Winter Ice Woes

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I was watching an obligatory weather horror story on the news this week, where the icicle from hell dropped off a drain pipe in Boston and stabbed four cars.That made national news, but to anyone who has ridden in an indoor arena during snowy weather this is no big deal.Just try sitting on a clipped 17-hand, 4-year-old warmblood, who hasn’t had real turnout in a month, in sub-freezing weather and keep one leg on each side when the snow slides off the roof without warning. Free longeing (and isn’t that a contradiction in terms?) becomes the better part of valor.

When snow is sliding off the roof of the indoor, perhaps it's wiser to ride outside if you can.

When snow is sliding off the roof of the indoor, perhaps it's wiser to ride outside if you can.

My usual plan is to ride in the afternoon in the winter and in the morning in the summer.That is pretty much everyone’s plan . . . except when there is snow and ice clinging to the usual metal roof of an indoor and the sun hits it long enough to start melting.At that point, unless you and your horse both have nerves of steel, the alternative is to somehow ride before you’ve even had your morning coffee, if you can.Or find a way to ride outside.

One winter in Connecticut within recent memory was particularly bad, even worse than this year for snow accumulation causing the roofs of barns and indoors to collapse.Not only did we have an unusual amount of snow but subfreezing temperatures persisted as well.Just a bit of the snow atop the indoor on the sunny side melted each day, and the entire pile thus accumulated with glacial dignity. Occasionally, there would be a crash as the glacier “calved” a chunk.But, gradually a three-foot curl of snow dangled ominously from the overhang the entire length of the ring, inches from anyone riding on the track.

With no place to ride outside, any boarders who could started showing up to ride before 8 a.m. or else after dark, because the sun was hitting the roof by 9 a.m.With the growing sense of impending doom, it seemed certain that that the entire mess would crash down in one monster boom, maybe taking sections of the roof with it.As it turned out, no one was in the ring when the crash finally happened, and the ring held up just fine, although a number of indoors in the immediate area did not fare as well.

With nine feet of snow recorded in the Boston area, I can’t imagine what that means to anyone keeping horses in New England this winter.I’m just grateful that I don’t have to do it.

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