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

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Saturday Snaps: Ride Before the Bad Weather

We're expecting this insanity for this week:

Monday night into Tuesday: 40 degree drop.

Here's what Channel 7 News has to say about it. Click to make larger.
I highlighted in red the thing that everyone is talking about in this area.
So I went out to the barn today, set up Lily's grain for the next 5 days, and got a ride in before all that badness sets in. Won't be riding again until it warms up...hopefully by next weekend if the forecast is correct. I don't even know if I'll be out tomorrow. I'm not driving those back country roads if freezing rain really does happen. But you bet I'll be out Monday to give her her beet pulp with extra water added to it. I worry about her not drinking enough water with such a massive, frigid temperature drop. The funny thing is that in FL we complained over 40 degree drops from 80 to 40...but even with that kind of 40 degree drop, we still had colic in the barn. Pink Slip, Dianne's OTTB, colicked that night bad enough that the vet had to be called out. The mare had become dehydrated from not drinking with the temperature drop and had a mild impaction. So you can see my concern. And Tuesday Lily will be getting beet pulp again. We're setting the personal record here again for us: neither of us have never been in cold this cold. Not 12 degrees, never mind 0 degrees. Much less a -20 degree wind chill, which is what we're expecting Monday night...I'm still figuring out what the hell I'm doing about blanketing her for Monday night. The midweight will certainly not be enough by itself.

I went home worried last night because Lily had only pooped once the entire time I'd been with her: while running around in the snow-covered arena when I first pulled her from the field. This was very unusual for her, but she had gut sounds and was not dehydrated when I turned her out: her gums were moist, her skin snapped right back when pinched gently, and she urinated the minute she was back out in the field. I woke up several times during the night to check my phone, paranoid about a phone call from the barn. No phone calls. Yay! Regardless, I decided to give her beet pulp soaked with extra water BEFORE our ride as well as afterwards.

She slurped up the beet pulp while grooming her and tacking up, and pooped on the cross ties before we headed out. She went again several times throughout the ride. I think we'll be repeating the pre-workout wet meal.

We did a solo ride in the snow. I was initially just going to do trot sets on the bridle path, but there are parts of it that are really deep and the shallower parts that were awesome yesterday had frozen over with a thin crust of ice, so we rode up to the back woods and did the loop several times. The snow was only 3" deep on the trail. We varied the route each time, even doing the loop backwards once (totally confusing; I kept losing track of where we were but Super Mare kept finding the trail!) and venturing out towards the bridge twice. The snow was powdery on top and crunchy on the bottom, not slippery at all. She had great traction in it and strode forward confidently. We focused on maintaining the trot throughout. If Lily wanted to walk, we walked, and each time she took the opportunity to stretch, but she was more than happy to just stay at a trot for most of the ride. I got a workout. I was wearing: Cuddl Duds fleece top, wool turtleneck, and REI fleece top (when I find a combination that works in the cold, I will wash and wear every day) with my safety vest over all of it. I'm so glad I left the hard shell jacket off...I actually broke a sweat. It was 32 degrees. Lily, who is 10 times fitter than I am, did not sweat at all. Not even under her saddle pad.


What she was "pointing" at in the previous photo. Not sure what she was seeing.
Maybe admiring the setting sun? I'm guessing she heard deer on the other side of the hill.
We confirmed today that pretty much that entire back loop follows deer trails. The only footprints on the trail before ours were deers'.
She asked to canter a couple of times but I requested she stay at the trot, even going up hills. We have a good baseline fitness that I'm really happy with right now; I think it's time to start building up her endurance at the trot. The "all-day" trot, as they call it in endurance circles.

We ended up trotting for maybe 60% of the ride. Here's our stats:

We did just under 5 miles in an hour.
2 of those 5 miles were 100% walked: the mile to get to the back woods, and the same mile coming back.
There was some walking interspersed during the other 3 miles, but most of those 3 miles was trotting. I'm really happy with our pace.
Karen, I'm really liking Runmeter! Thanks for the tip!

Love this one.
Through the neighbor's yard, the one that has the "Two Stupid Dogs" sign.
She was looking at the setting sun as well.
Taking photos was a b*tch: had to remove one glove with my teeth while holding the reins one-handed, yank phone out from jacket pocket, click photo, shove phone back in pocket, put glove back on. We did it at a walk for previous photos, but this was easier done with Lily at a standstill. She was very patient! :)
Lily says, "Look! There's the gate home!"
I was tired when we got back to the barn, and really happy that we signed up for the gym when we did. I need it. Plus it's something physical to do when the weather is too awful to ride.

Lily looked so pretty against the snow that I took way too many photos of her.

