Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Windy and Colder With Horses

Today it was cloudy, chilly and windy - wind chills were in the 40sF.  Tomorrow's going to be windier - with gusts to 60mph - and with  rain likely.  I figured that I'd better ride while I could.  I didn't ride Dawn - I usually don't when it's very windy as she can be very unpredictable under those conditions.

The mares and geldings (not including Drifter who's on solo turnout due to his aggressiveness towards Pie) swapped pastures today.  This meant that Drifter could no longer see the mares easily from his pasture - he was beside himself and did lots of running and calling.  He did settle down eventually.  He seems to have virtually no interest in socializing with the two geldings, Pie and Scout, and only views them as rivals for the affections of the mares, whom he seems to adore.

So riding Drifter today presented some challenges - it was cold and windy, he was worried about the new pasture arrangements, and the mares' pasture is now the one adjacent to the arena.  All matters for high levels of distraction.  My objectives with him under these conditions were simple - to establish that we can work (if only a bit) under these conditions so that working just becomes a matter of routine, and to have things go reasonably well - no meltdowns or acting up.  If that meant that all we did was walk, that was fine by me - I was determined to ride the horse I had today and not some imaginary horse that wasn't there.

Drifter was extremely fidgety on the crossties when I was grooming him - it was a sign of the weather and his mood.  We did some leading work in the arena so I could gauge his level of distraction and excitement - he was very distracted and somewhat excited but was able to respond to my asks so I mounted up.  He was fairly tense and desperately wanted to run down to the mares - I could feel his level of tension and didn't want any explosions.  So we did what we were able to do and considered it good - lots of circles and serpentines, some backing, all at the walk.  So long as he was able to walk in a fairly relaxed manner, we walked in a straight line; if another horse screamed, or he was distracted by the mares moving around their pasture and his head popped up, we circled, with no constraint on the outside rein so he wouldn't feel trapped.  I also was careful to keep my legs off him as he was already pretty forward as well as tense.  He managed to hold it together and do everything I asked, although there were a couple of moments when "the horse is thinking about leaving" (to quote one of my sidebar posts) - before that thought could fully form and turn into action, we would circle until he was able to be with me again.  I was proud of him for being able to do that much under such weather and mental conditions.

Then I rode Pie - he was also pretty up due to the weather, but also very responsive.  We rode in the arena and had a nice but not too long session - I'm gradually bringing him back into work.  We did a fair amount of figure work at the walk and trot as well as some backing and turns on the haunches.  He was a very good Pie.

Not too bad for a windy and cold day with horses.

15 comments:

  1. Glad Pie is getting back into work!

    P.S. You commented on my most recent post about MareBerry. I had considered Mare Magic, as I had heard it worked, but when I looked into MareBerry, I liked that it is also raspberry leaves (i like that is natural) and it's slightly cheaper than Mare Magic.

    Do you notice a change in your mare from before she was on it to now? My mare is a complete sweetie most of the time, but when she's in heat sometimes she just is in "a mood." Also, does she eat it well. I would never accuse Missy of being "picky," but I just want to make sure.

    Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  2. We've had a lot of strong wind, but it sure wasn't that cold here! You are some trooper with those horses.
    I have a question for you...have you ever had a horse with a stifle problem and if so, what did you do about it?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oh, and do you keep her on it all year...sorry for multiple posts...I knew I would forget something!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Not bad at all for those weather conditions. Windy days accompanied by a big temperature drop are not my favorite days to ride!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Keeping it simple when we know they can do so much more is not easy to do. It's a lesson I've been trying to do as well.

    I'm so glad Pie is doing better, well enough to come back into work at least.

    I wish the wind would end too.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Mare - MareBerry is basically the same as Mare Magic and it is somewhat cheaper. We keep our mares on it year round, and have noticed improvement in their behavior when they're in heat. If a mare doesn't have much distraction/irritability when in heat - like Maisie where you could hardly tell she was in heat - I wouldn't bother, but MareBerry might make some difference if her heats are strong. Good luck with that - I love mares but sometimes . . .

    ReplyDelete
  7. Lori - most horses with stifle problems (assuming they're not too serious) benefit from regular exercise - lots of trotting, not too many corners and keeping those shallow, and also walking and trotting over poles - all these things strengthen the muscles that support the stifle. Maisie was prone to this due to her conformation - she was cow-hocked/toes-out behind. But sometimes stifle problems can be a symptom of something else like a problem in the hip or sacrum so you might want a chiropractor to take a look.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Mare - and the mares seem to like the raspberry leaves and eat them right up.

    ReplyDelete
  9. We've had 2 days of wind here too. Yuck.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Sounds like you have a good handle on Drifer ns his challenges. A couple of wide awake, but good horses you have there

    ReplyDelete
  11. Cold windy weather does make for frisky horses! I would have passed on Dawn as well. It sounds like the other two kept their heads and gave you good rides.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Thanks Kate, I'm SERIOUSLY considering it!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Crazy isn't it, you are cooling down and I am warming up! hehehehehe

    ReplyDelete
  14. I'm happy to hear that Pie is feeling good. This is definitely frisky weather- even Silk is fired up with the sudden change in the temperature. It's good to be slow and cautious when there are high winds. I always wonder what people are trying to prove when they insist on acting like there's no difference- usually it's their ego overpowering their concern for their horses and their own safety. I'm all for your Slow Horsemanship philosophy!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Good, sensible work with the boys and smart, sensible decision not to ride Dawn.

    Glad Pie is still doing well.

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for commenting - we appreciate it. No spam or marketing comments will be published.