Welcome to a northern hemisphere winter

Missing those early December days when this was even feasible!

As I’ve mentioned before… and will likely mention again before we are through… winter’s death grip is upon us here in Manitoba, and that has led to some truly bone-chilling temperatures of late. So, how to school your horse when the thermometer drops down past that -25 C point and starts hovering around the -30 C?

I’ve been doing a lot of lateral work… at the walk. I figure that if I am going to take the time and effort of donning my 2000 layers to get Justinian out to stretch his legs, then I’d better make it worthwhile on the training front.

So I’ve been doing spiralling in and out at the walk, turn on the haunches, and a ton of shoulder-in and haunches-in, trying to nail down what have, in the past, proved to be very difficult exercises for me. And I can feel it paying off: Justinian is more prompt in his responses and more consistent in his frame throughout, though the shoulder-in to the right still needs a fair bit of work to iron out a tendency to over-bend.

But, as the “cold snap” drags on from a week, to two weeks, to a month, and the thermometer slides resolutely lower to hover around a wind chill factor of -40 C (-40 F), my riding consistency has all but gone to pot. Last week I got out for three rides, and Justinian has become progressively more stir-crazy and certainly progressively less interested in focused and disciplined lateral work. In fact, it seems he’d rather scamper around, spook at nothing, and flag his tail like an Arabian at the slightest stimuli. But how can I blame him? I’m feeling the same. Give me a sunny beach somewhere with a turquoise surf lapping against the shore and a pair of decent runners and I’m fairly sure I could break my half-marathon PR running only on the joy of feeling my extremities again.

But, just as my (and Justinian’s) frustration reaches the boiling point, there appears a light at the end of the tunnel. Forecasts call for a positively tropical -8 C on this upcoming Friday. My ears are perked and my ski pants are looking forward to a day off after a solid month of active duty. Let’s just hope that this time, the balmy temps are not accompanied by an enthusiastic snowstorm.

Yours in snowy solidarity,