It's fairly cold at the moment, and the snow that fell a couple of days ago and melted immediately at my house had not melted at the barn. The top of the big hill is frozen again, and we have no other passage away from the barn. Luckily, the sides are still passable, but I had to leave Little Love's back boots off today. It seems like this may be an ongoing dilemma for the foreseeable future: having to leave the boots off to get down the hill and away from the barn but unable to do much trot (which I know she really likes to do) due to the boots being off.It's supposed to be below freezing but clear for a couple of days now, so we may have to just walk in-hand until it either (a) warms up enough to get rid of the slippery-ness or (b) snows enough to go without the boots. Hopefully something will change one way or the other!
Today, Little Love and I set out for a ride with the barn owner and Kira, and we planned to go for about an hour if Lilo's feet could take it without her back boots. Unfortunately, Kira didn't seem to be feeling well, and we ended up back at the barn in only 35 minutes (of which, I rode about 15 minutes). Since the ground was frozen and quite hard, I could also tell that Lilo's back feet were feeling tender, because she was walking very slowly and picking her path carefully. So it was fine with me to come back early.
(On a side note, Little Love is getting to be really good at standing patiently while I climb onto strange rocks to hoist my inflexible body into the saddle. For now, we always go to the same place for me to mount, so I think I need to start scoping out other rocks as well. Either that, or work on my flexibility! :-) )
Back at the barn, I thought I would put the back boots on and go lunge her at trot up by the mailboxes - we don't need to descend the slippery hill to get there. In this way, I thought, she could move a bit more if she wanted. Unfortunately, we were barely able to walk away from the barn much less do any lunging, because the back boots were just so slippery. We have just enough snow to create a slippery layer of powder everywhere.
So we carefully walked to the mailboxes and back, took the back boots off AGAIN and went out for a bit more walk - just to the parking lot at the bottom of the big hill and back. At least this was what I told Little Love we were going to do, but as we got close to our stated destination, I changed the rules and decided we should walk still further. But Lilo was not having it! I think she knew that the other horses were just about to go out to the paddock, plus she probably felt like she had already given me enough of her patience with this back and forth to the barn, taking boots on and off, etc, etc. But once again, my deeply embedded old lessons about "being the boss" and "not letting the horse get away with things" started to set in, and I persisted. We were about to start "arguing" when I realized that this was silly - I had told Lilo what we were going to do, she had complied very graciously and patiently, and I, very ungratefully, pushed her to do more. Luckily, I was able to get my silly ideas in check, and we turned around and walked home.
I stuck around the barn a bit to help out with some of the mucking and filling the water buckets, and I got a special treat of seeing Little Love standing in the middle of the paddock under a tree fast asleep. She looked so peaceful and content. Ironically, my mind was thinking about how nice it would be for Lilo to be in a bigger pasture with more space to run and be more like a wild horse. It seems, as humans, we always want a little more than what we have. But at that moment, Little Love opened her eyes, licking and chewing, and looked at me as if to say, "Yeah, but this is pretty great here, isn't it?" And she is so right!