A Knotty Dilemma for Winter

It’s a mild winter afternoon, and I’m faced with a problem only a horse girl would understand:

Rooney supervises my mud knot attempts in the wash stall.

I’ve pulled off my helmet after riding and found the looper holding my hair back has disappeared. I now have a choice between fighting Gunner the Jack Russell for my looper, which involves crawling under a cedar tree, or using the one holding the mud knot in my mare’s tail. Ewww.

I am challenged when it comes to mud knots. I haven’t really attempted one since my fox hunting days decades ago. Since my mare is working on piaffe with ground work several days a week now, a mud knot is essential. I try to keep a looper on my mane brush, and another on my wrist, but they still seem to disappear.

After a couple years when my mare went to Florida for the winter, while I stayed home, and another spent rehabbing, we are now looking forward to a winter together in the same place working on new and interesting things and conditioning for shows in the spring. I am really not a Florida person and, since the winters are so mild here in North Carolina compared to points north, I’m surprised more people from here make the trek. Yes, there are great shows and great training opportunities in Florida, but I am still in the train-winter-show-summer patterns from the past.

All the horses in my boarding barn have headed to Florida except for mine and the two belonging to the barn owner, Kemper. My mare Windy has moved to a new stall closer to Kemper’s pair and has formed a surprising alliance with her new neighbor, Kele. They don’t just tolerate each other, a rarity for my alpha mare, but are plain kissy face. Perhaps it’s because they both delight in being mean to Guapo, the third horse in the barn (not counting Lily the mini, who mostly hangs out with the dogs). It’s vital that if my mare gets a treat Kele gets one as well or the stalls will suffer a pounding.

(I woke up at 6 a.m. and thought about the horses being led up Kemper’s long driveway to the van in the dark yesterday. I turned over and went back to sleep. They let us know when they got there. In the meantime, my orbs didn’t have to be open until it was light.) With our crazy seasons, there are flowers on our cherry trees when I walked my Corgi Rooney at 8 a.m. Who needs Florida?

My other winter sport this year, besides daily trips to the gym and doing half steps in the cold, will be dog agility with Rooney. I have found there are special joys in training a 17-pound animal over a 1,200-pound one, although working with a dog on the ground is a lot colder than riding a horse. The agility ring is on an open hillside (our forecast today is 20 mph winds), while I’ve got a covered arena to ride in. On the other hand, when the temperature drops, the dog doesn’t suddenly disappear out from underneath me.

Our agility training ring is lined with blue stone just like the outdoor arena and there are jump standards just like at the barn. My dog will run obstacles for cheese pretty much in the same way that my mare will piaffe for sugar. The left pocket of my breeches holds both sugar and mini Milk Bones, and I have to make sure the right animal is getting the right goodie, although I suspect Kele would suck down a Milk Bone if I mixed them up. Windy used to patooie a sugar cube polluted with Milk Bone dust, but now she’s not so discriminating.






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