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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Winter has Arrived

Winter has Arrived


We were regularly riding out on the trail and having a great time.  Then, the weather started getting cold.  As is inevitable, the river started to freeze.  Fine, we can just ride on the hill.  Then we had some warm weather mixed with cold weather; causing the driveway to freeze into a sheet of ice.  If that wasn’t bad enough, it got reallly cold, followed by a heat spike which brought a lot of rain on top of all the snow--then the temps plummeted.  We now have an icy driveway, an icy hill and the banks of the river have piles of huge ice chunks that washed up when the flooding broke up the river. The river is freezing over, again, too.

We are officially stuck at the barn.  I can’t even ride out on the loop because of the ice.

It is now time to concentrate on our arena work.  Sigh…

My first 2 rides in the arena with Cole didn’t go very well.  My third ride felt like I was riding a stick of dynamite.  I only trotted a few times because he exploded into the trot.  We just walked about and did tricks.  By the time we were done, I was able to trot a couple controlled steps at a time.  I quit while I was ahead, untacked him and watched him run and jump about.  I guess I should have done that first.

The next time I tried again, I did have him run and play, first.  It paid off.  He felt like a normal horse.We just reviewed where we left off last year.  He seemed to remember it all, and I was very happy with that ride.

I did discover why dressage people love to do shoulder in so often.  Don’t listen to them about suppling.  Remember how I would get nervous on the far end?  When he is hyper, if I trot out of that corner down towards our barn door, he would try to take off for our door.  I tried doing a shoulder in after that corner and it worked like magic.  I felt brave because his head was already bent to the inside--so I could circle him with ease if he tried any shenanigans, and he was focused on the exercise I was asking instead of bad thoughts.  Being a clicker-trained horse, once he knew what I wanted, he had all the more reason to perform it well instead of going of on a literal tangent.  

Since then, he has been fairly well behaved in the arena.  We continue to review old work and try to have as much fun as possible.  Of course, we much prefer to be on the trail.

Ellen lets me ride Dante in the arena a few days a week, too.  I haven’t ridden him regularly in there since she broke her ankle, years ago.  He is so much better, now.  There is nothing to be frightened about riding him, inside.  The worst that he will do is stall out and not want to go forward.  He trots so smooth--it is dreamlike.  Dante is super responsive and very agile.  His legs never get tangled up like Cole’s can at the trot.  He does lack consistent lateral moves, and that is something I can work on with him this winter.

The only thing that can rescue us from the arena right now is a huge thaw or a huge snowstorm to cover up all the ice.  I prefer the thaw, of course.  Until that happens, we will just make the best of it.

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