Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sunday's Ride

Well I got to ride this afternoon. Had my route planned out: South, down Foster's lane all the way, then back down across the polly bridge, then down the short little lane, back all the way to the red barn, then down Harlan's lane, following the filter strip along the river, and then back through the bean field back to the lane, then home.

Started off flighty and jiggy, then about halfway through she just really settled down and the last half of the ride was very enjoyable, for both of us, I think.

I worked on practicing two-point positioning at the trot and walk. Not bad...I thought it'd be
terrible, but really quite smooth, better than posting if I can get my muscles and balance used to it.

Had one GIANT spook that I didn't expect, that very nearly got me unseated, over a log that had been washed in during a flood. Another time we were walking along by the filter strip and suddenly she just leaped up into the air.....I guess the strip of bark that was on the ground startled her (after she was halfway across it!).

Had a really deep (probably 8 inches deep) section of mud across the bean field...and we shouldn't have been in that field with it that muddy....will make it hard to plant no-till! But it was too late to go back, we were already committed.

The calves in the barn lot were watching us with interest. Arabee watched them as well - it's a sight to see 30 calves milling about all watching one horse and rider pair! I was concerned that we may have difficulty with the dog, but he just casually watched us from a nice distance.

All in all we rode for 70 minutes, and later we checked mileage with the 4wheeler, and we'd gone 4.6 miles.

Good ride!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Poll: How Frequently do you clean your Tack?

Hey folks, as I was untacking Arabee yesterday, I wondered if maybe I should go ahead and wash all her tack and saddle pad.

How often do you all do this? Do you base it on how long it's been, or how filthy said items are, or just wash right before a ride, or what..?

I know it's really easy with biothane/synthetic, which is what I have....but with the saddle pad specifically I'm guessing that the less you wash it the longer it will last. And besides, I often end up with a tangled mess of straps and many of the adjustments require I'm wanting to get by with as little as possible, but yet, clean tack is pretty important.

Soooo.....How often do YOU wash your stuff??

Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday

Man, I'm awful at coming up with good titles for my posts! Ha! Oh well, I guess it's a tribute to the journal-like nature of the blog.

On Saturday I trimmed Arabee's feet with the electric grinder in the early afternoon. I really wish I'd taken before and after pictures, but I didn't even take the camera outside - the snow had been melting off and it was s-l-o-p-p-y! I'd been letting her self-trim since we'd been spending so much time on the roads, but she finally chipped off a chunk of hoof on the quarter, so I figured I'd help her out with the mustang roll. I did all 4 hooves, fronts first, then hinds, and MAN I was sore, especially my right arm since I am not used to gripping that heavy grinder! But without it I would have never had the stamina to do all 4 at once - too much bending over with the slower rasping. So I ended up not riding on Saturday.

Still too sore on Sunday to ride, so I just went out with the hoof pick and picked both horses' hooves.

On Monday I got out and rode, in the S-hack, but since the snow had been melting and melting fast all weekend it was way too sloppy to get in the fields so I stuck to the road and farm lanes and woods. Started South, past the Polly bridge, ventured down a farm lane just a little ways, back past the driveway, out into the hog woods, then down Harlan's lane until the electric pole, then trotted east down the road. Was going to stop and turn around when we crested the hill, but it felt good so we kept going to the ditch just before we got to the red barn. Alternately trotted and walked back. My phone rang in my pocket, and I stopped at the hill by the new tool shed to see who it was, and a car started coming, so I turned off the road and waited for the car to come by. Then we headed home, but I still had almost 15 minutes of time left, so we walked around the barn lot, around the driveway here and there until I was in the saddle for 55 minutes.

