"And, when you want something, the entire Universe conspires in helping you to achieve it." -The Alchemist, by Paulo Coehlo

Thursday, January 24, 2013

18 degrees

My Facebook post on Tuesday:

2 pairs of long johns, 1 pair of polar fleece pants, 3 pairs of socks, 1 thermal shirt, 1 turtleneck, 1 fleece shirt, 1 wool shirt, 1 fleece jacket, 1 quilted jacket, 1 windproof quilted jacket, 1 wool scarf, 2 pairs of gloves = what a Puertorrican wears to go see her horse in 18 degree weather.

It was 18 degrees...EIGHTEEN degrees...with a wind chill that made it feel like one...1...single...degree. Now yes, we had 2 weeks of snow when I was a kid in Texas. But it never got THAT cold when I was outside. So this was another entirely new experience for me.

So the getup was the warmest clothes I could find between what we'd emptied in the closet and what I could find in 3 suitcases. They weren't random clothes, however. It took me 20 minutes to pick them out and decide:

- a pair of Flex Fit Cuddl Duds (first pair of "long johns")
- regular long johns (as in Joe Boxer brand)
-Kerrits Power Stretch full seat breeches (the fleece pants I mentioned-these are lined in polar fleece. I think Smartpak is out of the full seats already-I couldn't find them to link to, but you can check out their knee patch!)
- 2 pairs of socks were thin boot liner type socks, just to hold down each pair of long johns so I could get the next pair of pants on without them rolling up! The 3rd pair was my thickest pair of Smart Wool socks.
- first thermal shirt was vintage-it's the real deal from the '70s and one my mom used to own before I was born, when my dad was in the Army and was being relocated to places with winters. It is much warmer than the average thermal shirt sold nowadays. I have new ones, but that one is warmer.
- the turtleneck was a cotton long sleeve one, just to get some neck coverage. I'd switch that one out the next day-not warm enough.
- a Grand Prix Extreme Performance Apparel polyester fleece sweater. Not super-thick but warm. Scored at the tack shop in Tampa for a nice double discount, since I was assistant manager. :)
- the wool shirt was another vintage inherited from my mom. I wore that one during the November weekend I spent in Kentucky a long time ago, riding my trainer's stud over 5' fences in 20 degree weather. With the right combo of clothes over and under, it really did keep me warm. It was a favorite during my Tampa 30-degree early morning winter rides.
- the fleece jacket is the ELT Doreen Fleece Jacket. Smartpak has a huge discount on them (which is how I got it in the first place, but they've dropped the price even more), and I'm getting another one! They are AWESOME-I keep washing and wearing this one to go out, to the barn, to work! It is not super thick, but it is WARM. I love that when you zip the collar all the way up, it will cover your mouth and nose, and it has toggles to adjust the fit of the collar.
- the 2 jackets are actually a full 3-in-1 Radiance ski jacket by Free Country. It is a last year model, so it is bulkier than the ones on the link-I found it at TJ Maxx when we first moved here. Plus it's a large-I should have gotten a medium, but it was the very last one left, and the extra room has been good for when I have this much clothes on underneath. It's funny that initially I was wearing the full thing in 40-degree weather at the barn, then got used to the temperature and was only wearing the inside jacket (if it was just cold) or the outside by itself (if it was windy and cold). This was the first time since I got it where I put the full jacket on and KEPT it on, without shedding one or the other!
- the scarf I took off at the barn because it was limiting the mobility of my neck.
- the gloves were both a huge fail. I couldn't find my pair of warm gloves, so I wore a pair of pebble grip winter gloves that I had gotten 2 years ago at the tack shop in our home town, and I swear those make my hands colder...on top I wore a pair of Isotomer gloves my mom sent me, but the fingers are a little long and this makes them uncomfortable for riding with the double reins. I ended up just keeping the pebble grip gloves during the ride, which meant my fingers burned from the cold during most of our ride.
- I forgot to mention the boots-I have a pair of Dafna Blizzard Winter Boots that Charles got me for Christmas, and they have been a big success! I have to write reviews on the Smartpak site...

So how could I move? Since none of these layers was ridiculously thick, I was fine...until I started playing with adjusting Lily's new quarter sheet under her saddle. Holy crap, my deltoids got a workout pushing up against all of those layers!

Lily came in quite willingly-again she had been standing at the bottom field with the other horses. Apparently if it's under 40 degrees, the horses stay in the bottom field-I've been noticing the trend. The upper part of the field is more exposed to the wind, and I think BQ's parent's house, which serves to split upper and bottom fields, also works partially as a wind shield. In addition, it gets very muddy on the path that runs behind the house that connects the 2 fields, so the mud has been frozen these last 4 days-I'm guessing that is probably another reason why the horses are staying in the bottom field.

I tacked her up, and it took me 15 minutes to get the quarter sheet right. I ended up having to leave it completely under the saddle, but over her saddle pad, since I couldn't Velcro it shut in front if I placed it between the saddle flaps-my saddle is too long for that. She seemed fine with the quarter sheet, which I had figured she would, since it's no different from the other clothes she has been wearing. She was fidgety and "up" on the cross ties, so I put her rope halter on over her bridle and decided to lunge her with it first.

The horses had been brought in while I'd been tacking her up, so there was no one out, and in my indecision over what to wear, I'd gotten to the barn later than intended. It was 4:30 pm, and the light was fading. I took her outside because the indoor was super dusty, which was not going to be a good thing for my cough. Lily was very looky on the lunge, and something caught her eye in the corner of the big field and she kept staring over that way and doing her biggest floaty extended trot.  (Never a Totillas extended trot because of her conformation, but gorgeous nonetheless).

Some pics for you of Her Goofiness, sporting her new PJ quarter sheet (it has blue skies, white clouds and little yellow stars. Yes, it clashes, but it is unique and I love it!)

All worked up, ears flicked towards whatever it is was bothering her over by the pasture. I never saw anything-no movement. No one was out and about at this point. I was later told that a fox has been around the barn, so maybe that's what she was hearing/seeing?
SUSPENSION! All 4 feet off the ground! See? She can do it!

She was moving very much like an Andalusian here...

Almost with all 4 feet off the ground again

She never really settled. Since it was so cold, I let her choose what she wanted to do on the lunge, and she mostly trotted in both directions. She was sooooo out of sorts. I even lunged her over a ground pole in an attempt to get her focused on something we were doing. She jumped it the first few times, then continued to trot over it, but still I couldn't get her attention back to me.

At that point she'd warmed up on the lunge for almost 20 minutes, so I decided to hop on and see what she'd do. I wasn't expecting it to be a productive workout, and it certainly was not. We only walked, and her ears never once flicked back at me. I asked for shoulder ins and circles, but she was cheating on the lateral work and giving me hexagons. Exactly when I decided I'd get off because if felt my ears were going to crumble from the cold (I need ear muffs! And how come all of the online tack shops have stopped selling those awesome headbands that you could wear with a helmet to protect your ears?!), Lily suddenly gave a great leap in the air forwards, then skittered sideways, swinging to look over at something that had caught her eye in the woods. I asked her to walk on, and she did. We circled in the far corner of the arena by the gate, where she could still see whatever it was that had frightened her, and am very happy to report that while she would still flick her ears towards the woods, this was the first time in 20 minutes of walking that she actually mostly paid attention to me. At this point, I got off before tempting the Fates further. Plus, with the 1 degree breeze, I had stopped feeling my fingers and toes about 15 minutes prior...

Knowing when to stop is always a good thing.

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