Monday, December 20, 2010

The Ice Princesses and Their Ice Prince

This is what happens when you have a snowstorm followed by a rainstorm followed by a snowstorm...

It looks like mud, but it has a thin layer of ice over it, so with each step you take you first hear a CRAAAAACK followed by a SPLAAAAAT!

Sections of the paddock have little unintended ponds underneath the ice, and the feed troughs are halfway full of ice as well...

The horses have been stuck in their stalls for three days and three nights.  I tried to let them out for exercise when I cleaned the stalls, but none of them wanted to venture out from underneath the awning as long as some form of precipitation was falling from the sky.  I had to keep shooing them out of their stalls so I could finish cleaning.  Despite their desire to be indoors when the sky was falling, they were still quite fired up with claustrophobia this morning.

I had to put a halter on each horse, get a good grip on the lead rope right underneath the chin, and firmly order him or her to walk.  I pointed to the ground to get their attention on the footing.  Gabbrielle was excited, but she trusted me and followed my directions.  She hesitated at the pond in front of Bombay's stall, and he kicked the stall wall in that very instant, which sent her straight up in the air.  I yelled at Bombay to be quiet so Gabbrielle could muster up the courage to walk through the gate on ice.  With each storm, the hay tarp lays on the ground in a different way from the day before, so she always has to pause here, study the tarp, and cut a wide wake around it.

I was hoping to get out before they started dynamiting the snow on the mountain.  Our avalanche potential is at its highest, so we hear booming all morning most days.  Unfortunately, they started dynamiting before I could get Gabbrielle through her final gate.  She got away from me, but ran to her food without slipping, so all was well.

Bombay's lock on his stall was covered in ice and snow and it wouldn't budge.  I cupped my hands over it and blew on it until I could brush away most of it and open the snap.  He was puffed up as tall as could be.  I could tell that he intended to bust out the second I opened the door and make a run for his food.  I only opened it enough for me to squeeze through and halter him.  He too got to the gate of his pen and hesitated.  There was a big dark pond underneath the ice.  He wouldn't go through the gate until I did first, but the meant I had to step into the pond.  He could avoid the pond if he just stayed to the right, so I swirled the end of the lead rope beside him and he pushed through.

I knew from past experience that Lostine would be the worst.  She gets very excited in cold weather and does not like to be led to her food.  She has this attitude that she knows how to get to it and doesn't need some dumb human showing her the way.

Sure enough, after I commanded her to walk, she jumped through her stall door and reared up underneath the awning.  Dang it!  Here I was trying to prevent her from breaking a leg on ice, and now she was about to konk herself on the head.  I stayed with her, keeping my hand on the lead rope right underneath her chin so that she'd have to pull the weight of me up with her.  As soon as she hit that resistance, she came back down and I had to watch my knees and feet.

I led her a few steps out from underneath the awning, and up she went again.  This time I gave her yank and yelled NO!  I tried leading her again, but she was walking sideways like a racehorse.  I tried turning her so that she was walking forward beside me, but she took that as her chance to bolt.  I hung on and she spun to face me.  I ended up walking her BACKWARDS all the way to her food.  It was the only way I had control.

I don't usually feed the horses off the ground, but the food troughs were too loaded down with ice for me to empty.  Horse management is all about having to improvise because if Mother Nature can throw a problem your way, she does.  She likes to keep us on our toes.  Here's a spot where my boot fell through the ice on the manure pile...

It's a lot deeper than it looks.  SPLAAAAAT!

13 comments:

Stacey said...

Wow, you have quite an adventure going on on your property! Has this storm atleast kept the weirdos next door inside????

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Stacey, this weather has been so bad it has kept me indoors. They did ruin my photo shoot the other night, but beyond that I haven't been outside myself much. I probably have several days of mail piled up in my box.

KD said...

Yuck ! I'll quit complaining that we haven't had any rain now. Looks realllllly cold.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Yikes! That first photo looks like the surface of the moon. Crazy! And that last photo is just nasty. I'm surprised your poor boot didn't get sucked off in that mess.

I really don't know how you do it with three spirited horses every day. I doubt you'd require any coffee after handling them in the morning. I think I'd need a tranquilizer afterwards! lol!

Stay warm and safe, NM!
~Lisa

fernvalley01 said...

Splat is one thing , but you be careful! around here there is very often ice lurking below the water and mud , and you can very suddenly find yourself surfing and falling!

Once Upon an Equine said...

Brrrr!. Those pictures look cold! Take care and don't go splat in that mucky, slushy stuff.

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

I'm pretty glad I don't have to move horses back and forth this winter. Not that my staid, QH's ever act like that though - LOL.

We have not gotten any snow, but it has rained here for the last several days, with a few more days expected. The muck is getting deep here too.

The high country has gotten dumped on and I hear they are very worried about avalanches because the snow did not 'lay well'. I'm sure they will be doing a lot of blasting up there.

Crystal said...

ewww, I hate mud, especially with ice in it. Looks like a challenge getting them all to food.

Leah Fry said...

Ick! I'd love some of your rain, though.

Cheryl Ann said...

Oh, my! I will stop complaining about the mud up at the ranch! At least we don't have snow! YUCK! You were brave to go out there with your horses! Lostine sounds a lot like my thoroughbred, Gigondas...always looking for an excuse to bolt! Stay warm when you can!

baystatebrumby said...

Mother Nature makes me so mad. What kind of dumb weather pattern is that--ice and snow and rain and more snow and all the teachery that comes along with it!? I don't blame the horses for being frightened and weirded out by the ice. And yet, it must be so hard to be stuck in a stall! And forget about riding! Mother Nature, I've said it before and I'll say it again: YOU ARE FIRED.
I bet it is even worse than the pictures look. Be careful! The last thing anyone needs is a broken leg!
But do the ice at snow at least muffle the sounds from your neighbors? Ha Ha , I hope so. That might be the silver lining!

Rising Rainbow said...

I hate when the weather can't make up its mind and goes back and forth between extremes like that. The ground is so treacherous.

Glad to hear you got everyone outside without anyone getting hurt. I had a little bit of rearing and jumping around going on here yesterday too. At least the ground was solid underneath us here. If we'd had your footing, I'd have had a hurt horse for sure.

achieve1dream said...

I'm soooo happy I live in the south. Thank you for reminding me why! I hope the weather improves so the evil ponies *ahem* Lostine *ahem* can go out and get some exercise. :D