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Discussion Starter #3,361 (Edited)
I decided to participate in a "Winter Riding Challenge" as part of another group I belong to, so I got started with that today. The goal is 20 hours of saddle time and 10 hours of "horsemanship" between January and March. The horsemanship part is basically anything that's not routine care (so you count anything done on the ground except regular grooming, feeding, stall mucking, etc.). I decided the first thing I'd like to work on is getting Fizz comfortable with mounting from the off side. I pretty quickly realized the issue was going to be getting me comfortable mounting on the right, because Fizz really doesn't care 🤣

I got her lined up at the mounting rock.

Then stood over her from the rock to get her used to the idea (no reaction), put some weight in the stirrup (no reaction), gave her a treat, asked her to stop chewing on the random branches on the ground (ear pin reaction), then finally just went for it and flopped on inelegantly, realizing I have no idea how to use my body parts in that sequence. Turns out the one who needs practice on this is ME, not her! I gave her lots of pats and treats, but she was much more interested in just heading on our way.

Roads are still iced over, so we walked through the backyard and down the driveway and tip toed across a sunny spot in the road to head through the fields. She hesitated and snorted when we crossed the crackly ice at the low wet spot, but she felt more confident than last time.

Up to the flattest of the fields, and did some school figures for a few minutes before going back the way we came (no hestitation at the crackling ice!), crossed the street in a different spot, and walked through the orchard.



All told, this was only 20 minutes of riding, but the point is really just to be in the saddle and do something when we can. It was a beautiful day for it, if brisk- about 30*F with a strong breeze. We did some grooming and stretching when we were done, and I think she enjoyed herself too!
 

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Discussion Starter #3,365
Well you all are more than welcome to join in the Winter Riding Challenge if you want to keep track and post your updates here 😁

Fizz and I got another ride today. I mounted from the right again, and it went much more smoothly this time. It definitely does not feel natural, but at least I didn't feel like I was doing a belly flop into the saddle this time. I'm sure it will feel more comfortable the more we practice.

My sheepskin seat saver arrived, but I'm not sure yet if it is the right size for my saddle. I assume there will be some stretch and "deflating" as it gets used, but it was very difficult to force it to sit where it seemed like it was supposed to sit based on the pictures. It seemed like it was stretched so tight it was lifted off the saddle with lots of space in between the seat of the saddle and the seat saver. Also...sorry to @bsms and any other guys that happen to be following along...the seam down the middle stuck out and felt like sitting my lady parts on a freaking knife blade 🔪 For something designed to make for a more comfortable ride, I'm a little disappointed in the first ride. I am going to write to the company to see if they think it's just the wrong size, or if it will stretch.

Anyway, after the first few awkward strides while I tried to adjust my position in the saddle around sitting on a shark fin, we had a very nice ride. We rode around the new field and then came up to the flat part under the apple trees.


There, we had enough room for a big 20meter+ circle, which had a little up and downhill undulating to it, enough that she had to pay attention to balance. I was so surprised at how wonderful she really felt. The first couple of times we were going downhill, she would lurch to a stop when she felt off balance, but with some encouragement she was soon moving smoothly and confident- so much so that I asked her to pick up a trot and she moved right out. That was going well, the footing was holding up and she wasn't slipping, so I asked her to canter. She sort of crowhopped into it like she'd always do in our lessons, but it was a halfhearted little jump and then she'd smooth out. It was worse to the right than the left, and she got really heavy hanging on me in that direction so we moved on to doing some other things rather than get into a pulling match. I found a couple of unused fence posts and laid them out on the ground in a right angle, so we did some trotting in various patterns back and forth across them and tried to stay really straight and hit the center each time.

I really wanted to be able to sidepass down the length of the post on the ground, but that didn't go as well. I could feel her doing some crossing steps in the front, but she was wanting to go forward and sideways rather than just sideways. I'm sure a lot of this problem is operator error as much as her just not really understanding. Does anyone have any videos or instructions that might help? I'm happy to start on the ground and move to the saddle if needed. Would love advice!

The long term forecast is looking promising- sunny days with highs right around freezing, which is great for this kind of riding. The ice on the roads isn't budging, so we can't really get anywhere away from the house, but for now playing around with schooling type stuff is fun enough, and like I keep saying, it's just nice to be able to ride at all. If we make it through most of January with at least a couple of rides a week, that will be an improvement over last year.
 

