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Pretty Slow Here

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  • Pretty Slow Here

    Nothing driving happening here. The cold is moving along but it has been brutal to work outside, let alone do anything beyond the basics with the horses. Some days feeding, cleaning stalls, daily dumping the spreader, turnout and bringing them back in was just enough to get thru. Funny how wearing 20 plus pounds of clothing slows you down! Ha ha

    Machines are all working fine, starting as needed. Having an issue with one tank heater, not running hot enough to keep the ice gone. Changed out the dead one, new one worked well for 24 hours, then got the icy top. Changed it for the new spare today, will see how well it removes ice overnight. Supposed to still be below zero tonight to give it a good workout. The 4yr old and 2yr old horses are learning to bop the ice to break thin layer for drinks though! Everyone seems to be drinking well, thank goodness. Cleaning up the extra hay just fine. Back to regular rations tomorrow with MUCH warmer temps expected. The older horse will be happy with a lighter weight blanket too. No indoor arena, so they can all be just horses over winter unless things warm up a lot.

    Hoping to miss predicted rain early next week. Sure do not need ice again. Only about 100 pounds of ice melt left from the last session. I do have several jobs if we truly reach 40+F on Sunday, like new plastic coverings on some leaky barn door edges to stop wind and drafts. I really noticed them with the 35-40mph winds on Tues and Wed. No drafts on horses, just annoying to find snow piles inside the barn. Keeping the 2 barn kitties in the tack room during the intense cold so they did not freeze. They got out today but were eager to go back in the heated (55F) tack room tonight. Heat keeps the hose unfrozen, harness flexible, cat water thawed out. We have been keeping the hot beet pulp soaking in there too, so it got mushy, not frozen! Dehumidifier runs a bit with the moisture, to keep the room dry.

    Have some driving club dinners, one on Sat and another on Sun coming nextra weekend. Both have speakers, always have interesting topics. Fun getting together to talk horses, summer plans, see what we all have been working on in the cold. I went to a tack sale last week, sold some stuff and a nice saddle, got a very nice winter blanket for cheap! Gives me more money to spend on horse accessories! Ha ha. Have another sale to sell at in March, hoping to get rid of most of the rest of my unneeded things.

    Seeing some beautiful sleighs for sale, getting sleighing videos from friends. But our road is among the first they plow, no fun driving a sleigh on the pavement. I heard they canceled the big event, St. Paul? Winter Fair because of intense cold. Those folks really turn out in wonderful sleighs and clothing! I have only seen the photos but was really impressed at how hard they must have worked to make things lovely. Looks like the old Currier & Ives prints come to life!

    Tell us what you have been doing, we need some horsey things to think about!

  • #2
    Pretty much the same routine here in NW IN.
    Survival was primary concern from Wednesday until this morning with that $#@* wind bringing daytime temps into -30F & worse.

    I blanketed horses Saturday evening & they stayed on until this morning when we finally got positive single digits that "warmed" to teens.
    But I did not stall them - Dutch doors at the back of stalls are frozen in place from the freeze/thaw cycle we had last week.
    The 3 of them chose to occupy stalls when it was most frigid, but did spend some time outside on whichever side of the barn was leeward.
    I had to sweep snow out of stalls Sunday morning & yup, I have a small snowbank inside right by the front sliding door where it blew in beneath the sill.
    Blankets came off this morning & they spent the day "grazing" on hay I put out in the sunny drylot.

    Picking stalls is now a job for my metal landscape rake. The manure is frozen so hard it would obliterate a plastic fork & probably wreck metal tines as well. Pee spots freeze almost as soon as they hit the bedding.
    I use pelleted bedding & no wetting it in the deep freeze. Just dump it dry & in a day or so it is trodden into sawdust.

    I have heated 5gal buckets in the stalls along with a 50gal barrel just outside that front slider.
    A sinking de-icer keeps that liquid.

    I have no official barncat, but had a stray birth 3 kittens in the hay stacked to the rafters on the non-stall side of my barn at the end of November.
    I've seen one of them - still using the hay for a home - & have put out dry food that I put away at night.
    Heated water bowl for this boarder - hope he/she stays.

