Monday, March 9, 2020

Making the Most of the Snow

I'm a member of the minority of folks who really enjoy winter and especially enjoy snow. There is just something about a landscape blanketed in snow, trees encrusted with it, and the way the light plays off of every frozen flake that makes me giddy inside.

This winter, while one of many bad winters in a row now, has been the worst Canaan Valley has seen since 1985. In fact, until the last two snow events, which exceeded predictions, there was a chance we were going to beat the former "worst snowfall" record for our area that was set in 1948. Fortunately, things are a little better than that winter, though not by much!

The happiest little dog.

I, and my entire snow-loving community, have been taking advantage of every snowfall we've received. While our recent snow events haven't been anything overly remarkable in the history of Canaan winters, they have been significant events for this winter. So while we have no true "base" for cross country skiing, we're still getting out there and racking up as many miles as we can, making the most of what we have.

Every snow event is made bigger and better in our neighborhood thanks to near-constant winds that cause the snow to form into impressive drifts. The snowfall two weeks ago brought the best snow drifts of the season! A beautiful, light, fluffy, champagne/blower powder.

The winds that make snow drifts require the addition of ski goggles, hats, and buffs to my riding attire.

I love the extra workout the snow provides for the horses. Walking for a few miles through snow really makes them concentrate and move with more purpose. Hoofing it through belly-high snow drifts especially! And when conditions are light and fluffy as they were two weeks back, it's so much fun gallop through. Riding through deep, light drifts like that is similar to riding a swimming horse - though definitely a gentler ride! I like to imagine it's similar to what riding a dolphin might be like?

The irregular shadowing of the snow in the video above is demonstrative of snow drifts. It builds up in peninsula-shaped formations due to the surrounding trees.

Neither Stan or Griffin were quite sure what to do with regard to moving through snow drifts at speed. Each of them jumped the first drift or two (we started with very small ones), but within moments, they each realized that it was just snow and didn't require a full jumping effort. After that, it felt sort of like what I imagine a lesser-gravity situation would feel like. The snow was so light and fluffy that it served to cushion their footfalls and movements a bit more than moving on clear ground. While Taiga was most definitely snow-swimming nearby, the horses porpoised gracefully forward through fluffy powder.

To better demonstrate just how light and fluffy the snow is, see the video of Q and I walking below. This was taken during another recent snowfall event as she and I approached home after a very lovely 3 mile walk around our mountain. (Yes, she has a fly mask on. The glare from the sun on the snow this day was so intense that it seemed unfair to ask her to walk about in it without some sort of "sunglasses".)

Extended forecasts are increasingly warm, so I doubt we'll see much more snow like this until next winter. I'm happy we've been able to make the most of it!

That said, I will definitely confess to being eager for the season change - especially considering my water hydrant in the barn broke during a snowstorm this past weekend! Fortunately, the replacement part should be here Wednesday, but it's still a bother made more complicated by freezing temperatures.

Happy Daylight Saving Time, y'all! Three cheers to longer daylight hours for horse pursuits.


  1. Riding in the snow is fun! Your videos were great! I am so ready for warmer weather, but I am definitely the type to not love cold weather

  2. It's so pretty and I love your videos and photos, but I am admittedly very happy it's where you live and not me!

  3. ha that's awesome! maryland has had nary a snowflake this entire winter... it's actually been kinda disquieting in a way....

  4. I see all these posts about how anyone who loves winter must not have livestock, but I'm with you on this one. I love snow and I missed it this year.