Friday, February 12, 2021

doing more with.... more

Absolutely nobody needs me to explain why winter is a challenging season for the typical adult amateur rider. Days are short, nights are dark, and good ground can be hard to find. 

indoor footing update in progress! sand reduced so fiber can be added!
Not to mention, conditions can be gross --- wet, cold, windy, or sometimes all three. And obviously the horses deal with it too. 
ahh round bale season... aka stationary gorging
Charlie's herd was uncommonly lucky to have access to grass that was completely untouched for a year, and therefore lasted well into winter. But... All good things end eventually. The grass died back in early January, so now they're on round bales.

it's cool chuck --- now we basically lead identical lifestyles!
Which means that all the horses stand in a tidy little circle (excepting those moments when they savagely harass each other, ugh) unmoving for hours, just noshing away. 

charlie's transfixed by the ponies <3
Obvi, horses are designed to move constantly, so this is less than ideal. Charlie in particular has fairly high-mileage legs that don't need much encouragement to get a little fluffy puffy in places. 

Which... Well, I don't exactly panic any more bc #FatLegSyndrome is, always has been, and always will be part of life with Charlie. But I also don't really like it. 

srsly tho, how friggin adorable????
The best and most effective solution is movement, tho. At exactly the moment when the circumstances and environment make activity the least attractive -- and space at the ultimate premium? That activity becomes most important. Ain't that always the way! 

indoor footing complete! also, i just love this handsome horse <3
Luckily tho, they finally fixed our indoor arena's footing. Sometime just over a year ago they replaced the sand with something more high quality (which was nice!), but made it wayyyyyy too deep. Like running on the beach, boo. And basically everybody shunned it at all costs. 

Finally, tho, they pulled out nearly half that sand and added in a few bales of fibrous material that creates more stability for the sand. Everything is kinda held in place better so that horses (and people!) feel like they're stepping securely, even as it's supportive and shock-absorbing. 

aaaaaaand.... more snow, womp. anyone who deals with an unpaved driveway knows this pain 
The timing couldn't be better, too, bc.... Well. It looks like we're going to actually continue having winter around here. Boo, lol. We had a big snowstorm a few weeks ago but maybe hoped that would be it. Alas.... Nope, more snow. And actually, as of this writing, more more snow lol.

my most majestic creature, in his most majestic landscape <3
So ya know.... For all that impressive space we have to wander and roam and gad about, options kinda dwindle to just about nothing when the ground is icy slick. Sigh. Oh, and did I mention, our indoor arena is 20x40m? The size of a small dressage ring?

some nights we get lucky with low traffic
It's been fine, tho. All our horses are well conditioned to sharing space, crossing paths, having horses approach them from the front and from behind, and occasionally pass in close quarters. Obviously everybody does their absolute best to be communicative, polite, safe, considerate, etc etc etc... But ya know. It is what it is, right?

oooh we've had weekend lessons in there too! 
We've even had lessons indoors lately, too.... Luckily just four of us, so not too high in the traffic department. And I totally meant to try a helmet camera video in the indoor, except I also totally forgot... Next time? 

So... Eh, without interesting footage or context, figure-8-ing around the indoor over tiny jumps doesn't seem like much to write about. 

small jumps are complicated jumps when you're in a 20x40m space
It was good tho. More of that same feeling I wrote about in my last post --- needing to find the balance between riding a very precise track through my corners and turns, etc, while also not sacrificing the quality of my canter. 

There were 4 jumps across the E-B line -- two on the rail, and two on the diagonals -- And we just cruised a figure 8-ish pattern around. Trainer P wanted us doing very purposeful, planned circles in each end of the arena as we went, to ensure good turns, corners, and approaches. Iit was interesting bc I'd ride what felt like a nice canter circle, but then.. kinda "Splat!" at the fence lol.

some weeknights..... not so lucky about traffic. congratulations, you all have covid now! j/k, obvi (masks are worn!), but.... also, yea this aint good haha. tho these horses are all CLEARLY saints
Again, bc, my idea of a "pleasant" canter circle with Charlie does not necessarily equal the kind of canter he actually needs. Which, hint, is an engaged canter with more impulsion and activity. 

It was a good lesson, tho. Honestly. I didn't hold too much against Charlie for the Splat! moments (esp when it was landing into a short sharp left hand turn when we all know Charlie lands right and can only auto-change when he's fully engaged... But I was proud of myself for holding us both reasonably accountable.

nighttime strollin
Plus, ya know, it's nice just to hop over things anyway. Keepin sorta pretend sharp, keepin most of the rust off --- but otherwise not taking anything too seriously. That's what February is for, amirite? 


  1. We had a huge dump of snow on Monday. And then the temps dropped to bitter, freeze-your-face cold. I’m hoping the temps come up this weekend because the snow is nice and fluffy for riding. Or even lunging. Because mine just stand at the box eating too. I’ve started putting hay out in the field at mid day so they have to walk to get it.

    1. Dude winter is the worst esp when it comes to “want v need” haha. Good for you to try spreading the hay out more to get them moving tho! And fingers crossed it thaws enough for at least a little play time!!! Our bitter cold is nowhere near as bad as yours and I’m definitely already playing the pansy this year LOL

  2. I think everyone everywhere is over winter, ugh. That's great about the indoor footing, your pictures definitely give me schooling ring flashbacks haha

    1. I’m so over it too haha - esp bc apparently we are getting a proper winter (at least this month) after having things so mild last year... the indoor is a real boon, tho and I’m so grateful. Even with dodging all the ponies and kiddos LOL!! It’s funny - our rides aren’t exactly intense but they are VERY mentally engaging when dealing with traffic haha

  3. WIIINNNTTEERRRRR *shakes fist* I have the same problem with my canter going left on course, I need to square the turn to make it straight, but then I loose the quality by squaring. *Struggle continues*

    At least Charlie has that super cool rave breastplate :P

    1. yea that movement through the turn is where i'm having trouble too. tho it's funny ---- "squaring" for charlie/me is actually a helpful tool since for whatever reason, that's the word i think about when actually remembering to bring his outside shoulder around the turn. and when he's up and straight through his outside shoulder, a lot of our problems improve. tho the one-sidedness thing is also an issue for us... but in both directions? some feelings i have better in one direction or another, but not everything is better on the same side LOL

  4. Yay for better indoor arena footing! The indoor and outdoor I use are in the too deep shifty-sandy state, and everywhere else is mud. I dream of good footing right now!

    1. i think this fiber stuff wasn't exactly cheap, but idk if it was insanely pricey either. and it seems to be working with reasonably minimal maintenance (since ring maintenance is not all that common at my farm lol). the guy who did the updates was really careful to err on the side of taking out *too much* sand first, before adding in the fiber. i guess his thing was you can always add more sand back in, but once the fiber is in you don't want to take anything out since it's impossible to separate again.


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