Friday, April 25, 2014

Sittin' out on spring

While I wait for my hand to heal, John get's all the fun riding Harley and the girls. My hand is still sore if I overdue things, such as too much mucking, but I know it's on the mend and I'm looking forward to getting back in the full swing of things.

The black flies arrived with the warm days, but by sundown, the temperature drops back into the thirties. When rain accompanies temperatures like this, the horses spend the night inside. We're all looking forward to cool, clear spring nights, without bugs, and wind sheets!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

What's that white stuff?

Snow in April? Just when we thought winter was over, we get one more dusting. Monday I was riding in a t-shirt and Wednesday, the ground is white again!

Well Harley will get a little vacation since I'm recuperating from carpal tunnel surgery. If John has the time to work all three horses, that would be great. But since I'll be useless for a couple of weeks, the work load for John will double and decrease for 'ole Gnarly Harley.

So today I can brush the horses, pick up sticks, pick off ticks--yes, they're here--and do some light house work. But once this hand is healed--let the games begin!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Signs of Spring: woes and "whoas!"

Hairy Halawa Moon
One of spring's joys is long days that allow time for riding after work. But we're now faced with trail obstacles such as ice, still lurking under the evergreens, deep pools of standing water, and mud mid-cannon bone deep. Spring also puts quite a spring in Harley's step--more precisely, a prance! He can be a handful, especially when on a solo ride, so I'm always prepared to walk when he puts up a stink. 'Ole Mr. Moon can act like he's facing never before seen monsters, but I think it's all a ploy, a way of telling me how good he feels as he snorts and prances.

I see, hear, and smell spring everywhere at the barn. The horses shed hair in great billowing puffs. The woodcocks flutter, whistle, and spiral in the evening dusk. The melting ice and snow percolate--emitting little sizzling sounds. And I can smell spring mud, everywhere, MUD! All my favorite signs of spring countered by thick, oozing mud.

After a visit from St. Butch, our farrier, on Saturday, John and I set our with Rolex and Harley for a jaunt up towards Tatnic. The melted snowbanks re-opened terrain that was nearly impossible to get at for a part of the winter when the horses were not keen to clamber over chest-deep, frozen snow. Out on the Nature Trail, we moved along at a good trot until Harley decided to shift into high gear and try to pass Rolex. That "Little Miss", determined to stay out front, kicked up her heels at Harley, bringing the "race" back down to a more sedate trot.

Out on the Nature Trail
John and I made route decisions as we reached each junction. We ended up heading for Hill Road and the trail leading past the stone cabin. The old road was literally a brook. Water poured down among the rocks and ledge, washing the leaves and dirt down to the eroded bedrock. The horses scrambled a bit, looking for sure footing, and balked at some of the knee-deep pools. We didn't get too far before my opinionated mount decided he'd had enough. Even when Rolex, gamely forged on through icy water, Harley turned around, plowed back down the watery trail, and headed for home. When he gets in a snit, it's time to throw in the towel before it boils down to a game of wills.

We rode home via the road, always good for de-sensitizing. The passing cars and trucks didn't really faze Harley, but sudden movement from a squirrel, a bird flying up, barking dogs along the roadway--all can made him jump. So though I hate riding the road, especially solo, I feel better when there's two of us. Once on familiar territory, Harley settled, heaving a big sigh when we got home.

Springtime nap
Sunday promised good riding weather. After the barn chores done were done, I planned to get in a ride. The horses enjoyed the warm weather, snoozing in the spring sunshine. I almost felt guilty going to get Harley--they all looked so peaceful and happy.

But get him I did, and off I rode, headed for the trails around North Point. Unfortunately, we had to abort that plan until Mr. Skinner's land dries up. I appreciate the access he's allowed us, so in return , we won't tear up his property.

Harley assumed the ride was over since we turned back. Ha! So once we reached the barn, we had a bit of a tussle. I convinced him to head down the hill towards Orris Falls. But when I asked him to go up the power line, he had another hissy fit and tried to head home. Again, I won and we continued up the trail. But wait--what's that in the woods? Two hikers and their dog crossed the power line and went into the woods--enough to bring Harley to a halt, ears up, ready to spin for home again. To my surprise, he kept moving forward, cresting the hill and wading through two large puddles. But the third puddle, deeper than the previous two, proved his undoing. Another attempted spin for home, bashing under tree limbs, but I swerved him back around and let him think about things and settle. With much urging, he marched back through all the water puddles. Now that we'd passed the worst obstacles,  it was smooth sailing the rest of the way. Oh, my poor Harley--it's a tough life you live!

Back home, I spent a bit of time clearing up the detritus of winter storm. Around the house, I notice the tulips were sticking up a bit--a promise of spring's arrival! Beneath layers of leaf mulch, the ferns, wild ginger, and other border plants are emerging, testing the air to see if it's safe at last to poke their greenery up to the spring sunshine. I think we've seen the last of winter. The remaining snowbanks melt back a bit further each day and the snowline creeps back up into the woods in the backyard like a receding glacier. Winter has given up her icy grasp on us and warmer days are right around the corner! Soon the bloodroot and bleeding heart will bloom, but not until that last snowbank on the north side of the house finally disappears! You can just make out some ferns near the brick foundation--early greenery to go with the rhododendron.

It's taken me a week to finally write this entire post. I've had many late nights at the barn now that it isn't truly dark until 7:30 p.m. Once the horses are out at night, our work load will be reduced with no more stalls to muck.We are ALL looking forward to those days!