Fall Colors Between Rhio's Ears

Fall Colors Between Rhio's Ears

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Winter Wonderland

Snowy apple tree
Yes, it is technically still autumn according to the calendar, but when you live in northern Minnesota winter comes early!  We have had snow on the ground since the end of October at the farm.  Seriously.  That's early even for us.  We have been lucky, however, to have calm winds and for the snow to have stayed where it fell - including gracing every nook, cranny, and tree branch with its sparkly splendor.  It is truly a winter wonderland, and what better way to enjoy it but to get out there and ride!
Jack, a.k.a Mr. Intense (he had dropped a stick at Red's feet hoping he or I would throw it for him)

Last Saturday (yep, bit behind on posting!) Gesa came over to ride with me.  I went over to get Red before she came.  We set off through the woods to the farm, only to be delayed by never-before-seen-horse-eating-monsters!  Jack had come to greet us at the barn, and so the four of us (Red, me, Kelso, & Jack) set off down the straightaway (actually a former runway for small planes) to the woods.
Winter Wonderland!

Dave has been gathering firewood with the tractor, so we had a cleared path to follow.  Red was happy & relaxed, having met me at the gate with a whinny, eager to do something.  Merrily we ride along the path, me ducking snow-laden branches to avoid the icy slide of wetness down the back of my neck.  All of a sudden, sheer panic!  What is that?  We must flee - NOW!  Red spun & bolted, which he hasn't done in a very, very long time.  Somehow I managed to stay on (thank you, sticky velcro suede bareback pad!) and get him to stop, reconsider his flight for the safety of the barn, and haltingly, nervously make our way back to confront the terrifying horse-eating monster on the trail.... The Tractor.
Terrifying Tractor blocking our way
Finally Red did approach the tractor (which he sees around the barnyard all the time) and Dave (who feeds him) and realized he was familiar with both objects.  Silly boy.  His heart beat finally became imperceptible again, and he came back into his right mind.  The tractor was disabled right over a wet, marshy area of the trail which has a culvert, meaning there was no good way around the tractor except to dismount and lead him past it on about 16" of snowy trail beside the drop-off to the marsh and the edge of the culvert.  I have seen too many legs sliced up by stepping into the edges of culverts to count.  Here's to hoping Red would be his normal self and follow my lead exactly, trusting me to keep him safe while asking him to shimmy along the side of the tractor when the expanse of white snow looked perfectly passable (though I knew the marshy ground beneath was not frozen solid - we got too much snow too early to freeze these soggy areas as they are being insulated by the blanket of snow instead - the northern conundrum of cold snow keeping the ground warm).  Success!  Red is a good boy and does exactly what I ask.  And luckily, not too far down the trail, there is a convenient tree stump to use for remounting.  I find mounting the bareback pad very difficult unless I have something quite tall to stand on, as it is so sticky that I can't slide a leg across it - the same quality which gives me such a secure ride once I'm mounted.  Everything comes with a compromise, I suppose!
Kelso leading the way
Jack stays with Dave, and Kelso, Red, and I make our way over to the farm, riding into the courtyard just as Gesa drives in.  I quickly get Rhio ready to ride, transferring the bareback pad over so that Gesa can ride in my saddle.  Partly this is trying to give her the best gear for riding (saddle vs. bareback pad) since she is riding a horse she is not used to riding and a saddle is more secure, but partly this is selfish since I know how much warmer I'll be sharing Rhio's body heat through the pad.
Gesa and Red out in the hayfield
We set off with Kelso in attendance, retracing Red's & my steps from his barn and again having to dismount to lead around the still-disabled tractor.  The boys are happy and easily directed around downed trees and into the woods to bushwhack around otherwise-impassable blockades of tangled, snowy trees.  The downside to all the gymnastic moves we & the horses make to maneuver through this snowy landscape is melting snow everywhere - the horse's faces, manes, necks, & rumps, as well as our thighs, become quickly moist then damp then outright wet with the melting snow.  We get brain freeze from the cold snow on our necks and faces.  And we grin, laugh, and quietly relish every moment spent out there in the beauty of the north woods.

Gesa, Red, and Kelso on the trails across the road
We finally admit we are getting a little cold, and head back to the barn.  Red & Rhio have worked hard trudging through the deep snow for several hours, and are dripping with melted snow, so they get covered in coolers with piles of hay to munch in stalls while we head inside to steaming mugs of tea and continued conversation.  After we all get dry, warm, and fed, Red & I head back to his barn and discover our way is now clear as Dave has evidently fixed the tractor, so we joyfully trot and canter along the tractor trail as the light fades.  Red is eagerly anticipating his dinner, and I am just plain old happy.
Looping around the back pasture


  1. Taryn, I miss the snow, looking at these pictures! Just gorgeous. There's such an exhilaration about getting out in the cold, and then coming back in again, as though you have done something risky and brave.

  2. Yes, I agree! But the novelty kind of wears off when you're donning the layers twice a day to feed horses... I am hardly even wearing real clothing these days, as I mostly stay in my first and second layers of long underwear and polarfleece between outings, unless I head to town for something.