So I decided to wait.
What ended up happening is that during the week I had my car so I didn't even attempt the barn driveway, as it was still dropping into the 20's and teens by the time I was leaving work at night and I didn't feel like negotiating black ice in the dark on the twisty curvy back road that leads to and from the barn. Charles usually takes the truck to work during the week because it is his vehicle and with his swing shift hours he rarely encounters traffic. My car is far more economic on gas and I do drive through rush hour both ways...hence why I use my car: less $$ spent on gas.
By Friday temps were in the low 50s during the day and I got to leave work early! So I swung by the barn to see the girls.
BO had done an incredible job clearing paths to and from the barn and large swaths from around the hay feeders and sheds so the horses could move around comfortably in the common areas. Also, the snow-covered pastures were just screaming "GALLOP!"
|Up the driveway we go!|
|There is nothing as inviting as untouched snow.|
|Gracie stopped eating and came right over to the fence, "Where have you BEEN????" Love her expression!|
|I honestly just wanted to tack up and go ride. But there was a wicked icy wind blowing and I did not have even remotely appropriate riding clothes. If it had been warmer I would have ridden in my scrubs! But it was too cold.|
|Winter sunsets are the most spectacular.|
Charles worked G-Mare (who was the most amped) in the round pen. Lily was quiet and calm but I set her free in the arena to see if she wanted to run around before I got on. Neither horse had been ridden in almost 2 weeks, so I was expecting fireworks.
I got none.
|The shallowest snow was right by the gate!|
|Only a little deep...|
|No ice, just puddles. The footing was perfect: damp but not muddy.|
|The sunset was spectacular.|
Gracie thought she was going to get to be all uppity in the snow and she charged through the small wall of white stuff by the road when Charles pointed her where they were going. She was not paying attention to where she was putting her feet and assumed that the footing was deeper than it was. She floundered about, almost falling onto her chest but managing to both stay upright and not throw Charles off balance. She recovered smoothly while I cringed, and moved off without a hitch. Neither her nor Charles were worse for the wear and my heart fell back into its normal spot in my chest.
She learned her lesson real quick though: she paid attention to the footing AND listened to her rider after that!! Huge change from the horse she used to be this time last year.
Halfway through his first run, I realized Charles had never actually cantered through the snow. We rode in the snow last year but it wasn't like this. I went crazy taking photos. Lily was awesome and cooperated for the most part to allow me to get these!
|She has such an awesome canter.|
|Slowing down to a rack in a deeper patch.|
|All the way to the end. Also: you can see the road next to the strip of snow we cantered.|
|Turning around for another go. She was much calmer now.|
|If you "embiggen", you'll see the huge grin on his face!|
Dude: check out his form. It's hard to believe that he's only been riding for a year and a half. He seriously wins the horse husband award, hands down.
|Rocking horse canter.|
Then it was my turn!
I am a dork and I was laughing as I trotted her to the beginning of the straightaway.
Charles was filming from Gracie's back, who was also trotting.
I rode her to the beginning of the straightaway and waited for Charles to give me the go-ahead while Lily bounced around underneath me like a racehorse at the start gate. She KNEW what was coming and she had no intention of just cantering.
I slid my hands forward up her neck and unleashed her. She lunged forward, up out of the snow, the white stuff flying in sparkly powder around us with the power of her movement.
I threw my head back and laughed. And laughed and laughed, as Lily galloped through the snow.
And here are the screen captures.
After that, we trotted them up and down the dirt straightaway a couple of times to let them burn off some additional steam and settle down further. Then we walked them back to the barn to untack. They barely broke a sweat during all of this.
We only rode for 30 minutes: we just wanted to see where their brains were at and let them move out and stretch their legs under saddle.
It. was. AWESOME.
|Charles hand-walked Gracie while I rode Lily on the flattened snow next to the road: it had better traction than the paved parts of the driveway.|
On Sunday we were at the barn earlier, with plans to do a longer ride....on the trails this time.
Have the photographic story of our adventure. :)
The hitching posts are still under 2' of snow and a farrier was using the barn aisle so Charles held the girls in the barnyard while I groomed and tacked them up. They just stood there patiently while I got them ready.
|Virgin snow. The only tracks were those of deer. No one else had ridden through this yet.|
|I took advantage of this short break to snag pics!|
|That's one of the hay fields!|
|Gracie and Charles then took the lead, which G-Mare was more than happy to do.|
You can see just how deep the snow was in this spot: we were on an incline where the snow had especially accumulated.
|Lily started walking of her own accord, following in Gracie's tracks.|
|View from between Gracie's ears.|
|Lily continued in Gracie's tracks.|
|Charles wanted to go down to the property's hunting cabin to see it up close in the snow. BO rents it out to family and friends during deer season. For whatever reason Charles finds it fascinating. Lol|
I asked Charles if he'd get a video of Lily and me cantering up the hay field trail. I trotted on a head, turned around and let her canter one last time...
|Screen shot from the video above. :D|
Too much fun!!!
We brought them to a halt once we were back at the landfill area, then took the trail that would eventually take us to the river.
|Riding past the landfill on our right.|
|G-Mare was still all, "I wanna keep going fast!!"|
|No one else had ridden this trail either! Only deer and geese tracks on the snow.|
|Finally at the river.|
It took a little more convincing for Gracie. Poor girl.
I ultimately walked Lily back upstream so we were next to Gracie and turned around. Charles gave her a little kick and she followed Lily into the water.
|It was beyond gorgeous.|
We let the girls walk on until I realized the bottom sloped off into a deep pool of water that would have been chest-deep on Lily. Since none of us really felt like going swimming in icy water, we turned around.
|Gracie enjoying the river. :)|
We cantered the first portion of the trail back towards the landfill, slowed to a trot to go over BO's small bridge, then let them open up into a furious gallop on the last hill.
Lily was in front and as we rounded the bend in the trail she suddenly engaged into a sort of fifth gear, leaping forward into the fastest she has ever moved with me on her. It felt like her hooves weren't touching the ground. I laughed into the wind.
Charles saw when Lily turned on the afterburners...he said she flagged her tail!
We brought the girls back down to a prancy trot to get onto the dirt path and walked them home on a loose rein.
They were both breathing normally and cooled down by the time we led them into the barn. They received sloppy mashes that they had more than earned.
Charles is still talking about the snow gallops 24 hours later. I think someone is hooked. ;)
BEST WEEKEND EVER.