Tuesday, February 23, 2016

While We're Waiting to Thaw

The Grounds are still quite buried in snow, as shown by
Spud's sunken feetsies1
 Around town there are still some areas that haven't thawed completely of snow and ice, this includes the outdoor riding arena at the local Fairgrounds where I normally ride Suzie. It's not completely unrealistic that the arena is still laiden with snow, as we normally have much more snow around this time of year. In fact, I managed to do quite a bit of "Spring Cleaning" the other day, which was strange in itself!

So with this good weather naturally comes the want (and unrelenting NEED) to ride, and sometimes the paved streets where you can do no more than walk gets a bit boring and tiresome. Needless to say, I am thankful to be well equipped with a truck and trailer - the ability to go wherever I want is an intoxicating feeling!

Initially, I had planned on hauling out to the indoor arena in the next town (approximately an hour away) but didn't feel like wasting two hours driving, especially if the schooling sessions were going to be no more than 30-40 minutes long. As I went out to hitch up the trailer at my MILs, I saw the most beautiful sight to be seen.

Yea... the irony that we live so close lol.
You may not remember this place if you are a "newer" reader, but back when Suzie was boarded in town, you may recall "Our Meadow". (If you don't remember, feel free to read up here, here, and here.)  Basically, it's an open plot of ground between some residential apartments and houses - it backs onto the road where horses and livestock can be kept and at the other end, there is a children's park.

And even more interesting, here is another map to show you all just how close our house, property, and the riding meadow is all connected. You will notice where our property is, most of the surrounding area is bush-like and non-developed. This is a new section added in by a local construction company and it is beginning to be developed as the years progress. The whole appeal of this entire "subdivision" is to have the ability to farm (or to just have a lot of land) and still be within close proximity to town.

And before I continue on the whole ride and drive recap, let's take a quick look at where Suzie and Spud are boarded now. It is a rural subdivision, much like the new one being constructed IN town. This one however, is approximately 10 minutes out of town.

OK, so enough of the maps and back to our regularly scheduled program here.

I had intended to work some more on loading and unloading, given the horse's previous abhorrence to the trailer during our last haul-out. I did decide to do things a bit differently this time, in that I loaded Spud first and decided to load him on the opposite side (previously I had loaded him on the passenger side). He gave some slight resistance, but after clucking once or twice, he clambered on and loaded straight. Much to my surprise, he didn't try and spin around, didn't duck under the divider and didn't try to get out.

I unloaded and re-loaded him a few more times, keen on giving him pets and letting him know he was a good boy. Once he was tied and secured, I decided to load Suzie and she quite literally sniffed, and then self-loaded. I stood at the back of the trailer ramp in shock, but quickly remembered my sanity and tied her through the escape door.

Both horses hauled quietly, save for one moment where I thought Spud may have fallen down... I quickly stopped and ran back to the trailer and saw both of them standing quietly, looking at me expectantly. I assume that Suzie shifted in the trailer and my alarm bells sounded off.

They say "Ain't no thang, mom."
 Upon arriving, they unloaded great and surveyed their surroundings with slight interest while I wrestled to get the cart out of my truck box. Seriously, there has to be a better way! And I refuse to unhitch, unload the cart and re-hitch again. Too time-consuming and wasteful in my opinion.

Regardless, the horses's didn't care about my troubles and soon I had Spud hitched and ready to go. He seemed quite spritely, and forward thinking which I wanted to use to my advantage. Ironically enough, his forward thinking brain didn't last long, as his energy was misdiagnosed and he realized rather quickly that pulling a cart was hard work. I didn't push him too long and kept the session short, since this was our first "training drive" of the season.

While Spud can have a lot of stamina, we had trail ridden approximately two hours the day before and Mr. Short Legs had to jog most of the way to keep up with Suzie and AJ. In addition to this, being out of shape and lugging around a person can be pretty tough, especially when you are doing more than just walking.

So other than being a bit laggy and unresponsive once he got tired (the video showcases some moments where I got after him a bit with my clucking), he was pretty agreeable for his first drive back. You can see a few moments where I'm asking him to turn and he's counter-bending against me to head back towards Suzie, which is realistic of a greenie who hasn't done much since last year. We did have some good moments of connection and given the fact that the terrain wasn't completely smooth, he did quite well.

Looking fancy.
 While some of the training we did was not captured on video, we did work on halting, some strong trotting (I hesitate to call it lengthening), and pivoting the cart without moving forwards too much. He gets very sticky when we pivot and somethings this leads to frustration on his end, but today he did great. And after two quick canters either direction, I called it quits.

He feels really good but is a bit resistant in the bridle, although he is starting to stretch down and seek that contact. It'll all come with time and once he gets more stability in the trot, he won't have to bring his head up to balance himself as much.

Next up was Suzie-mare, who I wasn't certain how she'd ride considering she acted like a bit of a moron yesterday during our trail ride. At one point when we ran into 4x4s and needed to pull over and let them pass, I had to be PONIED because Suzie decided she didn't want to stand quietly on the side of the trail. Oh no, she wanted to back up like an idiot, dragging poor unsuspecting Spud with her.

Hormonal mares, people.

All aboard the Hot Mess Express.
 Much to my delight, after a few "looky-loo" moments, she settled right down into work-mode. I mostly worked on asking for flexion, moving off my legs, and having some assemblance of rhythm. It didn't take long for her to settle into a quiet jog and although she was a bit stiff to the left (her bad side), she was quite amicable in my requests. She certainly felt unbalanced - again, I contribute this to the fact that the terrain isn't quite flat - but we had plenty of nice jogging and loping moments.

I made sure we worked on opening her shoulders a bit with some side-passing and leg yielding. And I find that asking for quite a bit of bend and then releasing and asking again helps her a lot. Almost like an "elastic", allowing her to yo-yo between the extreme (when I say 'extreme' I don't mean cranking her head down to my knee. I mean more of a 10:30/ 2:30 view... think of the hands on a clock and as your horse's head being at 12 o'clock and being completely straight with no bend) and nothing at all.

My favorite pair of ears <3
She really retains a lot of the schooling we did last year, but lacks the ability to really perform to that standard. Again, it'll come with time. I'm just glad we had a productive school.

Upon leaving, both horses were good to load although Suzie tried to say "no way" for about 3 seconds. Of course, the more we haul, the better they'll get.


  1. A riding meadow free of snow! How fantastic is that! Glad you had a great outing :)

  2. Oh that little tater tot! Spud is completely adorbs!

  3. That looks like a great spot to school in. Glad that you had fun.

    1. Hilariously enough, another rider from the area tried to give me grief about schooling there. The area isn't well-used by people who walk and it's not like my horses' tore up the grass. Shake my head...

  4. awww good ponies - and what a perfect place to just get out and get some actual work in! how convenient that it's so close too!

    1. It certainly isn't acceptable as a "every day" type situation, but it works well enough in a pinch.