Riding in a Winter Wonderland

We have been having a proper wintry week.  The snow started for us on Tuesday, we had some heavy snow showers on Wednesday and a proper snowstorm on Thursday night.  Everything is very icy as well but I was pretty disappointed that the snow at home was mostly very wet and didn’t always settle properly.

However, I have been out and about this week as the ponies went away to my instructor’s yard for a few days.  The yard is high enough above us for the snow to have settled much more than it did at home.  In fact, I was worried they would be snowed in and the ponies wouldn’t be able to go at all.

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Luckily, the roads weren’t that bad and the ponies were duly collected on Wednesday.  I have had a fantastic few days playing in  the snow.  Thursday was the best day though – a heavy snowfall was forecast for the afternoon so I decided to ride nice and early.  Driving over to the yard the roads were pretty clear so I fully intended to take Galahad out for a hack.  First though, I had to school Cookster.

The school was excitingly snowy when we started and before long a few flakes of snow were falling, just to add interest.  Those few flakes increased and suddenly we were in a proper snowstorm.  It was really rather lovely.

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I’m not sure how much Cookster appreciated it but I certainly did – everything was so beautiful!  Even better, my riding skirt was getting a proper use too.

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Of course, I couldn’t very well take Galahad out on the roads in weather like that so we stuck to the school too, although – annoyingly – the snow had stopped by the time I got on him.  Not that the roads would have been safe anyway!

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I know the snow causes all sorts of problems but I can’t help enjoying it!

In Training

The ponies have gone away for a short working holiday.  Galahad and I are going to a dressage competition on Saturday and I have been making the most of a couple of days off to use my instructor’s school for a bit of practice.

The ponies were collected yesterday morning, although owing to some crossed wires we were ready twelve hours too soon.  We had some nice in hand grazing time though!

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Galahad and I had a pretty good schooling session yesterday and a proper lesson today.  I was pleased with how we did – especially compared to the lack of brakes in our last lesson!  I was having some trouble getting the correct canter lead on the right rein and we really need to work on getting Galahad’s near hind leg working correctly.  It has always been his weak point but it has improved immensely and I am generally pleased with him.

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Driving home was fun – the snow in the middle of the road was frozen hard and high enough to scrape the bottom of my car – I thought for a moment I was going to get stuck!

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Snow Day Mark Two

Just when we thought that spring was on its way, this happened.

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This winter storm has been dubbed the ‘mini beast from the East’ which, as my sister says, rather suggests a woodlouse with a snow machine.

We drove home last night through a proper snow storm but about two miles from home the snow suddenly just stopped and we thought we would get none at all.  It did eventually start snowing though and by this morning everything was white.

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I always find the snow fascinating for watching wildlife – the tracks are great – and this morning I spent quite some time watching the pair of thrushes that arrived  here recently.  I am very much hoping that they will nest and we will have a little brood of them.

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We also had a proper snowball fight for the first time in ages – the snow last time was not great for snowballs.  We even built a little snowman!

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We did managed to go for a very short ride.  Galahad was a little chilly to start with and it didn’t really feel safe to go too far but it was wonderful to get to use my riding skirt in earnest!

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By that time a lot of the snow had melted but as we came back in it was snowing again and pretty soon all the green was hidden once more.  It is still snowing now, although not as much as it was,  and I will soon be curled up by the fire with a book and a cup of tea.  It is a pretty good day.

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By Sunday it was safe enough to ride again so Galahad and I set off up the hill.   I love the snow but it did feel good to be riding.

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Not that all the snow was gone – it wasn’t quite clear in the valley and we didn’t have to go far up the hill to find more.

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It is all gone now and what with the heavy frosts and a few sunny, dry days, the ground was beginning to dry out and show signs of recovering from our very wet winter.

For the last couple of days though it has poured with rain and the mud is just as bad as it ever was.  It does make life interesting – we usually use the stream to soak the ponies’ overnight haynets and with it flowing as strongly as it is at the moment that takes quite a bit of strength!

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Frozen Landscapes

Even before the snow came last week we were living in a beautiful, frozen landscape.  The mud had frozen hard, which make walking much easier, and even the stream froze – in some places all the way across.

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It wasn’t quite strong enough to bear my weight but the dog had no problems at all.  I’m not even sure she realised it wasn’t normal ground.

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The water tank in the yard was very well frozen  and that was enough to bear my weight.  In fact, it was a bit of a problem because although we could break the ice it just kept freezing throughout the day.   Once the snow came the ponies were eating a lot more hay which meant they needed more water too.  We had to increase the number of water buckets inside the stables – they still froze but with only a very thin layer of ice – and we periodically topped them up with warm water as well.  The ponies loved that!

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We also stopped soaking the overnight haynets for a while too.  They just froze solid and made eating very difficult indeed for the ponies!

Despite the problems though, everything was simply beautiful and I miss the frost now the rain has come back and we are once again sloshing through the mud.

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Snow Day

In the end we were let off pretty lightly with the snow this week.  We had a blizzard forecast to start at three on Thursday afternoon and it arrived bang on time.  There were some absolutely beautiful snowflakes – something I haven’t seen very often.

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By five o’clock we had a pretty decent covering of snow – enough for some tobogganing – and by Friday morning everything was white.  The high winds meant that it was hard to tell just how much snow had fallen – some places had a couple of inches and in others there were drifts over a foot deep.  It might not sound like much but we hardly get any snow down here (we live in a valley and are pretty sheltered) so even that is very exciting for us.

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In some patches the snow had blown away altogether – as you can see, the lane is very patchy.  However, all the bits with no snow were covered with a sheet of ice so it was still extremely slippery.

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I love the snow though so I have been having a whale of a time.  The ponies haven’t minded it either, although they have been a bit skittish  – possibly because they aren’t getting much exercise.  I was impressed at their snow-scraping skills – they first saw a decent amount of snow eight years ago and have barely seen any since, yet they still know how to find the grass!

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Winter Wonderland

The long expected Arctic blast is beginning to make itself felt here.  The temperature has plummeted but we have been having beautiful weather.

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The ground has frozen nicely and we can walk over the top of the mud now instead of wading through it.  These footprints were made just the day before I took the photograph.

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Our big rainwater tank is also now frozen enough to bear my weight.

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It holds a lot of water and it needs to be pretty cold to do that.  It’s always one of the highlights of the winter if I can ‘skate’!

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Yesterday we finally had some snow.  It may not be much compared to the rest of the country but we get so little of it down here that even a small amount is exciting.  I love snow!