Central France got a Chicago-style snowstorm yesterday afternoon, which started heavy and wet and then froze solid. The resulting chaos will be talked about for years to come. Drivers faced with even the slightest hill simply abandoned their cars and walked to…who knows where? High school gyms were turned into overnight refugee camps. My friend Louise was stuck for nine hours only about a dozen kilometers from home – so close and yet so far.
On the horse front, nothing was moving this morning, but the all-weather track finally opened for business at 11 a.m. The problem, of course, was getting there. Leaving the horses in their boxes was really not an option, so I did a quick triage of which horse absolutely had to work. Strictly Rhythm colicked last week, so she has to move. Priority. If Timelord doesn’t get out of his box, he will start spinning fast enough to dig a hole to China. Priority. Turfani gets a stiff if left standing around, but she can wait. George tied up the last time he had a day off – he has to go. Blessing Belle and Shinko have no health concerns, so they could have a day off, except that to leave them in for a day would be lethal for whoever had to ride them the next day. So I fired up the truck, and two by two, like Noah’s arc, we saddled them up and trucked them down to the fibersand. The solution is far from ideal – you can warm them up alright, but they never cool down properly because the don’t relax while they’re next to the gallop. But the alternative is worse, so off they go.
The next problem to solve is who goes with who. I decided to put Belle with Timelord for first lot. They both tried to dig a hole in the truck on the way, but beyond that things went pretty well. Next up were Turfani and Strictly Rhythm. Too perfectly behaved ladies compared with the first set. By that time, things were thawing enough to park the truck and ride out normally. Unfortunately, Philippe, my standby rider for Shinko, came limping into the yard to announce that he had blown a rib (or something like that) trying to set up a mash cooker at the yard across the street. His face had turned from its customary pink to a whiter shade of pale, so I knew he was hurting. That left me alone with Shinko and George to contend with. Since taking Shinko (aka the Equine Catapult) out alone would probably be suicidal, I opted for George. He’s not the most courageous of fellows on his own, but he is manageable. He was none too pleased, though, about the huge chunks of snow that were by that time falling off the trees. Nonetheless, we got the work done and came home together, which was the essential thing. That left Shinko with a day off. Tomorrow a thaw is predicted. I hope it’s true, because whoever rides Shinko tomorrow will appreciate a soft landing.