Old man winter is finally heading out of here and I can start getting Koda and I back into riding fit! Living up here, we really don't get a spring at all, it's more of a thaw. It starts slowly in March when the weather decides that staying below -20C isn't the best thing to do in the world, so it warms up. Of course it's still snowy as heck, with more than 4' in some places, but it's starting to melt. It's a beautiful day when we don't have to plug in our vehicles to ensure that they'll be warm enough to start the next day.
Of course, during this season we have to contend with the ice and the slush. It warms up during the day to above freezing, then turns everything into an ice rink over night. The worst part of it is that one of the lower parts of the pasture is right by the water tank, which makes it treacherous to get to for 2- and 4-leggeds alike. We've tossed some straw down to help give them some traction in the area, but it won't get any better until the temperatures really start to rise and the ground isn't frozen.
Koda and I have started doing some simple easy rides in the yard. Since the yard was only ploughed for what was needed, we have some different terrain to ride through from packed down snow (slippery!) or deep snow that goes up to his hocks. Its kind of like a mini terrain park where I just take him around in different areas, playing with a little lateral work (leg yields, turns on haunches and forehand), backing up, and being very specific to where his feet fall.
We had a moment the other day where backing up was the hardest thing in the world, especially going straight instead of curling around to the left. Our exercise was to march forward 10-15 strides, back 5. The conversation went something like this:
Me: Back, Koda
Koda: Okay! (starts backing around in a circle to the left)
Me: No, straight back (left leg cue to move haunches over)
Me: Koda, move your haunches over! (more insistent cue with left leg)
Me: GET YOUR BUTT OVER!!
Koda: OMG YOU'RE EVIL!!!! WHAT DO YOU WANT?!
Koda moves a touch to the right with his haunches.
I checked myself to make sure I wasn't giving mixed cues, moved to a different section of the yard and went at it again.
Me: Back, Koda
Koda: ABSOLUTELY NOT (head in air, drama llama style)
Me: Koda, back up
Koda: NO!!!!! (more drama llama)
Me: *double check all cues, all seems correct* BACK!
Koda: Not. Moving.
Me: FINE, move your haunches then
Koda: sure (does a lovely half turn on the haunches)
After that point, we did some work on doing smaller back steps, emphasis on straightness and not asking for too much at a time. Once Koda had his feet moving again, and I was asking for less steps back, we were fine. Note to self: Bring Koda back slowly into work, he will shut down if I push him too fast, or will give me a temper tantrum.
Oh the temper tantrums...