Tuesday evening we rode for 1 hour! Rode in the riding halter this time, headed South, then turned off down Foster's lane by the pasture gate, went down about halfway. There was still snow, as the lane is on the north side of the fenceline with plenty of trees to shade. Then headed towards the Polly bridge again, but did not cross it today. Our neighbor runs nearly every day, and that afternoon had just started his run and his dog had followed him a ways and was barking. For whatever reason it really spooks Arabee to see him running, maybe because he's quiet. He will say hello but anyway she was really just spazzing out between the runner, the dog, and then an SUV came by all at the same time. It was all right, but I don't know how it'd have turned out if I'd have had her cross the bridge and THEN head back...she isn't too sure of the culverts anyway, and with all the other ruckus things may not have turned out too well.

We walked and trotted back up, and at one point she broke into a canter, then sort of mini-bucking....more like just jamming her back legs down rather than popping up, anyway, I managed to pull her head to the left and got that stopped (deep breaths...relax!!) and we then walked back a little ways then headed back towards home. Turned off on Foster's lane again, only going 1/4 of the way down, but this time she was jiggy and antsy.....we gotta go back now! kind of thing. Got her calmed down, thankfully,and we mostly walked down the hill, across the culvert over the ditch, then trotted uphill and up the driveway, (our driveway Y's at the road) then turned back out towards the road. Boy she was sticky heading north! Must have been a mean trick to turn her into the drive and then ask her to leave again!

Got back and meandered through the woods, then off north, trotted east this time all the way to the red barn (and on the way had some imaginary dragons in the ditches that she was "protecting" us from), then down Harlan's lane to the electric pole, then trotted out until she got too speedy, then I made her come down to a walk. Basically we just went back home but stopped at every puddle available on the way and she drank up!

I've been alternating between the s-hack and the riding halter, and will continue to do so until an obvious favorite comes up. I may even throw the Dr. Cook's into the rotation again. But right now, I like the s-hack for rating, and the riding halter for when I need directional control (in the woods, if she's being looky/spooky) It'd be nice if I could switch back and forth during rides, without having to get off!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Riding in DEEP snow, this time

It snowed for over 24 hours starting the evening of February 14. We ended up with about 10-12 inches of new snow, on top of the probably 2-6 inches we already had (depending on whether it had drifted up or away in that particular spot). I'd had the opportunity to ride for 45 minutes that Sunday morning while it was sunny and before the new snow came, but hadn't ridden since then.

So it was a lovely sunny afternoon yesterday when I finally did get out again, 34 degrees when I headed outside at 5:31, mounted up at 5:45, and had hoped to ride for 50 minutes (it ended up being about 35 minutes because I ran out of daylight and didn't want to be on the road on a Friday night in the dark).

Rode up the road a bit and turned off to the lane that goes back to the hayfield, and WHOA...THERE'S A TRACK IN THE SNOW, and YIKES A PILE OF DIRT, and UH OH, WE'RE GOING AWAY FROM HOME, and UM, I'M GOING TO TAKE US BACK NOW. Ha....not exactly the most enjoyable ride ever. She really never just *walked*....more like a prancy half trot, half walk thing that was just awful to ride. In her defense, the snow was realllly deep, so it would've been hard to just walk gently anyway. And, also, I am still treating her scratches (the skin is getting much better, more healthy skin, fewer scabs...really good progress!) and it's probably not too comfortable to walk in snow in that condition.

So we rode the perimeter of that field, followed the wash, crossed in a shallow spot, followed it around to the road, then back along the road to where we came in at the lane. Jigging, prancing nearly the whole way. I used single rein stops, I tried getting her mind on her work by asking for serpentines or circles or direction changes, I jiggled the reins to ask her to lower her head. I hollered at her to WALK! and CUT THAT OUT! I'd get a few strides of walking in, then I'd ask her to whoa so she could catch her breath. She's mostly stand still, but keep trying to throw in extra steps forward. Imagine my surprise when we left that field and got back on the road when she walked calmy forward with a nice 4 beat nice!

