Saturday, December 29, 2012

Our Pens Have Turned Into Inksicles! Our Assets Are Frozen!

Water freezes. It's supposed to when conditions are right. Sometimes this causes problems, as the conditions are right but the situation is not.

Early this week, I noticed the water in the trough was low. No problem, I thought as I fetched the hose from the garage. This had been the home of the hose, as the garage is attached to the house. Ergo, the garage is kept at an above-freezing temperature and the water in the hose remains in liquid form. Not that cold and fateful day. Apparently, the temperature of the garage was just cold enough to create a hose-sicle, from which no water would flow. I tried using a hair dryer to warm up the hose, but to no avail. Eventually I gave up, and we decided to store the hose inside the house for a while to melt our hose-sicle, and I carted buckets of water to the trough. The hose-sicle was especially stubborn, and refused to thaw until the next morning.

That should have been the end of it. We should have been able to simply hook our former hose-sicle to the spigot and filled up the trough. But no. Now the spigot decided to become a spigot-sicle, despite my sister aiming the blow-dryer at it for a good five minutes.

Early afternoon, I decided to try to persuade the spigot-sicle to thaw. Armed with the hair dryer and warming ambient temperatures, I turned the handle of the spigot-sicle as far as it would go. Nothing. The hair dryer was turned to high, and I waited. After a little bit, water started to drip, and that drip turned turned into a trickle. I yelped with joy and bolted back into the house, grabbed the hose, and dragged it out to the spigot as fast as I could. I was pleased to discover that water was physically able to flow through the hose, and unraveled in the direction of the trough. I triumphantly watched it fill up.

The horse, however, had been watching the whole time, and all of the gave me a look that clearly said, "You humans are so weird." And went back to eating their hay.

Can winter be over now?

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Lakehorse Day 2 and A New Kitten

In the complete opposite vein as the last post...

My sister found the pictures she took of day 2 of our swim in Lake Superior; the day we actually went swimming (instead of wading). It was still fairly wavy but we were still able to swim and confuse some kayakers.

The second to last photo is of us actually swimming! Keep in mind, this was after we'd had one of the best x-c schools ever, so I was really on Cloud 9 that day. Royal seemed pretty proud of himself too.

And, yesterday, we got a kitten for Christmas!

He was a stray at the Animal Humane Society in St. Paul, so we had to wait for him to go off his holding period and get neutered before we could bring him home yesterday. So far he's one of the most friendly and snuggly kittens ever, and we have tentatively dubbed him Patches. Our cat Jitterbug still isn't too sure about our new addition, but so far there haven't been any fireworks.


Now for my favorite Christmas song.

Monday, December 17, 2012

When It Snows, Ain't It Thrillin'

No, not really.

Last weekend's snowstorm left 16 inches of snow on the ground when all was said and done. Which brought up a series of Winter Problems. Such as:

1. Shoveling a path to the trailer
2. Shoveling a path to the water tank
3. Shoveling a path to the water spigot.
4. Making sure the water heater is working
5. Making sure the horses have their blankets on and they are dry underneath

I made the mistake of wearing my winter paddock boots the day after the storm and got some very soaked jeans for my foolishness. Now it's tall winter boots or bust. I also have upgraded to some very nice winter gloves and so far they've been worth the expense, because it was very cold for a couple of days.


Tuesday. That's a minus sign in front of the 2

 Between the weather and my work schedule, I didn't play with Royal much. I'm not sure how well my light will work in the snow and I was too cold to find out. Of course it got warmer mid-week so a good portion of the snow melted, so it might work then. The other option is to plow a little ring in the back paddock and use a headlamp at night. Or dig out the trailer and trailer to an indoor arena for an hour or so. The winter is young and we have plenty of time to figure things out.

Meanwhile Royal continues to do pretty well. He and the rest of the herd have figured out the big haynets and eat from them without much fuss. Occasionally there's a bit of ear-pinning and face-making, but usually there's peace. And Operation Reverse Weight Watchers is very successful! Tonight I couldn't see and could barely feel Royal's ribs, and his topline is slowly filling in. I would say we've got around 50 lbs. to go before he's at his ideal winter weight and then we can start backing off the Cool Calories a bit and just see how he does on the Senior Glo. Or, keep the Cool Calories and switch him to a grain with fewer calories but more vitamins and minerals. At this point I'm reluctant to change anything too drastically, but all our hard work is paying off.

He still likes his blanket. Everytime I take it off to groom him/check for rubs, he looks at me like "Stop that. Put it back." The horse wants what he wants.

And, for no reason, here's an Animaniacs Christmas song, Enjoy!


Sunday, December 9, 2012

Let There Be Light/Snow

It's been another quiet/uneventful week for me and Royal, with one exception.

The poor-girl version of an indoor arena. I went to a hardware store a couple of weeks ago and got a tripod halogen light so I can play with Royal at night. My brother-in-law got it sent up and, 200 feet of extension cords later, we have light. And it's pretty bright too.

When I have them adjusted right, they can light up pretty much the whole back pasture. There's a good amount of glare, but if I make the tripod as tall as possible and turn the lights outward, it's not bad. I was only able to get them set up before I got too cold, so I haven't had a chance to do stuff with Royal with them, but he ate his grain in tripod light and didn't seem too bothered.

So I was unable to get up there the rest of last week until yesterday, and we had a pretty lively session OnLine. His hind legs were stocked up again, and he was full of energy. I'm working more on his responsiveness, and he keeps getting better. I'm hoping to really work on our Freestyle riding this winter and the weather looks to be helping me out. We got more snow today in a blizzard than if feels like we got all last year. Witness poor Sweetie.

We might actually get a real winter! I'm excited and scared.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Winter Blechs

It's been a while since I've written about Royals' and my hijinks, but in the meantime, my hours at my jobs have sharply increased. It'll be good for my wallet (Hello Smart Pad/trailer repairs/2013 season!), but I've had a lot less time with Royal lately. And the weather has had more personalities than usual. While my attitude towards the summer heat was

My attitude towards the descent into winter is more

Wake me up when it's over.

Royal and I have had some good sessions, though. He was a star in our Contact session, taking the contact and even offering to canter. We've also continued playing with one-rein ground driving and the Weave pattern. But honestly, it's hard to accomplish much. I have to make sure he doesn't get too overheated and sweaty, otherwise it takes him forever to dry off. It may be a good idea for me invest in a nice fleece cooler, but right now my main strategy is to keep our sessions under 30 minutes and repetitively easy. I'm still trying to teach him new things, but right now the next steps in our progression involve the 45-foot line or bridleless riding, neither of which are very do-able in our circumstances. I'll do what I can, but I wish the weather would just pick a season and get it over with.  It may be a very quiet winter.