Monday, January 8, 2018

Incremental Progress

So one of the things I'd like to do better in 2018 is track my workouts with the horses and write about them. I half-heartedly started and stopped doing that a few times in 2017 (and of course I tried to semi-regularly chronicle them here), so I'm trying again. I bought a dedicated notebook for this purpose, but it won't be here for a minute, so I decided I can just use the blog for the handful of workouts I manage to squeeze in this month, between weather and traveling.
If it's pretty maybe I'll be more apt to write in it?
After I rode Ruby last week, temps dropped again, so my Thursday and Friday were quiet -- relatively speaking that is, because Friday one of the dachshunds gave us another health scare, although all seems to be fine now (knock on wood).
I initially had high hopes for Saturday, because early last week they were forecasting it to be over freezing. As the week went on, the forecasted temp got lower and lower.... Boo. Saturday morning I had some errands to run, so I was hoping by the time I got home it would have warmed up enough to ride. Tragically it only got to 25, but I tried to make it work anyway.
Apparently 20 was still warm enough to sunbathe!
I opted to work Cinna, since I figured she needed it more. I caught her and headed over to the grooming area, which set off a chain reaction -- the geldings crowded the fence behind the grooming area, which is like the 10 square feet of turnout that puts them out of Ruby's sight in her turnout, so naturally she needed to start running the fence line and screaming. Because, horses.
I finally realized the quickest way to make that stop would be to just start working Cinna, because then Ruby would be able to see her. I was on the fence about riding (the wind was pretty biting) so I tacked her up in the western saddle (with a dressage bridle, because #identitycrisis), grabbed a lunge line and my helmet (just in case), and headed into the arena.
It was freezing so I took like 5 walk photos, and that's it... Haha.
Things started off relatively fine, and Cinna gave me some stellar, cadenced and quiet trotwork to the left (I distinctly remember thinking I should video it, but my fingers were still recovering). Then we changed directions and the wheels came off. She had several explosive buck-and-bolts, and got pretty agitated about something (imaginary) that she saw in the back pasture. I really wanted to prevent her from turning into a sweaty mess, so I reeled her in on the line a bit and we worked walk-whoa-change directions quite a bit. She's not as solid as Ruby on the whoa/switch yet, but she's definitely making progress! After watching some of her athletics on the line, I opted not to get on -- DH was working and wouldn't be home until well after dark, so it seemed smarter to just wait. Self preservation?
A chain on our handwalk was another example of self preservation... Haha.
I wanted to accomplish a little more with the workout, so I stripped the tack and threw a cooler on her and we hand walked the trail. She gave the hairy eyeball to the neighbors goats and sheep, and then attempted a bolt when some jerk was hotrodding down our road and she could hear but not see him. But by the end of the walk she had majorly chilled out, and I opened the back gate so I can access the trail from the back pasture next time, instead of walking around by the road. I think if I reverse the direction next time we work it, she can get all her dumb out in the field/isolated trail section, and then be calm by the time we walk by the goats and the road. Maybe?
At any rate, even though it wasn't necessarily what I wanted, it was still a productive session, and I'm glad I layered up and made myself do it. Especially since Sunday was literally nothing but buckets and buckets of rain (we have standing water on probably 60% of our property). The good news is we needed the rain (although maybe not all of it at once?) and the forecasted temps this week look super nice (above freezing, hooray!). I'm hoping the arena dries out in a reasonable amount of time so maybe I can ride more this week, and cajole DH into some new media!

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Snow Bunny

Hey-o, after my whinging post yesterday, I actually managed a ride last night! Be proud, it was still cold AF and I'm sure I looked like a moron, but we got it DONE.
We are absolutely not talking about all the NON dressage barbie clashing going on here, hahaha
When I left work, it was randomly 27 degrees (wayyyyy higher than the forecasted temp for the day!) so I booked it home and prayed the temps wouldn't drop too fast. I layered up and headed out to the barn -- I opted to ride Ruby, since I figured the odds of dying were lower ;) she seemed annoyed when I stripped off her warm winter blankets, but settled quickly when I tacked her up and added a cozy quarter sheet.
She warmed up fine on the lunge to the left, but when I asked her to switch to the right she was pretty sure she'd never actually lunged that direction and just COULD. NOT. On the plus side, there was some very impressive lateral work as she danced around the arena with her head pointed at me and her haunches out at the end of the arena. There was also some bucking and kicking out, which I was giggling too hard at to get adequate photos or video of, sorry....haha.
Wild poneh!
She did eventually settle down, so I hopped on. Shockingly, the top layer of my footing wasn't frozen, although I still limited 85% of the ride to walking. We worked some figures, and a little lateral work. Initially she was way too lit to work on halts, but she did eventually settle in and act like the Ruby I know and love. She also gave me some super fun and adjustable trotwork, particularly to the right! Because of the temps, we only did a few circles each direction at the trot, and I opted not to canter at all. Cinna half-heartedly pinned her ears at us over the fence a few times, but there was significantly less angry lunging into the panels, so I think that's improving as well!
The far side of the arena still has some snow.
Overall, I'm glad that I braved the weather to put in a small amount of work. Ruby seemed to enjoy it also, and I kept it light enough that she didn't break a sweat. Hopefully the weather continues on the upswing or I grow some balls and manage to keep on riding with lots of layers!

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Life Below Zero

While the title might be slightly melodramatic, things have been pretty quiet at home as the Midwest grapples with more than a week of arctic temperatures -- it's probably sad that yesterday's high of 20 felt like a heat wave.
Especially when the day started at -13 without the wind chill factored in.....brrrr!
New Years weekend was particularly frigid, with highs in the single digits and wind chills consistently well below zero. I wore pajamas for three straight days and only got up off the couch to do chores (my insulated bibs over my pajamas worked out better than I would have thought, haha).
The dogs never mind excessive couch time though.
For me, limited to a (snow covered) outdoor, this weather means no riding. Especially since even if the high on a given day is 20, it's usually much colder by the time I'm home getting ready to ride. The horses are still turned out every day, bundled into their winter clothes, and they seem quite happy to be stuffing their faces with hay...but I'm anxious for this cold snap to move on so I can feel less like a slug.
Ice actually formed on the hose while I was filling troughs, which has never happened to me before??
It's the time of year for people across the country to weigh in on the "how cold is too cold to ride" debate -- Jen shared a really excellent post from Dr. Yates that I've seen more than once in my news feed this week. We are forecasted to get above freezing this weekend, so hopefully I can hop on, even if it's just for a leisurely stroll on the trails in a hackamore.
At least my #2017bestnine gave me some joy looking back at some of the great memories!
It's hard for me to get motivated to set any kind of 2018 goals or make any plans for the year when I feel so stagnant (I was gonna say frozen but I thought that might be too cliche, haha). Hopefully the (slightly) warmer weather will be the catalyst I need to get excited about things again! And reading everyone's blogs is definitely helping -- so many of you knocked your goals out of the park in 2017 and are setting even more exciting ones for 2018!
Digging the new saddle organization I've got going on (hunt seat saddle just out of frame to the right lol).
However this is not working for me at all. Back to the drawing board.....
In the meantime, while I wait for it to warm up, I'll be over here, organizing my tack shed and trying to figure out a more effective bridle storage system ;)