We walked that way almost back to our driveway, then I turned her around and back up the road til we got to the old hog woods, and walked around in there for a bit. It's fun for both of us to dodge the trees, and she relaxed mostly. But she was still focused on home quite a bit. The snow was starting to freeze back up, and it was getting darker than was really good for road riding, so we headed back home. Kept her at a walk until we got to the bottom of the hill going back when I heard traffic approaching, so I trotted her home, and made it in the driveway with plenty of time.

I put the rump rug out over her butt while she was drinking out of a not-quite-yet frozen over puddle, then turned her around and walked back out to the mailbox, where I dismounted, loosened the girth, and got the mail. I grabbed a flake of hay from the barn, and she snacked on it as we walked back to where we tack up.

It was a pretty frustrating ride for the first half. But ultimately she ended up doing what I asked, it just took a long time. I still had fun though - and have a strategy for what I'd like to do with today's ride.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Conditioning Theories??? I've been doing some thinking about what qualifies for sufficient fitness for a horse's first LD.

I don't have a GPS.

I don't have a pre-measured conditioning "trail" around home.

No heart rate monitor.

I think that for my modest goals, this is okay.

This season will most likely consist of all Limited Distance, and in my understanding, you have 6 hours to complete 25-30 miles, including the 1 hour hold in the middle of the two loops, so about 5 hours of ride time. I believe that makes for an average of 5-6 mph. I'll just guess that Arabee walks at 3 mph, trots at 8 mph, and canters at 12 mph. (One of these days I'll actually figure out how fast she moves - we have some nice, flat farm lanes that are 1/2 mile long, and I can time her at all three gaits at that distance, then double it to get miles per hour.)

My plan (right now) for rides would be to trot on flats and uphill, and walk downhill. So I would guess we'd trot 75% of the time, walk 25% of the time. But for the first ride, I'll estimate more of a 50/50. So....if she walks for two and a half hours (half of the available time) at 3 mph, then we've traveled 7.5 miles, and for a 25 miler, there'd be 17.5 miles left - and it'd take a little more than 2 hours of trotting at 8mph to finish, and we'd have plenty of time. Of course, that's not how I'd ride....we'd probably walk the first half mile or so, to make sure her mind is on her job (which is listening to me, her rider, and keeping track of her feet), then proceed with trotting on flats and uphills, walking on downhills, really steep uphills, or whenever she needs a breather.

So I'm thinking that if I can build Arabee up to the point where she can trot for 2.5 hours, then we'll be ready for our first LD. Even though I won't know specifically how far we've gone, just knowing how fast a horse trots can give me a good enough idea, I would think.

Does this seem like sound reasoning? Especially knowing I'm starting with a 13 year old sound Arabian mare with a good mind. (I'm fully anticipating lots of "stupidness" at the start of the ride, and each time a horse is within sight or hearing, but she's had quite a bit of experience going places and with consistency on my part should come around to listening fairly well)

Would love a discussion on "basic" fitness requirements or what your conditioning goals are! Leave comments!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Weekend Summary

Saturday: had 1 hour of babysitting - left the house at 3:30pm, was mounted up at 3:47pm. Rode south down the road, trotted through the snow in the clearing by the shed, rode across the Polly bridge, turned a circle in the grassy/snowy spot, then headed back. Serpentined through the snowy clearing, jigged/corrected/walked down the hill, then powerwalked up the hill, past the house (no we're not turning back to the barn!) down the road to Harlan's corner, then turned off into last year's bean field, followed the road to the top of the rise, then diagonally to the wash/trees, then back out to the road and back home. Just a little over 30 minutes altogether, and back inside by 4:30. Arabee was easy to catch and seemed eager to go. Fun ride, nice sunny day! When we got back to the driveway, she stopped to drink out of the puddles.

Sunday: Got home from church, changed diapers, fed Luke, changed clothes and headed out to ride. It was I believe 20 degrees when I left the house! Saddled up, this time I added the crupper. Rode south and back to the driveway the same way as yesterday, except trotted more on the way back, and I had her trot up the hill past the driveway and on past. The dogs had been barking at something and Arabee seemed to be aware of whatever it was when we rode past a certain area...I'm guessing it was a critter of some kind that had recently passed by, anyway she was a little fresher today, maybe it was the cold, or maybe the same thing that got the dogs fired up.

