Wednesday, February 17, 2010

"The Temperature's Rising"

"Which Isn't Surprising"

"We're having a heat wave." Well, not really, but it does look as if the temperatures are going to go above freezing within the next week or so. Right now, all I want is for the snow to melt off my solar panels so I can start generating electricity again. I hate the idea of potential free energy going to waste under a blanket of snow.

We had another three, perhaps four inches yesterday. At least I know where most of the ice is underfoot, so that I can try to avoid it when I'm out walking.

This morning, as I was feeding the Boys, I heard a very loud cat cry. I looked over to see Mommycat at the tackroom door, meowing at me. She was apparently quite hungry for some nice canned food and wanted me to know about it. She was so insistent that I finished up the graining and went inside to get her food. There, just outside the barn was Patches, the other stray, following in Mommy's footsteps. I had to laugh. So many people think of cats as solitary creatures, but already these two have formed a "tag team" of sorts to get me to follow orders. I have been putting out two dishes of food every day, so this morning was no exception. I just wonder now if the new commanding cat performance will become routine. I usually feed Patches after I am done with the Boys. Today, it was either feed the kitties first or be subjected to a rather loud vocal solo by Mommycat. (I've tried different names for her, including Mitzi, but Mommycat sticks as she did have that litter of kittens here. She spends most of her time at my neighbor's house, but I think the lure of canned food is too tempting here.)

Tucker has lost a bell boot in the snow and I haven't bothered to replace it. (I have tons of new ones I bought during the summer tent sale.) The one left keeps flipping up anyhow, so I'm not so sure they were doing much in the snow--which is still a foot deep in most places. I was contemplating attempting to ride someone in the arena, but I am still in "thinking only" mode about it. Just what is the point, anyhow?

I guess the question is, just what is fair to the horses? They do have the advantage of full turnout, so they are not completely unfit, but with the snow, any exercise they do takes twice as much effort. Add a rider and the effort increases, of course. Even a short trail ride in the woods would be pretty exhausting unless the snow mobilers have made enough trails to pack the snow down.

I've never felt it right to take an unfit horse and work him. I can still remember one clinic where the trainer was griping about how most show riders never really got their horses fit enough for real work. To prove his point, walked over to my PJ who was a rather "round muscled" Thoroughbred, to poke his finger into PJ's shoulder muscle just to show how soft and unfit he was. When he jammed his finger into solid, fit muscle tissue, he kind of gulped and said, "Well not this horse, but most of them." I was laughing inside. Back then, when I was competing seriously, I used to ride six days a week. I'd learned from a short list Olympic rider how to get a horse fit for three day eventing, and although I never competed at that level, I always aspired to keeping my horse's fitness up there.

Once the weather stops fighting me, I have resolved to get Tucker and Chance into good competitive fitness. I'd like to get Toby fit enough for some nice trail rides or even, perhaps a short riding lesson. All this is going to demand some pretty serious work on my part, but as I strive towards the goal, I'll be a lot better off myself.

The fact is, being truly fit is good for everyone. Horses stay sounder, and riders stay healthier. I may not plan to show, but that does not mean my horses won't be ready if I wanted to. We may not be fit enough for a three day, but we'll be fit.

A late New Year's resolution, perhaps? Hope I can stick to it. Meantime, for now, I'll wait until the snow melts a little. Right now, it's just not fair.


  1. I envy that you even have the option of thinking about riding. I'm still under around two feet of snow here. Even if I wanted to try riding, I don't remember where I left my mounting block and I'm too short to get on without it. I know it's out there somewhere, but it's completely buried.

    I love the story about the clinician. Some of those trainers get so uppity, it's nice to prove them wrong. Although I can sort of understand his attitude. There are far too many "weekend warriors" out there who expect their horses to be doing FEI work on two days a week of exercise.

  2. Anonymous5:20 PM

    Cats are funny - we have a new barn cat who has showed up - all black with yellow eyes - and he has been fighting with the other two, but this morning when I came to the barn, what did I find but black kitty sitting on one of the heated mats!

  3. I love the trainer story. I'll bet he felt a little silly picking on your horse only to be proved wrong.

    We have a cat that comes around and we leave food out for him/her. And the foxes come right to the shed at feeding time, just in case we need a little reminder.

    I can't wait for this snow to melt to start getting us all in shape too. I'm with you, I won't ride an unfit horse for long. Sorry to say I could use some shaping up and conditioning too. This winter has been really hard on the old diet and exercise routines.

  4. I love cats. They are so full of personnality, and they make themselves well understood. People say they are difficult to train, but I wonder? Because they are excellent people trainer ;-)

    Rain here and rain.. cold and humid! Depressing really.

    I would love to hear you get a horse fit, that is NOT Tb. Because the TB and Arabians are very easy to get fit.

    I would be happy to know.

  5. Thanks for the reminder that grey and miserable and wet is vastly better than buried in snow completely unable to ride... I'll stop whining now.