I love snow. There I’ve said it. While everyone else is moaning about the white stuff I, not-so-secretly, find it magical.
Yes I am a horse owner, yes it presents its challenges, but the waking up in Narnia fills me with excitement not dread.
Perhaps it’s the novelty; we don’t get proper snow very often (one year in three, maybe) and even then it rarely lasts for more than a day or two.
Or perhaps it’s because I’ve a pony that copes well…an extra rug and haynet as it’s pretty much business as usual (Ab Fab carries her own haynets down to her field too!).
To I certain extent I do understand the snow-related grumbles. In the UK we’re not well equipped to deal with it.
For example, traveling can be an issue. My car hasn’t got winter tyres let alone snow chains. The gritters don’t always managed to keep up with the snowfall and this week’s peak of 2cm/hr snow fall proved too much; a couple of the journeys to the yard were a little slow and slippy.
At the yard, water becomes an issue. The YOs do a fantastic job and somehow manage to keep at least one tap running. They also fill the water troughs with a bowser once the automatic troughs freeze over.
My favouite game of poo picking goes to a new level of fun…distinguishing the difference between a poop and a mole hill when it’s decorated with the white stuff is tricky.
One aspect of proper snow that I am prepared for is the cold. It must be said, equestrian companies need to man-up, any temp below 5C and I’m in ski wear, not horse wear.
This week I have lived in thermals, fleeces, ski-trousers and coat. Day temps haven’t been above 0C and night time have fluctuated between -7C and -2C.
Finding the fun in snow, for me at least, means going with it. There’s little point in fighting the elements and putting yourself through unnecessary suffering. In minus degrees C, I won’t be riding.
Having nearly a week off has been good timing for Abbey. The stress from a week of traveling and competition has, predictably, led to the return of Abbeys ulcer symptoms. I thought it might.
While Abbey stresses about traveling, she is going to keep getting ulcers. We’re in a vicious circle. Originally I’d planned to do the loading and travelling while she was still on medication but the minor issue of the gear box exploding ruined that plan.
Week before last we did 7 days on the trot, culminating with the dressage competition. Each day there were indications that Abbey was learning to relax a little. For example, the first day of travelling Abbey came off dripping in sweat, day two – less so and by day three, just a little calmy. She also relaxed more quickly each time we returned home and when on the box, I could hear that she wasn’t moving her head around as much.
BUT….with each day that we went out on a short journey, Abbey anticipated and became anxious. She’d start to tremble. By day 8 she came in from the field shaking like a leaf. Every time she trembles she gets tucked up and ulcer-like symptoms get a little more pronounced.
So we’re starting again. This time with a light sedation, ulcer medication and a few steps back i.e. just standing on the horsebox until she relaxes, then with half the doors shut, then with all the doors shut, then with the doors shut and engine running and finally, with a short journey. Fingers crossed enforced relaxation. combined with some positive experiences will help her learn to chill.
On the fitness front, Abbey has had a light week. We braved the east winds and hacked on Monday and had a stretch on the lunge on Tuesday. That was it, until yesterday when we went for a mooch around the fields. Initially I had intended to tick another item off the bucket list and go for a canter, but Abbey was rather fresh (understandable after 3 days off and world as she knows it turning bright white!) and I didn’t fancy my chances of keeping her between me and the ground.
(Jeez, what a mushroom head….must get a new Gatehouse Chelsea Air, so much more flattering!)
Today the lady came from Dodson and Horrell for the (dreaded) weigh-in. Abbey read 424kg on the scales, which is 9kg lighter than August last year, but 34kg heavier that this time in 2017 and 12kg heavier than in February 2015. I know she’s a little heavy for this time of year and as a result, I’ve no wriggle room for spring when rich grass comes flying through and Abbey piles on the pounds. My only choice is the up the exercise, so fingers crossed the fields dry up soon, I’ll be able to get out interval training .
I’ve also been watching some Masterclasses on Horse and Country TV. I particularly liked Gemma Tattersall’s exercise for teaching a horse to jump skinnies and as we’ve the equipment down the yard, I keen to give it a try when the weather warms up. In short you start wide and make the same fence thinner and thinner and thinner.