At the top of the hill north of our driveway, I turned left into the old hog woods, and we walked through there a while, meandering here and there to avoid low tree branches. I'm so pleased with Arabee's sensibility - she was very cautious about where she put her feet, as there were some tire ruts (very deep) that she very carefully walked around, and she never seemed to put a wrong step, even though I'm sure there were fallen, snow covered tree limbs underfoot. She seemed to really enjoy this part, ears up, but not tense at all, just interested in seeing where I had her go to next. I had her jog up out of the woods toward the road, when ALL OF A SUDDEN she saw the round bale carrier for the hay wagon laying half snow covered to her right. ( hadn't moved a bit but you would've thought it had the way she jumped left!) Also...I need to make sure to tighten the girth 1 hole tighter next time - much too loose side to side!

So then we headed back north on the road, and I had planned on just walking on the road but she was just being ridiculously sticky and looky at the walk, so we pushed up into a trot. Much better. Then down to a walk to go downhill, then turn right off into the bean field again like yesterday, only we followed the ditch until I couldn't see it anymore, then crossed over and headed straight west until we reached the edge of the hayfield and tracked the edge of it heading south. The snow was really deep there where it had drifted....probably about a foot. She wasn't wild about that, and besides we were facing home, so her head and ears were turned homeward. It was strange to ride that way, because even though it was obvious her main focus wasn't on me, she still managed to make her feet and body go the direction I wanted her to. We stayed well to the right of the fenceline because the sight of the bright blue stock tank in the pasture was SCARY in the snow, and as we came up to the neighbors house, he'd come outside and boy was that scary for Arabee. She jumped sideways right when the door opened, and then again when the door closed. I stayed with her, and managed to get her calmed down pretty easily.

We turned homeward on the road, and I stopped about 50 feet short of our drive, and put the rump rug out over her backside, then we walked home on a loose rein. She tried to stop at the places she'd drank from yesterday, but they were frozen solid. I wanted to get a solid 45 minute ride in today, so we walked about the barn lot until the watch showed we'd made the time, which turned out to be a nice little cooldown walk for her.

It was a fun, really good ride. Just the right amount of work, I think, for Arabee at this stage, and for me too. I forced myself to keep slack in the reins, and rather than pull on her to slow her back to a walk when needed, I either said "easy" or when that and seat didn't work, we did single rein stops. I rode with the reins on the halter. she goes really nicely in it, even when worked up I've never felt out of control at all. In truly puzzles me how (at least with this mare) a person could feel more in control in a tense situation with a bit....because the way you'd need to make contact in a bit you'd surely hurt the horse's mouth badly. I remember at shows with Arabee when riding bitted how I felt helpless to correct her because I didn't want to jerk the reins with the bit in her mouth to get her attention, but she was ignoring other more subtle attempts to get her to take contact and focusing much more on the other horses warming up, spectators, etc, etc. With the riding halter or s-hack, I'm able to give her a quick reminder jerk on the reins when when she was thinking of spinning around back for home today when we got to the one spot where maybe that critter had just passed by.....that got her attention quickly back to me and didn't hurt her like it would have had she been wearing a bit.

Anyway, the point is I rode for 45 minutes today - walking and trotting, on the road and in deep snow....and we both had a blast doing it!

More snow is forecasted to come in late this afternoon, last I heard we were in the 3-6" range. I have mixed feelings about this. If it's going to be cold, I do like to at least have the pretty snow to look at....but still...I'm ready for spring! Even if it does mean mud, mud, and more mud!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Rode on Thursday

Rode for hopefully 38 minutes on Thursday. The watch I'm using for my stopwatch stopped somewhere after 26 minutes, so I rode for 6 minutes after I noticed the watch had stopped, so it was somewhere around that timeframe. I'll shoot to ride for 40 minutes the next time I ride.

