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

Monday, February 10, 2014

As You Wish

So, remember how Kathy and I said yesterday that our flurries ride didn't count? We've both been dreaming about going for a ride while it's actively snowing. Of course, this could not be a super heavy snow, as it meant that I would not be able to get out of the barn afterwards, but we wanted it to be enough to where we could witness it accumulating during our ride. The flurries yesterday were so light that they disappeared completely the moment they came into contact with any surface, and thus no snow accumulated. We were kind of bummed, and wondered if we'd get the chance again to ride while it snows.

There was only a 30% chance of snow for today vs yesterday's 70%, but we actually got our wish down to a T!

I arrived to the barn and got Lily. I gave her some beet pulp with warm water prior to the ride because it felt so much colder than it was. The sky was an overcast white and it felt like it was going to snow, so I wanted to get some extra water in Lily. She had no problems with having an additional meal.

I told you she's a noisy eater!

Kathy and I tacked up to exclamations from the other boarders on how crazy we are for riding in the cold and possible snow. My idea of perfect riding weather is sunny and somewhere between 70-60 degrees. If I have to choose, though, I'll take riding in the snow and the cold over riding in 95 degree humid weather on a non-sweating mare, thanks. We had to work so much more around the 24/7 heat in South FL than around the winter weather here. To ride in South FL in the summer (which is about 9 months out of the year btw), I had to be at the barn by 7:00 am to ride before it got too hot, or out by 6:30 pm when the shadows were starting to get long. I had to hose Lily down and sweat scrape her prior to tacking up to allow the evaporating water to replace sweating and keep her cool. On trail rides, I had to carry a spray bottle filled half and half with water and rubbing alcohol to spritz her with. The alcohol accelerated evaporation and helped keep her cool. We had a hose attached to the arena fence; when riding in the arena, I'd stop halfway through the ride and spray Lily with the hose while still sitting on her back. Lily was just one of the estimated 20% of Florida horses that have anhidrosis. It is a nightmare to deal with. One AC didn't help. Regular beer in her food in the summer didn't help. Adding salt to her meals didn't help. Increasing her water consumption changed nothing. The cure? Either keep your anhidrotic horse in a stall with air conditioning ($$$$ in case you were wondering), or take it to a climate with seasons. Exposure to real winters (which means a break from the constant break in heat and humidity) will be enough to snap the horse's body out of the non-sweating state.


Back to today! Here are some photos I took of Lily's back while she was munching. The indentations she had behind her shoulder blades have completely filled in since having her saddles adjusted.

Left side
(her coat along her back and behind her shoulder blades is curly! It was dry and clean and just brushed when I took these photos; her coat is shiny enough that it looks like her back is wet!)

Right side (again, clean, dry, shiny, curly and just-groomed coat)

What I wore for the ride:
- Patagonia Cap3 long sleeve crewneck
- Cuddl Duds FlexFit leggings
- Patagonia Synchilla hoody (couldn't find a link to the specific hoody I have)
- Irideon Wind Pro knee patch breeches (an eBay find!)
- ELT fleece jacket
- safety vest
- outer layer of my 3-in-1 jacket, which is water-resistant, over the safety vest
- REI nylon sock liners
- wool socks
- Mountain Horse Rimfrost Riders (found on sale!) with toe warmers inserted
- SSG 10 Below gloves

Toasty! I was not cold for a second during our entire ride. Kathy was comfortable with her choice of layers too; she was wearing a similar combination. I won't deny that it was hard to get on the horses...it felt like we were in straightjackets. Kathy and I started laughing uncontrollably as we climbed onto our patient mares.

As we started out on our ride, the light flurries turned into sleet. It reminded me of Dippin Dots. (You'll see later what I mean)

Tiny, tiny, tiny sleet
Kathy, beaming :D
Since it was cold enough to freeze the ground but not cold enough for ice over the frozen mud, we decided to go to the park across the street.

Going around the meadow trail, we came across a group of people with their dogs off-leash who were nice enough to catch the dogs and put leashes on them as we rode by (what is up with dogs off-leash lately? It's illegal in Maryland and especially in our county!)  Lily started to get "up" as soon as she saw the dogs, but we rode past them uneventfully once they were leashed.

The sleet turned to a misting drizzle for a few minutes, and then became sleet once more.

We took the back trail and followed it over a creek crossing (which Lily jumped) towards the back of the park, following the river. This is the trail that dead ends in a small field with a hill; we galloped up the hill like we normally do, then took the trail back down the hill to where it meets the main trail.

