Fall Colors Between Rhio's Ears

Fall Colors Between Rhio's Ears

Monday, April 22, 2013

Snowiest April EVER!

Yep, my horse is basically camouflage these days - white with black and blue just like the world around here. 
We've gotten something like 40 inches of snow in the past two weeks.  There is more snow on the ground right now than there has been all winter.  I have no choice but to believe that simply walking through the snow will be enough to prep for MnDRA 1, coming up May 5 and 6.

After our latest snow event, which closed schools yet again (three times in 6 days!) and dumped 20+ inches up on Spirit Mountain where the horses live, Saturday dawned crystal clear (and in the low teens - also setting a record for coldest low for the date), but with promise to be the best day of the month so far.  It did not disappoint, and by afternoon was just above freezing (15 to 20 degrees cooler than normal) with brilliant sunshine in a blue, blue sky and hardly any breeze.  Of course we went riding - though truthfully whether we would be able to ride crossed my mind.  This April snow is not the dry, fluffy winter variety.  It is soft, heavy, dense, and water-logged.  It is the consistency of mashed potatoes.  As soon as it is compressed, it becomes slush.  It may be less difficult to get through than deep mud, but it is not an easy footing to work with.
Between the winds and the sunshine on the exposed overlook, it is the only place with a little road showing through.
Four of us set off to give it a try; how could we pass up a glorious day such as this, when we have been stomped down by the weather over and over and over again this month?  Rhio crossed the barrier for the first time since he scraped his rear legs on it a couple weeks ago (the snow is so deep, there was only about 6 - 8" of the barrier showing!), and we proceeded to walk slowly along.  A few snowmobiles had zipped down the road, so the horses followed their trail, which theoretically gave us something resembling a firmer surface to follow.  However, it was the type of going where you sink in fetlock deep for awhile, then suddenly a leg (or all four) sink in to hock-depth or more.  It was hard, if not impossible, to tell where the horses were going to break through and sink, and a couple of times, in drifted areas, Rhio was nearly dragging his belly through the snow.  Sometimes, it felt more like swimming through molasses than riding a horse.  All four horses were working hard, sweating and getting their heart rates up (I wished I'd had my heart rate monitor on for this ride!).  Rhio was wishing for a puddle to drink out of - he kept stopping to lick snow.
J. and Ranna, D. and Windsor, C. and Cricket making an Arab train - none of the horses wanted to get out of line and have to break their own trail. 
Just shy of 3 miles of this, the horses stopped all in a line for a break.  Rhio was bringing up the rear, and after they all stood there a minute or two, he suddenly turned around and started heading home.  I guess he'd made the decision for all of us - enough was enough.  In total, we did 5.7 miles in 1:50, at the whopping pace of 3.1 mph.
The crew taking a break (right before Rhio decides it's time to go home.)
This is not the way I usually train for the start of our endurance season.  We have hardly trotted at all this year, but instead have been building muscle with the snow (or so I tell myself.)  Now the challenge will be to keep Rhio's mental state in such a place that we can do a nice, slow, paced 25 miler at MnDRA 1 and ride to our condition, not race.  We all know how Rhio will feel about that!
Post-ride, wondering why we didn't just hang out in this little bit of open ground rather than going slogging through the deep snow (actually, he's eyeing me up to see if I'll produce a treat and therefore make it worth his while to walk up to the fence.)

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