The snow on the ground made for a big workout for Arabee. I'd planned to ride the same route on the road I had the last time, except turn off and ride the perimeter of one field to minimize how much snow she'd have to walk in. However, all afternoon and including when I'd wanted to ride coyote hunters had been driving up and down the road way too much for it to be a good idea to ride on the road that afternoon. So I rode in the pasture just South of our house.

The snow was about 4" deep in most places, but there had been a lot of drifting so it was much deeper in some areas, less in others. Underneath that snow was some pretty deep mud - so she had quite a workout just walking. I stopped frequently to let her catch her breath, but other than that we just walked since the footing was so deep.

I'm still having trouble getting my halter/hackamore set up just how I like it. I started with the reins on the hackamore, but the knotted noseband of the halter got under the hack noseband, and that brought out significant protest from Arabee....can't blame her! So I switched the reins to the halter which she did well with. I've adjusted the halter again so hopefully the nosebands won't get in each other's way next time.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

New Bridle Pics I adjusted the cheekpieces on the halter shorter, and I think they look too short, but I think that's because I attached the browband under the halter knot, instead of over top, which is pulling it tighter. How does the rest of the adjustments look? Too high, too low, too tight? I have since fixed the curb chain - so it will be even on each side - the hook was squeezed shut when it came, and I opened it up so I could make it even.

Sunday's Ride

Today was a BEAUTIFUL sunny day - 31 degrees when I left the house, SUNNY, with a slight breeze (at least not windy!). I couldn't wait to get out and ride, the sunny day was calling my name!
Saddled up, adjusted her S-hack to what it looks like in the above picture, made a few circles at the end of the rein, flapped the rump rug, and mounted up. Took a quick spin around the barn lot to test steering and brakes and single rein stops in the S-hack, then walked down the driveway and headed South on the road.
She was pretty sticky for the first 100 feet - slight downhill to a big culvert under the road where the ditch goes underneath, that was trickling water, with steep dropoffs on either side where the road is about 3-5 feet above the roadside. I urged her past, then we trotted up the hill, and walked again when we crested the top. Then I had her walk through the snow in a little clearing on the side of the road, then back to the road past the neighbor's house, when I heard a truck coming along - we pulled off into the driveway and faced the oncoming traffic and then walked back out after they passed. Then downhill she was a little sticky again at the walk until we got level and I asked her to trot across the Polly Creek bridge (now really a glorified double culvert). We walked over into the snow on the east side, then turned back. Her nostrils were flaring from being short of breath - I know it's harder to walk in the snow, but I think it's a good thing we're both out of shape so I don't push her too hard too fast.
She REALLY wanted to trot home. I thought it crucial to make it well known from the beginning that I was the one who chose the speed. So she'd walk really really fast, then break gait, then I'd do a SRS, then have her walk on....then try to jig, so SRS the other direction....and back and forth like that for about 150 feet. When finally she was willing to walk forward quietly on a loose rein, I asked her to trot, then as we passed the neighbor's house, we went back and walked serpentines in the clearing in the snow. We walked back down the hill, where she thought about getting jiggy again, but a deep seat kept her walking, then we leerily walked across the ditch culvert, then walked laboriously up the hill, past the driveway, then it was uneventful as we walked, sometimes trotted the rest of the way to Harlan's corner. I had her walk unless she got sticky, then I asked for trotting.
She was a little faster walking home, but didn't break gait. We were about 100 ft from the driveway when a little red car started coming up behind us, so I had her trot on home. She seemed very relieved that we turned into the driveway! Haha, I really think she was afraid we'd go on past again. Altogether, it was about a 32 minute ride. Real nice.
Today I started giving her a little hay wetted down in a big tub. I set it in front of her while tacking up, and then parked her in front of it again as I untacked, brushed her, and checked her feet. I think it will be a good habit to get into doing this for training rides, so she is used to eating from the tub (and whenever she gets a chance) at rides, too.
I liked the S-hack. It's a different kind of response than riding in the halter, not better, just different. After looking at the picture at the top of this post, it's obvious some things needed adjusting - I let out the noseband of the s-hack a couple holes to lower the shanks, but haven't had the chance to try it on her again yet. Also, after the ride, the noseband of the halter was in front of the noseband on the s-hack, so I shortened the cheekpieces of the halter. Pretty pleased with my new gear, both in color and in the way they handle.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Snowy Ride Today

