Tuesday, February 2, 2016

checked out mare is checked out

So we've officially been relegated to the indoor at OF for our lessons. On one hand I'm grateful to have access to this indoor on a weekly basis, but on the other hand it's a small space that rapidly begins feeling claustrophobic with other horses, dogs, and jumping equipment.

so much snow has already melted!
Plus, as mentioned yesterday, Isabel hasn't really been feeling super great about her work. That's not to mean that she's not working well, because she is. She's a super star, obvi. But she feels a little flat about it, a little dull. Like she's maybe phoning it in.

It's hard to describe, really. My general impression was that mare just wanted to run and be free (probably bc she hasn't actually been able to run freely in weeks now...), but begrudgingly acquiesced to my requests anyway bc she's a good girl.

she's still cute tho
And my requests were pretty much for everything BUT running freely. The indoor is 20x40m, and had standards and poles clustered all along the center line and one quarter line. Plus there were five other horses in the lesson with us, and three horses who came in to school throughout the hour. And dogs and people on the ground.

So sharing space was critical, and there was very little room to go any faster than a fairly collected and organized canter (which, even then, you might find yourself running into traffic with no room to circle). Fortunately everyone was great about steering and calling out directions - but all the same it limited how much we could do.

welcome to the world of indoor blur...
Mostly I wanted to run through movements from the tests we'll be riding at the schooling show here in mid-February. Some pieces felt good to me - we managed a couple (extremely shallow) canter loops, and were able to change leads through trot on a straight line without drama. Leg yields were harder to practice but we got a couple nice steps. And small circles are par for the course in this arena.

Lengthenings were a challenge tho. Trying at the canter was out of the question bc of ring traffic, and actually our medium trot wasn't there at all. Well, we got one that ended in breaking to canter. All the rest resulted immediately in gorgeous perfect canter transitions.... pleasant to ride but not what I wanted. 

only got videos from tracking right so.... here's another shot of us tracking right lol
That was a little concerning, honestly. But rather than freak out, I'm going to chalk it up to Isabel's over abundance of energy simultaneously paired with a distinct lack of fitness. Add in the crowded claustrophobic atmosphere, and it makes sense that she would go for the more easily managed canter instead of the harder lengthening.

watch out doggie, we're comin for ya!
Things didn't get much better when we moved on to the 'jumping' exercises. Mostly bc it was predominantly ground pole and grid work. Always beneficial for horse and rider, sure, but Isabel would have certainly preferred galloping swooping turns to huge oxers... Sorry mare, we gotta work with what we have!

she clearly takes grids very seriously lol
So she absolutely wanted to race around - but was not in the slightest rude about it. And NAILED every single trot pole and canter pole exercise. Really. She was incredibly well behaved. It just felt like she wasn't super thrilled about it.

still grateful for her nice efforts tho
I tried to let her go a bit when appropriate - like when the exercise was just two canter poles spaced 9' apart. We had much too large of a canter for what trainer P wanted to see, but still hit the poles perfectly, and Isabel was super happy to move out like that. But then poor thing, we had to come back and do it again more collected. Le sigh.

the turn comes up quickly after landing
Last exercise was a simple grid of small one-stride verticals set at 17' to encourage the smaller canter necessary to make the 10m half turns to and from the grid.


I was actually slightly nervous to attempt the grid, only bc I ate dirt during a similar exercise this time last year when the ring was equally crowded and overwhelming. I shouldn't have worried tho, Isabel was perfect for it every time (even when I kept getting left behind at the trot jump bc trot jumps and I are not friends ugh).

neck scratches for the good girl!
It was so funny tho - Isabel was jumping well and staying nicely in balance, but as soon as I'd give the reins to scratch her neck as a reward, she'd ZOOOOOM forward into more canter haha. Mare wanted to GO!

maybe not the happiest horse ever right now
Of course the flip side to mare's need for speed is her lack of fitness - so even this most basic work has the potential to wear her out easily. Plus she's probably already got a bit of muscle stiffness and fatigue from trudging through all the snow in her fields.

seriously, she was completely checked out for the 5-10 minutes I left her standing like this
Oh well. Part of me thinks the answer will be to haul out to a larger indoor (with jumps) and just let her rip around and do whatever she wants. Or maybe even just turn her loose in the arena? But the other side of me is loath to keep shoving her on the trailer day after day when she's already feeling so blah and we won't be able to ride much in between outings anyway...

Idk. Mostly tho I'm just grateful that she's still such a good girl and going so nicely even when she doesn't seem to feel like it. It makes me feel a little guilty tho, like I don't want to demand much from her. Which then calls into question how the upcoming schooling show will go...

But eh, the judge is supposed to be wonderful and we're only doing it to get experience riding first level movements in a test setting. So I won't exactly be devastated if we blow a couple movements. It's still all ahead of us tho. Who knows, maybe the snow will all melt this week and things will suddenly feel brighter?

Oh these winter blues....

32 comments:

  1. Not getting turnout is hard on them, in my opinion. I vote for letting her zip around an indoor if possible even if it tires her out. Don't worry too much about the show. You guys have got it!