She wore the Back on Track back pad under her gear again. 
My hand was numb by this point. Haha...But she looked so pwetty!
Opened the gate, and she walked through on her own and just stood there waiting while I lugged the gate closed again and latched it shut. She then followed me back to the barn, doglike. Here's evidence. :)
She had her evening grain mixed with more beet pulp and soaked with extra water. It was a sloppy, mushy mess that expanded ridiculously after letting it sit for 10 minutes, and she slurped it up as noisily as ever. You can hear her in the whole barn when she's eating her mush. It's pretty funny.

Lily's legs needed to receive their anti-fungal treatment again. There was some weird hose snafu going on in the wash stall. The water was running but when hooked up, it wouldn't come out of the hose...frozen ice inside the hose perhaps? Who knows; from the looks of it, it had been disconnected overnight, but given the insane temps (8 degrees last night), anything is possible. I filled a bucket with hot water and wet her legs down...and was unable to get any shampoo out.

The shampoo was frozen solid.

So we did this: 

Buckets of hot water can be very useful indeed.
I threw in the anti-fungal ointment jar too.
It worked!
And since my gloves were wet and now thoroughly cold, they went in here in the meantime:

Yes, we have a washer and dryer for horse clothes in the wash stall! It's pretty awesome.
The gloves came out of the dryer toasty warm and dry!
Lily's legs got scrubbed with the shampoo, rinsed off, and rubbed dry with a towel. The now softened ointment went on like butter. I don't know why I didn't think of this sooner...

By the time we were done, the water on the wash stall floor had started to freeze. Jesus Christ. Temps for tonight were supposed to be in the 20's, so Lily got to wear only the midweight.

It's going to be an interesting next few days...


  1. According to our vet, no work in temps under 15 because the cold can create ice crystals in their lungs (from one cold weather rider to another).

    I love the pic of your shadow stretching out to the side of you. And the picture of the sun that looks like it is en fuego.

    Glad you had such a great ride. Hopefully, Lily will do okay over the next couple of days with no issues. I will send energy and light a candle for her. (I'm not real worried about Ashke, since he lives in a heated barn and his only real colic was about five weeks after he was wormed for the first time.) I also admire your work out plan. Riding is about all I can commit to . . . and I can't run any more.

    Pretty smart of you to defrost your shampoo. I would guess the hose had water left inside it that froze. We have to make sure our hose is drained or it will freeze solid til Spring.

    1. Oh yes: definitely no working in the near-arctic temps we will be having. I think the cut-off for people is the low 40's-high 30's. Thank you for the energy and candle! We do candles with a purpose in our house too, ever since I was a kid. :)

      This will be the first time working out in almost 3 years. In FL I was working off part of my board, so just that + the 12 hour shifts at work on my feet was way too much work on the body to add gym time to. Riding was the only other thing I could commit to, too. I don't think I'll ever be able to only run for any solid length of time due to my hip and an old Achilles tendon injury...I call it "running", but it is still "run-walking."

      I admire you for everything that you do. About a month ago, I read your story about the ride in Wyoming and cried. I have no words; I had not been able to write a comment because there are just no words. You are an amazing, strong woman, and brave beyond belief. Don't ever feel like less just because other people do different things or seem to do more. You have already made one HELL of a comeback, and I look forward to being around for the rest of your journey to see it happen, even if it's from a distance. You are an inspiration to us all.

  2. Loved the pics, but I really could have done without the weather report:) I was living in ignorance, thinking that we were back to normal winter weather:( I'm so desperate for spring to come!

    1. I hear ya. I used to say, "Let's live in a REALLY COLD place!" Colorado was one of the places on the list when we were thinking about where to move to from FL. Now it's like, "Hell no!" I love the snow, but I honestly never thought we'd get to experience temps in the teens during the day and wind chills in the negatives...let alone drive in it. (I work both Monday and Tuesday nights until 2:00 am) Both Charles and I had been happy with the decision to move here when we learned that average winter temps are in the 40's...so much for that this year. There were 2 ladies skiing down one of the bridle paths the other day.

    2. Colorado alternates days with low temps with days with temps in the 60's, even during the winter. Combine that with the fact that the sun shines here like 340 days or so a year and the weather couldn't really get any better. We have had some pretty hot summer days, though. So, if you ever get tired of where you are . . . .

  3. Oy at least our cold is only really bad for one day! Hope Lily is okay through it--I really think turnout helps but I worry about River's drinking in the cold too. So relieved when he got a GINORMOUS drink yesterday when I took him out!

    That blue bridle looks GORGEOUS on her pretty face with the snow! :)

    1. I love bright blue on bays! And almost every other color horse...hahaha... I was shocked by how cold you guys are going to get too; only a few degrees warmer than us. Apparently the whole Midwest and East coast is going to get a 40+ degree drop...in FL they are getting one of those 80's to 40's drops, like I mentioned above, tomorrow night.

  4. Great pics and good for you to ride through the cold. Stay warm and pray for warmer weather!