Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Trials of Winter Riding

What time are we riding today???

Are you done eating yet?

Did I plug in the truck?

Oh geez, I forgot I disconnected the trailer last week....sigh.

Yes, winter riding is a challenge. Just when I think I have it down to a manageable routine, somehow a monkey wrench gets thrown in. It takes two hours minimum for the truck to be "warmed" enough to start, which means remembering to plug it in before I feed my horses. With all the tank heaters going in the middle of 9 degrees, we try to only use what electrical devices we actually need. Since I don't drive my rig exclusively with the horse trailer, some days I have extra steps I have to take just to get out of the driveway. And you really must be kind to old diesels, they will work their heart out for you as long as you treat them with extra care. My old diesel is over her 300,000 mark, which makes both of us members of the "road well traveled" club!!

I hate to be late, but I have come to realize, being late is OK. Me and my horses arrive intact if I take time to prepare for the drive.

Sometimes the weather just does not cooperate either! Have you ever noticed how you plan for a picnic and it always seems to pick that day to rain?? Well, winter snow and riding is a lot like that. I tend to be a bit on the safe side and not drive this 45 foot rig when the roads are slick. I like tomorrow too much to chance missing it.

And just who do you take riding today? Which horse needs the workout most? Do I take the Thoroughbred who is way out of shape and burn off those precious calories I keep pouring into her? I know she will give me her best and love the full day of attention. Do I take my young filly who is going to be full of energy and fire? Do I take my stallion, who will give me a good quiet ride and could use burning off some winter chunk?

And then you must, absolutely must, dress properly to ride in 20 degrees. There is no argument on that. Making your helmet fit over your thermal cap is good for a laugh, not only do you get great helmet-hair, you get itchy helmet-head too! And just how does my trainer know I am's the coat I tell you!! I have 5 layers on under here, there is no way I dropped my shoulder on that transition! He can't tell crap about what my body is doing, my seat is fine, even if my seat bones can't touch the saddle through the layers of long johns and breeches! My wrist did not's the gloves, really!! I tell you, my back IS straight, I am NOT caving my arch!! I am sitting deep, can't he see anything???

Why do we do this to ourselves? What is the driving force that pushes us to crawl on arthritic knees to hook up those safety chains in a bed of snow? Why do we constantly push ourselves with numb limbs to ride it through?

Because we make progress and succeed! The horse is happiest when he is working with you. You feel better when you have ridden the perfect circle. You get an awesome workout, the day is brighter and you get to breath-in warmed horse body aroma. There is nothing better for a horse person than the satisfaction of the ride. It is an unexplainable thing. It is just there to be done.

When I get home, with my limbs warm and tired, I open the trailer door to see my horse standing, hip cocked and relaxed under his woolly cooler and I know he feels just as satisfied with the days work as I do. The drive home from the barn is just long enough to cool him down so his coat is dry when I pull off his cooler. Rubbed and combed, he gets his treat and off to his paddock for a good roll in the snow.

Here's to good planning for tomorrow, good weather for the drive and happy trails for everyone!!

1 comment:

Stephanie said...

I can't say that winter riding is my favorite time of year to ride - but its still RIDING - which is better than many other thing one can do in the winter. And when I have access to my pony I am guilty of it myself.

Cute picture!