Life On and Off an Acreage

In-sights into moving from an Acreage back to Town, plus a few things I find of interest.

Two things that horses are scared about:

1. Things that move
2. Things that don't move

December 28, 2009

How to Survive the North

Lots of comments about the hardship of living in the north. However, I guess it’s what you get used to. Most people that I know that have never experienced the cold, short days and a true northern blizzard all seem to think we are all crazy up here to put up with it. We kind of think of it as “building character”. Some even think of us as “characters”. I must admit that as I start to age, I don’t enjoy it as much as I used to, but I still enjoy it!
There is nothing like sitting on a frozen lake and ice fishing after drilling through 3 feet of ice. Somehow the fish all seem to taste better for the effort. No, I don’t have a powered ice auger. That is on the want list and not the need list. Instead, I make do with the hand driven screw auger. With new blades, I can still get through 3 feet of ice in a minute.

There have been a few comments about riding horses in the winter, including one from B.C. The trick is to let the horse take his own pace. He doesn’t want to fall any more than you want him to. So, I let him/her have their head except when I have a purpose or know where the best side of the trail is. If we didn’t winter ride, then the riding season would only be about 5 months long! They eat for 12 months, so I figure fair is fair. Last year we had a very experienced lady out for a ride in the spring. She was from southern B.C. and had never ridden in snow. I tell you it was very interesting listening to her on a horse that was bounding through 3 and 4 foot snow drifts. It is kind of like taking a 3 foot jump at every step.

A couple of times I have been able to climb hills when trail riding that snow machines and quads have not been able to get up. Again, the trick is to let the horse have its head, weight forward and hang on! They all tend to canter or bound up it. I also trim my own horses and tend to leave the nails and bars a little long in the winter for traction. I don’t shoe as the metal is hard on the feet in the winter, and can also be slippery when ice balls build up. The natural hoof flexes more and tends to toss the balls.

Also on the list ( as a want not a need) is a sleigh and harness. Unfortunately the cost is beyond reach at the moment. My two senior horses are almost a match and have done everything from mountain packing to mountain trail riding and kids ranch programs. They are about as bomb proof as you are going to get in a horse so I figure they would train up ok. My young horse is still green and a little unpredictable at times, but fun to ride. All are between 1100 and 1250 pounds. I broke the young one to saddle about 2 years ago, following the natural horsemanship program. It was three months of daily work before anyone mounted her. The event turned out to be uneventful and the wife and granddaughter all rode her the first day. It was a while before I took her out of the confined paddock. A lot of her training was done on the winter.

Anyway, the weather is what it is. Dress warm, don’t break a sweat and think warm is the way to survive. A lot of people play “bear” in the winter. I.e. go inside for 6 months. They miss a very fun experience!
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