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Discussion Starter #3,366
Another ride, similar to yesterday. Mounted from the right again, getting a little easier. We rode around the new field and then crossed the road to go to the other big flat field. Did a lot of circle work over there- big circles, spiraling circles, circles off of the circle :ROFLMAO: She was a little more animated being a bit farther from home, though we could still hear Izzy calling for her like a lunatic. She kept wanting to bulge her shoulder out off the circle while trotting and try to drag towards home. So that gives us something work on- relaxation and a nice, steady pace farther from home but within earshot.



I got a very speedy response from the seller of the seat saver, and she confirmed it was too small given how it was fitting. She also said since I rode in it, they can't take it back as "new," but would give me half the purchase price to take it back as used. That was a bummer. But, M has also been wanting one, and her saddle is smaller and a different shape than mine, so she picked it up today to see if it fits. If she doesn't like it, I'll post on FB.

Week 1 of winter riding challenge: 1.5 hours riding, 15 min in-hand
 

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Discussion Starter #3,367 (Edited)
Haven't been posting much as winter can get so uninspiring this time of year. It feels like I am just doing the basics- keeping horses fed, watered, cleaned up- and not much else. We had another big storm over a week ago, which brought a foot or so of very heavy, wet snow, and it was very difficult to clear. Too heavy for the snowblower deck on the tractor, and even a struggle to plow. The horses are not interested in venturing out very far from the sheds, because the footing is so deep and heavy.

So I've been luring them out with hay, to at least give them a reason to move around.

The snow is easily up to my knees, so it's hard to take Hugh anywhere for good walks/runs/hikes; he just has to sort of dolphin leap through it because he's up to his elbows in it and can't really move that easily.


He's surviving though 😉

It didn't help that we had snow every day for the past 8 days! The new snow is actually fairly light and powdery, but unfortunately the base is still the heavy stuff that's hard to get through.

The town plows coming through have created tall, dense banks along the roads which means it's hard to get into the fields to ride. Lovely husband did punch out a couple of tenuous spots where we can sort of crawl through and over the worst of the snow banks, but it's tough going. Yesterday though, the snow finally stopped and it was sunny if blustery cold. I was pretty determined to ride at least a little.

For the first time in awhile, the footing on the roads was not too scary, so we walked a little way down the road, cut into one of the fields, and circled through the deep stuff back up to the road.

I wasn't sure if it would be ok to ask Fizz to go through the really deep parts, but she was pretty feisty. On an uphill part, she actually wanted to start trotting, which was a strange, multi-beat stutter step sort of trot as she bounced along. When we got back to a flat spot, she still wanted to boing along, and I think it was good that the snow was so deep or she might have bounced me right into a snow bank. 🤣 I only rode for 20 minutes, as we had really strong winds in our faces, with a windchill close to 0*F, but I think it was good for both of us to do something.

Even colder today, with worse winds, so probably won't be able to ride even though the sun is pretty again.
 

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The house I hope to move to (final walkthrough is scheduled for Wednesday) is supposed to get 5 inches of snow Mon/Tues. Absolutely trivial compared to what you get, but desperately needed here! It will be rain at the lower elevations, like where we've lived. The prickly pear there has turned RED from lack of water! We finally got 1/2 inch a few days back and hopefully will get s long drizzle/snow this week. I won't mind moving to a place that gets snow every year since it won't stick around for long. Besides, if we're going to be on well water.....

And during the winter, our horses get very fuzzy. If they can stay dry, they can stay warm.
 

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I much enjoyed your update - great photos as usual, I'm marvelling at all that snow, and your Hugh is ultra cute and always looks super happy. Jess does that rolling-on-the-back-thing too. Good idea to coax the horses to move by spreading hay around! I might have to do something similar for myself, I'm spending so much of my recovery time horizontal - maybe I need to be fed my dinner five miles away as an incentive to walk! 🤪 On the other hand, I know me - when the energy returns, I'll be champing at the bit to go for a good hike. Meanwhile I'm doing half-days of work, and having mornings to myself.

