Sunday, March 29, 2015

Canadian Horse Status

L is a purebred Canadian Horse.

Snow bath! 29 January.

The (American) Livestock Conservancy has (again) classified the Canadian Horse as Critically Endangered. I looked at the data. Maybe...oh, 7 years or so ago there were more than 6,000 Canadian Horses and the breed registry data showed encouraging breeding data, with over 400 horses born in both 2007 and 2008.

Economic downturn always hurts the horse industry. For many of us equestrian pursuits are luxurious discretionary pastimes. Canadian Horses have been endangered before and their numbers were on a healthy rebound the early half of the past 20 years. Seven and eight years ago one would expect to see over 400 Canadian Horses born each year.

I looked at the numbers and ...well, I guess I just haven't paid much attention lately. I was shocked to learn the population has dropped to less than 2000 animals and the last year or record, 2013, there were only 170 newly registered Canadian Horses. Such sad news. These are perfectly delightful animals.

L is everything a Canadian Horse should be. Her farrier says "those are what feet are supposed to be like". Her dentist says "those are what teeth are supposed to be like". I put a blanket on her once. It was below 0. She overheated. She's big. She's strong. She has a lot of presence. She's a Little Iron Horse type. Luxurious is a word that comes to mind.

Canadian Horses are highly prized for their temperaments. L is very smart. She's also very ...sensible. Everything about her is reassuring to a rider. Oh, it wasn't always that way. I'm the only rider she's every carried. I trained her (under the supervision of my trainer) and, oh, there were times my hands shook so bad I could barely buckle her bridle. Riding her was that scary. She didn't mean any harm...just a young horse. Mare. Doing young horse things. She'd puff up like a cat and throw a tantrum. When she stomped both of her front feet you knew to hang on.

After becoming more comfortable and starting some trail work outside of the ring I'd gone to mount up near the barn. I climb on board and, *just* as I swing my leg over her back, the heel of my right foot over the cantle, dead middle of her back, she *leaps* into a dead run. I'm hanging on for dear life. Yelling "HO! HO! HO!" while she ran the length of the barn. As fast as she could. While someone in the barn yelled back "Merry Christmas!". Very funny. Actually it was. She stopped, I hoisted my sorry butt into the saddle. And she never did that again. Young horse stuff.

Whatever issues we'd had, we always remained engaged. There was always "conversation". We had that going for us and *that* is 100% Canadian Horse!

If horses are your thing, get to know a Canadian Horse sometime.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Ice Out!

I live on the Charles River. The more rural headwaters end.  The river is as reliable an indicator of the trending weather as any.

And Monday 16 March...

Ice Out! See it? The bend in the river? That's not shadow, that's open water!

And the open water is expanding almost before your eyes.

Boston broke its official all time snowfall record last night at 7:00 pm. Keep in mind that's at the airport, on the harbor. Where it often rains when it snows here. I think we broke our record a couple of weeks ago. Of course we know about snow. But the more striking thing is almost *all* of that snow fell in the past 6 weeks. Up until almost the first of February we hadn't had more than a few inches. So we all got dumped on pretty good and we felt it!

"Meteorological spring" is 1 March. The sunshine is much brighter and takes some of the harshness out of the cold. The more official "astronomical spring" is this Friday. The 20th. At 6:46 pm. Either way...good riddance, winter. Don't hurry back!

I keep pretty close track of when the swallows arrive and depart. And I'm pretty good about noting when the flowers blossom. I need to keep better track of when the river freezes solid and when the ice clears.

And when L sheds. She's easy! She doesn't gradually shed her coat like most other horses. She loses barely a hair here and there and then one day, poof! Hair everywhere! And the next day she finishes. I haven't kept track of that day's date. I'll have to start this year.

Hopefully we'll enjoy a ride in a few more days. The huge snowbanks will be here for quite a while but the blanket snow is melting very quickly!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Still too much...


8 March. Still buried!

Even though it's been unusually cold the air is starting to become notably less harsh. We've been free of fresh snow and the sun feels good. Things are even starting to melt. I thought maybe I'd catch a ride this last weekend! I haven't been out riding now since 28 25 January when this all started.

But no I think the snow is a little too deep. Oh, I know L can plow through this stuff but after maybe a quarter mile or so I don't think it would be much fun for her. So maybe next week I'll ride.

We're lucky. A number of barns have collapsed here. Horses have been hurt and sadly a couple of horses were lost. We lost L's shed. The roof collapsed with a little help from a falling tree limb. She wasn't out there. I knew it was going to go and I wasn't going to put anyone out there until I fenced it off.

24 February

Of course I'm going to have to clean up that mess. She loves her shed! Those, by the way, are Mulberry trees on either side of the shed. The horses love those mulberries as much as I do!

If you look carefully, along the right wall of the shed, at the top of the fence rail, that's L watching me from the paddock on the other side of the shed. No doubt wondering what I'm doing out there.
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