Monday, February 17, 2014

A wintery week and a double water jump

In my ramblings, I may have mentioned Harley's "giraffe face". Well now I have a photo of him making this silly expression. If anyone has an inkling what this means, please let me know! He tends to do it when he's eating, and sometimes just before a ride, when he might be a little excited. He's not grinding his teeth, just wagging his jaw and looking downright silly. Oh, and it's not due to Rolex sticking her nose in his feed; he does this in his stall too. Any ideas, fellow horsemen and horsewomen?

Thursday night, before the impending snow, Mother Nature treated us to yet another spectacular sunset. The horses are mere shadows in the dark, but if you look closely, you can see four sets of glowing eyes.

Friday's snowstorm dropped a fresh covering, but unfortunately, we had ice and rain on top leaving us with lots of lovely new snow blanketed by a breakable crust--UGH! Then the wind kicked up with swirling snow dervishes skimming over the crust, and despite deceiving sunny skies, frigid wind chill values kept us bundled up and off the horses. We spent some quality time with the horses, hanging out in the pastures, passing out treats and hay.

After each storm, we need to clean accumulated snow off our shelter. It's held up beautifully except for our resident shredder who felt it needed windows! Peek-a-boo Rolex!
Although I have to say, I don't think she's the only culprit here. I've seen Vance standing inside it when all the other horses are outside. I think he's another shredder, just hasn't been caught in the act like our chestnut girl. Notice who's peering over John's head? See the innocent looking black Standardbred with the wide eyes? John's trying out the new window!

After barn chores and shoveling off the shelter, we delivered hay via the sled. Our friend Lili was enjoying a nice snowshoe through the fields (the best mode of transport) and after plowing, Hank arrived for a little snowmobile fun. Yes, these machines can come in handy when you need to tromp down a lot of crusty snow for your horses. Hank buzzed around the top of the field, loosening up the crust, and then took a few laps around the bottom, making "trails" for our guys. So far, the horses stayed within a small area near the shelter and under the trees where we have hay nets hung, but most of the pasture remained untrammeled due to the crust. Hank and his machine to the rescue!

John got his first chance to drive the snowmobile as he towed Hank in our hay sled. Then they swapped drivers and went up the hill to retrieve another bale of hay. Voila--speedy hay delivery and one heck of a ride! The horses have seen snowmobiles come down the power line by the road and now have experienced one close up. All seemed curious, but not spooked, especially since Hank drove slowly past them, and since it had their beloved hay sled following behind. Ever the bold girl, Rolex tried to follow them!

After we dispersed the hay, the horses happily noshed away, out of the wind and in the sun.

Our birthday girl, Ruffy, was curious about our snowshoes, as were all the horses. She approached and peered down at my feet, but quickly realized it was not so scary after all, then proceeded to eat the snow in my footsteps. She likes to "dip" into her water while eating. I watched her eat a bit of hay, and then take a nibble of snow to wet it down.

Harley and Rolex thought eating my snowshoes might be more fun. Rolex sniffed and took a nip at the end of the binding lace! Then she took a gentle nip at the metal rim, but decided it wasn't too tasty and went back to her hay. Harley sniffed, then put his teeth on the rim too. That wasn't any good, but he licked the snow off the decking! Silly ponies! Vance just ignored us and worked on eating down his hay pile.

For our President's Day ride, we headed down to Orris Falls where the multitude of snowshoers had tromped out the trail and broken the crust. It was still hard going as Harley and Rolex sank through in the deeper places. We switched off leaders a few times, letting the horses choose the route. Riding alongside the chasm, Harley peered over at the flowing water and ice. But when we had to cross the brook, he put on his brave face, and marched on through, giving Rolex confidence. The next crossing presented a bigger challenge. Rolex wouldn't cross and neither would Harley. His credo is, "if she won't do it, neither will I". John dismounted and with some urging and time for consideration, Rolex took a big leap. Harley followed suit. When we turned back, I was ready for another big leap, grabbed mane and let him go. Then Mr. Prancypants thought it was time to pick up the pace and jog home. Before this got out of hand, we slowed the horses down. Too much bashing ahead without thinking and someone might get hurt!

Back on the road, I relished the long daylight hours and our long shadows as we headed for home.

With the wind still howling, we put coolers on our horses and let them dry off inside. One of the downsides of winter riding with an un-clipped horse is keeping them warm while they dry off. Now it was time for a hot mash and dinner. Harley had a little snooze while we made the mash, relaxing after his big adventure.

And tomorrow? More snow on the way--another 5 to 10 inches!

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