Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Windchill Continues

I'm proud of the fact that so far Sage and I have managed to get out there every week at least once for a ride (until this week anyways). We had a thaw with temperatures up to 40+° F recently, and when everything froze back up the footing became a mess.

Our lesson last week focused on steering lightly again. My instructor said "offer softness to your horse; whatever feel you offer them is the feel they will offer you." Wise words.

After freezing in our lesson two weeks before that, Mom and I bundled up this time. Down coats were dug out of closets, snow pants were donned over winter riding breeches, wool socks were found. And we roasted!! Twenty minutes into the lesson I unzipped my coat and chucked off my gloves entirely because I was so warm. It was kind of funny to find ourselves at such an opposite extreme.

It was nice and sunny and the horses were incredibly sleepy and unwilling to move. We took them out for a little walk on the road thinking that with the road clear now we may have our lesson there. On our way back, as we led the horses across the field back to their pasture, they both looked at each other and then dropped and rolled. Apparently fresh deep snow is impossible to resist! Of course this happened 2 seconds after our riding instructor showed up and told us to hustle back to the barn for our lesson. 0__o

Sage and I got moving pretty good once he was under saddle and awake. My mom's Mustang mare Thea was just determined to be a slow-poke though so we kept having to steer around her. She's still a greenie and I think part of it was her adjusting to carrying a human through deep snow.

After our instructor left I took Sage out on the road for the first time since Mom moved here in October. We went down the road 100 ft or so and then came back to the intersection; as we turned around to start back down that stretch Mom called out that there was a UPS truck coming from the road on our right. Then I looked up ahead and saw a HUGE schoolbus coming towards us! (I swear they get bigger when you're on horseback.) Sage was *so* good! I guided him over to the side of the road and told him to stand as the schoolbus bore down on us. Of course they had to stop for the intersection and there we are standing off to the side with their airbrakes right by us. The UPS truck went around us and Sage squirmed a tiny bit but stayed put. Then the bus drove past us, and then a car flew by! This intersection has never been so busy in the entire time my parents have lived there so *of course* it had to be that busy during our first 5 minutes of riding!!!

Sage was so good for that that I got off and brought him back to the barn to give him apples. I was a little sad to ditch our original plan of riding a bit longer, but he'd already put in an hour in our riding lesson.

Then yesterday we didn't have a lesson, and that was good because there was a windchill warning in effect and even with neck gators on and pulled up to our eyeballs we both felt our cheeks go numb pretty fast.

Despite the atrocious temperatures the sun was shining and I just couldn't resist getting out there to do *something* with my boy. So we led them up the road in the other direction, up a steep hill, and conquered the scary scary mail box that for some reason had a ripped plastic bag tied to it. Thea, who is normally a bit spooky, tried to eat it, and Sage, who is normally unflappable, walked by just fine and then spooked once we were up the road a ways. I have noticed that the few times he's spooked, it's always been when something was behind him. So, I am thinking about how we can work on that. Also, Thea was getting worked up on the road so Mom and I switched horses as she finds it easier to work with Mr. Mellow Sage. It was interesting to watch Thea calm right down and Sage get upset. They really do pick up on 'their' person's energy so much!

It was also interesting to lead them out of their pasture through the gate by our driveway. We haven't done this before in the winter because the driveway has been to icy, but we tried it yesterday. There was a deep bank of snow and both horses sank down into it when we left. And then going back in to their pasture they both hesitated and didn't want to go. The interesting thing is that they were just fine last week in much deeper snow and I can only conclude the snow is less comfortable now that everything's melted and gotten crusty. They both went through with a parelli point-and-send though.

Anyways, some pictures. None of me riding because my camera dies in the cold. Mom was out at the intersection trying to take sunny pictures of us riding in the road, but her camera hadn't been charged. So, only pictures of Sage loose in the pasture...

Sage begging for dinner. He knows this is the grain room.

I took this picture out my car window as I was leaving the barn. I love how cozy the horses look in that light.

And a sunset picture, with a blurry Sage-head.


  1. "Whatever feel you offer them is the feel they will offer you."
    So true. Thank you for the reminder.
    Penny Johnson

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  3. Sage is SO CUTE. (And look how long his forelock has gotten!)

    I didn't know horses would roll in really deep snow.

    And I'm impressed by Sage's reaction to the schoolbus. I think Dolly would probably be okay because she used to live on the intersection of two major roads, but I'll bet it would scare Diamond badly.

  4. You are doing an impressive job of getting out there and riding on a regular basis! Mother Nature surely keeps us guessing and on our toes...that melt and re-ice can be disastrous! At least you were prepared for the cold and able to remove some layers-better than the reverse!

    Standing thru the air brakes of the HUGE bus and then the UPS truck passing by shows Sage is sure comfortable with you as his leader...yep they quickly pick up on their rider/handler's energy!

    Do you ground/line drive Sage? You could try that for starters to get him accustomed to having someone behind him--then move up to having him drag a tire. And simply using a plastic bag on a stick to desensitize, working up to getting it behind him at greater distances while out for a walk. Either might help him to get thru his uneasiness with something sneaking up from behind!:~)

    Best wishes and hopes for the weather to give you a big seasonal break!

  5. Hmmm...that's a good thought. When Sage was first started under saddle he was ground driven a LOT by our trainer, and he spooked a lot then too. She took him out on the trails and the dirt roads with her 5 dogs along, popping in and out of the brush while she ground drove him. Guess he got better after that...

    So hmm, maybe he needs something like that again. Even just ground driving him while carrying the plastic bag/stick....

    Thanks for that thought!!

  6. Brie, I bet you are VERY pleased to the non-reaction to the school bus and the UPS truck. I know I would be. The last Saturday I rode on my road, about 15 cars/trucks passed me in a 1/4 mile until I was able to turn off on Back Street. annoying...but that is Murphy's Law! Penny is not the only one who loved the comment about the "feel" you offer to your horse. Thanks!

  7. It warms my heart to hear your observations! You have a real feel for horses and a solid foundation under you in training. Sage is a cutie and obviously trusts you to keep him safe. And YUP, isn't it just Murphy's law that traffic comes on the first ride, the horses decide to roll just when the instructor arrives and the weather warms up just when we find our true winter gear!?!? Thanks for taking the time to share.


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