Friday, January 25, 2013

Couch Time

I am a keener when it comes to spending time with Gem.  I don't consider myself a fair-weather rider; I go out to the barn if it's hot, humid, raining, snowing, cold.  Perhaps it's because I only see him twice a week, three if I am lucky.  The amount of time I will be spending with him will increase in a few years, but with my current family obligations and work, along with social activities, twice a week at the barn is what I can manage and still maintain a sane balance to my life.

Yes, I admit that I look with envy at some of the riders that I started out with who have increased their riding skills and confidence in leaps and bounds, to the point where all of them can go out on the trails confidently and ALONE.  I have to remind myself that these riders are at the barn 4-6 times a week.  It is going to take a bit longer for me to catch up.  :-) 

The week of January 14th brought some weird precipitation activity; snow, freezing rain, slushy snow with temperatures around the +2C to -5C mark.  Sunday before last, we ended up riding in the arena because the trails were very icy.  By the time we finished up, warmer temperatures had created a very thick fog, rising off the fields of deep snow, and I was very nervous coming back from the barn.  Visibility was probably only 5 car lengths ahead at times.  Making a left turn was nerve-racking due to the lack of visibility of oncoming traffic.  I crossed my fingers as I pulled out......

I did manage to ride in the arena last Friday.  DH's Mom and a couple of other boarders braved the -10C temps after work to practice side passing over a pole.  I am still having issues with my one-handed steering and with relaxing the tension on the reins.   Another exercise we did was riding with our eyes closed.  I know!  Sort of scary.  You start at one end of the arena and walk down the middle to the other end, with your eyes closed.  You are not allowed to steer.  It really makes you aware of how balanced you are in the saddle and the goal is to walk or jog a straight line.  We took turns.  Gem and I excelled at this!  :-)   

On Sunday, it snowed, and snowed.  Road conditions were bad (they closed portions of Hwy 401), so instead of going to the barn, I snuggled on the couch in front of the TV with my dogs.    Monday brought us the deep freeze.  With a high of -18C on Tuesday, our lesson was cancelled. 

I considered going out to the barn on Tuesday in spite of the lesson being cancelled.  I thought I would just give Gem a little groom and visit.  But, as I left the office and walked across the parking lot, the skin on my legs started to freeze through my pants and I lost the feeling in my gloved fingertips.  I could hardly breath.  I am a keener, but.....I reconsidered and went home and snuggled on the couch with the dogs....again. 

The deep freeze has continued all week.  We have been hovering around a high of  -20C (-4F)....without the windchill factored in.  Brrrrr!   Wednesday evening was -30C.  Frostbite warnings have been the norm.  No earrings or rings for me this week; the frozen metal makes my skin and bones ache when outside in these temperatures.  I have been wearing my "SSG 10 Below" riding gloves when outside; they are much warmer than my regular gloves.   Except for Book Club, I have been on the couch in front of the TV snuggling with my dogs every evening this week.  Tonight, temperatures will only dip to -22C (it's getting warmer!!!) so the couch routine will continue, much to the delight of the three snuggliest dogs in Ontario!   Sunday's temperatures are looking a bit better, though.  A high of -12C is forecasted.  Warm enough for me to ride my boy!  Yipee!  I have missed seeing Gem so much.

Hope you are getting time with your horses in spite of winter.  Stay warm and have a great weekend!!

Sunday, January 6, 2013


Happy New Year!!!  I hope everyone had a great holiday season.  I was hoping to get more riding in while I was off work in between Christmas and New Years, but it was not to be.  Some family obligations ate up a few days after Christmas.  Then I came down with a head cold that made me want to drill a hole in my head to drain out whatever was in there creating the pressure behind my eyes.  Of course, because my eyes were puffy, I was unable to put my eyeliner on and had to miss work.  :-)  I did manage to sneak in a trail ride with DH's Mom in between the family stuff and my cold.  

I may not have been out to the barn to keep Gem entertained, but he's been doing fine with entertaining himself......

LA:  Gem gave my (77 year old) mother quite a fright the other morning.
Me:  Oh, dear!  What happened?
LA:  She walked into the barn to do morning feed and Gem walked up the aisle to greet her.
Me:  What!?
LA:  Yep.  He got out of his stall, helped himself to hay from the storage area, pulled all the blankets off the hangers, and pooped up and down the aisle.
 Me:  Good grief.
LA:  Yep.  We are going to have to make sure that the top part of his stall is closed when he's inside so he can't reach the latch.

Now, three things came to mind when she told me this story.  One:  Someone forgot to lock his door.  Two:  I am glad that the sweet feed is locked in a separate room.  Three:  I am glad that he didn't eat any string/twine when he was chowing down.

Christmas Day I received a Facebook IM from the mother of a young lady who has her horse with LA.  

RR:  That Gem of yours should be named Houdini.  LOL
Me:  What's going on??
 RR:  The girls came back from riding in the the arena and he was enjoying his own Christmas dinner.
Me:  You mean he got out again??!
RR:  Yes.  And Kal was loose with him.
Me:  You can't mean that Gem let Kal out??!!  Really??
RR:  He's smart.....
Me:  Sigh

Geez, could Gem really be opening his stall latch??!!  And, was he now asking others to join his party?!  WTH!  I reminded the barn help about keeping the top door of this stall shut.  

A few days later, when I was tacking up to go on my trail ride, another boarder came up to me and Gem and started laughing.

She:  That boy of yours is hilarious
Me:  Really?? 
She:  I was helping bringing in the horses last night and your boy came trotting over to 
   me looking all beautiful and full of himself and as he got closer I saw he was dragging
   something behind him.
Me:  Oh.  What was it?
She:  Half of the electric fence.
Me:  Great.

Fortunately, Gem wasn't hurt.  Unfortunately, the ball of fencing he created couldn't be salvaged. Sigh.

We have had a lot of snow over the last couple of weeks and when we went out over the holiday break, we were breaking new trails.  DH's Mom and I were joined by another boarder.  Although it was -10C and windy, it was so utterly beautiful and pristine that we suffered the frigid temps for an hour and a half.  Gem was happy to be out.  He pranced a few times, he was curious at how different everything looked.  It was a good work out for him, plowing through the snow.  The trails in the forest were a bit tight due to the tree branches being lower from the weight of the snow.  

The first time it happened, I thought it was just an accident.  The second time it happened, I took notice.  The third time it happened, DH's Mom, who was behind me, cracked up.  As we walked through the forest, Gem would grab a cedar tree branch in his mouth and then let it go.  Not only would I get smacked with the branch, but the snap movement would cause a mini avalanch from the branches in close proximity, which would end up on me. Gem continued to use me as his source of amusement for the duration of our ride through the forest.  DH's Mom was having quite a good laugh at my expense.  

I had no idea how much snow was on me until we got back to the barn.  Gem had a pile of snow on his butt and the snow was jammed into the crevices of my saddle.  As I rinsed off Gem's bit in the clean room, I got a good look at myself in the mirror.   I had a little mountain of snow on the top of my helmet, there was packed snow around my collar, on my shoulders, on the front and back of my coat and packed into the zipper.   There was snow in my pockets.  Not my best look.  :-)

Well, our weekly lessons start up again on Tuesday after a 3 week hiatus and I have to say that I am looking forward to getting back into the routine.  Perhaps regular activity will help curb Gem's mischievousness....  nah, probably not....  :-)