Calm, Forward, Straight

Calm, Forward, Straight

Monday, February 15, 2010

In the Arena #4 - Character Building

"If we are facing in the right direction, all we have to do is keep on walking." Buddhist proverb

It seems like forever since there's been a pretty day - time to ride!
I finished work and rushed up to the barn. When I arrived I found a sleeping relaxed. I let him be for a bit, and did a few barn chores so he could motivate on his own. After a nice grooming we tacked up and were ready to go.

Since we last rode, I've been doing a lot of ground work with Val, hoping to develop more trust and improve our relationship. Our ride today suggested that it has paid off. Although we still dealt with the same issues as our last few sessions, they seemed to resolve faster. As the ride progressed I was able to use lighter aides and less often. We achieved lovely turns on the forehand (both directions) and a good energy level as well. A very satisfying ride.

One aspect of character building I'm experiencing with horse ownership is developing patience. Patience with my horse, patience with myself, and patience with my expectations, which were apparently very unrealistic. Because my horse was SO laid back with his former owner, and me when I was trying him out, I assumed that I would be able to do anything I wanted with him immediately. I didn't take into account the time it would take for us to really trust each other. Now that we have begun to develop a foundation of mutual trust and respect, my (our) patience is being rewarded. Our accomplishments will be even more meaningful I think.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

At the Barn #2 - "Blanket Policy"

We've been at the mercy of some unpleasant (and inconvenient) weather for the past month, as has much of the mid-atlantic region. Besides limiting our riding time, several other issues have come up as a result. (Dreaming of indoor arenas...)

First would be whether or not to blanket. I have heard at least as many opinions about blanketing as horsemen I've asked. "Blanketing will make the winter coat shed out early...once you start you can't stop" "The winter coat grows in relation to hours of daylight - blanketing makes no difference..." "It's such a pain taking them on and off..." "What if it warms up and they sweat under the blanket..." etc.

Since Val has a really nice run in stall situation, and our winters are USUALLY mild, initially I didn't start out blanketing him. Unfortunately, he didn't always avail himself of shelter and would be standing in the rain when I arrived. This becomes worrisome when he gets soaked and then the temperature drops - SO - we're blanketing now if it's raining or below freezing. It's a little more complicated but he seems more comfortable except for itchies.

One thing I know for sure now - if you throw a wet horse blanket in the dryer without washing it first, the aroma is memorable and not in a good way!
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