|Why do they stand out in the rain when they have stalls?|
The snow melted and it's warm again. It's actually 60 degrees here today. We had quite a bit of rain this morning, but it seems to have cleared now and the puddles are drying. It's shaping up to be a pretty nice day.
This week has been pretty full, training wise. Well, full of riding days, anyway. I've decided that this winter, because of the inconsistent weather, I'm just doing the basics with Spider. That means transitions, mostly, with some leg yields thrown in here and there.
My "decision" was sparked by a conversation I had earlier this week. A friend of mine asked me how my changes were coming along. I honestly haven't touched them in over a month. We've had warm days, followed by freezing cold and wind or torrential rain and that's really made my ability to stay on task difficult. I can't practice my "tricks" when the footing's sloppy, I don't like practicing the tricks when it's windy, and I can't really ask Spider to perform like that if he's just coming back from three days off because of bad weather. So, it's been mainly conditioning work and transitions this winter. And, even though we're not doing anything exciting, Spider feels better than he ever has.
Although this is the first time I've ever trained a horse this far myself, I've watched many others train horses to the higher level work over the years. Many riders make the mistake of going straight for the tricks once they pass 2nd level, then drilling them over and over. Many riders also end up doing quite poorly once they pass 2nd level, even though their horses can do all the tricks. The tricks are not the goal of the higher level work, collection is the goal. And drilling the tricks won't develop a horse's collection, because the tricks come from collection. Collection comes from transitions. Transitions are boring as hell, but there's no way around them.
Transitions are also the reason Spider feels better than he ever has, despite the fact that we aren't working on a single new thing. The work we have been doing has created a horse that is strong and fit, but still light and responsive off my aids. I have the utmost confidence that the tricks will be there when I ask for them.