Ah, winter. Being Canadian, I suppose I’m used to it, but that doesn’t necessarily make it easier to accept. Personally, I tend to do quite well with it up until after Christmas, and then it starts to get on my nerves. I start itching to get back into serious riding and I long for the snow to melt.
Another thing that winter brings with it is the emergence of the abominable snowhorse. Two inch long white fur, a bushy mane, and oh boy, a serious attitude. Being a horse that needs to be worked at least 5 days a week, the winter lull leaves the Yeti with, ahem, lets just say lots of excess energy. Logistically, trailering to an indoor regularly is just not possible and I don’t have the means to move him to a facility with an indoor, so it’s me, the Yeti, and the snow.
For the most part, we just wander the fields, and that’s nice, but it gets chilly and the Yeti, getting bored, comes up with his own ways to entertain himself. As you can probably guess, they aren’t necessarily ways that I support or enjoy taking part it. “Ahhhhhh, a snow flake! Lets play don’t step on any snow flakes!” Umm, buddy, let’s think this through….. “Oh, right, okay, lets have a dance party in the snow and then try to run home!” Umm, not even sure how to respond to this one, lets try to use that thing between your ears, okay?
Alright, so I’m partially joking, he can be really good and the rides can be great, but some days…
Now, I don’t know about you guys, but I have been watching a little bit of the George Morris Horsemastership Training Session. Something that really stuck with me was, when George was riding Dana’s horse, he kept saying how spoiled it was in that it would not quietly accept the aids. He said that when the horse resists, you have to resist back to the same degree – one pound of resistance from the horse equals one pound of resistance from you. Although there were some ugly moments, the horse was going a lot better at the end of George’s ride.
Hmm, this got me thinking. Just because I’m riding out in the fields through the snow doesn’t mean that I need to put up with all of antics the grey thing has been giving me. Also, isn’t now the perfect time to work on stuff like this? It would sure be nice to go into spring a few steps forward.
With this thought in mind, I put on my winter riding gloves, and off into the hayfield we went.
Lets just say that, at first, I’m sure glad that no one was watching. As soon as I put my leg on to ask him to step underneath himself, the Yeti took it as an invitation to jump forwards and run for the hills with his head in the air. Following another piece of George’s advice, I carried my hands higher and half halted up, and what do you know, that’s pretty nifty. Immediately, well okay, eventually, the Yeti began to listen. I made a point of being very steady and definite with my contact, and not giving in when he acted up. Instead, I would resist to the same degree that he was, and pretty soon he began to get the message. Of course, this was done all at the walk and we looked nothing like the polished riders in the Training Session, but hey, George wasn’t watching us!
Along the same train of thought, instead of wandering around, I decided to increase our productivity and ask for some schooling figures. Once again, although ugly at first, consistent aids brought the Yeti’s mind around to the task and he began to concentrate. Straight lines, serpentines, figure eights, the more I made him do, the better he got. And the bonus? I love being able to see our tracks in the snow! Crooked line? Egg-shaped circle? It’s written in the snow- better fix it!
So, all in all, maybe not a breakthrough, I have always known that he is better when I keep his mind on something, but a definite reminder. Although the jumps have been stored since October and the footing doesn’t support more than a walk, winter can be for more than just wandering around. Even if you don’t have access to an indoor and your horse is lost under piles of winter hair, pick up a march, apply those aids, and don’t let the spoiled brat get away with being bad. If all keeps going well, maybe, just maybe, I can start calling him Traveller again….although Yeti has a certain ring to it, don’t you think?
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