Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Winter Rider

If you keep up with my instagram feed, you might have noticed that it basically looks like all I do is lunge and turn my horse loose in the arena.
the horse, it flies
And that's sort of true.

The ground is alternately frozen solid and dangerously iced over or disgusting soup. Courage doesn't get turned out in soup and he won't play on the ice, so the better part of my equine schedule right now is just simple brain management--free time in the indoor to leap around or structured lunging to try and make something productive happen when other people are riding.

It's not my favorite, but it's the reality of a thoroughbred in the winter.
hard to complain about this
Courage HAS TO HAVE his run around time or his brain just can't stay in his head. Plus it's cold and he's a high-mileage 11 years old this year, and the first few minutes of every day are just kind of stiff no matter what. Not having the opportunity to spend hours roaming a field is definitely exacerbating the situation.

I can't fix those things. What I can do is make better choices. 3-4x a week, I try to time my barn visits so Courage can get to run like an idiot in the indoor arena. That helps. At least half of our rides are just toodling on the buckle and chatting with buddies in the indoor. This keeps rides from being tense or spooky. It keeps us both loose and breathing. It's not fantastic training, but it's translating to calmer rides overall.
too cute
I know some people like to just get on and ride through the yahoos, but I don't. I don't enjoy it, I don't need the risk of harm, and I don't want to get in a fight with my horse over something that doesn't have to happen. Instead of worrying about my personal safety, I can laugh at his antics and then give him scratches when he's done. He's a horse. He needs to horse. That is fine.
if you're counting, this is two different coolers in the same post
So yeah. For days and weeks at a time, it feels like I'm just treading water and surviving. But then we have days where Courage runs until he's steaming with no encouragement from me, I tack him up in a cooler, and then we have a fantastic ride, because he's got his game face on and is ready to focus now.
Inch by inch, we're gaining ground.


  1. I haven't done any productive riding in weeks! I would love to have an arena for mine to run in!

  2. I do not miss ice and snow. Yay Texas.

    1. I am not ok with giant reptiles or poisonous bugs. YAY WINTER.

  3. I used to do this with Promise, too. And had a few people at a few different barns tell me their opinion on how it was unsafe, etc. I politely told them it was my horse and to mind their business. It's nothing he wouldn't do in turnout on a cold winter day with good footing. And, he's supervised, which he wouldn't be in turnout!

    Nothing wrong with it...keeps you both safe, keeps him sane, and makes for more productivity when you do ride. It is definitely important for him to horse!

  4. I love the flying horse, he looks like a springbuck :) nothing wrong with keeping it safe, do what makes you both happy!

  5. I am a big fan of letting them work things out on their own. Yes I can ride through it, but my income depends on me not being broken. Why risk it if you don't have to? I do enough stupid s*** without adding to it.

  6. Love it! You are really setting both of you up for success with this approach. And, the weather will someday improve and we can all have our sane horses back...right? :)

  7. Makes me ever so eternally grateful for our barns indoor turnout rotation! Miles is still able to get enough turnout to keep him mostly sane, and I only have to turn him out to run every once in a while.

  8. Turned B out in the arena the other day and he literally just stood there. Alright then

  9. eh the feeling of treading water is super frustrating... but all the same, it seems like it's the right choice for your situation and your horse. trying to force the situation and then unintentionally adding tension to your rides could potentially make things worse in a way that giving him the playtime he needs won't.

  10. Gotta let's 'em get the "bug juice" out (as my family calls it)

  11. I'm with you on this one. Sometimes they just need some 'down time' on their own. Look at it like recess in elementary school. Same diff.

  12. Both this winter and last winter I've been frustrated with what feels like a big step backwards in having to have those rides where we just try to walk calmly in a circle instead of working on any actual dressage. I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who goes through this.
    For me the reason is more that my former-trail horse is so tense inside, rather than the lack of turnout you're experiencing, but the end result seems much the same.
    My current attitude is that if we can conquer the indoor arena in the winter, we can handle any show! There's got to be some advantage to having our horse's worst case scenario to be at home! =)

  13. Sounds like you're doing what's best for Courage and yourself. I think that's all any of us OTTB moms can do :)

  14. Prob going to let my two monsters run this evening if the arena is free. They have been lucky enough to get out but ground is so hard and they are good girls so no yahoo'ing. However the osteo was out to adjust them on Monday so they've had their requisite couple of days off and i want to let them blow of some steam before I clambered back aboard in these negative temps where the friskies sometimes sneak out

  15. #Trakehnerwinterproblems are very similar to #TBwinterproblems! I would way rather have my horse blow off some steam for 15 minutes than spend 2 hours fighting with her. Plus I love dorky bucking in the indoor videos, so it's a win-win.


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