Shiraz has been an absolute saint at the indoor, but I have only been able to afford the time and money to get there once every two weeks. At home I have a different horse. She keeps all her attention on her buddies over in the paddock and basically llamas around spooking at her shadow, acting like the arena is going to swallow her whole and I do not exist.
|So laid back - why can't she be like this at home?!!|
It feels like a good 20-minute trot set of serpentines and lateral work would help so much but it is not an option at home. Unfortunately right now the ground conditions do not allow me to increase to trot and canter to work out her tension. And, lunging doesn't seem to help how she is under saddle; she can appear relaxed from lunging and then becomes tense all over again once I get up to ride. So, it is time to become a bit more creative.
|Completely soaked after a lesson. I might consider bringing a blowdryer to lessons because waiting for a sweaty horse to dry before heading out in -20 takes a LONG time.|
- Lunging: She seems to be okay doing walk, trot, canter on the lunge and only slips when she gets nutty and starts gallop/bucking. She also handles lunging over smaller jumps okay if I am very careful to give her a straight canter on the landing to avoid slipping.
- Riding: Basically can only walk, but can handle trot and maybe canter if only going straight. (This may seem over-cautious but I have been on a horse that slipped doing a 20-meter circle in the snow at a trot. All four legs went out from under her and we came down hard. So I will remain forever cautious.)
- Fitness: I need her to be able to handle the demand put on her at our indoor lessons.
- Retention of training: She is pretty great at the indoor, but she is still very green and I want to not just hold onto what she knows so far, but actually progress as well before spring.
- Establish a better leadership role: The fact that she tunes me out at home and spends so much time keeping an eye on her buddies speaks volumes for what she really thinks of me at the moment. When she is forced into relying on me, like at the indoor, she is willing to look to me for guidance but at home I am definitely not her first choice.
|Winter heating pad hack ftw! I hate putting a cold saddle on my horse. This seems to work great! I also stick my bridle under there so the bit gets warmed up at the same time.|
Lunging is a easy way to keep her fitness up but does nothing for her training or our working relationship. I think adding poles and cavaletti into the lunging may be a good way to address that. There are endless variations I can do with this and should certainly grab her attention and get her thinking about where her feet are.
Finally, with riding I will help her stay focused with lots ground poles, keeping at a walk mostly and working on relaxation. I would be thrilled right now with a flat, relaxed walk (right now she can only jig at home) and two ears on me.
Seeing how great she is at the indoor now is so encouraging. That horse is in there and it feels like time, training and maturity will help bring out that quiet horse on a more consistent basis. For now though I will have to keep working on it and try to stay patient. We'll be out doing all the fun things in just a few months. In past years I have found all the road blocks Manitoba winters provide frustrating to say the least. This year so far I am just not letting it get to me. I have two really great horses that I love to bits, and I feel confident that what ever progress that does not happen now will be made up for in the spring.