The Icewoman Cometh from California


Disclaimer: The following features stunts performed either by professionals or under the supervision of professionals. Accordingly, the producers insist that no one tries to recreate or re-enact any stunt or activity performed in this film.

This was the description under a recent YouTube documentary I watched.

That was enough to catch my eye before I even watched the video.

What followed opened my eyes even more as this group of people went on a ‘training’ program with Wim Hof.

Wim Hof, also known as The Iceman, is a Dutch extreme athlete noted for his ability to withstand extreme cold. He has set Guinness world records for swimming under ice and prolonged full-body contact with ice, and still holds the record for a barefoot half-marathon on ice and snow.

In the documentary, the group thought they were going to learn his breathing and meditation techniques so they could also tolerate zero temperatures.

The Iceman had other ideas.

The first day and without any preparation at all he had them jump 20 feet (6m) from a rock into a freezing river wearing only shorts.

Later that day he had them return to the river and stay in it for 10 minutes.

10 minutes! With a water temperature only fractionally above freezing!!

2 days later they hiked up a mountain in a freezing blizzard and still only wearing shorts.

The point of it all was to control and use the power of the mind.

What does this have to do with horses?

Keep reading to find out…

My horses were born and raised in California and before we moved east we all lived down in the southern part of the state, which meant it was almost always a beautiful warm day.

This also meant there was really never a day that I couldn’t get out to play with my boys or take them out for a ride.

But now that we are in Maryland, we have freezing cold days during the winter, a couple of weeks ago it went down to 7 degrees at night and 20 degrees during the day.

I know many people have it a lot worse and I guess it depends on what you’re used to but it’s still a big change for me and my horses.

I wake up to 12 degrees and my head says, “roll over and stay under the warm covers” but my heart says, “I need to see my boys and be with them”.

Sometimes my head wins, but most of the time my heart takes over.

Even so, it took a bit of a mindset shift going from West Coast to East Coast as I try to make lemonade out of the lemons mother nature throws at us.

So on snowy days, we enjoy making snow angels, we ride around under the trees knocking the snow off and laughing together or we go running through or jumping the snowbanks.

However, freezing weather and painfully cold winds are another matter and we’re all confined to the indoors, and my heart aches because I can’t spend time with my boys.

I have to tell myself, “There is nothing I can do since they have to be in their stalls to keep them warm in 7-degree weather and it is just too painful for me to go out into this weather.”

One day recently though I just couldn’t stand not spending time with them any longer as I thought back to the YouTube documentary.

I told myself that I was just going to have push through the mental barriers in my head and just get out there.

The first thing I did, therefore, was go out and buy some appropriate cold-weather gear.


You didn’t seriously think I was going to play with my horses in sub-zero temperatures wearing just shorts and a tank top, did you??

So having wrapped myself up as warm as I could, I ventured out.

There was a howling, biting wind and I was glad to at least find shelter in the stables.

I took out hot water in big thermos jugs to the barn and poured it into the cold mush that was in my horses’ water buckets. I always put salt water bottles in their water so it doesn’t freeze entirely but it’s still a kind of icy mush when the weather is way below freezing.

And boy oh boy, did they love that hot water!

They watched as I poured it, listening to the ice crackling, and then they touched my face with their noses as if to say “thank you” and then drank as much of the warm water as they could before it got cold again.

While they were doing this, I mixed a bit of grain, rice bran, and beet pulp in a mash with some more hot water and put it in a feeding pan for them.

Then I placed a pan in each stall and sat with each of them in turn on a chair I’d brought with me so that we could just “be” with each other.

They loved the warmth in their bellies and we got to share some time together loving, scratching, and talking.

As they ate I sat and told them about my day, and every now and then they would lift their head and turn it as if saying, “Really, you’ve got to be kidding me… What else happened, Mom?”. Too funny.

And you know what?

The freezing weather actually acted as a kind of catalyst for an amazing bonding opportunity.

To be that close, cooped up in a stall together, trying to stay warm, took trust on both sides. But that trust brought about more love and more connection than any of our playtimes together. I never would have thought it.

But until I watched that documentary I would never have thought complete beginners could spend 10 minutes in freezing water.

It’s amazing what you can do and achieve when you have the right guidance and you put your mind to it.

What could you achieve if you had the right guidance and put your mind to it?

Because of my experience of learning to bond with my horses from a wheelchair, I know how tough it can be to think you’ll never get there, to lie awake a night doubting you’ll ever achieve your goals.

But like the people in the documentary I climbed that mountain despite the challenges I faced and I know you can too and I’d love to be your guide

My specialty is helping you and your horse get from wherever you are now to wherever you want to be. You choose the destination and I’ll help you get there.

A good starting point to discover whether I’m the right fit for you is to watch my introduction video where I discuss my life with horses and what led me to reevaluate everything I’d been told about training.

If you’ve not watched​​ it yet, you can see it here:

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