Snow Here, Snow There, Snow, Snow Everywhere

Ike January 25 2016

Ike has a strong opinion about this amount of snow.


So the blizzard of January 2016 (Winter Storm Jonas for those who think winter storms need names like hurricanes) is finally over.  The region started digging out yesterday and it will be a few more days before things really start getting back to normal.  While folks like me who board their horses worry about digging out our cars so we can make it to the barn when roads are clear, those who have horses at home, have had to cope with horse care through the entire storm.  My hat’s off to you…opening barn doors and gates with falling snow and snow drifts, coping with stir-crazy horses, praying that the power stays on so that the well pump will work, and slogging through the snow with numb fingers and toes.

This snow brings back memories of February 2010.  Cigar was boarded at a nearby facility at the time.  It had a metal barn with an attached indoor.  The owners were out of the country at the time.  I was home from work when the call came…my friend G was on the line, and the first words out of her mouth were, “First, your horse is okay.”  “Second, the indoor collapsed during the night, but luckily, the shared wall held up and the barn did not collapse.”  I held my composure enough to call my husband who left work to take me out to check on things first hand.


The collapsed indoor from February 2010



The shared wall that thankfully did not collapse.


Some higher power must have been looking over our horses that night.  It is nothing less than a miracle that the shared wall did not buckle and trap/injure/kill the horses.  Steel beams were twisted like twist ties.  I can only imagine what it sounded like as it came down.  Metal panels still groaned with the continued weight of the snow.  The horses were taken to stalls and paddocks at the neighbor’s farm while we all contemplated what to do next.  I was lucky enough that Ms. C had an open stall and said it was ours if we could get Cigar to her farm.

The next day, I drove out ahead of my husband to begin the fun task of digging out the trailer.  Challenging? You bet.  Exhausting? Yep.  But I was single-minded that my horse would not spend another night in an icy paddock.  You could see that he had paced the fenceline all night not understanding why he could see his barn but not be in it.  Again, I was lucky that he did not slip and injure himself.  A couple of hours later, the trailer was freed from its snowy parking spot and we were on our way to Ms. C’s.  Thank goodness that my husband is an excellent snow driver.  People must have thought we were crazy for hauling a horse after all that snow.

His driving skills were put to the test yesterday since the roads out Ms. C’s way had yet to be touched by a plow.  Even the F-250 almost got stuck in the deep snow.  Thankfully it did not and we were able to visit with my very badly behaving horses.  On Sunday, Ike had taken the paddock gate off its hinges earlier in the day and managed to cut his fetlock while doing so.  It was superficial and caused me more angst than it did him.  The boys had also torn down the hot wire fencing so a mere snow pile was keeping them in their own paddocks.  I suppose I should be glad that neither of them have shown any jumping talent.  We also watched Ike show off his extended trot to buck transition since seeing my husband and the truck set him into a frenzy.  I guess he thought he might have to go somewhere…

Today, with the fence between them repaired, the boys were calmly eating hay when we arrived.  Ike showed us his giraffe imitation as he checked out our arrival.  No running today…phew.  Luckily Ike has also recognized the error of his ways and no longer stands on the ice that has formed in the water trough.  Falling through into the frigid water below has deterred any more circus elephant balancing acts.  They gladly accepted peppermints today as I mused about how long it would take for the snow to melt in the arena.  Come on sunshine, do your thing!


Mom is a Cootie Queen

Ike Jan 2016

Happy New Year!  Hope all my friends are doing well.  Things are good here at the farm especially since I haven’t had to go anywhere since before Thanksgiving.  It has given me time to catch up with my barn buddies and contemplate the writings of Baruch Spinoza.  He is credited with saying, “I have striven not to laugh at human actions, not to weep at them, nor to hate them, but to understand them.”  No offense to Mr. Spinoza, but how can I not laugh at human actions?  I guess he hasn’t met my mother or her friends.  It is a veritable comedy routine of hilarity for my pals and me.  It is beyond comprehension why they do the things they do, but we sure do get a good chuckle from watching them go about their day-to-day lives. 

Mom has apparently had an alien take up residence in her head because she has been sick since the day after Christmas.  While my brother and I do feel bad for her, it has meant that I have had a really nice break from the rigors of regular training.  She has tried to claim that she was “better” on a couple of occasions, but when she can’t make it through a 30 minute ride without blowing her nose 10 times, I would argue that she it is time for her to see the vet.  If I had a runny nose for that long, I would have been poked and prodded multiple times and been subjected to yucky syringes of ground up medicine disguised as apple sauce (you are fooling no one Mom!).  Can someone please make her an appointment?  Hopefully Dad knows how to grind up the pills and fill the syringes.  Now there is a funny image of Dad cramming medicine-laced apple sauce in Mom’s mouth. 

When she does claim to be “well,” Mom has only been able to ride me two or three days a week.  The rainy weather has also kept her from asking Ms. C to ride me.  It is hard to get away with anything when Ms. C starts riding me.  She is very smart and wily and is quick to fuss at me if I try the tricks I try with Mom.  What makes it even worse is that Ms. C then shares her thoughts and findings with Mom.  Shhh!  I have diligently worked to develop those evasions.  Why are you telling Mom my secrets?!  It is fun watching Mom fumble about trying to figure out how to stop me from grabbing the reins. 

I am not bored though with all my time off from my dressage work.  Cigar got a new halter for Christmas; he gets one every year since his halter gets pretty ratty over the course of the year.  Now, I don’t want to incriminate myself, but I may play a role in the halter’s annual demise.  Mom got a different kind of breakaway halter this year.  It has a short leather piece that breaks if necessary.  Well, the second day Cigar wore it, the new halter fell off into the mud.  It could be poor quality leather or poor workmanship in the construction, but noooo, Mom blamed me for the broken piece.  Umm, Mom, it was over on the other side of his paddock, so maybe Willow broke it.  You have no concrete evidence that I was involved.   That is all I have to say about that matter. 

Mom also fussed about the missing hair on my forehead.  As you can see from my picture, it really isn’t all that bad.  The first time she saw it, she wanted to poke it with her finger.  Seriously?  You want to touch my wound with your cootie-covered finger!!  I stood very tall, got accused of being a giraffe, then she got serious and put my halter on my head.  Thankfully, she wised up and cleaned it with a washcloth and put some ointment on it.  I didn’t get to read the label, so hopefully it will protect me from Mom’s germs. 

And, Mother Nature finally got serious and colder weather has returned to Virginia.  That means that my big blue blanket finally made an appearance at the barn.  Mom was tickled that it still fit me.  Mom had it laundered at the end of last winter.  Not sure what was in her Koolaid that day, since the very first day she put it on me, I christened it in the mud in my paddock…Hahahaaaa!  There is also a slight tear in the shoulder, but I have no knowledge of how that happened.  To my equine friends reading this, a fun game to play with your human is the Blanket Sidestep.  Quietly watch your human get the blanket situated to place on your back.  This can take a while if my Mom’s pace is any indication; be patient – it will be rewarded.  Right when they are ready to lift it onto your back, quickly sidestep away from them and watch the blanket fall on the floor/in the shavings.  If your human is anything like my Mom, it will drive them crazy.  Good times. 

So sorry, Mr. Spinoza, I  am going to have to disagree with you about not laughing.  Life is too short and my Mom is too funny.  I’m going to laugh even if it is silently.