High summer here is a bit like your winter - I just do maintenance tasks, and nothing "new" happens very often - summer is a time of shifting sprinklers around, trimming hooves, feeding the mineral mix hard feed at night, administering "scratchies" to everyone, letting the whole bunch into the big common in the mornings, working in the garden before or after the UV and heat make it unbearable, routine farm maintenance, etc. And the farmstay. If it's hot it cuts down the riding, because I'm not as early a riser as @knightrider (hope you got another ride in since!). However, it's amazing how I can get out of bed better since I've decided the mornings are my own time just to have some fun and relax, until I've got my energy back.

I wish you could buy the stuff bottled - there's a lot of things I'd love to do. If you could plug a lithium battery into a human I'd be going around at double speed getting loads of things done in one single day, and then I'd also saddle educate Julian, ride Sunsmart more regularly than I currently do, practice music, do daily Pilates and challenging cardiovascular stuff every second day... and I wonder how much of that is going to creep in, during the mornings that are "mine" until further notice...

Are you tending to hibernate during winter? I sort of do during summer. Because I get up earlier than in winter, I sleep a few hours after lunch, when it's not nice outside. That's in "normal" times - right now I'm sleeping even more, to recover that sleep debt. I think bears have the right idea! 😀
 

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The house I hope to move to (final walkthrough is scheduled for Wednesday) is supposed to get 5 inches of snow Mon/Tues. Absolutely trivial compared to what you get, but desperately needed here! It will be rain at the lower elevations, like where we've lived. The prickly pear there has turned RED from lack of water! We finally got 1/2 inch a few days back and hopefully will get s long drizzle/snow this week. I won't mind moving to a place that gets snow every year since it won't stick around for long. Besides, if we're going to be on well water.....

And during the winter, our horses get very fuzzy. If they can stay dry, they can stay warm.
We've heard there is a lot of rain/snow coming to the SW- must be a relief for you all. Snow in the desert must be a fascinating sight! Hope all goes well with the house closing and that you get to begin the move soon.

All that snow and cold! Very pretty, but brrrrrr! It wouldn't be fair for me to do your winter challenge. Our winter is the best time to ride. I am hoping for a 3 day horse camping trip really soon. I had planned to go today, but life got in the way.
I hope you'll take pictures on your camping trip when you do go. I always love to see them! :)

Are you tending to hibernate during winter? I sort of do during summer. Because I get up earlier than in winter, I sleep a few hours after lunch, when it's not nice outside. That's in "normal" times - right now I'm sleeping even more, to recover that sleep debt. I think bears have the right idea! 😀
I think any extreme weather- very hot or very cold- calls for hibernation :sleep: My problem in the winter is that the short daylight makes me ready for bed so, so early at the end of the day. And my problem in the summer is that I feel like I am drowning in humidity and can't possible move. I wish Fall lasted all year, then I'd be happy!

Hugh's got the right idea for these short winter days:
 

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Winter is definitely a pain. I'm not riding as nearly as much as I do in the spring/summer/fall either. I try to suck it up, bundle up & go, but sometimes it's hard to get that motivation. I agree, the days definitely seem shorter. So glad you were able to get Fizz out & she was such a good girl in the snow! :D That selfie is so cute! It is really pretty. I really need to stop complaining about when we get just a few inches LOL.

Hugh is such a cutie, so adorable in the snow!
 

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I was very behind. I also haven’t been posting much. It’s not that I haven’t been riding, more that it’s not very interesting. Lope or trot around a pivot, maybe do some finesse type stuff in the yard on days with decent footing. Day in and out it feels the same...

I love riding in heavy snow. It’s one of my favorite things. Here there isn’t enough snow for it to be good riding right now. I actually stayed in yesterday because of the wind. Ick
 

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New month, new storm. Hard to tell how much snow there really is because the wind is howling and building up deep drifts.

Our water fully disappeared overnight.
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I’ve never seen that happen before-must have been from the wind, but I’m surprised they didn’t keep it open. They did drink from the buckets in the shed, but they eat a lot of snow when it’s fresh.
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We only got a few inches & I was complaining...LOL. I am pathetic!

Sheesh, that's crazy about the water trough! I know the winds can get crazy, they've been pretty bad here. The girls are so cute though, I always say this, but just something about horses in the snow!
 

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I will be curious to see @phantomhorse13 update- I think she was getting more than us!
We got pretty lucky here, getting "only" 2 feet - not too far NE of us wound up with 3!! I am so profoundly grateful for large equipment and hope I never see a shovel again. I just updated my journal, but can't resist sharing some cuteness here too:


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I assume your pup loved the snow as much as mine?
 
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