Tuesday 17 January 2023

Just Call Him Singer

It's too cold to ride in the evenings after work, so I've only been managing to get on Cisco once a week when I can get out during daylight hours. Since the first two rides of the year had gone so well, I was pretty confident that ride #3, a week later, would go the same way.

It didn't.

I mean, all four feet stayed in the appropriate location on the ground. He wasn't "bad", he was just a wee bit spicy. Which for Cisco means I feel like I'm riding a sewing machine crossed with a giraffe. Very much lifted in the front end, but legs feel like they are going up and down in the same place.

I think he's also been talking to Phantom because he was doing a bit of her trick of launching forward, which shifts my weight back, which is a go aid, so then she's all "well, you told me to go" and gets all insulted when I pull her up. 

The good thing about my spicy meatball of a pony is that he is, um, extra fluffy at the moment, so after a couple of canters (in which I kept my hands way up while kicking him forward because bucking was definitely being considered) he remembered how to horse and stretched his head down and started to move across the ground.

Because he actually is fluffy and hadn't been clipped yet, the extra canter that I hadn't planned on doing left me with a sweaty mess to deal with.

The next day he got clipped.

I didn't realize we had vampires in Alberta. His winter hair was covering up the

Which meant that for the next ride, another week later, my sewing machine giraffe didn't get nearly as sweaty when we had yet another spicy ride.

What became apparent on this ride, is that I only really have a sewing machine giraffe when tracking left. Tracking right, I have a regular horse.

I'm not sure why.

It might be a balance/strength thing. Cisco's default when he's had some time off is to lean into his right shoulder, likely because his left hind is weaker. This also means that I have a much harder time connecting him onto my outside right rein. Not to mention my left-handitis where my left hand likes to hang like a dead fish on the rein.

Again though, he got much better after a couple of canters.

Cisco suffered what I believe to be a Bitey-Face injury and took a chunk out of his lip. He still got ridden.

Since the weather is supposed to be a bit warmer for most of this week and I might actually get a couple of evening rides in, I thought I'd give him a chance to go for a run in the outdoor arena, which will hopefully result in a sane horse when I next hop on.

That didn't go as planned.

There was way more snow in the ring than I thought there would be. I thought people had been getting their horses in there, but other than a spot that was being used for lunging, most of the ring was untouched.

Just a wee bit "fluffy".

Or it was, until I had to trudge through it to shake the whip at Cisco, which would send him in a gallop to the other end of the ring, where I would trudge on down to, to repeat the cycle over and over again.

10 / 10 - do not recommend.

I was exhausted. The horse, not so much.

I'll be back on my sewing machine giraffe on my next ride. 

Thursday 5 January 2023

First Rides of '23

 We're still a couple of weeks away from being able to ride in the new indoor arena. The neighbors have a covered track that we can use for a fee, and since our barn owner has agreed to cover the fee while the arena construction is still underway, I decided to bite the bullet and take Cisco over to see what my chances of dying were going to be.

I wasn't totally stupid - I led him over the first time with the intent of doing groundwork. Having had two months off, and finally some warmer weather, I was expecting to deal with a slightly exuberant pony. 

Cisco mostly exceeded my expectations for that trip. Mind you, I had set the bar extremely low, anticipating him to be a stressed, sweaty mess. There was some stress, but not to the point that he lost his brain. He even gave me some moments of dropping his head and showing some relaxation, although inevitably that would be when a pigeon would start flapping and he would scoot forward. 

The track isn't all that wide, maybe the width of a barn aisle. Thus, it was difficult to do much goundwork that would involve disengaging the hind end. So we were stuck with mostly leading and backing work. 

The only time Cisco got really stressed was when I took him into the indoor "round" pen. There is a room set inside the track that they converted to an indoor pen. It's square, and when the door is shut it's completely closed in. I knew that taking him in there would be a huge ask of him. I didn't want to let him loose to run around frantically as I was trying to promote relaxation for the day, so we just walked around a bit. He went in without hesitation, which I was surprised at, but once inside he got very worried, which showed up as not being able to turn to the right away from me. He got better the second time that we went in, but I didn't want to push it after he had been pretty good so far. 

And then it got cold again, and I couldn't go back over. 

Until this weekend!

On New Year's Day, it was a balmy -5 celsius. I made plans with a mother and daughter at my barn for us to head over to the track for a ride so that Cisco could have a babysitter. Turns out, he became the babysitter for the others!

Cisco was a bit sticky about entering the track - the blue doors that swung open were a bit scary. Once inside, the daughter led her horse around for the first lap or two and Cisco followed. After that, he put his big boy pants on and led the way, serving as a barrier for the daughter's OTTB who might have recognized the oval shape and took quite a while to settle into a walk.

I was ready to trot before the others were so I turned Cisco away from the others and we went by ourselves for a nice, steady trot. We ended the ride shortly afterwards as the ponies were all sweaty (no one has clipped yet) and we were all happy with our first ride in two months. 

Since that ride went so well, we made plans to repeat it the next day. 

Helmet cam footage of a lap of the track.

The horses all settled in much faster, so we did a bit more trot and even threw in a canter. I giggled the whole time we cantered - Cisco felt like an overstuffed sofa rolling down the track. Chonky boi needs to get back to work to lose some of those holiday pounds!

I was really happy with the first two rides of the season.  Boring, simple rides are always good when you've been out of the saddle for a bit!

We probably won't manage another ride until next week though. The track does have lights, so technically I could ride in the evenings, but by the time I get out there after work it's just too damn cold. There is little incentive to layer up enough in the dark to get a ride in on a shadowy oval. It's probably only going to happen during daylight hours until the indoor gets done. 

Wednesday 4 January 2023

Nope - Not Spoiled At All

As I've said before, I don't know what standing on the Surefoot pads does for the horses, but they sure love them! Especially Phantom - she almost always has a moment where she goes into a Surefoot-coma.

Last night I put her on pads in front and back, thinking she'd only stand on them for a couple of minutes. Wrong! After 25 minutes I pulled her off - reluctantly on her part.

It was interesting to see make some very deliberate moves when she decided that she was done with a specific pad. She clearly was finished with the left hind first and gave it a kick to get it out of her way before placing her foot back down.

She stood in the exact same spot for the whole 25 minutes, with the shank on the ground, while I leaned against the wall sending texts.

The initial set-up - firm pads in front and hard slants behind.

7:23 pm - Where we started.

7:31 pm - done with the left hind.

7:40 pm - now done with the left front and has adjusted her position on the right front.

7:41 pm - stoner pony face.

7:47 pm - still in the same spot. Had to make her walk it off.