While the rest of the US is getting snow and rain and generally miserable cold weather, California’s in a drought. This past weekend was the first real few days of rain we’ve had this winter.. if not longer! Good news, since it means we’re now marginally less concerned about the drought (but let’s face it, we’re still pretty low on rainfall here). Bad news for my riding, since after a few days of rain the dam has gone up just downstream of the barn. Our river crossing is over for at least a month or two.
It rained Thursday, just a bit. I got on bareback, put the halter-bridle all on, and attached the reins to the halter. I have to keep things interesting somehow, right? Tree limbs falling had me dismounting fast, but Confetti just flinched and looked hard at the tree. Bravery was limited and I still had the bit attached, just not to the reins. We wandered around the barn awhile and didn’t really work, but that was okay. I got some pretty pictures instead.
|This captures her look better than any other photo I’ve taken.|
|She’s looking pretty good, as long as I stay confident that there won’t be ribs showing again when she sheds out!|
|The hike was a little bit foggy towards the top.|
It rained Saturday. Saturday morning I went hiking up north, expecting it to be raining there too. It wasn’t! I had a lovely miserable three miles all uphill and a significantly less miserable three miles downhill. My boots finally started to give me blisters. I vowed to return them to REI and try something new. Nine months, a year, fine! But these boots I’ve had for maybe six or seven months, and that is the absolute fastest I have ever worn out riding/hiking boots.
Drove back over the hill. Sure enough, still raining. I got on bareback, put the halter on, and attached the reins to the halter – no bit at all. It was pouring pretty good on and off. Pony was a coiled spring of tension ready to explode. She dutifully tolerated a few laps around the barn to socialize, and then I hopped off and jogged a few laps with her in my not-good-for-running rain boots. It was raining harder and my new, pink waterproof jacket that I bought specifically for the barn? Not entirely waterproof. I was wet. I put her away and went home.
Sunday I went to REI. I did not get a new raincoat, but I did get new hiking boots. Luckily, I found a raincoat in my car. I don’t particularly like it to ride in, but I knew it was still raining at home. Plus it cost $0 to find it in my car, and would have cost $100+ to get a raincoat at REI. And they have a pink shell-only raincoat online for something like $60 anyway.
I went home and went to the barn. It was still raining. I was going to get on, but opted to turn her out in the round pen instead. Pony promptly cantered in circles and threw hissy fits about not having her sister with her. She riled up several other horses being walked and we eventually just put her sister in so they could both trot/canter around and blow off steam. I’m guessing she did ten-fifteen minutes of running around by herself and another twenty with the two of them. The footing was actually rather nice under the puddles. Put her away, hopped on another Haffie bareback for awhile, and swore we’d get a good ride in on Tuesday.
It did not rain on Tuesday! I zipped out to the barn, planning to get in a good 8 miles or so. The river no longer had a viable crossing. Our path to the highway has various fallen trees that dramatically change the landscape. It took easily fifteen minutes to find a workable path. We jogged on the highway for nearly a half-mile to get to the main park entrance and our usual starting point, dodging traffic, RVs, and motorcycles. There is not much shoulder and drivers may or may not respect that there’s a horse nearly on the road. It’s one hell of a way to do road sprints though: dash past a bunch of parked cars, wait for a gap in traffic, run like hell to get past the next six cars when there are no cars coming head-on towards you.
Confetti has proven herself to be road-safe and generally okay with anything we encounter. I don’t ride her on the road and I keep us as out of the way as safely possible, but we’ve had motorcycles go by and she barely blinked. It’s possible to dodge a lot of the highway by going on side streets. We’ll do that with horses that don’t like big trucks flying by. Side streets have houses, though, and turns and smoother asphalt, and roads barely big enough for two cars to pass each other. The highway is a straight shot down the road to the park.
Road or not, we were going to Do Something and that meant we had to make it to the park, so we did. I jogged/walked with her a bit, found our way around a particularly large fallen tree, and eventually hopped on. Pony’s brain stayed intact, which is impressive! Last year, she never settled much for me to feel very comfortable riding her on the trail alone after coming by 9. This time, she wasn’t thrilled nor confident. She didn’t want to go fast. That was okay; the trails are still muddy enough I wasn’t asking for fast, just forwards. We trotted some, then turned around towards the end of the flat section and headed home at a walk. Idiots throwing things near the river made both of us nervous. I hopped off and walked/jogged with her awhile again. Confetti was getting the hang of sticking right next to me for our jogs! I am quite pleased with that and hope it sticks. Ran back on the highway, wandered around lost in the woods for a few minutes to find the stupid trail, and made it home in one piece.
Four miles, all told. A very mentally challenging four miles. How are the rest of you coping with your winters?