January 28, 2009

The Cheshire Cat

"Enjoyment is not a goal, it is a feeling that accompanies important ongoing activity" (Paul Goodman 1911-1972)

"I define joy as a sustained sense of well-being and internal peace - a connection to what matters" (Oprah Winfrey 1954-)

It’s me grinning today.
Yesterday was one of the good days.
As I wrote in the last post Fame was not at her best in the training last week, but yesterday we had some good moves out there.
I felt already when we started that she was much more between the aids.
One of my goals for the winter season is to get the counter canter in place.
We have no indoor arena, just an outdoor which makes the training more difficult when the weather is not favourable. We have limited access (1-2 times a week) to the indoor arena at a close by stable. That helps.
Once the snow comes, there is no problem. Snow is a super surface to work on if it’s properly prepared. The problem is that the snow came late this year, not until the week before Xmas, and then it rained away just after a few days.
We need a good surface for the canter work. So due to the weather, we are a bit behind the schedule. But I’ll hope we’ll make up for it now, as the snow is here.

Yesterday we trained counter canter on a volte for the first time.
She did well.
Normally, in counter canter the horse's head is positioned to the canter side, i.e. the normal “outer” side, on a curve. Going straight, it is positioned straight.
To exercise the horse further you can softly play with positioning the head to the inside of the volte if the balance is good enough, and we were playing a bit with this for the first time yesterday.
She is not yet quite as balanced as she should be. From time to time she got a bit strong in my hand, so I had to balance her up again using half halts, seat and leg to ask her to engage those back legs instead of leaning into my hand.
We’re working on it.
The trot work was also good yesterday.
She was working with a soft, good connection and rhythm, and she had quite a nice extension in the end of the training session.
So I’m happy today :-)


justpeg said...

Nice to hear that you enjoyed your last ride. The good ones are special, aren't they?

Please explain how you "prepare" snow so that it's a good riding surface. Also, is your horse shod or barefoot? I'm trapped indoors because of ice and snow and a green horse (who I don't quite trust yet), but even on my old guy I fight snowballs forming in his feet, and icy patches. Fresh snow is fun for one ride only for us and I never tried doing dressage work in it, just hacked out and played. Your comment about snow being a good working surface interested me alot. It would be wonderful to not have to board out if I want to ride in the winter.

HorseOfCourse said...

Hi Justpeg!
Nice to hear from a fellow winter rider :-)
First the snow:
You need a tractor, and you need
- a roller to pack, and make the snow surface even and
- a harrow to get it unpacked, if the weather gets mild and then freezes again.
A harrow, something like this:
And a roller. The one we use is not with an even surface, it's more like a roller with short comb teeth.
Sorry, could not find a picture like it on the net. I can take a photo if you're interested.
Shoes. I've had horses both with and without. Without shoes function OK with a firm snow surface, but it does not function at all on ice. Espescially if your horse is out playing with other horses. IMO the risk for slipping and subsequent damage is too large.
So we use shoes with permanent studs and huf-grips (yes, they are spelled that way). It's rubber inlays that completely solves your problem of snow packing in the hooves. Check it out on:
They make all the difference.
If the horse is to relax and work well I believe that he needs to have a good grip, otherwise they tense up. And with a green horse it's easier for the rider to relax too, if you know that you won't slip if there is a bit of extra jumping around...

stillearning said...

Thanks for the explanation. I'd never heard of prepping snow, but it makes sense.

We shoe the same way, with snowpads and tiny studs or borium spots for ice, but I haven't done it in years, just have not ridden outside and controlled turnout when it's icy instead.

I board my horse in work at a facility with an indoor and keep my retired horse at home. Maybe I'll rethink that next year?

stillearning said...

p.s. stilllearning=justpeg=me. I'm not totally computer-literate.

HorseOfCourse said...

Ah stillearning, was it you :-)