    No driving or riding since early December.
    Carriage club has a planned outing to a Draft horse museum in Auburn, IN this month.
    Then in March an outing to Hawthorne racetrack & a meeting with a used tack auction at a local arboretum.
    April is a 4H tack sale & in May we have been invited to do a Driving demo at Hoosier Horse Fair.

    That St Paul sleigh meet sounds lovely.
    Strictly a spectator sport for me.
    I am a Fairweather rider & driver.

    40-odd days until Spring!!!
    *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
    Steppin' Out 1988-2004
    Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
    Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015


    • #3
      You could come join us in Florida. Lots of northerners do. I am reveling in the opportunities to drive every day. The number of trainers amazes me.


      • #4
        Originally posted by Stonewall View Post
        You could come join us in Florida. Lots of northerners do. I am reveling in the opportunities to drive every day. The number of trainers amazes me.
        Stonewall Careful what you ask for!
        Where in FL are you?
        My oldest friend from HS is in Ft Lauderdale.
        Also have a friend who just moved to Mims with possible future space for horses.

        If you know of anywhere I can lodge my 3 - TWH, Hackney Pony & mini - for a price that won't break my teeny (retired old lady) bank I am seriously trying to snowbird.

        The Plan would be haul from here in October & return in March or April.
        Pasture board perfectly acceptable as long as storage space for my (mini-sized) carts is included.
        A gal can dream.....
        *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
        Steppin' Out 1988-2004
        Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
        Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015


        • Original Poster

          Too many horses to head south. My friend staying near Black Prong with a large pony, said she just bought a nice bale of grassy hay, like we have locally for $4 to $6. She paid $21 to fetch a 40# bale. I knew hay there was high, but not almost quadruple our local prices! No way I could afford to stay there. And even at that price, nice hay may not always be available to purchase. Have to make do with coastal or unknown source hay, which is still not cheap,

          We will just enjoy the visiting warmer weather while it is here. Mid 40Fs today, snow is melting fast so the drainage ditches are full. May flood the barnyards if it can't leave just as fast. Only needed a light jacket for chores! Yay! Not sure I would bleed if I got cut, my blood has thickened to stay warm!

          Putting husband to work conditioning harness while watching the game. A two-fer win so it can go back outside, he is not interrupted watching!


          • #6
            Good hay in Florida is never really a problem. When you are the heart of the US racing and driving universe, never mind the international S/J, dressage and eventing world all winter, safe to say there will be nice hay available. Now how much you will pay for it is another question altogether!

            I really like Black Prong, I hope it stays a driving mecca. Who wouldn't love this view?


            Your crazy is showing. You might want to tuck that back in.


            • Original Poster

              You are right, great view!

              No experience finding hay in Florida, going by what others tell me about their difficulties with hay. Not all were by Black Prong. Many hauled hay down with their horses or made a second trip to have enough hay for their visit time.

              We do like our seasonal changes, such distinct differences in what each offers us. Maybe as we age, longer warm times will be more appealing! Horses are a bit like my gardening, fun to enjoy the work, but glad to stop weeding (training daily), just let things settle before winter arrives to let me ignore my gardens. Horses settle into a lower standard of care like less grooming, less clipping needed because we ask less of them. Not staying fit for mileage, they get winter hair, longer manes, sweat more easily in any work. Everyone is still handled daily, just not asking much, Doing winter farm prep ahead, makes life easier when bad weather arrives. Life just slows with reduced work in late fall, usually Oct into Nov.

              Ice is mostly gone today, drainage ditch is running well, but only half full instead of threatening to overflow. Only needed a sweatshirt to clean stalls!! Fixed a couple things that broke or needed attention from cold damage. No more snow leaking in! Hoped to trim my trees but it started raining. Maybe I can get them Wed when it warms up again. Have to cut limbs during cold so no insects invade the cut to damage the trees. These are young Burr Oaks, Tulips, Paw Paws, a London Plane tree, that need "limbing up" so low branches are removed for mowing under easily. Trees will seal off the cuts during the warm and freeze weather we get before the bugs come out. Cleaned mud and sawdust from sliding door channels while it is thawed out. Moved leaves from a ditch to let water drain off faster. Nothing hard if you do it while thawed or in this nice weather. Just a few minutes here and there. Life is then easier when the cold comes back. Cats are playing outside, chasing things, each other, not curled up watching me from a bale.

