You know what I love about January? It is almost always sunny with blue, blue skies. Sure, the temperature is often way below zero. But the sun does shine! And with the blanket of white to reflect the sun's rays, it is so bright & beautiful. As luck would have it, today hit 30! It was sunny but also windy, so it didn’t feel as warm as it could have. I took advantage anyway, and spent the whole afternoon with the boys.
Rhio had first dibs, and we headed out to try the trails with Kelso & Killian tagging along. Unfortunately, after multiple failed mounting attempts (I kept choosing crumbling snow banks to climb), I was finally aboard only to discover that the lane out to the trails really wasn’t at all passable. I had hoped that someone had been snowmobiling out there enough to pack the snow down & get rid of the 3 – 4” thick crust of ice, but that wasn’t the case. Well, then, on to Plan B: riding on the road.
This was a bit worrisome, as the snow packed on top of the gravel can be like a skating rink, and although I have hoof boots I could use, I don’t have any studs to put in them for traction. So, we’d have to see how it was with bare hooves. As long as we stayed to the very edge, it was ok. The scant inch of fluffy snow from yesterday actually improved the footing quite a bit.
Rhio was feeling pretty feisty and wanting to trot – this was great and he’s very smooth & comfy in the bareback pad. However, I was using the Myler bit again and he didn’t seem happy with it at all. As long as I had only very light contact, we were ok. If I picked up a firmer contact or asked him to half-halt, slow down, or turn, I could immediately feel his back tense and feel resistance throughout his body. Riding in the bareback pad makes me aware of smaller changes in his body, I think, but also lowers my confidence factor just a bit (I know this horse will buck – only rarely – but often enough that I never forget it!), so makes me less likely to maintain my own level of relaxation. Of course, any tension I have he picks up on right away. So it makes me wonder if I should go back to riding in the saddle, at least when we’re outside. If I’m more confident, will he be more confident, too?
We returned to the barn having had a nice, albeit very short, ride and his tension never developed into anything.
Cricket was next – today was the day to remove the sutures from his nose. It’s healing great, and the sutures were already nice & loose (a good sign that they’re ready to come out.) After suture removal, we took a little walk around the farm, visiting some of the other barnyard critters – like the goats & alpacas. Cricket had to show off for them, trotting past their pen with his tail flying, neck arched, and doing his best Arab snort-and-breathe-at-the-same-time. (I don’t think they were particularly impressed.) It’s a treat to see him all hyped up!
After turning them both out naked for a few hours of sunshine (they’ve been in their winter blankets pretty much 24/7 for weeks now), I headed over to Red’s barn (only a mile away) to take him out for a quick spin, too. I stopped on my way to stomp down a bit of a path through the snow bank around the gate at the gravel pit so we could get in more easily.
Red was all jazzed up as well, and came out of the snow bank at the gate already in a trot. We compromised on a medium-slow trot down the access road to the gravel pit, and eventually slowed to a walk so we could just enjoy the day. The two bald eagles & the large flock of crows were once again annoyed at our disruption of their feast.
There were lots of critter tracks in the powdery snow, and I noticed that the little prey animals make tracks directly across the road at pretty much a 90 degree angle, as if they are trying to cross the open space as quickly as possible. We saw mostly rabbit & rodent tracks doing this. The predator animals, though, seemed to use the plowed road as a thoroughfare, and their tracks would go right down the road. We saw fox & coyote tracks for sure, and possibly wolf.
These tracks I think might be wolf, as they are about 4 times as big as Kelso’s, although they don't really look it in the photo. There is only 1 set, though, which makes me think it is a lone wolf broken off from the nearby Island Lake pack. Or maybe it’s just my wishful thinking that they are wolf tracks at all!
And I finally got a shot of the wing-prints that the crows leave (at least I think these would be crows – they don’t seem big enough to be the eagles).
We returned to the barn for a brief session of fetch with the new farm dog, Jack, and then Kelso & I headed back to town happy & hungry.