Ready for Spring
Last night, I was riding in the indoor arena. The weather has been mild enough that I could have gone on the trail, but it was dark. Until the time changes, I really don’t have enough daylight to ride on the trail after work. I am glad I have the indoor arena. It allows me to ride all winter long. Years ago, when we were at a barn without one, my riding was very sporadic in the winter. Between bad weather and bad footing, sometimes I couldn’t ride for a few weeks at a time, and even when I could ride, it wasn’t very pleasant and seldom productive.
I started out my indoor riding season with great aspirations. I was going to try to get Cruiser back to where he was before he bowed his tendon and things got complicated. I did pretty well, too. I can feel that he doesn’t have the power in the hindquarters that he used to have, though. Age is catching up with him. Still, we did so much better than the last few years. We even had some moments of perfection. It was wonderful.
I had higher goals with Cole. I really wanted to get him cantering in the arena, and I did a few times, but it was such a struggle most of the time that I gave up. I will solve it on the trail this summer, I’m sure. He knows what I want out there. In the arena, he doesn’t trot faster—he trots bigger, deeper and simply fantastic when I push him to go faster. If I push too strong or too long, he gets confused and bucks in frustration. Once he gets locked into the trot, it is hard to unlock him. I did better in getting him to canter on the lounge line, but it has been such a mild winter, that he hasn’t needed much lounging. I would so much rather ride than lounge. I just didn’t do it regularly enough for him to understand the verbal command.
His trot has become more gorgeous. He is learning the leg yield too well. I had started him on shoulder in, but he was learning that too well, too. When he learns too well, that’s all he wants to do. It makes doing simple things like just trotting around, more complicated. He has a great turn on the haunches, terrific side pass and lovely walk-trot transitions. I taught him to stop with rein pressure. (Sounds strange that he didn’t know that, but he is so good with the verbal command, I guess he never learned it.) Backing and whoa-walk transitions are still not as consistent as I like. I keep working on them, though. He has figured out how to do small circles without losing his balance—most of the time. Sometimes he forgets he has to shorten his stride in his rear legs and they skid all out of control or his legs get tangled.
About half way through Cole’s ride last night, it hit me like a freight train—I am bored with arena riding. All my aspirations and accomplishments meant nothing. I missed my trail riding. Once this idea popped into my head, Cole started to ignore me, and he began sticking his nose up in the air and wiggling it. I had to refocus my brain to refocus his. We ended up on a good note.
I then rode Cruiser on his ride. It only took about 10 minutes, and I was ready to quit. I didn’t, though. I continued on with the ride—resisting the temptation to take him outside and walk him up and down the driveway. I guess getting out on a couple trail rides this weekend ruined me. I am ready for spring and trail riding season to begin.