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



Saturday, February 15, 2014

Drifts

It was snowing again this morning! This meant that my Spinning class would be cancelled, so I puttered around the house while waiting for the snow to let up a bit, then headed for the barn.

I was the only soul there. The day was overcast and the wind was blowing, sending snow flying into the air, reminding me of a sandstorm or foam flying backwards off the crests of the waves in the ocean. I still think it's funny that snow constantly reminds me of the beach, of all things.

This...

...reminds me of this...

...and this.
I stared at the snow billowing in the wind as I got closer to the barn, thinking, of course, "I want to ride in that!"

My plan was to go ride on the bridle path. I wasn't sure about going into the backwoods; there wasn't a soul in the barn. Even Kathy was away visiting family, so there was no one to tell where I was going.

I went down to the path that separates the two gelding fields and worked on stomping/kicking/pushing the knee-high snow out of the way enough to be able to open the two gates that separate this path from the bridle path. The snow on the ground is currently so fluffy that all I really had to do was smoosh it enough to flatten it. It took less than 5 minutes to do, even with the second gate that tends to freeze to the mud underneath.

Yup, LOVE SNOW.

I then fetched Lily from the field and took her up to the main barn, where I gave her half a rubber feeder full of warm water with Horse Quencher.

I have a long history with Horse Quencher, which I discovered completely by accident. Back when we lived in Florida and I realized Lily was anhidrotic, I did extensive research looking for possible treatments for the condition. I tried the One AC, the beer in the food, adding salt to her meals to get her to drink more, and nothing was making a difference. My vet had no additional recommendations. I continued doing everything, but I was not seeing results. My biggest concern other than the not sweating (as if that weren't a big enough worry in a place where year-round the temperature is an average 90 degrees with 80% humidity) was that she would not drink enough water. Like most barns in South FL, we had nasty swamp well water at the barn that came out brown and stained the buckets. Like few barns in South FL, we had hard-core water filters that got swapped out religiously every 2 weeks to eliminate as much of the crap from that water as possible. This still made no difference in Lily's water consumption. So that's how my love affair with beet pulp started: she received 3 beet pulp meals a day in an attempt to keep her hydrated. And then one day while looking up more information online, I heard about Horse Quencher.

It is touted as the one thing that can really get your horse to drink. I've seen Equine Aid in action. Equine Aid doesn't work when compared to Horse Quencher.

I went to the warehouse where I bought all of my horse supplies and discovered that they carried Horse Quencher. I bought a tub and took it home.

I was expecting some sort of electrolyte solution, but when you open the container, it looks like grain.

If you look at a close-up of this photo, you'll see what I mean.
I was really skeptical then, but I followed the instructions, adding about a cup of the product to half a bucket of Lily's water, then letting it sit while I gave her a bath.

When I put her into her stall, the product had turned the water into what looked like tea. Lily sniffed at the bucket, looked away, then stuck her nose in the bucket with Horse Quencher...and didn't take her muzzle back out of that bucket until she had drunk every. last. drop.

I was so astounded I did it again. Again, Lily drank the entire bucket of water in a single sitting.

For the rest of our time in Florida, Lily would get a bucket of water with added Horse Quencher after every workout. It didn't cure her anhidrosis, but at least I knew she was getting enough water. When I shipped her North, I sent a bucket of Horse Quencher along with her. For her first winter here, she would get a bucket of water with Horse Quencher anytime her water consumption decreased.

I ordered more of it when we started getting these polar vortexes. I used to get it from Valley Vet after moving to MD but have recently just started ordering directly from the company. They have lovely customer service and will occasionally have great offers on their product. (The one drawback is that they don't carry the smaller tubs, like this one.) Recently if you purchased any number of single-serve packets, you'd get free shipping. So I ordered 10 packets, 5 in the Apple flavor, 5 in the Peppermint flavor. This is what they look like:


You pour it into a bucket like this:
From the Horse Quencher site.
I had a brainfart and completely forgot to photograph this step...
And then watch your pony guzzle:
You can see how it turns the water into a sort of sweet tea.
Nothing left.
After that she also had some soupy beet pulp while I tacked her up and got myself set.

I wore:
- my IRH helmet with fleece helmet cover
- Patagonia Cap3 long-sleeve crewneck (Liz, thank you for recommending these! They have been my most-worn underlayer this winter!)
- Patagonia Synchilla hoody (I love love love this hoodie. I'd wear it 24/7 if I could. It was a great eBay find!)
- REI fleece jacket
- Mountain Hardwear Gore-Tex shell (a heavy duty jacket that I found on eBay for $35. It's very similar to this one, but it's an older model. The zipper is 2-way, which means I can unzip it from the bottom up to allow it to flare for riding; it has toggles at the waist for a more feminine fit; it really does have fleece-lined handwarmer pockets, and the high neck meant I didn't have to wear my ski mask. Which I do own now. The wind does NOT go through this shell! Chose this one instead of the outer layer of my 3-in-1 because it's lighter; I get way too hot if I wear the 3-in-1 shell when it's 30+ degrees.)
- Cuddle Duds silk pants
- Irideon WindPro knee patch fleece breeches
- nylon sock liners
- Smartwool midweight socks
- Mountain Horse Rimfrost Riders with toe warmers
- SSG 10 Below gloves. I started out with hand warmers in them but my hands started sweating so the hand warmers were delegated to my pockets. I think I'm becoming cold-blooded...it was 31 degrees with 20 mph wind gusts and I was very comfortable despite the fact that we mostly walked.