I rode for 28 minutes today on Arabee, just around the barn. It'd snowed overnight, probably about 6 inches (give or take).

Walked mostly. She was feeling frisky with the snow and wind, it was 27 degrees actual...don't want to know wind chill!

Very happy with the way she responded to the Little Joe riding halter. The wind had Arabee feeling frisky, but she responded very well to my rein aids, when needed, and yes, they were needed. The little trotting we did to was fun and animated, she had to pick up her feet a lot because of the snow.
Matt got some pictures through the dining room window - you can see the screen in there.
I tried the browband, crown/cheekpiece and s-hack on Arabee, but the way I had it set up it was right in her eye. So I took it back to the house later and adjusted it, but I ran out of daylight to try it on her again. Maybe tomorrow.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Tuesday and Wednesday

Well, some of the stuff I'd ordered arrived on Monday in the mail. It's always nice when the mail is too big to fit in the box, because then our mail deliverer brings it to our door - she seems very nice!

Anyway, it was a little square box from Running Bear that contained my s-hack, an adjustable girth loop, and two of their Smart bridle parts: the browband that has a snap and a place to run a crown/cheekpiece through, and what was supposed to be the crown/cheekpiece - all in DAY GLO BLUE! It's pretty :-) Well - the right part didn't come - so I still have to wait to try the s-hack out because instead of the part that would actually hang the hackamore, it was just a crown piece. I expect it to come any day now. I'd had a gift certificate from there, so I wanted to get my stuff there - I had an awful time trying to order through the site, apparantly they'd just done some revamping and hadn't quite worked out all the bugs. I think I encountered every problem there was - it should be good to go for everyone else, now!

I've ridden twice now (sunday and tuesday) in the riding halter I bought from Little Joe - and it's working beautifully. I almost wish I hadn't bought the s-hack. But, I think it will be good to have another option, in case I end up having issues with rub marks, maybe I can alternate days riding in the halter and s-hack. It'll be interesting to see which she goes better in when in a high energy situation. For Arabee, a bit isn't it. (or maybe it's just my hands...who knows, either way she just gets more tense with rein pressure holding her back in a bit)

Anyway, the point is I rode Arabee on Tuesday. I put the girth loop on her girth and adjusted the breastcollar to fit with it on. I wish I'd have just bought a girth with a D-ring, but this is certainly better than having to put the breastcollar loop around the girth. I'm glad to be riding in the breastcollar again, because I don't have to girth up near as tight, and I have much greater stability side to side in the saddle - Arabee just doesn't have the withers to hold the saddle in place.

I started the stop watch function on my watch when I mounted up to make for sure I got a minimum of 20 minutes in. We walked between the barn and corn crib on a loose rein, then I put the reins in one hand and flapped the rump rug with the other. I had to do this a lot longer than I expected - she was jumpy. Did this both ways/sides. Then we ventured out towards the road, then back past the tool shed almost to the house. Then we did a little trotting, more walking, and eventually I took her out to the road, then back, then we went back out onto the road at a trot, and went about 50 feet, then turned around and walked back. All in all we rode for about 23 minutes. Pretty good ride, she was doing a little bit of stupid shying at things like clods of mud in the gravel driveway, but she soon got over doing that with a quick boot reminder.

