Sunday, January 27, 2013

Loooong winter....

Some days the winters here in Canada certainly do seem loooong.... I guess they are long considering it's usually cold & snowy starting from sometime in October all the way until April. It certainly is pretty though...
It's lots of fun to go for a ride out in the deep snow (good for the fat ponies too!) on the days that are nice enough. We are lucky to get chinooks here that bring in warmer temperatures and can take us from -20 to +5 overnight (Celcius). It can be a bit tricky trying to blanket the horses appropriately though - always adding layers, taking them off, adding a neck piece, taking it off... In the greenhouses at the college they've starting seeding the bedding out plants for the summer. It's always nice to see them start to grow and know that spring IS coming after all! I "spring" up the house by buying copious amounts of forced bulbs and enjoying those.
Some tips for surviving the cold Canadian winter... GOOD winter boots are a MUST! I've got several pairs and have finally found my favorites! I've tried the "Muck Boots" and they are good, until your feet get a little damp (they don't breathe) and then your feet get COLD! They are good to stand around in, as long as you have good thick socks on, they seem to have soles that insulate from the bottom well. Not a big fan of riding in these though as they have zero ankle support or grip on the calves. The Mountain Horse winter boots are nice, though bulky. I prefer them for riding as they have more grip and good ankle support. But for standing around they are AWFUL! My feet really freeze in them if I'm not actively doing something. My favorites so far are the boots I got for Christmas. They are the "Middleburg Fleeced Lined" boots from Dover Saddlery. They were quite tight on the calf when I first got them but I forced the zipper up and they've streched out well. They are warm for riding & standing around, not too heavy and GREAT to ride in! Highly recommend them! Gloves are super important! I love the SSG silk liners, they help draw moisture away from your skin. Overtop of those I put on the SSG winter mittens - the leather ones that have a thumb & a pinky finger separate from the rest of the fingers. SO warm & nice to ride in. A good toque (that's a winter hat for you non-Canadians! haha) to keep your head warm or a fleece headband that fits inside your helmet & over your ears when you are riding. Underbreeches (Mountain Horse) and fleece lined breeches (Kerritts) are also a staple for me! I have 3 pairs and I wear nothing BUT those to the barn all winter long, -20 and all. They keep you warm! For a nice extra layer I bought a pair of winter riding chaps, kinda like snow pants with a full seat breech on them. They're nicely fitted and not too heavy. Though I do feel like I should almost have a pair of suspenders on to help keep them up when I'm just walking around in them. I'm not the hugest fan of riding in them though as with the loose leg at the bottom, they do slide around a bit in the saddle. I won't complain about that though when it's -20! Lots of layers on the top or a down vest/coat will keep you toasty warm. And to finish it off, a silk scarf around your neck. Helps keep the cold air out and is surprisingly warm! Doesn't get all damp & frosty nor is it itchy or bulky like a lot of scarves. The ponies all get nicely blanketed, some have clips to keep them from getting too sweaty when worked and we all end up making do nicely!

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