Just a little bit of snow at the barn.
Once Lily had finished her snack and I had finished fine-tuning my gear, I put Lily's bridle with the kimberwick on (in case she freaked over the wind), hopped on and we rode down to the bridle path, through the two gates I'd left open. Lily was a little looky, but the wind was blowing and you could see for miles on the white blanket covering the world. Any little movement caught her eye. I'd acknowledge what she was looking at but she was not allowed to stop and stare, which always seems to help prevent her from worrying and fixating on things.

We walked down the bridle path, through the portion between our barn and the neighbor's horse fields, then up the small hill at the back of our barn. We re-traced our steps then walked up the longer, bigger hill where both Charles and Kathy have photographed us cantering.

We walked all the way to the back of the long hill, almost to where it veers off onto the lawn we cross to get into the backwoods. I debated going into the woods but then changed my mind. We turned around and walked back down the hill, then trotted up the hill once. We turned around a second time, walked back down the hill, up the bridle path (the snow in here was deep, but it was nice to be out of the wind - our barn on one side and the hill of the neighbor's property on the other side blocked the wind), to the second smaller hill. Lily asked to trot up this second hill as well, so we trotted.

This is a short hill set at maybe a 25 degree angle. We trotted all the way to the end, past our barn, then turned around and walked back down. We turned around at the bottom of the small hill and I asked Lily if she would like to canter. She did, so we cantered. It was 30 strides (I counted them!) It felt like we were riding through a grid of bounces because of how she had to gather herself up and push to clear the snow. Kind of like this:



We walked back down then did one more canter set up the hill. This time, Lily really discovered that cantering through the snow was so much easier than trotting or walking through it...we had a disagreement on when exactly she was to stop cantering. Let's just say I was glad I was using the other bridle.

We walked all the way back down the bridle path, discovered that the guys had closed the two gates we'd exited through, so we turned around and took the side gate that leads to the main barn. I had to do some more digging to get the gate to open. Lily waited patiently.

I started stomping the snow down, then thought I'd take a picture for you guys.
The mare pretends to be patient.
She actually tried to squeeze through that 2" gap in the fence...
"Squirrel?" Lol
She was distracted long enough for me to get the gate open.
It really wasn't hard; it was not frozen to the ground and it's such light, fluffy snow right now that all I had to do was re-arrange the white stuff around the gate, and then I was able to just pull it open.
I had no goal when we set out other than to ride for a bit in the snow at whatever pace, covering whatever mileage. Just walking through stuff this deep is a workout that challenges her muscles in a different way. I had started Runmeter while still inside the barn, before putting on my safety vest, because the pockets on the Mountain Hardwear jacket were going to be directly under the vest so I would not be able to touch my phone once my vest was on. According to Runmeter, we did 2.6 miles in 45 minutes. 5-10 of those minutes we were still inside the barn. Our average pace was 3.5 mph. Not bad for a session that was pretty much only walking.


Mission accomplished selfie!
Yay we rode in the snow!
The wind really kicked up after we were back inside the barn; we had finished our ride with perfect timing. I did a touch-up trim on Lily, clipped the hair around her pasterns to keep any scratches from developing in the future, gave her her dinner with added beet pulp and water, and turned her out for the night.

We're going into our second year here and I still can't tell you which season is my favorite. I love each one because they are so different from one another. I love winter because of moments like this one. So beautiful!
The wind was blowing solidly; walking back up the hill from the mare field, I felt like I was pushing against a wall of wind.

It was beautiful driving home, though. The road was full of snow drifts.

Back country road, not a car in sight. Totally stopped the car in the middle of the road to quickly get this photo.

Side note: the finches are back. I saw them earlier this week while leaving the gym, and today they were all inside the barn, fluttering and twittering. Made me grin from ear to ear; I hadn't heard their song in months!

Spring is coming!

A toast to that...with 14 Hands wine!
Stacey mentioned this once in a post on her previous blog and I'd always meant to try it.




6 comments:

  1. Good to know about the Horse Quencher. Shy rarely sweats, so I was thinking when I start riding her regularly what was something I could do to keep her in check.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's an awesome product and it really does work. I can't guarantee every single horse will drink water with added Horse Quencher, but so far all of my friends that have used it with their horses have had great success!

      Delete
    2. I am glad you're enjoying all the seasons in MD. I was thinking of you when I was bundling up for the trek from car to office for the umpteenth time today - most people who have suffered through this winter would think you are a nut for leaving FL, LOL!

      I have never gotten to ride in snow and I'd love to do it. Good for you!

      Delete
    3. Haha! Oh yes, I get it all the time, "You REALLY left FL for this?!" "Do you miss it yet?" I think I might miss it once I've lived 20+ years in seasons. But until then, I'm enjoying every minute of it! :)

      Delete
  2. 14 hands. Nomz. Further hurrah for more snow times with Lilybird.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I hadn't heard of Horse Quencher before - sounds like an awesome product that I definitely want to try!

    ReplyDelete