work and she was very quiet, so I decided she would be allowed out.  I have never taken her outside before, and I am not sure if she has been ridden in the snow, but I had faith!

She started off calm and eager.  "Hey this seems like fun! I can do this!"
She started off calm and eager. “Hey this seems like fun! I can do this!”
Then she looks back and sees how far she is from home
Then she looks back and sees how far she is from home – this may be a gamechanger!

After about 10 minutes of nice walking, she decided the best way through the snow was to passage through it (especially since we were now in the unplowed territory).  I was not all too surprised by this as she likes to piaffe and passage her way out to her paddock in winter turnout (according to my memory last year), so I had no trouble staying calm through shenanigans and it stayed controlled.  She is quite respectful about staying the speed I ask, so long as its in her gait.  What a character!  Actually, I wouldn’t say I was just calm, I was giggling and smiling – appreciating the fun of the slow bounce.  After she tired a bit of that, she walked nicely again – but with moments.  It would go something like this: walk 2 minutes, back up and spin for 15 seconds.  Walk for 5 minutes, mini rear then twist back and forth dropping shoulders.  Repeat.  Then finish by walking perfectly and calm as if nothing ever happened.  Shenanigans yes, but I surprised myself by staying perfectly level through it all.  No “holy cow romance are you trying to kill me?!?”  Just “see my rein down there, thats where your head goes please”  I am very proud of myself for this!

When we finished, we ran into Karen picking up her daughters and she was happy to take a picture of us.  Finally a picture of me on Romance, and you can see my lovely coat!

A return to calm after a few silly moments.  But overall a good quiet ride outside for our first try and given the excitement of the white stuff!
A return to calm after a few silly moments. But overall a good quiet ride outside for our first try and given the excitement of the white stuff!

Next in line was Raz.  I stayed indoors with him given that he is generally more nervous than Romance.  Nothing out of the ordinary to report here, we are just gradually getting to know each other – so I was able to get him to frame up more, but wow does he ever take a lot of effort to get moving!  I think I still like my hot horses best.

Bentley got to be my grand finale for the day, and boy was he ever!  Be prepared – this is going to get pretty photo heavy!

He started off being ridiculously hyper.  Bouncing around and snorting like a mad man.  I took him into one of the rings and tested out the footing, he had a good slip and slide in one side, but the other was good footing, so we had a quick trot and canter to see if it would get the beans out of him – nope!  I considered going back – Romance started out great and gradually got worked up, so if Bentley started like this, then what might he do?

Thankfully I pressed onward and worked hard on keeping myself soft on his mouth – checking him just gets him riled up more, and he had calmed down enough by the time we reached the top of the road loop, that I felt comfortable “offroad.”

The flapping of his mane should give you an idea of the bounce he was giving! (and this was AFTER the worst was over and I was comfortable enough to whip out my phone camera)
The flapping of his mane should give you an idea of the bounce he was giving! (and this was AFTER the worst was over and I was comfortable enough to whip out my phone camera)
Down the path to the orchard!
Down the path to the orchard!
Selfie of my new coat!  Warm, dry and having a blast!
Selfie of my new coat! Warm, dry and having a blast!
Looking out over the valley and the bunny hill.  Boy was that ever fun in the snow!
Looking out over the valley and the bunny hill. Boy was that ever fun in the snow!

Bentley was very mature and allowed me to take photos throughout.  We saw tracks that must have meant that Becky, the across the road neighbor, must have been there earlier that day.  I need to get her contact info, so next time we can meet up!  So began our “see where Becky went” phase of the ride.

I love the thick trees just covered in snow!  Very picturesque.
I love the thick trees just covered in snow! Very picturesque.
Becky tracks!
Becky tracks!

I stopped to take pictures of the apples – they looked so cute.  Spotty round and bright, and the snow piled on in the shape of a cone, looking like little fuzzy hats for the apples.  Adorable!

Cute little apple-elves. It sure feels like Christmas!
Cute little apple-elves. It sure feels like Christmas!

Bentley of course, had other plans for the apples and spent quite a bit of time trying to make them his afternoon snack.  I happened to catch some of the “bobbing” on video, including his success.  Of course, the bobbing was much longer than in the video, as it took me ages to have the good sense to take video instead of pictures.

A nice shot of a row of apple trees.  Still lots of fruit left if you are into making cider!
A nice shot of a row of apple trees. Still lots of fruit left if you are into making cider!
Getting out into the big field.  We had lost the Becky tracks in the orchard (she must have turned around and went home) but here we started following the deer.
Getting out into the big field. We had lost the Becky tracks in the orchard (she must have turned around and went home) but here we started following the deer.
Yet another perfect view
Yet another perfect view
Coming up to the main driveway
Coming up to the main driveway
Proud to be here
Proud to be here
Heading home
Heading home
Hoofprints in the snow - does it get any better!
Hoofprints in the snow – does it get any better!

You couldn’t get the grin off my face no matter how hard you tried after a ride like that!  Just perfect!

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