Sunday, January 5, 2014
And winter is still here...
This winter has been colder and wetter than usual and it is making me more whiny than usual. Anyway, when I woke up on Saturday morning to discover that it was 12 degrees outside, I desperately wanted to go back to bed and curl up with a hot water bottle and some coffee for the rest of the day. This behavior is no longer possible, though, because my one-year old would sit on me and bounce up and down if she found me laying down and she would definitely steal my coffee, and then proceed to run around the room while alternating between drinking it, giving some to the dog, and throwing it on the floor.
So, I was forced to get up and be productive, while hoping that the projected high of 38 would come to fruition. At 9, I left for the barn to get ready for my noon ride with a friend at Andy Guest State Park. As I was trying to wrench my truck door open (it was frozen shut), I wondered if it was such a good idea to be out riding today. Then, when I was trying to hook up my trailer and the snap that holds my emergency brake line was frozen shut and I had to smack it with my rubber mallet (best tool ever, BTW), I contemplated the wisdom of continuing to be outside. Next, as I was attempting to kick the wheel blocks from my trailer wheels (they were frozen to the ground and had to be whacked with my favorite tool to pry them loose), I fantasized that my husband was telling me we were moving to Florida tomorrow.
Finally, I got everything hooked up and loaded, and I pictured in my head the steep hill to get into Andy Guest park and the very short, but very steep hill in and out of the trailer parking lot. I wondered how well the park maintains its roads in the winter...and it occurred to me that maybe my friend and I should ride someplace else like Manassas Battlefield, where at least the parking would be level and we would be 15 minutes from my house if we ended up needing help. As it turns out, my friend was on the same page and had already left me a message on my cell telling me that she thought the Battlefield would be a better place to ride. So, we agreed to meet at the Battlefield.
As I pulled into the parking lot at the Battlefield, I was surprised to see that another rider was already there and while her horse appeared to be covered from nose to tail in some sort of giant purple winter parka, I assumed she was planning to ride. I was guessing she was a woman because I know of no man who would outfit his horse in that fashion. It turned out that this lady was an endurance rider I'd seen at events before. I have never seen her or her horse in any state other than perfection, which boggles my mind. She seems like a very nice person, though, so I try not to hold the fact that she is always beautifully dressed in coordinated colors and that her horse is groomed at least as well as any top halter show horse against her.
I pulled into a parking spot while noting that the parking lot was covered in a lot of ice. Then, I opened the door of my truck, put one foot on the ground, and promptly slipped and fell out of the truck onto the giant patch of ice on which I had parked. Luckily, I was wearing about eighteen layers of clothing, so mostly I just injured my pride.
I noticed that a similar patch of ice was behind the trailer, so when I unloaded Nimo, I just explained to him that he needed to be careful when getting out of the trailer. Whether it was my explanation or the fact that he has four legs or is just generally less clumsy than I am, Nimo was totally fine, and immediately set about eating as much hay as possible while we waited for my friend to arrive.
After my friend got there, we saddled up and headed out into the Battlefield. I wasn't sure what the trails would look like, but as you can see from the pictures above and below, there were only a couple of inches of snow on the ground, so the footing was actually pretty decent. We did run into a few patches of ice as well as some ice in the creek we crossed, but otherwise, the trails were great.
We ended up riding a little over 2 hours, which was about an hour and 45 minutes longer than my toes felt comfortable with, but aside from the loss of feeling in two of the toes on my left foot, I was in pretty good shape by the end of the ride. (Note to self: Buy wool socks!) Nimo, on the other hand, was still quite fresh, and could easily have gone another couple of hours. In fact, I ended up doing some lateral work on the trail to keep him focused on the way back to the trailer. It turns out the nice, wide trails at the Battlefield are perfect for super short zig-zag leg yields and half passes and there is plenty of room for shoulder-in and haunches-in too. So, conditioning ride, check AND dressage work, check.