I rode Pie at nine o'clock this morning in a blizzard and we had a ball! He was clearly enjoying himself and did not want to go back to the barn when it was time to quit. This is a photo of our tracks. The depth around the path is probably about eleven inches, but this track is compact and easier to walk in for Pie.
We had ten inches on Thursday and another five are expected this morning. The deepness is getting crazy silly, but an amazing thing has happened - my horses can finally move around safely, freely. This enormous batch of snow was actually a welcome to our pastures because it covered up the dangerous ice tundra that was keeping them inside for too many hours a day or completely immobile when they were outside. Now, they are able to frolic and run and play and move!
This morning I was able to ride Pie in a track over to my mom's driveway and back again to the barn driveway, above. We circled many times in each driveway, but he kept wanting to go through the woods and fields. I just didn't think that was such a great idea. He would "dive" off the track into the deep parts and plow through like a snowplow. It felt like my feet were touching the snow! He would have been drenched if I had allowed him to go where he wanted through the fields and around the farm so I made him get back on the shallow (relatively speaking - not actually too shallow) tracks and driveway. But, the best part was how much he wanted to GO! I love when my horse is just as eager as me for a ride. The snow was coming fast and furious and yet I was able to ride him on the buckle. It was sooooo beautiful and I truly felt like I was in a movie (Jeremiah Johnson actually was playing in my mind the whole time - see photo below).
Here is the good boy after our ride munching some hay. And the brothers are below. Last night was the first night in a long time I could leave them outside without fear of them slipping on ice. They were so happy to be out and I was so happy for them! I brought them inside this morning to groom and check them over and I realized I could safely ride! Wow - riding - now that's a novel idea! I was going to ride Foggy, but Pie was so fussy and nervous - lip-flipping and head bobbing with such fury I knew he needed it more than Foggy.
After our ride all three were glad I put them back out - even though the snow was still coming down quickly and it is a windy, vicious white out. But they are tired of being in the barn! I checked their sheds and they are warm and clean and cozy and I always scrub their outside heated water troughs daily so they are steamy and perfect. The only problem is the falling snow covers the hay, but I've seen them dig and nudge and find the fresh so I think outside is where they should be.
As I made my way home through the empty streets I was giddy with the afterglow of riding a sweet horse through a deep snowstorm. I was grinning from ear to ear like a lunatic. I started thinking how annoying I must be to you, my intrepid blog readers if any of you are left. Everyone is (rightly) annoyed with this winter, this weather, and yet I am usually posting about how happy I am and how much fun I am having.
I suppose some clarification is in order. I've mentioned before that I philosophically believe in Pollyanna's Glad Game on many levels, but this is especially true where horses are concerned. I do not ride and take care of horses for money. They are not my livelihood. They are my recreation. I do this for fun and relaxation. Therefore, it seems ridiculous to me to grumble about anything to do with the barn and the horses. They make me feel optimistic, grateful, and glad.
In my regular life, I can bitch and piss and moan with the best of them. Just ask my family. But, the barn, the horses, they are my sanctuary. There, all things are good. Truly. Yes, even this winter.
I am so amazingly fortunate to have three horses at all. Our barn is old and rickety and in need of some TLC but it still is safe enough to give the boys shelter overnight when the ice is too dangerous. The sheds are wonderful and we have good hay and heated water buckets outside that have only stopped working once.
We do not have a skid loader or any farm equipment at all. We have a snow blower but for some reason it doesn't want to shoot the snow. I see the auger turning and it isn't jammed but nothing shoots out. I turn it on and drag it around the farm until my clothes are wet straight through from sweating and my body aches and I realize that was a huge waste time.
I shovel what I can and then drag the wheelbarrows through knee deep snow and ice to get the hay out to the horses. Sometimes the sweat on my hat freezes and there are icicles hanging down all over my head.
And, honestly almost every single day, through the icicles and sweat I start cracking up laughing thinking what I must look like. Seriously, if someone were watching me from the road, from the auto auction, from the sky, from heaven they would say - Who in the world would do all that? The answer is: Someone who is crazy in love with horses and who is incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to do all this, that's who. I am someone who appreciates days like this morning. I am luckier than most people. I ride almost every day of the year.
I remember a hot June day in 2009 unloading 200 bales of hay upstairs in our barn. My dad appeared in the doorway and shook his head with a confused look as he said, "You must really love horses." He is gone, but I think of that all the time now. I do. I. Really. Love. Horses.
We all love something. I love horses and to spend time with them means to be subjected to less than ideal conditions sometimes. I love horses in winter when it is horrid and in summer with the bugs and in lovely spring and in perfect fall. I love the work. I love that we don't have a skid loader, not because I am a masochist but if I wasn't dragging the wheelbarrows through the deep snow my ass would be so big and wide from sitting around inside eating that I would be a poor rider and have to join a gym.
I feel the pain of this winter. It sucks. It really sucks. But, the horses find a way to enjoy it all and through them, I do too. And, most importantly, sometimes I take their joy, their bliss, that Pollyanna-all-is-right-with-the-world-feeling home with me and let it bleed over into my everyday life.