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. (no....it 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 fact....it 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 needed.....like 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!