Snow Angels



Yesterday we had snow. Several inches of snow. Today, it’s was all pristine and white. The trees covered with thick layer of sugar icing.

Thursday it was nearly 60 degrees. Yesterday, we had about six inches of snow. Today it was in the high 30s and all that pristine white snow called to me. It was a perfect day to ride.

Crisp blue sky
The sky was crisp and blue and there was just enough snow to make Zelda work.

Zelda and I stayed out of the woods — there was still a lot of snow falling from the trees. Big, heavy pieces of snow and ice. I didn’t make it out until the afternoon, but even then there were great untouched swathes of snow. It’s absolutely irresistible.

Of course it was irresistible to others as well. Zelda didn’t mind the cross country skiers much, but for some reason the snowshoers were very, very scary.

IMG_1680The snow was so wet and heavy that even late in the day, many of the trees were still bent over by the weight of the snow. Some of the same silver birches that shone like a beacon in the sun just a few days ago.


New tracks
We made fresh tracks in the snow. Zelda was pretty fresh herself, a ball of energy.
We rode until Zelda got hot. She has a heavy winter coat and I didn't want her to get too wet.
We rode until Zelda got hot. She has a heavy winter coat and I didn’t want her to get too wet.
Snow angels
Then Zelda made snow angels.

Before the ice melts

On a warm day
Between the cold weather and my work, I haven’t had very many chances to ride lately. But yesterday was warm. Warm enough so that the trails were (mostly) not icy but still cold enough that a layer of iridescent ice covers the local ponds. The reflection off the ice was almost blinding it was so bright. Zelda and I had a nice walk with only one really big spook. Those deer are sneaky! It was so rejuvenating to be out in the sunshine and away from my computer screen.

The hard blue light of winter


I love the light in the winter. It's crisp, clean and cold. Even the golden cast of the sun has a blueish tint
I love the light in the winter. It’s crisp, clean and cold. Even the golden cast of the sun has a blueish tint. I haven’t been out riding much because until recently it’s been too cold. After the snow last week, I was able to catch the last of it on an early evening ride.
We got just enough snow to leave tracks. Not enough to make the going hard; not so little that it became icy right away. By the time I got out, the snow was no longer pristine, but it still looked fresh. Freedom was glad to be out exploring. We had a few interesting moments, like when the people removed their cross country skis in front of us, but for the most part he just enjoyed the crisp air and the soft footing.

New Hoof Boot Design

I’m a big fan of hoof boots. For several years I kept Freedom barefoot and used hoof boots for hunting or trail rides on rocky terrain. I’m not against shoes, not at all. It’s just that barefoot is easier in many respects. But I’ve yet to find the perfect pair of hoof boots.  As a foxhunter, I ride through very varied terrain and often at speed. It is important to me that:

  • The hoof boots stay on. Getting a “flat tire” mid gallop is a bummer and it’s really hard to stop and put the boot back on while the rest of the field gallops off.
  • The boot provides traction. I don’t want my horse to slip while galloping or jumping.
  • The boot drains well. We frequently go through water.
  • The boot is easy to put on/take off. I’ve wrestled with a few boots that were almost impossible to put on after even a week or two of new hoof growth.
  • Has minimal hardware (I had Easyboot Epics for awhile and the cables could be problematic)
The Cavallo Boots look clunky to me but don't seem to bother Freedom.
The Cavallo Boots look clunky to me but don’t seem to bother Freedom. They are easy to put on. My only complaints are that the Velcro doesn’t stay closed when they get dirty and the boots occasionally turn on the hoof or come off.

So far, the best boot I’ve used is the Cavallo Simple boot. However, over time I found that the velcro stopped working well and they would occasionally come off or turn on the hoof. The fit got worse over time as the boots deformed in shape somewhat. Still, they were a good shoe alternative.

I came across the Scoot Boot website a couple of days ago and they intrigue me.

Scoot Boot
The Scoot Boot is a new design. It’s something I’d like to try.

At least in the images, they seem to meet all my criteria: they are easy to put on, appear to drain well, use almost no hardware (and have replaceable parts if something breaks). The only problem that I can see is that you have to order them from Australia. So, if you get the sizing a bit wrong, you can’t run over to SmartPak or Dover and try the next size up or down.

Has anyone tried these new boots?



NYC Proposes to Reduce Number of Horse-Drawn Carriages in Central Park

Carriage rides in Central Park have been given a reprieve from Mayer de Blasio’s campaign promise to ban them. Under the proposed agreement, the number of horses (and licenses) would be reduced and rides would be restricted to the Park.

If you’ve always dreamed of riding through Central Park in a horse-draw carriage, there’s still time. Despite Mayor de Blasio’s campaign promise to eliminate the carriage trade, three years later the deal on the table is a compromise: the number of horses will be reduced from 220 today down to 95 by 2018, carriage rides will be restricted to the park, and the horses will be housed in a new stable, to be built in Central Park by October 1, 2018. The stable will be large enough for 75 horses; 20 additional horses will be rotated in and out of service to allow them to rest.

The City Council must approve the deal, described by the mayor’s office as “an agreement in concept,” and a hearing could occur as soon as this week, officials said.

Drivers tell a slightly different story. Today 180 drivers have licenses to operate carriages in the city and they plan to continue fighting to keep as many horses and drivers employed as possible.

Personally, I’m glad to see the horses stay, even if in reduced numbers. Most of the horses I’ve seen in the park have looked well-cared for and sound; talking to the drivers I’ve heard real love for their horses in their voices. Many of the carriage drivers come from families who’ve had licenses for several generations. I’ve always wondered what the protesters thought would happen to the horses if carriages were banned. While images of green fields and retirement floated over their heads like speech bubbles, my own prediction was darker: New Holland sales and one way tickets to Canada. Hopefully, with a more gradual decline, this will allow more horses the chances to find homes (although I think animal rights activists still haven’t thought through the implications of taking the horses off the streets of NY). My guess is that ultimately, the numbers of horses/licenses will be higher than the 95 planned.

Update: According to some of the carriage drivers, the real issue driving the proposed downsizing of the industry and relocation of the stables has little to do with protecting the horses — and everything to do with real estate. The current stables are located on Manhattan’s West Side where development of the Hudson Yards has significantly raised the value of those buildings. However, the owners of the Carriage Houses say they are not interested in selling.

What do you think?