We had our first snow over the past weekend. Nothing major, just and inch or so, enough to sugar-coat everything and set the mood for the season. The kids were excited (duh!) and couldn't wait for the chance to get out there and enjoy the white stuff. After we completed the morning's errands of picking out a Christmas tree and buying a few more decorations to add to the yard display, they went into the backyard to tear up the blanket of white and I left them with my husband to go see about riding Monty.
Driving to the barn I was kicking myself for not asking my farrier to put "snowball" pads on my horses' shoes. There was just enough on the ground to ball up very quickly in Monty's hooves and make riding too treacherous to attempt.
When I got to the corner before the left turn into the driveway, I could see into the riding ring behind the boarder's barn and noticed it had been dragged and was clear of snow! Big Love to our barn manager! He plowed and dragged the ring for us as soon as the snow had stopped!
I collected my tack and gear and saddled my furry beast. Monty turns into a white yak every winter. I didn't bother clipping him this year, partially due to lack of motivation and because I have this feeling it will be a cold, nasty winter. He spent last winter just wearing a turn-out sheet for the entire season as he had his heavy horse hair "sweater" on underneath. The sheet keeps him clean enough, since it's next to impossible to groom that coat.
We went into the back arena. The ground was surprisingly soft, considering how bitterly cold and windy it was. I figured we'd get in at least 30 minutes of walk/trot and quit with that. Turned out it was good enough for a 20 meter canter circle at the far end, too.
After we warmed up and worked, I cooled him out by walking him around the farm. We strolled past the annex barn, down the driveway to the stable in the back and then around the big horse trailers parked by the turn-outs. I took him in loops around the trees by the turn-outs but there was enough snow on the ground by the trees that he collected snow in his front shoes and I felt him wobble as we headed back to our barn. I dismounted and sure enough, horsie had snowballs packed in his hooves.
I'd recently bought a small riding case that clips to the saddle and this was the first time I used it. I figured it would be good for lip balm and tissues (rather than my sleeve or the back of my glove - ick!) Good thing I tossed a hoof pick in it. Digging those ice balls out of a shod hoof is tough. But I managed to chip it out and hand walk him around the cleared driveway. Monty was happy to come back in the barn and untack. His Sunday bran mash was freshly made and waiting for him.
Now, 3 days later, the temperature here is 61 degrees! That's a 30 degree differnce! I've been stopping by the barn every evening just to treat a bit of thrush in two of Monty's hooves. Monty was sweating with just the sheet on in the barn last night. I would have left him without the sheet but figured then he'd wind up outside in the light rain they predicted with no clothes when they turned him out in the morning. So, I left the big barn door open about 6 inches as I walked out. I know the barn owner likes to keep everything closed in the winter but considering how warm it was, I opted to give the horses a little air as it was so stuffy in there.
One kind of creepy thing though, it was windy last night. The way the barn is located on the property, the wind often makes a whistling or moaning sound as it blows past the barn. Last night, for the first time, the sound wasn't coming from the front of the barn, it sounded more towards the back.
After I finished with Monty's hooves and put him back in the stall, I wandered past the other stalls, checking water buckets and if any other horses were a bit sweaty under their sheets. For some odd reason, the door to Dandy's stall in the middle of the barn was wide open. All the doors were shut but that one. Odd because it's an unwritten rule that all doors must be closed no matter if stall is occupied or not. And as I walked past that stall, the moaning wind sound happened, right outside the window of the stall!
I don't know if there are ghosts, spirits or what but the hair on the back of my neck stood up. Dandy died in that stall EXACTLY a month ago last night. Was that sound his spirit? Why was the door open? Was I going to see a horses' ghost?
The horses didn't seem to notice but it was enough for me! I quickly turned and left. Dandy, if you were there in spirit last night, rest in peace, and please don't spook me like that!