Friday, January 30, 2009

Weathering the Winter

My barn average is definitely down the last few weeks. For one thing, I've been working a lot, and for another I've discovered that days where the high is less than 5 degrees, the trip just isn't worth it. Even going bareback doesn't help on such days. It is just too cold to be bearable, much less enjoyable.

Lately my rides have mainly been trying to focus on teaching Steen that getting ridden is no big deal. You would think he'd have figured this out by now, but he still is significantly more restless with a rider on his back than with a person standing next to him. Of course, I haven't used a saddle in months, so I am at least sure his restlessness isn't due to any fit issues. And while he is not bad, he just isn't genuinely relaxed either, and so I'm trying to do rides that mainly include non-demanding forms of walking, trotting and standing.

Of course, making any progress when only riding once a week is very difficult, but I do think I have seen some small improvements lately. He's getting better about the mounting block (which I've been using because he is scared of it, and I figure it's a good thing for him to be alright with, partially since Brian's mom likes to use one and she is likely to ride more in the future, and partially because it's just good to get him used to as many things as possible). My last ride he was also stopping faster than usual and showing a greatly increased willingness to stay standing still after stopping (he usually starts getting fidgety after around ten seconds).

So, in many ways he is still very rough around the edges, but at least we are seeming to make it through the winter so far without losing ground. That might be about the best I can hope for.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

A Winter Ride: In Numbers

  • degrees above zero when I left the house this morning: 11
  • articles of clothing worn: 17
  • miles from my house to the barn: 15
  • other people at the barn: 0
  • horses loose in the aisle when I arrived: 1
  • seconds it took for the unheated toilet to steal all my saved body warmth: .025
  • utensils used to groom Steen: 6
  • times hands became completely numb and needed to be shoved into armpits to warm up before I could complete the grooming process: 3
  • tails skipped brushing due to extreme coldness of hands: 1
  • pieces of tack used to ride: 1
  • major arteries delightfully close to Steen's nice warm back while riding without a saddle: 2
  • minutes spent riding: 30
  • times Steen rolled after getting turned loose in the arena: 3
  • flakes of hay I gave him as a reward for being so good: 1
  • extremities not partially or completely numb when I returned to my car: 0
  • minutes spent driving home: 25
  • bagels purchased on the way: 13
  • websites I should have been working on instead of riding: 3
  • times I wished I'd spent my morning some other way: 0

Saturday, January 03, 2009


Although I spent the holidays in Tucson and did a fair bit of riding both Jak and Rojo, I have definitely noticed that working with other people's horses just isn't nearly as great as working with my own. I missed Steen actively, just about daily, the whole vacation. After about two weeks away, I was quite happy to head to the barn late this morning. In spite of quite a bit of ice around town, the road to the barn was good. I found Cathi and Teri in the barn, and Steen outside, rather upset because some improvements to the stalls meant he was getting a late breakfast. I went outside and let the herd loose, and was amused to see the orderly way everyone filed into the barn (even lining up to wait their turn to get through the door) and into their respective stalls. It never ceases to amaze me how much horses sometimes resemble children.

Steen is looking pretty good. He's got more padding along his spine and in his shoulders, but he's not quite as chubby as I expected. He was also about to EXPIRE because he had been HOURS since he was used to getting his grain (nevermind he's been eating off the large bale out there all night), so I let him eat while I groomed him... rather a task after two weeks left to his own devices. He wasn't muddy, just generally grungy.

Anyway, after the extended grooming session, I took him to the indoor arena and did some groundwork and made him move around a bit, but in the end was just happy to hang out with him and let him loosen his legs and get his kicks out. Perhaps tomorrow I'll go out for a ride.

I'm just happy to have my own horse at my disposal again.

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