Thursday, February 5, 2015

take a hike

The plan for last Sunday was to haul out to FV - our new routine. But we started thinking - the last two outings with the horses (our lesson at OF the day prior, and schooling earlier in the week at FV) were really productive with both horses working hard and well. So we said what the hell, let's take a break and hit the trails instead. 

The weather was nice enough, and there wasn't too much snow on the ground - so why not? Plus, a couple other barn mates were on hand to make it a nice group ride.


It was a much needed break for Isabel. She's been handling the traveling really well... but hauling out three times a week has to be taking a toll on her. It will be SUCH a relief when the weather turns and we can ride at home again... but as it is, this was my first time riding at Isabel's barn in 2015 -- and our last ride was just on the trails too.... 



Isabel usually leads the pack, as she uses her biggest walk on the trails. But there was a TWH out with us, plus Wick was a touch excited, so those two pulled ahead while Isabel picked her way through the ice and mud in a very un-rushed manner. She was even patient enough to wait up for the slower QH bringing up the rear. 


It ended up being a longer ride than anticipated too - as we started with lots and lots of loops near the barn, expecting the water crossings leading to longer trails to be frozen over (and thus very skerry for the horses). But the horses impressed us by crunching through the ice with zero problems. So away we marched through the woods and over hill and dale. 



I'm really glad we did this. Isabel is just such a phenomenal trail horse these days and can mostly be left entirely to her own devices during the ride. And I know she appreciates those breaks from my constant micromanagement and picking... 

It's a struggle finding the right balance tho. Sundays are usually the only chance for trail rides (it's dark on weeknights and Saturdays are lesson days)... but with such limited riding time I get sucked into the mentality that we need to 'maximize' every minute in the saddle by working. 

But maybe I need to think in terms of 'optimizing' instead? Isabel will be a happier and more willing horse if she can mix in more 'fun' rides with solid arena work -- and trails are good for conditioning. So, here's to taking more time for the fun stuff too!! 

34 comments:

  1. That's nice you have trail options. Izzy is as tar at everything! :) I'm sure she'd love fun mixed with work. Who wouldn't? Just keep taking fun pictures too! How was saddle on trail??

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    1. i LOVE the trails around isabel's barn - we're actually right next to a state park so options abound and isabel loves the freedom :) this ride actually predated the latest saddle's arrival, but i expect that the saddle will be awesome sauce on many future trail rides!!

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    2. So... yeah Izzy is a star... not as tar... sounds so mean...

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    3. lol i won't tell her you said that :)

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  2. Trails are great - natural impulsion as horses step out more. Great for fitness and conditioning. You can even sneak some lateral work in, if you need to feel more productive :)

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    1. we try to get out onto the trails once a week for most of the year - as i find it's a really great mental break for isabel. whenever she starts to get a little sour, i think 'yep, time for a trail ride' haha. tho i usually dont' try to do anything productive out there... sometimes i feel like i should, but mostly i just want to leave the horse alone to enjoy herself lol

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  3. You could be conditioning on trail rides too, and that counts as work!! Throw in some trot sets (ok, maybe not on this ground?), lateral work, shoulder-in, haunches left or right, some opportunities for her to pick up her stifles nice and high (stepping over obstacles) and that's definitely work!!

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    1. yea that's definitely something i think about... but can never bring myself to actually make the horse 'work' on the trails (she clearly knows how to make me feel guilty lol)... fortunately there are TONS of obstacles to walk over and it's all hills, so i can let the terrain do the work for me :)

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    2. yep!! and great work, at that!! i just gotta keep reminding myself of that haha

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  4. I love your trails! I'm also guilty of wanting to maximize every ride, and especially with the baby only getting ridden three times per week due to his age, I want to make sure those three days count. But trails are definitely so so so important for them both mentally and physically.

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    1. yea it's definitely tough to balance... but i never regret a trail ride and can usually tell a difference in isabel's mindset afterward

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  5. So jealous of how great she is on the trails! I need to get mine in better trail shape.

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    1. yes you totally should!!!! isabel wasn't always great on the trails, but she's pretty well into the routine of things now :)

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  6. I totally would count trail rides as maximizing your time - it sounds like she really enjoys them!

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  7. Breaking it up is a good thing :)

    I love that you are giving her - and you! - mental breaks... it is so important.

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    1. thanks - the breaks definitely do us good :)

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  8. I wish Ries wasnt a basket case on the trails. Looks like fun!

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    1. aww, yea it's no fun if the horse is melting down... tho i try to believe that most horses can learn to enjoy trail rides - so maybe Ries could learn too?

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  9. lucky! I am so itching to get out on the trails... glad you did

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    1. me too - we needed it!! the footing was definitely dicey tho - lots of slipping on the soft mud layered on top of frozen ground... but it was worth it :)

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  10. Love me some trail riding to decompress & re-establish a zen like state in the tack.
    No if all the snow & ice and cold to eff off, I'll heal up and camber back into my tack and with a week'ish of work on the horses could go back to trail riding at least once a weekend. Pretty please weather gods?!

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    1. i agree completely - decompress is the perfect word for it. hopefully the weather gods are listening and we can all get back into the routine soon!!!!!

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  11. It looks and sounds like a lovely ride! I'm sure she appreciates the break. I lolled at your comment about the QH because right away I thought..yup..that would be Max! :)

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    1. haha yea, this poor QH - he's the nicest horse, about 18yrs old and sat in a field doing NOTHING for years before his owners suddenly found two leasers. they're both nice riders and are doing well with him, but it's definitely a big life change for him lol

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  12. Lovely trails! Nothing is better (to me at least!) than an outside ride :)

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    1. i agree completely!!! it's easy to get a little sour riding inside all the time - esp when it's a complete change from the rest of the year...

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  13. What a nice ride. As you know, I love MD trails! One of the things I do with Lily to keep her happy with trail work (since we do so much conditioning on them) is to let her pick the gait. I get final say as to what gait (because we're not always going to gallop up each and every single hill! lol) and she respects that, but she loves getting the opportunity to call the shots too. I ask her to use her body correctly during arena-type work, but on the trails I let her pick however she wants to carry herself; I don't nitpick anymore (I used to), and she loves that too. Just ideas for keeping trail work in the fun category if you do decide to use them for more serious conditioning later on. :)

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    1. thanks!! that's helpful. i actually very specifically worked with isabel to NOT choose her own gait, as that's what she was accustomed to when i met her and it led to some very ugly disagreements between us - esp out in the middle of the woods...

      but now that we know each other better and have more mutual respect, i've been able to introduce more speed into our trails - which she obvi loves haha.

      really tho - we're usually out in the woods with other green horses who get super amped up by running, so we only do our own fast stuff when we're alone now... it sure is fun tho :)

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  14. Yay for trail riding!!!!!!! It is definitely a good way to give the horse a mental break and allow them to stretch out and use different muscles. :) I'm glad you all had fun!

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    1. i agree completely - it's good to give ME a mental break too and a chance to stop picking on the poor horse lol :)

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  15. It's my personal belief that show horses need a break -- some more than other. I know I certainly relish my vacation days from work, so I feel like my horses do too sometimes!

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    1. yep - i'm with ya there! adding in a little low-pressure variety can be such a relief!

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