Winter Riding

Mother Nature is laughing in my face. It has been snowing big flakes all morning and it looks like a snow globe outside. Last week I made the decision to cancel my lesson because the roads were very icy after the winter storm we were hit with two weekends ago. Tonight I will be making the drive come drifting snow or icy roads! But it feels a little like Ma Nature is trying to find my breaking point… like “heh, you thought last Weds was bad, how’s this?!”

Last night, much closer to home, I rode one of the therapy horses for a bit of conditioning. Just some walk/trot work, nothing too thrilling but the results were good. I got a good workout and Splash begrudgingly got one too.

Splash and me this past summer

Splash and me this past summer

She is about 13 years old, probably mostly quarter horse, and is a pretty darn good therapy horse. She used get so wound up that before her lessons for the day we would let her loose alone in the arena to blow off a little energy. Aside from those moments of spark she is definitely on the lazy side. Her favorite exercise is “whoa” which she will do, abruptly, on the slightest suggestion of a downward transition of any kind. Say you manage to get her trotting around at a decent clip (no small feat) and you ask for a transition to walk….BOOM stopped on a dime. Obviously being a therapy horse, there are many times when a solid, reliable whoa is an awesome thing, but it can be a headache for a knowledgable rider. We are working on it.

Standing is my favorite!

Naw, let’s not walk-on

Therapy horses have such a tough job. They are counted on to be forgiving, reliable, and bombproof but still not lose their work ethic and so there is a definite responsibility on the part of the program to ensure that their needs are being met. Of course the horses are being cared for appropriately in terms of food, water, shelter, etc. but they need to be ridden, and ridden appropriately, both for enrichment and to prolong their condition so they remain sound and happy while they are a part of the program.

Patty cat carefully observed my lesson from the mounting block.

Patty cat carefully observed my ride from the mounting block.

Cross your fingers for me that I make it to the big barn for my own lesson tonight. It’s going to be a cold one!!




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