Friday, February 13, 2009

Arena Workouts

About a mile south of where we live is a big horse farm. They have two indoor arenas, plenty of stalls and pasture, several outbuildings, and an outdoor arena. As I haven't had the guts to ask Arabee to canter out in the open yet since I've started riding again, I called down there to see if they'd let me use the arena a few times. They said YES!

So Friday evening after Matt gets home from work we'll put the rubber mats back in the trailer, haul Arabee the 2 minutes down there so I can "practice" driving the truck/trailer, and she will get a WORKOUT.

In anticipation of getting her good and sweaty tonight in coolish weather, I attempted to try out a blanket for size (a throw blanket) on her w/out a halter in the paddock. She sniffed it, I put it up over her shoulder, and GONE! Kind of a stupid move on my part. So I went back to get the halter, but by then she was hyped up, and wanted nothing to do with being caught.

So I "round-penned" her - sent her away, changed directions, until she started chewing/licking and lowering her head in a request to come to me. She was UP, she bucked, she jumped, she spun 'round FAST. It was beautiful to watch, with her tail flagging straight back over her rump Arabian style, nostrils flaring, neck arching gracefully. Cora in the wagon on the other side of the fence squealed with delight each time Arabee snorted or did something unexpected (which was alot!). Well, this only lasted about 5 minutes, and would've been shorter but she was having fun, and she very quickly gave up and followed me around like a puppydog. I haltered her, and pretty easily got the blanket on.

Eventually I'll be adding webbing in a color to match (and may post up a tutorial for turning an old throw blanket into a horse cooler sheet) but for now I'll just stitch some leftover ribbon on to keep it on under the "real" sheet I have - it's an irish knit sheet, for extra wind protection on the short trailer ride home tonight. We probably won't drive over 30mph, and it is less than a mile away, she will be fine.

The plan is this:

  • Big workout Friday - After familiarizing with the arena and warmup - Walk trot and CANTER, work on transitions. Walk to cool down, haul the 2 minute drive home.

  • Saturday OFF with turnout

  • Sunday - Workout in Arena. Refamiliarize/warmup - more trotting and cantering transitions, work on speed control at the canter.

  • Monday - OFF with turnout

  • Tuesday and Wednesday - Pleasure trail rides in the woods around home. Practicing creek crossings.

  • Thursday - Arena work again. Hope to be fully confident in my horse to canter calmly and safely with minimal cueing and good speed rating.

  • Friday - easy trail ride in woods at home

  • Saturday - TBD: Either first big trotting workout on the trails at home (see how Friday's ride goes spookiness-wise), haul to the arena again, or trailer out to a park to ride with other horses.

I'm really not too far off of my previously posted goals. I had front boots and a saddle by 2/6, with rear boots on the way, and have been having steadily longer workouts with more trotting. We should start cantering tonight, and do hour-long workouts. We've worked on expanding the comfort zone on the trails around home. I think the plan for this week I posted above will be making great strides in increasing Arabee's fitness and wind. Friday 2/20 is the AERC trade show, and I hope to fill in a lot of the gaps in equipment that day. Potential for trailering out 2/21 for our first trail ride with other horses - we'll see what the family plans are and how the weather is.

A big thanks to Rott'N Horse Farm (they raise rottweilers and horses) for the use of the arena!!!


Anonymous said...

What a terrible farm name. But I guess it works for them. Hope everything goes well for you tonight. Try not to be nervous. It will all work out just fine I'm sure.

What kind of horses do they have there, a varitey or QH's or ??

Michelle Detmer

Nicole said...

I am so looking forward to doing this!!

The owner's sister runs a therapeutic riding program, Reins To Recovery, at the farm, using the big arena - it's a great program I hear.

I have seen a mule, stock type horses, some pintos, and ponies turned out, but beyond seeing them in pasture I don't know what they have. I don't know whether they breed horses or not.

I have really never spoken with the owners before, other than to ask to use the arena, so I'm looking forward to getting to know them better when we meet tonight.

Boots and Saddles 4 Mel said...

You are much braver than me! I hate arenas. I do fine at a walk or trot, but at a canter, the arena just seems too small. I canter on the trails all the time, but just cannot get my head on straight to do it in the arena. LOL. Good luck.

What's your shopping list for the convention?

You and Endurance Granny have inspired me to drag out my hackamores and try them out on Farley. I'm hoping to get a good conditioning ride in this weekend on the trails, even it it's raining (I have a place I can go that maintains trail integrity even when wet). I'm thinking about trying the hackamore out then. Even if it works out, I'm not sure I'm brave enough to use it at my ride in 2 weeks. Not enough riding time between then and now.

Nicole said...

No no no...definitely I am not braver than ANYONE....sorry :-) This is some 80x100 ft arena, very big! and I like a nice, CONTROLLED, almost lope-like canter, if I get too close to the hand-gallop end, I get a little freaked..but it's been a while.

I do hope that the hackamore goes well for you and Farley! I know for Arabee it has made a HUGE difference - she's been much more relaxed and controllable (she can't evade me as cleverly w/ the dr. cooks as she can w/ the bit). And yesterday she was very excitable riding in the woods (it always gets windy AFTER I get on) but despite the butterflies I had she was quite under control. When I still rode my old gelding Jack, he went VERY VERY WELL in the old english hackamore I had. I plan to get a new noseband and curb strap for that, as a backup bridle just in case. but I doubt I'll have trouble w/ the dr. cooks, as it is beta. What kind of hackamore do you have?

Shopping list:
snugpax pommel pack w/ water bottles
helmet that fits PERFECTLY
closed loop reins, maybe w/ grip
new noseband/curb strap for eng. hack.
electrolytes for endurance
20-26" girth w/keepers and D-ring (>$40)
cheapy spare hoofpick

And I'll look for extra special prices on toklat or skito dressage pads if I can't find a used one before then - maybe they will have sales.

I may not buy all of that list at the trade show, I have a good handle on prices that I can get at various other tack shops and won't spend more than that on these things. I need to find a stethoscope, too, but I bet I can get one cheaper somewhere else maybe.

Are you traveling to the convention?

Endurance Granny said...


If all goes well in my life between now and then, I do still plan to ride up with you for the trade show Friday. A lot is up in the air here. My brother is very ill in a hospital in D.C. Shoot me an email about Wednesday, and we'll touch base. ~E.G.

Nicole said...

E.G. - I hope it works for you to come! I also hope your brother gets well soon. Is your mom still in the hospital, too? What a tough time for your family! I'll keep you in my prayers.

Endurance Granny said...

My Mom has been out of the hospital for a few months, but this is an awful lot for her to take. I don't even know which hospital my brother is in, as his wife is not communicating which is maddening. I'm going to go out and ride Phebes today since I can't do anything about any of this except worry. I could stay here and set by the phone, but I'll likely not know anything until tonight or tomorrow and nothing I do will change anything.