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She's Not a Baby Anymore!

Early spring saw some immediate changes in how Ellie carried herself and our dressage work started to truly improve.  There had been times last year where flat work felt like a fight and I wondered to myself if she was ever going to just relax and listen to me haha.

Thankfully, as the title suggests, Ellie has suddenly grown up in front of my eyes.  We have had some really stellar lessons lately, where I feel like I am suddenly able to make things click.  We also had an incredibly frustrating dressage lesson a few weeks ago where Ellie was in rip-roaring peeing heat (not normal for her) and we worked through 45 minutes of her refusing to bend right.  So, ya know, as much as she is improving, she is still an opinionated redheaded mare!  ;-)

But, I have to give her credit because she is really working her little butt off for me!  Sadly, I had not been able to schedule in a jump lesson before our first three-phase, which led to me riding her ridiculously backward at a slow trot the entire …

The start of spring conditioning

Because I keep my horses at home and do not have access to an indoor arena, they essentially have the winter off.  I think it was about 10 weeks this year.  I try to ride as much as I can in the snow, but the cold temperatures and ice do me in (and we had a lot of both this winter!!)  While we still have about 14" of snow on the ground, I figured it was time to start spring conditioning today!  The sun came out and it was gorgeous. 

It is funny, but I always assume that anyone like me who has to give their horses extended time off know how to bring them properly back into work.  Apparently, this is not true.  And I am not just speculating this either.  Just this past week, as my farrier worked on my mares, he made a comment that left me shaking my head.  He remarked that I was his only client (who has a job outside of horses) that actually understands how to condition a horse.  He made mention of the fact that he dislikes seeing "weekend warriors" and that "the foxhunters are the worst!"  LOL!  It made me chuckle, as I thought he was exaggerating, but apparently he was not.  Yikes!!

I wrote about spring conditioning last year and just now rereading it myself, it sounds about the same!  LOL!  I took Reva out first, since she happened to be closest to the gate this afternoon.  She was SO HAPPY to be fussed over.  I trimmed her bridle path, which was a serious mohawk!  LOL!  She was so pleasant in the barn I figured she would be a wild pony beast when I got on.  I was happy to be wrong!  I mounted her in the driveway from my truck tailgate (super safe!) and we had to bulldoze through a 2 foot (fluffy) snow bank to get out into the field.  She hesitated and wanted to find a different route, but little did she know the spot I chose was the lowest spot.  

We spent a fine 20 minutes breaking a path all around the field.  Reva was happy in the bridle, stretching down softly into contact, and it made me giddy!  I always worry that nearly three months off is going to make my horse forget all of her training.  Of course, this is is silly but I still worry.  We worked on halt/walk transitions and she was much more obedient to the upwards than the downwards transitions.  This is pretty typical for her, so I spent some time doing exaggerated half halts in the walk and trying to use my exhales and core muscles more when we finally did a halt.  She improved significantly.  We spent some time at the end just "standing around" which she was fine about.  

Such a gorgeous day...finally!

Dreamy was up next and my son decided he wanted to ride.  He rode Dreamy at a walk for about 15 minutes and then I got on for about 10 more.  She was pleased to march along in the paths Reva had made but was crabby about having to blaze her own paths.  The snow is not too deep, but after pushing her through a few turns into new snow, I just allowed her to walk in the already formed ruts.  We did a few halt/walk transitions and some stretching in the free walk before calling it a day.

It became overcast....oh well!

So cute!

My plan is to tack walk them for 20 minutes and work up to 30.  Then I add in trot and work up to 45-60 minute rides.  Finally I will add the canter!  Hopefully within the next 6-7 weeks we will be ready for spring!  I also will add in hill work, beach riding, and trail riding as the footing/weather permits, and mix up our dressage work with cavaletti.  Hopefully we can resume riding lessons by the end of April!!

My vet is coming out on Monday for spring shots!  The first opening date is at the end of March!  Yay!!!!