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    1. oh she has turnout - she's out 24/7 unless it's extreme weather. she's just not moving around much out there - all the hay is right along the fence line and that's where she stays. supposedly she zoomed around like a maniac after spending a *single* night in for the snow storm - but since then she's been pretty sedentary. she's not really the playful type in the field, i guess.

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  2. Seriously winter is the WORST. Every chance I've gotten (3) I've taken B out for a gallop which I think has been lifesaving. When they're cooped up and only ridden inside, they get bored :/

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    1. yea i really think that's what isabel is dying for right now too. alas there's really nowhere safe to gallop at our farm right now - and the arenas we've been going to are too small.... hopefully soon!!!

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  3. I hear ya! If you can hack out somewhere (even just a walk in the snow), that may help Isabel's mental state. She, along with the rest of us, just wants to RUN AND JUMP ALL THE THINGS! But remember, too, that it's already February, and every year we all go through these winter blahs, and every year we end up just fine in the spring. :)

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    1. ha i definitely don't need any reminder about the blahs of winter - doesn't make it any less frustrating tho (esp given that i'm operating on only one month of true saddle time in the last four months because of broken leg...). but yea hacking out is our answer on any sunday that we end up not going anywhere (like this past weekend). won't work during the dark evenings of the week tho.

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  4. The groundhog didn't see his shadow, so its going to be spring any day now, right???? My guy isn't moving around much in the field, either. Spoiled KY bred does NOT like the snow. But when I let him loose in the indoor, he was more interested in disassembling jumps than burning energy.

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    1. we can only hope for spring!!! somehow i suspect isabel *would* zoom around in an indoor - i just haven't been able to convince myself to pay out the fees, gas, and energy to find out lol. sigh, these needy finicky horses.... what are we gonna do with them?

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  5. Plus side, though? Mare is a chunk and looks FANTASTIC!

    And, that grid gif is pretty great. I mean, she's got impulsion and she's not inverted and she's confident. BAMF.

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    1. i'm definitely thrilled with those plus sides - the mare is being SO GOOD, i really couldn't ask her to be any better. i guess the missing element is her obvious and clear enthusiasm for the job. tho she was happy while we were actively jumping (even if she thought it was kinda bullshit that i wanted her to stay more collected... at least she still did it)

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  6. Letting Courage run in the indoor is critical to surviving winter for us. He still gets turned out usually, but he's too careful/smart to play on snow and ice, so when his feet hit dirt, he gets a lil cray cray. We're lucky to have an indoor on the property, so I just try to time my rides right and let him play.

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    1. i've only let izzy rip around an arena loose once (and it wasn't on purpose - we were *supposed* to be free jumping lol, oops!) and she looooooved it. i'm actually hoping our outdoor arena will clear up enough to let her play in there rather than having to pay to haul her somewhere to play in an indoor. we'll see tho!

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  7. I think we all phone it in at some point. Who can have enthusiasm all the time? That's pretty exhausting! I'm sure she'll get her "va-va-voom" back soon enough!

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    1. very true - and really her 'blahs' follow a pretty predictable pattern, so it's no real surprise...

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  8. I think horses have "blah" times just like we do. Maybe it'll thaw out a little and you'll be able to go on long walks or slow gallops soon!

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  9. I'm hoping to let my raggamuffins run this evening as I managed to block my back again yesterday so sadly seems unlikely I'll be riding this week. Karma for being a lazy sod and not riding at the weekend? - perhaps

    Hope Iz can blow off some steam in a productive manner and that she rediscovers her zest for work

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    1. aw sorry about your back! hope your girls have fun :)

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  10. Practicing in a crowded indoor is hard! But you both look great in the photos/video :)

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    1. thanks - she really went very well, so at least i'm happy with that. and honestly she's super accustomed to traffic, but confine all that traffic to 20x40m and it's just not realistic to be able to move out much... le sigh

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  11. Winter is the worst! I think you're arena looks slightly bigger than ours. Which means I'm slightly jealous. lol.

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    1. ha the indoor at that farm is the size of a small dressage court - 20x40m. hard to believe that locales farther north would even bother with something so small!

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  12. I definitely think shes feeling this snow fall :( its hard on them not to move around. Luckily its melting rapidly so heres to hoping shell feel better about it soon!

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  13. Maybe horses get seasonal affective disorder, too? Hope that snow melts quickly for you!

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    1. ha maybe! or maybe it's 'seasonal idaf disorder' instead?

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  14. Even though the winters blues are here- just think how far you guys have come! Last year you were falling off, this year kicking butt and taking names! :)

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    1. lol in all fairness, the only reason i haven't fallen off recently is bc the last time isabel pulled shenanigans in a one-stride grid (almost exactly 1 month ago), she stopped straight and kept her head up, otherwise i most certainly would have been a goner. whereas last year she ducked out... so... idk if that counts as progress for me or for her haha!

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  15. It's so obvious how much she loves to jump and that little tail flick before the grid haha <3

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    1. she really loves it :) just wishes she could do MOAR of it haha, and with less input from me lol

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  16. Its funny because it has been pretty dry out here for awhile and giving me the blues but we got a dusting last night and I'm pumped!

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    1. ha well i'm happy you're happy with the snow :)

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