Sunday, January 20, 2013

Better Than Wonderful

That's how I feel today - better than wonderful.  I had a really fine day with my horses - I wasn't sure it would turn out that way due to the weather - winter is coming (Game of Thrones reference) but not quite as bad yet as it's going to get.  Today the high made it up to 22F (about -5C), but with the wind chill it never got much above -4F (or -15C).  Dawn, who is very sensitive to the cold, was double-blanketed for turnout.  I have a dress fleece cooler that works well as a blanket liner, and she was wearing that under her heavy Rambo turnout with the full neck.  At 7 a.m., she was fine, eating from the hay bale.  At 9:30 a.m. she was hunkered down with her butt to the wind and eyes slitted almost shut.  The boys were blanketed too, and seemed to be coping pretty well.

I brought her into the heated barn to unthaw - she spent about an hour in her stall unblanketed eating hay, while I was doing other chores, until she told me she was ready to go back out by nickering at me.

Everyone was happy to come in at bring in this afternoon.  Tomorrow's highs are supposed to be about 8F (or -13C), with big winds making the wind chills in the -15F (or -26C) range all day.  Tuesday's not supposed to be much better.  I'll likely be keeping my horses in both days, perhaps putting them into paddocks close up to the barn while stalls are being cleaned.  We'll do some hand walking and perhaps a bit of lungeing - it may be too cold in the (unheated) arena to ride.

Today in the indoor it was about 23F (or -5C) when I worked with my horses this afternoon.  Dawn and I had a 15-minute lungeing session so she could stretch her legs - the ground outside is rock hard and the horses really aren't able to move around much.  She was wonderful, despite the cold arena - she trotted and cantered very well, with only one buck on her first canter departure.  She seemed pretty happy to have a chance to move, and was responsive and forward.  Tomorrow if I lunge her, we'll probably put on her fleece.

Red and I then had an outstanding work session.  He'd had two days off, but stood like a statue for mounting on a loose rein despite his energy level, which was high.  We did our usual 15 minutes of vigorous walk warm up, then went directly to left lead canter.  He cantered willingly and well - there was plenty of forward, but he was soft and responsive, and then we kept working in trot.  His soundness improved as we worked.  We even did one full lap in right lead canter - this has been hard for him due to the stress it puts on the left hind - but he felt engaged and lifting, which was very good as his right lead canter has always (even when he was sound) felt a bit flat - not today.  He also coped very well with the only other horse leaving the arena in the middle of our work - in the past he would have been very upset by this.  He's certainly come a long way, and is a reliable and willing partner.

Pie also had had two days off, and came out and went right to work.  We did a fair bit of good trot work, and then did a number of sets of canter work on both leads.  He was forward and sustaining the canter well, and bending well into the corners, and we got some excellent softness on both leads at points in our work.  He also did some really excellent leg yield work at the trot, althernating directions in and out of cones. At the end of our work, he followed me around the arena as I collected cones and put them away.

A good day indeed . . .

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