Summer sucks.

There, I said it.

The romance of the summer season died a long time ago for me. At 30, the years where I spent a few lazy months free from school commitments, usually at the beach or the barn, are long gone. And now that I have a horse who struggles to sweat, I couldn’t loathe the humid, rainy, 90-plus degree months more. (Did I mention we live in Florida?)

So after our last jumper show at the beginning of June, I made the call to basically go into hibernation. I don’t want to put too much undo dress on my horse, who had a very rough summer last year, and honestly, it’s so hot to try to ride when it isn’t downpouring anyway.

So yes, we’re slowing down. But that doesn’t mean we’re no longer being productive.

I’ve decided to dedicate the entire summer getting back to the basics with my big green gelding. We’re taking regular lessons with a dressage trainer in an effort to really drill down on flat work. So far, we’re learning a lot.

My big gangly horse is going to require a heck of a lot of schooling over fences before he’s consistent and ready to start moving up to jumps that are taller than his knees. But I’m not in this to rush his learning process. First off, he needs to learn to consistently be straight at all gaits, and balanced would probably be a good idea too.

If we can start to build muscle in the right areas as he learns to balance and control his gaits, I imagine that will only improve our jumping once it’s cool enough to return to it.

Flat work also ain’t easy. There are days when a 20-minute ride just schooling the trot in various circles is as, or more, strenuous than an hour-and-a-half long jump lesson.

Thus far, I can feel us making progress in all the right directions. I’m staying fit during our shorter, simpler rides and my horse is still healthy, still learning and still moving forward. I bet I’ll be anxious to hop over a fence by the end of September, though.