Now that we are getting out of vacation mode, its time to hit the trails again. That means venturing out with waist deep snow, and in temperatures that have dipped below -40 with the windchill. Yikes!
I want to share a few stories and moments with you.
When I go up after work in the evenings, I now have enough light to make about one lap around the back field, before turning on my headlamp and moving to the ring. One particular evening, we went out back with the waning light, and as per our usual routine, trotted down the lower side (which tends to be more shallow due to the prevailing winds). It was deep, but Bentley was eager and loves to play in the snow. We whizzed along in the almost belly deep snow, his legs looking something like a wind up bath toy I remember from my childhood. I kept careful watch that he didnt clock himself in the face with his knees. Posting to this trot is not an option, as my “post” shot me somewhere in the woods of 2 feet out of the saddle. I just had to hold that mane tight, and stand up giggling and bouncing like a child learning to trot for the first time. What fun!
We came around the corner and I knew we were coming into deep drift territory. I sat back, grabbed the reins and said “Ok, time to walk, this is about to get deep”
No sooner had I uttered this words, when SPLAT! Bentley faceplanted into the snow, down on his knees, the whole front half of him disappearing for a moment. There was a brief hesitation, as if he were thinking “Maybe if I just stay under the snow, I will disappear completely and nobody will know what happened.”
With no such luck, a head emerged from the snowbank I was riding (note now the snow was at MY waist while on top of him on his knees) and tried to trot off like nothing happened.
Wait wait wait! He stood tensely as I tried to get him to turn his head toward me so I could brush the snow off his face. Nope, nope, I can’t face you yet, nothing happened! After some more gentle encouragement, he turned just slightly, the most shameful look and a thick layer of snow on his face. Bentley has a high opinion of himself, I couldnt help but laugh, and laugh, and laugh until he got over it and laughed with me. May have been one of the best rides we have ever had!
Skijoring – I have a horse, and I have skis, why am I not skijoring? So I set out to fix that.
Step 1 was to make Bentley comfortable with the thought of me on skis. We had come across a skier once in our travels, and almost ended up roadkill in the resulting spook. So on day 1, I just let him loose in the ring and skied around until he was no longer terrified. Once he realized I had treats in my pockets, he came back to reality and followed me for a few laps around the ring. Note, next time I have to do this, I am skiing BEFORE my riding lesson. My shoulders STILL hurt from trying to make my way through lumpy snow.
Step 2, I got Lee out to be my assistant. It was much colder than the day before, and I promised Lee we wouldnt have to go out for more than 15 minutes. Please learn quick Bentley! We started out without the skis as Bentley has never pulled anything before, and I wasn’t sure how he would react. We walked around the driveway, and I played with some consistent and inconsistent pulling, he didnt seem to care.
Step 3 – Repeat step 1 to make sure skis still arent scary monsters. Then pick up the rope and give it a shot! Barely any reaction. Thank goodness! We can hang up our ropes and skis for the day and get warm again!
(let me vent some frustration here while apologizing for sharing the raw footage. I spent many hours cutting out the parts of video where we werent in the frame, speeding and slowing down pieces to keep it interesting and highlight some of the more dramatic areas, and putting captions along with the movie, but twice I restarted from scratch, and every time Windows Live Movie Maker crapped out on me! If you have any good and free editing software suggestions, please share! I realize video 1 drags like a beast, but if you skip through, you can find some funny spooks and cute moments as he comes around!)
To be continued:
Step 4 – Get a rider on him so we can go farther, and into some of the deeper stuff (outside the ring and parking lot)
Step 5 – Pick up the pace
Step Someday – Perhaps with enough practice I can figure out my hands enough to drive him from behind. Also, someday (likely not until next year) build some little ski jumps and work our way up those!