I give up!
I've been doing pretty well with riding this winter. I mean, I'm not training the Grand Prix Special or anything, but I've been getting out there and getting the basics done. The horses are fit and don't think they're retired, at least. But this last round of weather has thrown a wrench in the works.
The secret to winter riding without an indoor is having an exceptionally good surface to start with. When I built my arena, I built it with this in mind. The base is rock solid, it's crowned, and the footing is a mix of fast draining coarse sand and heat retaining rubber. Not to brag, but it's pretty much the perfect all-weather surface. Unfortunately, February decided to accept that challenge and crap all over my nice arena.
It started with about four or five inches of snow, which usually isn't a problem. If the footing is smooth before the snowfall (you have to drag it before it snows to accomplish this), you can ride on the arena just fine. The frozen footing acts as the base, and the fluffy snow becomes the footing. I mean, don't try to jump a 4' course or train one-tempi's, but for just basic WTC exercises it's fine.
The problem arose when the temperatures rose to 45 F a few days later. All that snow turned into a sticky, soupy mess that was going to freeze into an ice rink as soon as the sun went down. I knew I needed to get out there and get rid of it.
Unfortunately, chain drags don't like sticky snow soup messes, and my drag was completely fouled after only two passes through the arena.
|Yes, there is a chain drag in there.|
I abandoned it where it was in the middle of the arena, because there was no hope of salvaging that mess.
|February:1, Chain Drag:0|
The next day, temperatures were back into the 20s, so I was able to get out and work the snow around. I've learned through the years that the secret to getting my arena to not be an ice rink in subzero temps is to break up the surface with the drag. That increases the surface area, and exposes the black rubber to the sun, which speeds up the un-freezing process. I've successfully gotten the arena rideable in freezing temps just with my neurotic dragging.
|Not pictured: The sippy cup full of brandy that's keeping me warm while I'm doing this.|