As we retraced our steps on the main trail, we came upon this:

A deer skull! On top of a tree!
Very Georgia O'Keeffe, but in the Northeast...
I hope you appreciate the photo because it was a small mission to obtain! Haha... Kathy tried to get it first while on Queenie, but Queenie did not want to stop in the middle of the trail and decided to back herself up the trail instead. Lily had a moment of panic where she thought Queenie was backing up to kick her...so I had my hands full trying to get frightened Lily out from behind Queenie and around her so I could get the photo. And then Queenie literally backed herself into a tree and stopped. As in, her butt was right up against a tree on the side of the trail, preventing her from backing up further! Queenie just stood there. I was laughing. Lily and I went around Kathy and her girl and snapped the photo.

We continued on our way through the park.

We climbed up the trail that leads through the woods and back to the Hidden Pond trail. The Hidden Pond trail winds through a section of pine tree forest. I tried to get photos for you guys to see:

There was a bit of ice on the trail. However, there were old hoof prints and foot prints in what was now frozen mud, with the ice in between. The mares actually had perfect traction going over this surface.

The trail eventually winds down, down towards the river. This time there was no ice on the river so we were able to cross, following the path to the small lake that used to be covered in lily pads over the summer. The lake was frozen solid.

Lily had never seen this much frozen water ever before in her life. As we rounded the corner she initially didn't understand what she was looking at. It was kind of funny...
Trail around the lake

Kathy had been trying to get a photo of the lake too.

One very frozen lake
We rode up the hill behind the lake, back down the other side, then veered left off into the woods and did the loop that runs parallel to the street that leads to the barn. That loop goes up another hill and eventually comes back full circle.

There was a fallen tree in the middle of the trail. I checked with Kathy first to make sure it was okay with her, then trotted on ahead and popped Lily over the tree. It wasn't huge, about 1.5" high and just as wide. Lily paused in front of it then cracked her back over the obstacle, effectively jumping me out of the tack. We landed on the other side and continued trotting, but it took me a couple of strides to regain my stirrups! Kathy and Queenie trotted around the tree and joined us.

As we reached the crossroads where we had originally turned left, the sleet started to come down much harder. Kathy and I stopped to take more photos.

Up ahead you can see where this loop goes full circle. We had turned left initially; now we were going to turn right to return to the river.
Yes, this is a really weird angle! From left to right: top of Lily's rump covered in sleet, Woolback pad, edge of her sheepskin-covered saddle.

Two sleet-covered mares.
It looked like stardust.
Queenie was frosted!
Queenie being snarky. Mares! Lol
We continued on up the trail and back across the river.

Riding up the trail towards the river.
Approaching the river.

The river.

Going through! It was surprising how much green stuff was growing on that bottom given how cold it's been.

And then we turned towards home. As we followed the last portion of trail, the sleet started coming down really hard. If it had been rain, we would have been drenched. The sleet started to accumulate! It was beautiful. Kathy and I decided that this definitely counted as our "while it's snowing" ride!

The trail starting to get covered by sleet!
The white stuff among the leaves was sleet/snow.

And Lily's pissed-off ears...she was extremely annoyed that I'd asked her to stand still so this photo wouldn't come out blurry...

LOOK! It's all COVERED IN SNOW! Do you see it? All the white in this photo was snow.
A video of the snow coming down around us. You can hear Queenie's jingle bells - Kathy always keeps some attached to her girth to ward off the deer.

Kathy on Queenie riding up the driveway as it slowly gets covered in snow.

We did 8 miles in 2.5 hours, walking the entire way. Lily received some more beet pulp with warm water. By the time I turned her out for the night, the entire world was covered in fluffy whiteness, but it was too dark for it to show up in photos. It looked beautiful in the fading light - glowing and blue.

Yup, we definitely got our wish! That's another one off of the bucket list.
I love snow!


  1. Love the Princess Bride reference . . ..

    Nice ride in the snow. I wish we had some trails like that near the barn. We have too much asphalt to ride on to risk a slip, so I am still waiting.

    PS. I love the hints of the browband I see in your pictures. I done good.

    1. Haha! I'm glad someone got the Princess Bride reference! :)

      Yes you did do good! Not only is the browband beautiful, it keeps everything in place perfectly, and I especially love how it brings together all the colors of our tack! Kathy noticed it for the first time on Saturday and was exclaiming about how gorgeous it is. You have a potential customer there!

  2. Pretty snow photos! We actually got some here today too (though I didn't end up riding in it). Btw that driveway is too cool - love the way it winds and curves!

    1. The driveway is incredibly photogenic. It always looks like something out of a rustic landscape painting. Makes you feel like you're driving into a fairy tale. :)