Saturday, March 23, 2013

It's been a heck of a winter. And it's not over yet.

The calendar can tell me it's spring now, and the commercials on TV flaunt colourful skimpy clothes, and the horses are shedding clouds of loosened winter hair, but I'm not buying it.  The wind is still whipping across the corral like it's trying to kill me and it still feels like winter.

But you know what?  I AM SURVIVING IT.  Every November I'm pretty sure I'll freeze to death before March.  I know I've blogged about it but I'm too lazy to look it up and link it.  If you've been around here any length of time, you know how this goes...  I'm Canadian; it is my patriotic duty to alternately complain bitterly about winter and brag about how tough we are to simply live through it year after year.

This is what my lessons looked like during March Break this year:

Oddly enough I don't have any pictures of lessons during March Break last year, because I only had one student.  And THIS is what it was like outside then:

NO SNOW.  It was actually warm. The grass was turning green.  I have videos of the kids and I off checking out a really interesting spot on a dirt road a few miles away from home, now that the Girl is always on the search for photo shoot locations.  All three of us were wearing shorts and T shirts.  In March.  In Canada.  It happens maybe once every ten years or so.  We've had a few mild winters, but this year reminded us what the deal is.  

Here, my daughter and I hopped on bareback and bit less.  That's my favourite way to go in winter - body warmth and no cold metal in the horse's mouth.  But as you can see, we didn't venture away from the barnyard! And yes, I am riding in my thermal coveralls.  Until somebody invents winter riding gear that doesn't look like I'm off to a hunter-jumper show, I'll be wearing coveralls from November to April. 

See - proof that I did get on and ride in the snow! I don't know what's going on with my hand on the reins there.  That don't look proper.  Maybe my fingers were too frozen to hold them with any kind of effectiveness.  Ah heck who cares.  It was minus-freezing-degrees celsius and I was on a horse - yay me regardless, I figure.

This is the path I dug from the house to the lane.

This is the trench I dug from the lane to the barn.

This is the trench I dug around the snowdrifts so the horses could get to the hay feeder.

And finally, the trench I dug to the manure pile.  Sigh.

But y'know, these guys seemed okay.  I am not one for pampering my horses.  I believe in taking care of them and keeping them from becoming stressed.  But they will choose to stand out there in the wet snow.  Everything runs down their hides and ends in little icicles dripping off their bellies, and they look pretty okay with the whole set up. They've got hay, they've got shelter, they've got a water source that doesn't freeze thanks to modern technology. 

It's just us humans who have the problem!

These pictures were taken by my friend Leslie, my former neighbour, who came with her younger son (aka Cute Stuff) to visit the farm during March Break. She's pretty tough too.  Every morning she takes a 120 lb dog for a loooong walk so she gets the concept of good outerwear.  She took these pictures through the dining room window.  

Dig me in my fashionable thermal coveralls.  That's western, people.  Quit screwing around and get to work.  

So yeah, my rider and I are pretty tough and all.... but our actual ride was about twenty minutes.  

It'll get better.  I mean, it'll get worse first, now that everything that was frozen is melting, and my mares have decided to hate each other because there's a gelding involved, and I'll need more hay before the pasture comes back.  My riders are coming back to me despite the cold and lingering snowbanks.  We're going to be okay.  Repeat after me: WE'RE GOING TO BE OKAY.


Alice Kildaire said...

It's going to be ok!

mugwump said...

Such a gnarly woman....

Paul Tee said...

I don't ride... I write. BUT in my stories I often have my characters riding. What do you expect? I write medieval fiction, so they HAVE to ride.

But riding is only a small part of it. I have to describe for my readers, a culture of horses and horsemanship.

Now before you get excited that I have no right to write about things I don't know, in my defense I have ridden before, just not often. I have had a number of close calls as well, where the horse and I didn't see eye to eye. I mean, he was of a different opinion from me...

So I look to people like Heidi for the real stuff. In fact Heidi checked out one of my books for authenticity and she gave it a passing grade (Damn, I was looking for A+, but had to settle for a C).

But there you have it, right on this blog, the evidence: snow or no snow, ice or sleet, mud up to your knees, swarms of insects, collapsing wheelbarrow, sub zero subs, and so on. You have to have passion and commitment to own horses and to ride them. Kudos.

Interestingly, I am in the same weather system she is, but I see snow differently. I only get into my thermal overalls when I have to get on my Ford tractor (circa 1960's) to clear my long lane up to the road. But it's not a day to day slog.

And that's why I love this blog. The award shows, the red carpet reviews, concert rehash are thrown in as a bonus.

So here too, we are going to be OK.

Heidi Willis said...

I love when you have lots of pictures! It always surprises me when your weather in Canada looks like mine in Virginia!

It is now Spring Break, and it snowed all night for the first real snowfall of this winter (even though it's not even winter anymore). The ground is covered. The trees are covered. The daffodils are covered. Tomorrow it will all be icy in the morning and soggy by afternoon. Spring is really not my favorite season.

Glad to see you riding and teaching! YAY you!!