Has it really been a month since I last posted? Oh, the doldrums of winter keep me away from the blog and outta the saddle. Sadness.
We just got through a cold spell that broke decades old records. And I'm pleased to report all three horses actually look like they gained weight rather than lost it! It helps when you toss as much hay at them as they can possibly eat and pair it with warm morning meals of beet pulp, oats and pellets.
None of them are blanketed, either. That was a hard decision for me to make this season. Last year, they all wore blankets during the coldest bit of winter. This year, I just bedded their run-ins with straw about two feet deep and they were just fine. I did have a weak moment when I thought about going out and tossing blankets on all of them during the negative degrees, days and evenings, but reconsidered. They all have such thick, long coats and I think I would have done them no favors by putting heavy blankets on them that would just smash down that fluffy hair and probably make them colder. Every day I checked on them...buried my fingers deep in their hair to discover toasty warm ponies under all that fluff. I believe I made the right decision not to blanket. Chief may need it in the future as he gets older, but as long as he's keeping weight on and growing a thick fluffy coat, the blankets will stay packed away.
Do these fuzzy ponies look at all chilled to you? Gabe grew an especially thick, fuzzy coat this year!
So, needless to say, I haven't ridden in well over a month. I don't really mind riding in the cold, but when that cold weather means the "arena" is frozen solid with huge divots in it (from the last time I longed Gabe and he was as high as a kite and tearing up the already muddy ground), riding just isn't the best idea. Sure, I could have tacked up and ridden up and down the driveway, but again, Gabe hasn't been ridden in a month and I'm pretty sure he would have left my hiney on the ground in his exuberance! Am I a little cautious about riding him without a good longe session first? You betcha! I might be a little crazy, but I'm not dumb. I don't bounce as well as I used to. But, I have ramped up the fitness regime since I haven't been in the saddle...I'm up to 3.5 miles a day on the elliptical with three days of weight training a week and yoga/pilates/aerobics in the morning before work. By the time riding time rolls around again, I'm gonna be good and fit and bounce a bit better!
And to add injury to insult, all of the snow and ice melted over the weekend and now we have MUD. Lots of mud. So much mud it's unbelievable. Before everything turned to ice we got five inches of rain in less than a week. A lot of it had nowhere to go because they ground was already saturated and the creeks already overflowing. So it sat and froze and got topped with an additional four inches of snow. Ick.
There is one thing about horse keeping that just drives me nuts and it's the mud. I can't turn them out into the big pastures or they'll tear them to shreds and I won't have any grass this summer. So, they live in the dry lots, which are now more aptly described as sucking mud lots. They spend a lot of time just hanging out in the run-in sheds just chilling out out of the mud. My long term plan is to have those dry lots scraped down to the clay and topped with geotextile fabric under a foot or two of stone dust. I'd have to make the dry lots smaller though. They are currently about an acre each...that's a lot of geotextile and stone dust!
Horses = they aren't just a hobby, they are a complete way of life and bank account drainers.