2pointober 2015 · road hack

Vermont is pretty, my horse is an idiot

Last night I threw on my jump saddle and headed out to the fields to work on my two point. And realized that we are both sad sacks. This was reinforced by the official competitor’s list in which I have to be among the top 5 lowest times. Room for improvement, right?
Anyway. We went down the field, we went up the field, we went across the field, and then we headed down the road for a bit. It was actually warmer than it has been – in the low 60s – but for whatever reason Tristan got progressively more up through the ride.
He tried (admittedly, half-heartedly) to take off with me up the hill, and then on the road on the way back he spooked, and kept spooking: a stray cat in the woods, a slippery bit of gravel.
And then a UPS truck.
Yeah. He got jumpy when he heard the rattle of the truck behind us, and I pushed him as far to the side of the road as possible and sat deep. Then the truck passed us, and he went up and sideways. Toward the truck. I’m sure we gave the truck driver a heart attack – we were probably only a few feet away from the side of the truck, on a rather narrow dirt road.
I actually never seriously thought he would go into it – he has more self-preservation than that – but it was still an ugly few seconds as I pony kicked hard¬†to get him to go back to the right and manhandled the reins a bit to stop him flinging his neck all over the place, all while yelling at the top of my lungs “COULD YOU JUST FUCKING NOT RIGHT NOW?”
And then the truck passed, and things were fine, until the next gust. Ugh.
So we did a little bit of walking in which he did not get any say whatsoever in where he put his feet, and we went into the outdoor and did some big trots around the edge of the arena, then incorporated some trot poles, and he did not get one iota of say in anything he did for the next 10 minutes. He had to put his feet where I told him to, when I told him to. That seemed to put his brain back between his ears, with the added benefit of getting some nice pole work in.
So, mixed success on the two point front – though I did get some work in while we were still in the field, and I stood up at the walk when he wasn’t spooking one the road – and a sort of, kind of near death experience
Tonight: dressage school with some two point practice, then some trot sets tomorrow in the outdoor.
road hack · winter

Wintering Over

On Sunday, it was 30 degrees. Thirty. Degrees!!!

I felt almost instantly more human again. I did a ton of laundry, worked around the house, and headed over to the barn for some actual time with my horse.

I tacked up and everything, and we went up and down the road for about 30 minutes. OUTSIDE! I rode him in one circuit of the outdoor ring, but he was less than enthused and I didn’t want him to strain himself. It’s one thing to ride through deep snow, but this had clearly drifted quite a lot in some places, and he was having trouble getting even steps. One step, fine, the next step, waaaaaay deeper, with no way to really see or tell which would be which.

So we did the roads.

There were horses in the turnouts just to the right who were deeply concerned that we were on the road.
 Winter apples, dried on the branch.

Road hacking in the winter is not without its travails, though. See the snow drifts on either side of the road? And the thicker snow? Down the middle of the road is the safest place to ride in some ways: it’s the most visible, and it’s the smoothest and flattest. On the other hand, it’s also the iciest, because it’s what melts first. So you’d think that it would be better, but right at the foot of those snow drifts are ditches, masked by lighter, fluffier snow that hasn’t settled and packed.
So I tend to keep him down the middle of the road, and if it feels too icy – if he’s slipping too much, I head inside. On Sunday, the warmth and the sun kept the middle of the road just fine, slushy and a bit muddy.
With so many indoors coming down lately, I was both worried and pleased to see someone on the roof digging snow off. Looking more closely, though, and chatting with the barn owner, it’s really just that corner, where the wind forces the snow into drifts. Removing the load in that corner made a huge difference.
In all, a nice ride and a productive day. Now we’re back to low single digits, though, so back inside for me.

road hack · winter

Dog and/or Pony Show

My horse is so inexpressibly weird sometimes, you guys.

Case in point. Yesterday afternoon we took advantage of clear skies and daylight to get out of the indoor and walk on the roads a bit. I was still bareback, and the roads have been icy, so we oped to go up and down the flat parts for a while.
We approached a branch. There are lots of branches still coming down regularly after the heavy snow. Tristan approached, curious, so I have him his head and he sniffed it.
Then he took a piece of it in his mouth and dragged it down the road with us three or four strides, like a dog.
What the ?!
He was so pleased with himself! “Look, mom, I found it! I get to keep it, right?”
I was so startled that it took me a few seconds and them I thumped him on the neck and yelled “hey!” He yanked with his neck and pulled off a piece of the branch, then continued on, chewing on the stick.
I pulled him up and reached forward to pull the stick out of his mouth. What a weirdo!
The rest of the ride was uneventful, thankfully, if short – there’s only so long I can ride up and down the same half mile stretch…