I realized I’ve let a few weeks go by without bitching about the weather, and I don’t want anyone to assume that this is because there isn’t anything to bitch about. There is. I just ran out of new, interesting words to use on the subject. The weather here has been on rapid-cycle between late November and mid-April. Sometimes we get both in a single 36 hour period, like we did yesterday. Sometimes we get repeats of both within a given 3 day period, like we are right now.
I should point out that mid-April gives good skiing, but late November yields no slope action other than the White Ribbon of Death.
I should also point out that late November gives adequate riding conditions, but mid-April is a nightmare for the horse farm. Windy, big temperature swings, fretty restless horses, and still plenty of treacherous icy spots on the ground.
This means that of late, the weather hasn’t been good for either one of my preferred outdoor sports. It’s been even worse for Roy, who will go alpine skiing, but has a vastly greater preference for cross-country skiing…which requires natural snow. Crystallized water that fell from the sky. I think he’s been able to go twice this year. Horrors.
The weather is making the horses insane. I had a great visit with Huey on Thursday. The round pen is in the sun and free from snow and mostly free from ice, and was available for lunging. Which we needed to do, and do a lot of, because he was getting that thousand-yard stare in his eyes and developing a tendency to spook at completely absurd things. Usually Huey is a pretty calm dude, so watching him get super wiggy drove home how much he really needs to get worked a lot more frequently than we’ve been able to this winter.
I went out yesterday to spend some quality time with him. We’d gone from April 16 directly to December 30, and done so with a lot of wind. Was it the wind that was responsible for what happened next? Was it the beaver face on my warm hat? Did he not like meeting two sets of eyes when he looked at me? Was it my gloves, that maybe still smelled a little like the other horse I’ve been riding? Was it a Beet Pulp High from his new Hanging Ball? Was it that he didn’t want to take a chance at having to work again?
I don’t know.
What I do know is that he didn’t want to go in the halter, and instead of putting up the token show of resistance that he has in the past, he decided to Make A Stand.
Now, the last thing I wanted to do for 40 minutes yesterday afternoon was stand out in an icy paddock, getting battered by a freezing wind, dealing with Huey’s Little Rebellion.
Problem is, if I’d said The Hell With This and bailed out, he’d have learned. Huey is a wicked smart horse, and he learns wicked fast. And what he’d have learned is that he could – sometimes – get off the hook for working (or doing anything else) by avoiding going in the halter.
The second-to-last behavior I want to see my horse develop is Being Hard To Catch. (The last one I want to see is Biting.)
So I had to suck it up, and play his bloody game, and wear him out by making him keep walking (or trotting) in his paddock…all the while having to keep him out of the icy spots where he could get injured.
I sure hope he wasn’t doing this to avoid working, because he got at least as much exercise doing this as he did on the lunge line on Thursday. So from that standpoint, his strategy was a total bust.
Ultimately, I took my beaver hat and my gloves off, on the off-chance that they were somehow freaking him out. Ultimately, I got him into the halter and took him into the barn, picked his feet, brought him into the round pen and made him go through a couple of basic obedience exercises just to remind him that I am the Boss of him.
It was like one of those days with a three-year-old that missed his nap and is now crabby, whining, and grizzling. You can’t get mad or take it personally, because it’s not the kid, it’s not you, it’s the fact that he missed his nap. But it’s still very tiresome.
All the way through this, Huey was acting like Space Aliens had stolen his brain. Freaking out at every little thing, not wanting to be scratched or rubbed, behaving as if my hand was covered in red-hot super-sharp knives instead of skin.
Let’s put it this way: I had two carrots in my pocket, and he never noticed them.
If he’s still at it when I see him tomorrow, I’m getting the trainer involved. I’ve had enough of this freakish behavior. If the vet needs to come, so be it. But this has got to stop.
I should also note that while I was engaged in my One Ring Circus with Huey, the mares in the nearby paddock were also freaking out. They were racing and kicking each other, almost at random. Every once in a while they’d make a boiling, roiling, kicking clump in the corner where the gate is, and then Huey would stop in his corner and they’d have a pow-wow. I’d have to go over there and flick him on the butt with the lead rope to keep him moving.
Meanwhile, the gelding in the paddock across the corner – who evidently was around and watching carefully when the mares took advantage Thursday of power-down for Chore Time to disassemble their paddock fence – experimented a little and noticed that it must be Chore Time again. He discovered that the fence was powered-down, and set about disassembling his own paddock fence. I didn’t notice this until I went to drive Huey out of another one of his Secret Lodge Meetings with the mares and realized that the gelding was casually sauntering up and down everyone else’s fence line as well.
Then I had another quandary. I couldn’t bail out on Huey’s pissy fit without teaching him that it was a good idea. On the other hand, there was a Loose Horse and no one else around. What to do?
Fortunately, the stable hand came around the corner of the barn then so I was able to shout “LOOSE HORSE!” and have someone else deal with it properly…while still keeping the pressure on Huey.
The Drama Of It All…
Today, I had a choice: go see if my horse still has bats in his belfry, or go skiing. We were getting flurries, which means nothing here, but which will actually stick to the surface on the ski hill and make something fun. So I went for the skiing…
…Only to find when I got there that the lifts had – in the 80 minutes since I left home – been placed on Wind Hold due to 40mph gusts. They had the lower lifts going to service the White Ribbon of Death. Which, at this point, was occupied with a large number of people one would not ordinarily find on this run. Like novices. It being a high-intermediate run for this mountain and all.
I said to myself, “Self,” I said, “You could go up and make some turns. In the flat light and blowing snow. On a run that hasn’t had fresh snow made there in several days. Which is presently crowded with low-skilled skiers.” All of which adds up, to my thinking, to Lots Of Injuries. None of which I want. So I did the only thing that made rational sense: I turned around, and I went home. I’m glad I made that decision, but I can’t believe I had to.
Is there something like Mercury in retrograde, only for dealing with atmospheric conditions, and pets? ‘Cause, the sooner this phase of whatever it is comes to an end, the better.