I saw the first carpenter bee last week and then the day following saw a number of dead carpenter bee corpses because they had frozen that night.
It's a crazy back and forth transistion this year, but yesterday after riding Keil Bay I was literally covered in horse hair, so that's another sign weighing in that spring surely has to be nearing!
We'd had a week and a half off since our last ride until yesterday. The arena was freshly harrowed, it was sunny with a stiff wind, and it was time to get back into the groove. I have been experimenting the past few rides with different hand positions. I had gotten in the habit of holding my hands about 8 inches apart and I decided to close them to about 2 inches and see what happened. Well, the difference was startling. There was no change in contact - simply bringing my hands back toward the wither and keeping them there. All need for steering seemed to disappear.
We had a nice long walking warm-up, then notched it up to Keil Bay's power walk. We did crisp, perfect turns on the haunches and the forehand in the deepest part of the arena corners. We did serpentines. And then we did just a little trotting, and it was very very nice.
It was a fun ride - Keil Bay was alert but not spooky, even though the hay tent was filling with air and swelling like a living breathing creature, and the neighbor was driving loads of fallen branches into the woods and dumping them, making huge, invisible, crashing sounds. Keil kept his eye on the woods for me but even when I dismounted onto the hiked-up block and he had to turn his rear to the woods while crashing brush happened, he stood as still as a soldier on duty. It's good having such a terrific partner to work with.
On the neighbor and dog front, we had a scary incident last weekend when neighbor's adult daughter took dog on leash along the fence line, allowing it to dart under the fence so she could correct it. Okay, I would prefer she train the dog not to come within a few feet of the fence personally, but at least she is trying.
But she waited to do it until the horses and donkeys were right there, and the entire herd moved to the fence to protect their territory. The pony and Cody went right up to the dog and she continued to let the dog go underneath - and the two horses turned their rears to the dog (and to her). I was scared they were going to kick at the dog and hit her. I don't know what the thought process is over there but after seeing that I got a copy of our neighborhood covenants and thankfully, mercifully, there are absolutely no restrictions on fencing except that barbed wire is prohibited.
We will be installing no-climb wire around the entire perimeter, starting with that side, which will keep the dog out. The Horseguard tape will keep the horses off the woven wire. Then we are installing a 10-foot privacy section with a lattice inset along the top foot and an arbor on top so I can plant grape vines or something nontoxic and flowering to add even more height. This will put the dog, the neighbors, most of their house, their cars, their parking area, and their junky sheds out of our sight forever.
Interesting to read the covenants and learn that of everyone on our lane, we are the only ones totally compliant with all the rules!
I also discovered that the house across the lane that is for sale had in its real estate listing the phrase: Perfect For ATVs! I emailed the realtor and told her no one here wants ATVs driving up and down the road, that it is not okay, that I have had numerous occasions to call the sheriff when the old ATV neighbors lived here, and that I hoped she would change the listing to accurately reflect that this neighborhood values peace and quiet. She emailed me back saying she had removed the phrase! What a relief!
We have rain rolling in today and thunderstorms tomorrow and then sunshine returns on Sunday. Just in time for me to start what will be 6-8 or so weeks of riding lessons here on Keil Bay. An opportunity arose and I seized it - really excited to see how it goes and do some learning and tweaking and improving.
It feels like we're all hanging on, waiting for spring to come and stay. Maybe April is the key to that this year!