It really warmed up last night to the low 50sF, and it rained overnight and again this morning, so the snow and ice have rapidly vanished. It's supposed to drop into the 20s overnight, so I took advantage of the thaw after feeding, sheeting and turning out the horses this morning to work on Pie's paddock. All the old poo piles that had been hidden by the snow were revealed, including some that looked as though they dated back to Blackjack's tenancy. I was able to remove all the scattered accumulations of old hay, allowing the ice underneath to melt. I've started a compost pile of old hay in one corner of his paddock - I'd like to use the soil it will produce to improve the footing. We're also planning on getting a load of pea gravel for the lower end of his paddock in the spring - the drainage at that end is poor and this would raise the ground level and provide good footing as well as varied surfaces to keep his feet healthy. Since we can't do this now, I did some channel-digging with a hoe to allow the water at the bottom of his paddock to drain, and used a broom to push the water on its way. That way when things freeze up tonight, he won't have a lake of ice at the bottom of his paddock.
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After lunch, the rain had eased up so I managed a year-end ride on Pie. As we were tacking up, Jill arrived to clean her stall and ride Scout. While she was getting done with her chores and getting Scout ready, Pie and I went on a quick solo trail ride. We did a lot of trotting away from the barn, and worked a little bit on our softening at the walk as we returned to the barn. We met up with Scout and did a longer trail ride with a fair amount of trotting. The limestone trails were very nice as they had thawed. Pie got to meet two nice, well-behaved dogs and was very interested in saying hello to them. He and Scout also encountered a piece of trail-grooming equipment by the side of the trail (for cross-country ski trails). Scout was snorting and Pie was very alert, but approached and sniffed it - brave boy! After that Scout came up and sniffed it too, and was still keeping an eye on it. Once Pie had investigated it, he was fine with it. The only excitement (which was pretty funny) was when Scout mooched a tall grass plant by the side of the trail and pulled the whole thing out by the roots - it whacked him in the belly and he spooked and dropped it. We got rained on a bit on and off, but since it was so warm that really didn't matter.
Since I got Pie at the end of October, we've had 26 rides, including 7 in December - that's pretty good for our part of the world. Today would be what I call a good New Year's Eve!