This morning when I got back from doing morning chores at the barn, our local weather station (maintained by a neighbor and available online) said that it was 12F with a windchill of 4F, but it didn't really feel that cold to me. It's bright and sunny, with very little wind, and some frost on every surface. When I was cleaning Pie's paddock this morning, which took a while (that boy is sure a producer!), I was enjoying watching the horses in their dry lots. Pie, Scout and Fritz had a good three-way game of face tag going - I don't think I've every seen three horses play this game at once. Then Pie spend some time harassing Fred - he herds Fred around at a walk and bites his blanket (bad Pie!).
Later in the morning I went to the barn to ride. The temperature was up to 18F with a wind chill of 10F - this is about the coldest it can be that I will ride. I took my camera with me to the barn, hoping to get a few pictures. Night the barn cat followed me out to the dry lots:
Dawn, as usual, wondered what I was up to:
Sugar was dark and furry and enjoying the new round bale:
Misty was taking a drink - it was cold enough that the water vapor was frosting up the top edges of the tank:
Fritz had been having a drink, too:
I got a picture of Pie from behind, showing his lovely thick tail (that's Fred on the left):
Pie didn't know I was there, and briefly spooked when he heard the clicking of the camera:
Then Pie and Scout started coming up to me:
Scout veered off to investigate Night:
Pie was more interested in coming up to me and saying hi:
I collected him, and we groomed, tacked and mounted up up. We took a nice, long, solo trail ride. We did some trotting, although not as much as we'd have liked since even the grassy edges of the trail were frozen hard. We were out for about an hour. It was one of the best trail rides we've had. Pie was forward but pretty relaxed, and came back to the barn with his head and neck nice and low. We did our entire ride on a completely loose rein in our sidepull. He's so sensitive, and "unspoiled" in a training sense, that all I have to do to ask him to slow is to ever so slightly, for just a fraction of a second, stop following the motion with my seat. That's all - I've never taught him this and I doubt he was taught this by his prior owner, but just the slight blocking of his forward motion by my seat produces an immediate response - it's that intuitive for him. Come to think of it, he'd probably be a good candidate to ride in a cordero, or even bridleless, since he really doesn't require reins for stopping even at this young age, and probably would steer pretty well just off balance, and allowing/blocking with leg and seat after very little work.
When we got back to the barn we did a little bit of trot work - the ground was too hard to do much - and softening work at the walk on the grassy area behind the barn. He's also picking up the softening work very quickly, and without that period of having to learn to unbrace that many horses go through - he doesn't brace because he's never been taught to. He's also quickly getting over the slowing/stopping that many horses do when first learning to soften - he is one of those rare horses that hasn't had his face/headset messed with and rein aids don't mean slow/stop to him as much as they do many horses.
Good Pie! All winter days should be so fine!