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 walk....so 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.

3 comments:

Endurance Granny said...

It almost sounds like the uncertainty of the footing due to the snow had her bothered. It sure gives them a workout doesn't it? I was worried I'd taken Phebes to far out yesterday because she was huffing and puffing so bad at one point. I wanted to stop and just let her rest, but then she'd start pawing and it seemed she was thinking about rolling in the snow....so we kept movin!

I so wish you were my neighbor, we'd have fun :)

~E.G.

Anonymous said...

That jigging at the beginning of your ride was probably the deep snow. Shazam and STormy both had to prance/jig to get thru it. Just a walk and the snow brings you to a stop. Shazam's every move is really big and bouncy, so his prance/jig is truely hard for me to sit. Stormy's is much smoother. I sympathize. But you have to appreciate that than a horse that doesn't want to go or has no energy.

Michelle

Endurance Granny said...

http://www.olddominionrides.org/EndurancePrimer/01.html#1c

Nicole,

The above link is a conditioning program that might fit your needs from Old Dominion. I'm gonna try it. ~E.G.