              Heard an old farmer rhyme for the season: Half your wood and half your hay, you should have left on Groundhogs Day. Seemed rather fitting in our location, with the Memorial Day freeze date for gardening and spring planting. We had snow around May 20th in years past that did a lot of damage locally to gardens. Can't depend on having decent grazing here with cold ground, until after the Holiday.


              • #8
                It costs about $1000/month for a camping spot and stall with a paddock at This allows you to use all the driving infrastructure. Food for yourself and your critter is extra but not extravagant.

                I love being able to train with a variety of trainers. I love having the right of way. It is a joy to gather for group suppers with people who share this odd little hobby. The grounds and adjacent state forest are lovely.

                I leave my camper with a nearby friend when I am not at Black Prong.

                Black Prong is for sale and will be auctioned on March16. This could all go away.


                • Original Poster

                  I read about the coming auction. It will be sad if buyer is not a horse person. Sounds like a fun place to stay. My friend enjoyed her stay in the past and returned for the winter this year. Other friends have also had a lot of fun visiting down there. Nothing but nice things to say about their visits.

                  We have too many horses (9) to pack them all up and leave. But it is fun to think about so totally changing your life for a time!!


                  • #10
                    My husband and I briefly visited Black Prong about 5 years ago. We were camping in the area. Also attended Marathon day for the Nature Coast CDE. I drooled and wild thoughts of taking my horse down, but unfortunately will never happen!!!! But I have had the pleasure of riding and driving horses in Florida thanks to Cartfall (anyone remember her??) Yes, things are slow here (Southern Ontario) due to ice, cold weather and lame horse, who is slowing improving, plus other things keeping us occupied. A cardinal was singing the other day, so.....coming!!!!!!!!


                    • #11
                      I understand it has been put up for auction before (reserve not met) so I'm not sure what will happen. But at the Nature Coast driver's meeting, it was fairly obvious the owners are ready to have a more downsized retirement lifestyle, so who knows...
                      Your crazy is showing. You might want to tuck that back in.


                      • #12
                        I am sad that I moved to South Carolina after I already had to give up driving my pony. Where I boarded would have been lots of fun to drive, and the weather is so much easier to live with. I have to keep focusing on how great it was to drive for all the years that I was able to, even in the cold and snow in Colorado. And the summers were wonderful.



                        • #13
                          I have done zero, nada, zilch with my driving critter since the first week in December. This winter has been a challenge with extreme cold and long stretches of snow on the ground. Just last week the snow was ALL melted and as I type we are having sleet/black ice conditions so no driving in near future.

                          With the longer days and extreme winter temps on the way outta here pretty soon I need to do some in-hand work to increase my donkey's sensitivity. She's quite dull to pressure when I ask her to slide over. Some of it is donkey-tude but given that she lives in a civilized world she could improve a bit.

                          I am on the hunt for a firmer driving whip. I have two *soft* flexi-lite type whips that I use for schooling and competitions. One day last fall I ended up using a cheap dressage whip (normally kept in the trailer should I need it for loading a horse) and I noticed that said donkey responded more briskly to being tapped or stroked with that ugly, cheap whip than with my fancy driving whip.

                          Also looking at the driving omnibus to see what and how many competitions I could target for the year.


                          • #14
                            It's been super wet here in northern California (not complaining, but it's unusual). Last weekend was the second of a series of three clinics for new (and -ish) drivers. It was my second time driving a pair, and WOW, it just felt like flying.

                            Today I had my first lesson with a schoolmaster I may have the opportunity to lease. He was more fresh than he was fit, so it was a more exciting drive than I was expecting, but I think it's going to be a great learning experience.
                            Originally posted by HuntrJumpr
                            No matter what level of showing you're doing, you are required to have pants on.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by DMK View Post
                              I understand it has been put up for auction before (reserve not met) so I'm not sure what will happen. But at the Nature Coast driver's meeting, it was fairly obvious the owners are ready to have a more downsized retirement lifestyle, so who knows...
                              ETA I learned it is going to be an absolute auction, so here's hoping a driving enthusiast steps up...

                              Your crazy is showing. You might want to tuck that back in.