I wanted to title this post “What it Takes to Travel to a Lesson During an Idaho Winter,” but that seemed a little too lengthy.
Remember how excited I was to get June and I out of dodge and down to Gary’s for a lesson? Well, in my temporary excitement, I forgot what it would actually take to get to that lesson. So, here’s a recap of this past Friday and Saturday for you.
Friday PM I drove my truck to the barn to hook up my trailer. I had asked a farm manager to clear the snow in front of my trailer, and they did, which was GREAT. But the snow was still up over the wheel wells. So I started shoveling. Thirty minutes later I hopped in my truck and hit the gas. The truck fish tailed and the trailer barely moved. I shoveled some more and realized that my Trailer Aid ramp was frozen to the ground and obstructing the trailer tire. I picked at all the snow and ice around it but COULD NOT get it unfrozen. So, I cleared all the snow and ice as best I could and gunned it. We got over it. I hoped that perhaps being out in the sunshine would help unfreeze it and that HOPEFULLY I wouldn’t need it on my trip. My block that the hitch tongue lies on was also frozen solid to the ground, but that was less of an issue.
Since I hadn’t used my trailer in a few months, I wanted to take it to the tire place and get air pressure checked. Everything checked out ok and so I drove it home and quickly realized, that with all the snow we’ve had, it wasn’t going to fit in my driveway. Shit. I considered driving it the 30 minutes back to the barn, but was too stubborn, and instead parked it on the side of the road outside my house. Now, I live on a REALLY quiet cul de sac, and there’s probably only 10 houses with full-time residents. But I still texted my neighbor and asked if everyone was going to hate me for this. His answer was pretty funny.
Neighbor Brad keeps it real. And no, it didn’t work even if I parked my truck behind his car
So, I spent most of the night waiting for an angry text from a neighbor. In their defense, the road is narrower than usual because of the snow, but there was still PLENTY of room to get around the truck and trailer.
Apparently I worry too much, because I didn’t hear a peep from the neighbors and at 8 am I was off to the barn to get June. She got her Ulcergard, and Purina Outlast, then I wrapped her rear legs and put shipping boots on her front legs and we loaded up.
Now, something to note about Idaho. I live in the mountains. But much of the state has a desert landscape. When you get out of the mountains, it’s possible not to see any snow. In fact, about an hour away from us there is literally no snow on the ground. Boise, where my lesson was, typically gets very little snow. So, in theory, once you get out of the mountains, it should be smooth sailing in terms of winter driving.
One other thing to note? There are two ways to get to Boise. One is over a couple of mountain passes, the other is not. Guess which way I chose to go?
In my defense, it was not snowing at home. Ok, maybe it was A LITTLE BIT. We were scheduled to have a storm beginning at 5pm Saturday night, but there were no reports of snow before that.
About an hour into my drive it started to really snow. I’ve decided that weather reports are just stupid. The roads started to get really crappy. And just before I had to go down a mountain pass, the visibility got shitty. And that’s when I realized I had been gripping the steering wheel so tightly I could barely unlock my fingers from it. Pulling a trailer in the snow is one of my least favorite activities.
But then, you get down the last pass and you’re back in the desert. It’s like the horrid winter driving never happened. So, lucky for me, the last 40 minutes of my drive were easy peasy and I was nice and relaxed by the time I got to my lesson.
Siri immediately found a dead bird when we arrived and I got to pry it from her mouth. Fun times!
I had left with plenty of time, and even with the tough road conditions, we still had about an hour to get ready for the lesson. And while we went into the lesson calm and relaxed, the lesson itself was not great. June was a friggin rockstar. She was calm and there were zero shenanigans. She went right to work when I hopped on her back and while she was a little distracted by being in a new place, she was really quite good. I told Gary I’d like to work on trot poles to a jump and getting her not to take over. I felt in a new environment, it would be nice to see how well this was solidified.
Gary had us work on transitions in the trot and we were getting what he was asking for. Was she perfect? No. Is she a 4 year old? Yes. But, I was pleased with her trot work. He then asked us to canter right and we didn’t get the correct lead. Second time we got the correct lead but she immediately broke. He then had us stop and discussed my position and aids. I did what he had suggested and lo and behold we got the lead, and kept it for 4-5 circles before doing our downward. We then went left which he was pleased with.
And then right again.
June really struggles with keeping the connection, and not running through her outside shoulder. If I can keep her shoulders straight we can get the lead. If I can’t, she either swaps or breaks. It’s a timing issue and something I need to work on. So, he asked us to go right and she swapped after a couple of strides. And then Gary asked if he could hop on her. And I thought “Great, this is going to turn into a right lead canter lesson. This is exactly what I didn’t want.” But, I wanted to see what he would do to resolve the issue, as I am a visual learner, and so I said yes.
He struggled a bit to get her on the correct lead on a small circle. In the end, he was successful, which was great. I learned that his hand was closer to her shoulder than mine had been and that he counter flexed her when asking for the transition which was helpful to see from the ground.
But then he proceeded to keep riding her. He did a bunch of work in the trot. And he kept going and going. And then pulled her up and said “I think that’s good for today.”
I have a gazillion thoughts about this. But here are two:
- I just drove through a snowstorm to have you ride my horse. I appreciate the work you did in the canter, but then I never got to get on and practice what you taught me.
- Yup, my horse has a nice trot and you can do lots with it (counter flex, lengthen, come back, go forward). Who do you think got her to that point? Why are you showing me all she can do in the trot?
I think I was just pissed that I drove 2.5 hours for someone else to ride my horse. ESPECIALLY when Sarah already does this for me in my own barn. I needed to work on me. Hopping on my horse and riding her isn’t going to fix her issue. I appreciate that he got on her for the canter, I honestly do, but I was really hoping to get back on her. And, I had asked to work on something completely unrelated to this, because I KNEW we weren’t ready to have a lesson where we are doing canter work.
When I got outside, it was snowing again. Yay!
But this time, for the drive home, I was smarter. This time, I took the slightly longer way that involved zero mountain passes. And we had dry roads and smooth sailing. When I got home, I got June unloaded and then went to go see if I could get my Trailer Aid out of the ice. Apparently, when you have a high of 20 degrees, things aren’t going to unfreeze. So, I found the pick ax, and started chipping away. Which resulted in this text with Sarah:
So, yeah, a pick ax is a life saver.
Which is good to know, since the snow storm they predicted, is certainly here. We’re supposed to get 2-4 feet of snow, and it won’t stop snowing until Thursday. I’m so over winter.
So, all in all, things aren’t easy in Idaho right now. But what’s that saying? About that which doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger? I’m stronger than I’ve ever been right about now….