Light at the end of the tunnel
January 9, 2014 3 Comments
It’s been hideously, relentlessly, impossibly cold for the last several weeks, but we’re in the final throes of this cripplingly cold weather. Thought the thermometer reads -8 right now, we’re heading to a high in the low 20’s today, and frankly, that is going to feel GREAT after the sub-zero deep freeze in which we’ve been mired recently. And it gets better – we’re going to actually be above freezing – as in the mid-30’s this weekend! Hopefully the arena footing – which is frozen solid right now – will thaw and we’ll *really* be able to ride.
My barn-mates and I have been doing all we can to keep the horses comfortable while they’ve been confined this week. We’ve been doing small-group turnout in the indoor, allowing the horses to play and socialize as long as we can stand the cold. And we’ve been feeding copious amounts of soaked beet pulp and hay cubes, and filling buckets with warm water, to help keep everyone hydrated.
That said, between the horrific weather and my holiday travel, I’ve only been able to snatch a ride here and there.
I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the quality of these few rides, especially on Derby. I’m continuing to ride him on really cold days, without a quarter sheet, and we’re doing well. There have been no giant, teleporting spooks or other cold-weather induced silliness (**touches wood**) which is probably due in part to the fact that I’m providing leadership from the saddle via improved contact and keeping him on the aids. I’m not abdicating the ride and the decision-making to the horse.
I was rewarded on my last ride (eh, let’s see, five days ago) with a very round and pleasant horse. I was able to keep Derby packaged together and connected for most of the ride. He’s a lot harder for me to put together than Tucker is, but by paying attention to lateral work – incorporating leg yields in corners and on circles, and yielding down the long sides here and there – and changing his flexion (a little shoulder fore here, counter bend there) I was able to keep him on the aids and compliant.
I’m getting better at recognizing when he’s not responding to my leg, and am doing a better job of issuing corrections. He’s more responsive off my leg than he was a few months ago, so this is progress.
However, I have let him get behind my leg again, so the next thing I really need to focus upon is recognizing when he’s stalling out, and keeping him forward. Maintaining forward is my biggest problem and this is the next thing I need to fix.
In other news, I’ve been doing work out of the saddle too. I’ve been taking Pilates classes, using the Reformer and other equipment. On days when I have a class, riding is difficult, because certain muscles (such as the entire assembly supporting my hips!) are very tired. In a lesson later in the day after my first Pilates class, Christy was confused by my serious wonkiness in the saddle. Though I didn’t feel tired in a cardio sense, we figured out that some of my key stability muscles and core were pretty tired. I’ve changed my Pilates classes to non-riding lesson days, but I’m not letting up. I can already feel myself getting stronger, and am looking forward to observing the effects in the saddle!