Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Christmas Ride

What could be better than riding your horse on Christmas Day? Well, probably riding your horse when it's 70 degrees with a light breeze, rather than 31 and snowing. But that's not the point.... I live in New Jersey, I have to work with what I've got.

Aside from being 31 degrees and snowing, it was a nice ride. I hit upon a bit of an epiphany, also. In my last post, I was complaining about the time it takes to warm up. Not that I'm complaining about warming up, warming up is the most important part of training a horse, but when it's cold out warming up takes a long, long time. Spider and I are not spring chickens. He is 15, I am..... well, lets just say that I'm considerably older than him. We get stiff in the cold.

So, as I was warming up today I noticed that, while Spider was quite stiff he had a lot of energy. Cold weather makes crazy horses. At one point in our warmup, as we dashed sideways across the arena because a very scary, horse eating sparrow was in a bush about thirty feet from the arena, I thought to myself "Hmmm, maybe I'm going about this all wrong."

You see, I've been trying to focus on moving up the levels. And I'm getting nowhere. Spider is stiff, I am stiff, it's cold and he wants to act like a three year old. (No offense to three year olds, most of the ones I've met are actually much more sensible than Spider) But, what I have is a horse with a lot of forward energy to burn off. So, why not just go with that?

I decided not to bother fighting with him. I kicked him up into a nice, forward and round canter and we cantered all the way around the arena. I don't know how long we cantered for. I don't know how many laps we did. We changed leads a few times through trot. I kept him round, in front of me and steady. Did we work on counter counter? Nope. Simple changes? Nope. Medium gaits? Nope. But, we had a blast, anyway.

Merry Christmas!


  1. Sounds like the mare I'm about to buy. She's definitely not a cold weather horse. She's only 8, but she is quite stiff in the cold and takes forever to warm up. And also wants to look around for monsters and goblins!

    I like your idea of just keeping it simple though in the cold weather. Sadly for me I'll have to work right through it all to get my girl conditioned for the spring shows. She's fairly green to arena work and we need the practice.

  2. Sounds like the right plan and a fun ride.
    I have somewhat the opposite problem in that I often have to warm up a long time before I get forward energy, and my horse is five :)
    It was great finding and reading your blog this year. Thanks for the very insightful comments you leave me from time to time. They're greatly appreciated.
    Merry Christmas!

  3. I have found that many TBs warm up better at a canter, just like you did, not putting them to work, just letting them warm up the way they want to and then putting them to work.

  4. Perfect! That really was a perfect ride. Good for you.

  5. Snow? Snow? What? I've been trying to pretend all day that the forecast is all imaginary. Maybe some of those South Jersey white trees were just shedding some leaves??? *lol*

    I agree with Barbara. Some TB's do warm up best at the canter. A master dressage trainer I once worked with recommended 4 minute gallops for dressage horses as a routine. So why not?

    Besides, when the horse eating sparrows are out in force it's best to "run away!!" Glad you had a good ride for a Christmas present. Best one to get, that's for sure.

  6. Merry Christmas! You are finishing the year in a blast!
    Good idea you had fun with your horse. Sometimes with flat work (dressga or reining) we become too obsessed with progress in the moves. Yu had a great idea to have fun.

    Best wishes to snowy France. Today is minus 7 degrees centigrades ... 19.4 degrees F O_o ^-^


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