Thursday, February 3, 2011

It's all good...

Miss Sofie has been doing well. We’ve had a couple of chances to ride outside, a nice break from the monotony of arena work (although our arena work is kept interesting and stimulating by our quest for low level dressage correctness). I’ve opted to keep our snow rides on the short and easy side, limiting them to half an hour. The snow is not too dense but it does get fairly deep in places (easily up to a short-legged Paint pony’s knees), and even fairly shallow snow is still challenging to walk through. Last year we overdid our snow rides a bit, which contributed to Sofie’s hocks flaring up in a big way, putting her out of commission for five weeks. In no way did I want a repeat of that.

The opportunity for our first snow ride presented itself last week. No one showed up to ride with us, and it was a pleasant day, so I eagerly left the arena behind. Sofie listened very well, not taking over too much or rushing and drifting too dramatically. We just did walk/trot work (except for two unplanned canters, wheeee!) and went partway down the trail, which turned out to be interesting. There was serious drifting, so poor Sofa had to work hard to get through the snow. We persevered and found better footing, until we hit yet another major drift. It seemed there was a frozen layer somewhere in the two feet or so of snow, because as Sofie walked through it I kept hearing BOOM CRACK and similar noises. It sounded like she was walking on a frozen pond and breaking through the surface. Sofie just put her head down and picked her way through this strange and challenging footing. Good mare. Then we had to turn right around and go back through it. CRACK BOOM CRACKLE Sofie sigh.

Next time we were back in the indoor, and Sofie felt quite stiff and clunky at the beginning, probably the result of the snow workout (as well as an out-of-control free schooling session earlier in the week when the Sofa cantered almost nonstop for half an hour). She eventually worked out of her stiffness and we had a decent ride.

I went to the barn on a ridiculously gorgeous Saturday and we rode outside. It was so awesome to be out in the SUN, and I noticed an improvement in her listening to me. We had actual half halts, even when she was charging through the snow with quite a bit of momentum on her side! It is NICE to have half halts, let me tell you. Her straightness seems to be improving, we had a few instances of an actual semblance of bending, and her rein-backs, which I thought would be terrible (considering backing in the snow must be challenging) were awesome. It was a great ride. We did have one unplanned canter on a right circle, but it was extremely round, collected and awesome, so I'll take it.

Our last ride in the indoor, we dealt with some stiffness, some hardness on the right side of her mouth (not new) and some crankiness in the trot work, but we still had a good ride. We played with half halts and transitions in the trot, and I did some circle work both directions, just enough to get her a little more supple. Her circles ARE improving to the point of at least being a semblance of a circle. And I'm getting moments of roundness and bending. It's definitely a start in the right direction. We did a little work up the centerline, and our straightness is definitely improving.

Our rein backs continued to be awesome, with softness, flexing at the poll at moving backward with an actual forward desire! We also played a bit with turn on the forehand, since I randomly halted Sofie somewhere in the middle of the arena, and she, completely voluntarily I might add, spun around on one front leg, building speed to the point where it was reining-esque! So I played around with it, and we got some really nice turns.

1 comment:

  1. I can't wait til the weather warms up and the horses go back to moving freely and fluidly. Winter stiffness sucks.