Winter Attitude Adjustment

Novels for Horse-Lovers

The Tipped Z Ranch books feature fictional stories but real horsemanship.

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We had a dusting of snow last night, and temps were in the low 30’s when we trudged out to the pasture and saw Steen had made excellent progress in making his new blanket just as dirty as his old one. We went indoors to tack up. I wore a pair of boots I bought a few weeks ago in my ongoing attempt to find winter footwear that doesn’t leave me with ice blocks on the ends of my feet each ride.

The new boots are part of my recent personal campaign to develop a good attitude about bad weather. Being born and raised in Arizona didn’t exactly prepare me for these Iowa winters, but lately I’ve become increasingly aware of the fact that even native Iowans spend a lot of time moaning about the cold every year. My husband is one of those rare people who likes the cold and the snow, and I am a firm believer in the idea that we make our own happiness. If he can love the winter, I can at least not hate it. After all, me sitting inside sulking will not shorten the season by a single day.

This winter I’ve been training myself to think about cold as something that is not bad, and maybe even can be good. Each time we’ve had a cold snap, I’ve gone for a walk wearing less clothing than I think I need (which is also, incidentally, an excellent way to burn extra calories). And at the barn I am honing my wardrobe. For me, my feet have always been an issue. If they get so cold I can’t feel them, I have a lot of trouble thinking about anything other than getting to some place warm.

Steen was a bit fidgety while I was tacking. He wasn’t being nervous or naughty, mostly he just wanted to be in my space all the time. He flipped my hat off while I was picking his feet, stuck his nose at every grooming implement I picked up, tried to walk after me every time I went anywhere and otherwise behaved in that overly friendly way that it feels mean to reprimand him for. We got out to the strip and I did my usual groundwork, and he was being extra responsive. I worked on something I’ve never tried before, which was asking for individual feet to move, just using a feel. I thought we’d have a lot of failures, but actually Steen got really interested and seemed to have fun watching my hands and stepping over or under with just a little guidance.

I got on and he wanted to walk off but settled after a moment. We then proceeded to have another excellent ride. He was relaxed, and I basically focused on collection. He’s progressing to the point that I can get him to collect at the walk and hold that collection for a few steps. He’s also now able to collect standing and then move through a series of steps without stiffening up or trying to go forward. I even got one almost side-pass out of him. Picking up the reins and feeling him soften and then stay soft, waiting for a cue, is a very neat feeling indeed.

The boots worked pretty well. My feet were cold by the end of our fifty minutes in the saddle, but normal cold, not impending frostbite cold. So that makes me hopeful.

In other news, only three hours to go before I hit my 100 hour goal!

Ride Time: 0:50
Horseback hours YTD: 97:05


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I'll admit that I'm not particularly fond of the cold either. I find that riding bareback is a good way to keep warm while exercising your horse. But sometimes you just have to acknowledge that it's just too cold for riding, and be ok with that.