As some of you have most likely guessed (or read) I live way up north in Canada. Not too far north that I get days of complete darkness, but fairly close to it. We've had substantial (about 2 feet) snow on the ground for a month now and we won't be rid of it until April or May. This makes riding in the winter a bit touchy as to ride outside can be cold and miserable, let alone a tad unsafe when it's icey and your horse doesn't have studs in, and to haul to the arena is another hair-raising activity as it's mostly along gravel/dirt roads that get very slick this time of year. With these two options in mind, it's very difficult to motivate oneself to go and ride when you can oh-so-easily curl up under a nice warm blanket and dream of going to Florida for the winter.
BUT since I'm kind of a nut and can't go without riding for long periods of time (tried it, it wasn't pretty), we've all decided to ride at least twice, maybe three times a week during the winter. Now as all of you know, these times of plans will in reality wittle down to 1-2 times a week, but that's still better than nothing. I'm going to try to use these times to teach Koda new things, really school him on learning new dressage movements, going through gymnastics, reviewing things he should know, etc. Essentially treat this time as "school time" and then when the shows start up again, those would be our end of term exams! Oye, I've been hanging out with teachers too much...
This past Sunday my friend P and I met at the arena for some easy schooling times. I set up a few jumps, nothing crazy, and got down to work. My legs were dead since the night before a group of us went to the local school and played badminton for 2.5 hours. I'm not really a badminton player, but it was fun none the less. So, with wobbly legs Koda and I got down to work. He was being a bit of a turkey for the first bit, trying to tell me that the corners weren't really just corners, but were quick sand with horse eating monsters right under the surface so we really shouldn't go there. I'd say the conversation went something like this:
Me - ok, bend through the corner, inside leg to outside hand
Koda - whoa whoa!!! What is THAT?!?!?!
Me - Koda, it's the corner, we go around it
Koda - *slams on the breaks* No way
Me - Koda, you've gone through these corners a million times, now get ON with it
Koda - imgoingtodieimgoingtodieimgoingtodie
Me - Grrrrr, get IN THERE!
*sloooooooooow hesitant steps into the corner*
Me - sigh, finally!
Koda - *looks at the other corner* Oh my GAWD, what is THAT?!?!
After getting the sillies out, we got down to some nice trot work. I went without stirrups and worked on really getting him to push from behind and listen to my leg. His leg-yield to the right is excellent, yet the one to the left leaves something to be desired. After schooling leg-yield and circles for a while, we took a break to catch our breath then tackled our jumps. I had a single x-rail set up along one side, and then a 4-stride on the other, x-rail to 2'6" vertical. We popped the single x-rail a few times to get his mind in jumping gear, then went for the line. Now, if I had rode it well, it would have been beautiful. That being said, Koda did his job well and soared over the last fence (pretty sure he cleared it by 6", P was astounded at the height he gave it) while he had a monkey on his back trying to stay on, legs flailing, pretty sure I was "catching a cab" over the last fence. So we settled down and went through the line one more time, entering at trot then cantering through. The second time around it was lovely, I actually rode instead of imitating a monkey, and Koda was lovely, gave me some nice round jumps and stayed soft. At that point my legs were pudding and Koda was getting wet (darn those winter coats!!) so we called it a day.
He got his mouse-eaten cooler tossed on while I took down the jumps, and then we were on our way! It was a great ride, was very happy with it and if we can continue to do this 1-3 times a week this winter, we're going to be completely prepared for the spring and summer season. Now to just get myself a nice new cooler that doesn't have mouse made holes in it...