This weekend I was able to finally get both Dreamy and Reva out to begin the long process of spring conditioning. I hate giving them so much time off (about 3 months) but in this climate without an indoor I do not have much of a choice! :-)
On Saturday, I trailered Reva over to Vienna Farm, which is where my instructor boards for the winter. I had not been on Reva since December, but I figured she would be fine; I am either really brave or really stupid (probably both! LOL!). While I cannot take a lesson from my instructor there (not that my horses are in shape enough anyway), I can ride with her for a nominal ring fee. And lucky me, she bought me two rides in exchange for helping her with barn chores this winter! Yay!
I was planning to only tack walk Reva around the indoor, since she is not in shape, but I knew that this would be a good experience for her. It was her third time off the farm and her first time in an indoor arena! :-)
She trailered over there with no issue. It is just about 34 minutes door to door. It was very windy, but she was very well behaved in the parking lot while I tacked her up. We walked through the big barn into the attached indoor; while her eyes were HUGE and her ears pricked as far forward as possible, she was very brave.
I had put her halter over her bridle so I could walk her around on foot first. She entered the arena and immediately whinnied loudly to herself in the mirrors along the opposite short side. LOL! So funny. I took her to the mirrors first. She sniffed and admired herself. My instructor came into the ring with her mare and Reva was VERY interested in her. She was nervous but not out of control or ready to explode. I knew she was pretty high when I decided to get on, but I did not want to lunge her; she does not really know how and I did not want her tearing around on a small circle. The nice thing was she did not do the "instant sweat" thing that Dreamy does when she gets nervous. In fact, Reva never got hot or sweaty at all (which was my point) except just where the girth was.
When I got on, she was coiled pretty tight. LOL! She jigged herself around the arena, and I stayed light and calm in the saddle. I made her circle, serpentine, go across the diagonal, etc. I tried to keep her mind as focused as I could, since she was soooooo incredibly over stimulated from the indoor. The nice thing is that she only halfheartedly attempted a crow hop a few times. Had she really wanted to, she could have easily lost her little baby mind and launched me into the air. I had already decided that the footing looked fairly soft, so I was not too nervous! LOL! She started to relax and focus more, finally finding a real walk instead of her jigging nervous walk/trot gait, but she still was pretty high headed and "crazy Standardbred" looking...inverted and strung out. She finally began to reach for the bit and I asked for some small leg yields and then trotted once in each direction along the long side. She was even more relaxed once I trotted her. I wanted to end on a good note, so as soon as I got some good long stretching to the bit at the walk and a few halts, I called it quits. She was 100% relaxed by the time I got off her, which was good to see. All told, I was probably in the indoor with her for 30 minutes. My instructor trotted and cantered (of course) which was good. I had no idea how she would react to another horse in the ring moving faster than a walk, but I was pleased that she was fine. So all in all, it was a good experience for Reva! I am going to try to coordinate with my instructor again in a few weeks, and I am willing to bet Reva is even better.
Today I rode here at home; first I took Dreamy out for a 20 minutes walk around the field. And then Reva had a turn. The snow is up past the horses' knees, but it is all melty and easy to walk through. (It did clean the white on their legs quite well!) Dreamy was perfectly fine, as though I had been riding her all winter. Typical! :-) I really did not do much with her except make her march along, doing some "medium" walk (as best as we could in the snow) and then free walk. Reva was a little naughty at first, trying to buck and plunge through the snow, although Dreamy had made a nice path. Naughty 4 year old! LOL! She was good and we worked on softening and stretching to the bit.
My goal is to tackwalk Dreamy as many days as I can (5-6) this week. I already know she will get Thursday off because I have an appointment in the afternoon, but I hope that now with the time change I can ride her each day without losing sunlight. I will try to get on Reva 3-4 times. Hopefully the dirt road and trails behind my house will begin to melt so I can do more long slow distance work outside of the field. It gets boring just marching around in circles! :-)