Then on Wednesday, I haltered her, picked her feet, and we walked/jogged up the road almost to the red barn. We went to the telephone pole past the hill. (I realize NO ONE knows where that is or how far but me, but it'll help me remember what we did when I look back) I pushed pretty hard and was pretty out of breath. I've discovered these protein/energy bars that when you eat one before and after exercise, they amazingly prevent lactic acid from building up and help your body draw energy straight from fat, so your muscles really aren't sore! Now, my joints sure were/are stiff but I attribute that to my body still getting back to normal from pregnancy (it's amazing, God designed the pregnant body's ligaments to loosen up in preparation for delivering the baby...and gradually after the birth things tighten back up)

We're supposed to get a pretty significant snow system come through tomorrow, but I hope to make it over to the arena at least once this weekend.

I've been having so much fun getting back into shape, and it's fun to have a workout partner (even if she is hairy, muddy, and smells like a horse!)

Monday, February 1, 2010

February Goal Review

So I think I'm going to try to do a monthly 'goal review' on or around the first day of each month. First I'll go over how I did on the previous month's goals, and then talk about what I plan to accomplish for the next month.

Back in October, I posted what I'd hoped for 2010 and a rough outline for what each month might bring.

First of all, things got pushed back a good bit, since our son waited until November 10th for his birthday, rather than coming in October like his due date was. (He was well worth the wait...but still!)

So while I did a little bit of horse work in December, it was not to the extent I had hoped. I rode a little, walked on the road a little (bit by bit increasing distance). I didn't at all do anything about any kind of trail network to ride around home, other than the road handwalking. Any riding I do from home will end up with at least a little bit of road riding, and that surely has helped.

In January we did more of the same of what we did in December, but added one arena session to it. I'd hoped to have found time to do more than just the one that we did, but it turned out that things got busier than expected. I still have some riding basics that I want to run a refresher course on - steering, rating on a loose rein - and I intend to do that in the arena. I've done a good job of improving rider fitness. I wanted to do that gradually but consistently, and I feel the handwalking and jogging has worked to accomplish a marked improvement.

So we've done okay on the December and January goals, especially considering my actual horse work in December didn't even really get started until the later part of the month.

Now, for February.

>Commit to riding 2-3 times/week.
>Ride in the arena at least 4 times this month, working on fine-tuning loose rein riding
>Gradually increase comfort level with vehicles to the point where I can ride to and from Arena, rather than handwalking both ways.
>Begin short training rides from home (mounting up in the barn lot, and venturing out, going a little farther each time).
>Build up to being able to ride for at least 1 hour walk trot canter.

Got to Ride Last Night

So I got to ride last night, and it was GREAT!

I mean, it was really cold, but the skinny little balaclava I bought to go under the helmet worked great on my neck and ears, and the amazing winter riding pants I got for Christmas (but were too small and had to exchange so really...Christmas in January!) were soo comfy and warm and easy to mount and ride in, too. And amazingly, I stayed warm even just walking.

We just rode around the barn lot - I didn't have too much daylight left. I probably rode about 15 minutes, but not too sure since I didn't have my phone or watch with me. Arabee did very well with just leg pressure turning. I was focusing on asking her to lower her head each time I jiggled the rein (a lower head can mean a calmer horse, and it's hard for a horse to really do anything fast with their head low) I want her to get to the point where she lowers her head anytime I touch the reins, even if she's focused on something scary.

Even though I had significant drape in the reins, and often was holding my hands down on the pommel (to force myself not to direct rein!) I'd look and cue with leg and she'd follow the imaginary path I requested very nicely (mostly.).

We did a little trotting. It was fun. I hope this week lets me get outside more than I did last week.

Friday and Saturday my family was out of town for a conference and stayed in a hotel - and did a lot of EATING not-home-cooked meals. I made a point though of going to the hotel's fitness center, and I walked/power walked/jogged for 40 minutes Saturday, and walked and jogged a little over 20 minutes on Sunday morning. It was great to get that exercise, and surely it will help me towards being fit enough to ride better. Can't hurt, anyway.