Thursday 17 February 2022

The Ice Capades

This winter has been tough to get any consistent rides in. After we got through the long cold spell of late December/early January, it's been a constant roller coaster of up and down temperatures - it's either above average warm or super freezing cold. Which, for riding, means 2 or 3 rides in one week, a week off, and try to start back with a very fresh horse again. 

The other issue that this has caused has been icy ground. Like, everywhere. 

Last week's four days of +9 Celsius temperatures got rid of a whole bunch of snow. And also left huge puddles everywhere as the ground is still frozen. And when the temperatures fell over the weekend, accompanied by some very strong wind, those large puddles turned into large, smooth ice rinks. 

I took my fancy Celeris boots out in the hopes I would get to ride in them on Thursday last week, but when I saw the lake path to the arena I left them in the car. Now imagine these puddles all over the yard, but completely frozen two days later, and you get an idea of what we've been dealing with.

The horses just haven't been moving around a whole lot out in their paddock. I mean, they're standing in a round bale of hay up to their knees, so they really don't have much incentive to walk too far from the buffet, which is conveniently located between their bedroom (shelter) and the wet bar (water trough). A full third of their paddock has had no hoof prints in the snow for weeks. 

The lack of movement, (and what little movement there is is likely all at a walk) has meant that horses have been very full of themselves when you try to ride. For Cisco, this means I've been trying to ride a spooky llama.

I also suspect that it has caused some body-soreness in the ponies. Phantom has been stocking up pretty consistently in her hind legs this winter, but it comes down with about 30 minutes of easy activity. Cisco has been a bit resistant to soften in his poll, which seems to be his go-to when he's not feeling his best. 

We've been plugging away at things, but not necessarily having the best rides. Not terrible ones either, mind you. It just seems like the first ride is spent trying to get some sense of relaxation, the second ride we are able to get a little bit of something done by the end of the ride, and I might squeak in one more quick ride before another 7-10 days off due to cold/snow and we get to start all over again. 

There has been very little of note to my rides.

Well, except two things.

First - have you ever watched any videos of the pros doing Working Equitation, and marveled at the part where the horse, who is almost always a PRE, does a canter sidepass over a pole during the speed event?

Apparently, my horse can do that. 

You know the saying "impulsion is created by the spooky end of the arena"? Well, the canter sidepass is apparently created by asking for a canter leg-yield heading into the spooky end of the arena, up the quarter-line, off the outside leg. I was pretty impressed with how quickly Cisco was able to canter sideways, while staying pretty straight. Really wish I had a video of it.  

The second thing, was that on my last ride on Tuesday, I put my big girl panties on and cantered into some jumps.  They weren't necessarily pretty - I cannot see a distance to save my life and keep second-guessing my decisions, but I did the thing. 

We haven't popped over anything since September or October. I had to be quick to get it done between lessons, which meant a rushed warm-up on a horse who was behind my leg, but I didn't have much time to fix that before the next lesson started. 

Cisco was a very good boy and happily popped over all the teeny crosspoles without issue.

Cisco is modelling his new bridle, while keeping an eye out for the horse murderers hiding behind him.

Except once - we jumped into a diagonal line that took us into the scariest corner of the arena. This alone is usually cause for Cisco to back off just a wee bit, but on this occasion, his roommate, Lucy, who was warming up for the next lesson, picked up a rather enthusiastic canter out of said corner, which in Cisco's mind meant that Lucy was obviously escaping the horse murderer that lays in wait in the corner, and he yet again showed me his desire to try Working Equitation by cantering sideways away from the second jump in the line. The runout was all about the perceived threat in the corner and not the jump, so we just circled back around to the first jump and started again, this time going straight through and cantering around the corner to the next diagonal line. 

Continuing on this winter's pattern, I'll get one or two more rides in before the temperatures plummet again this weekend. Once the weather gets a bit more consistent I would like to take the ponies to a vet that does chiro that I've used in the past, but she's over an hour away and I don't like to trailer on iffy winter roads. In the meantime, we'll just keep plugging along. 

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