The Heat is On
Both literally and figuratively! I’m sort of considering this one long off season right now so that we can get stronger and better and be back to showing next year and boy do we ever need it. Both of us are out of shape and a bit fluffier than I’d like (more so me than Katai). Unfortunately it’s also the hottest part of summer and I don’t deal with heat well so that adds some complication, however, I’ve been really solution focused recently so with that here are a few things we’re doing.
For me mostly I’m trying to just get more movement in every day. With my mental health struggles over the past year and being sick so much I went from decently fit to absolute couch potato. Picking back up running was just way too much to face right away so I’m trying to do smaller things like going for a walk on my work breaks. Just going to the barn more is helping since even doing simple tasks like grooming and lunging are better than sitting on the couch watching Netflix :) Even better is when I ride. I’ve also started to do core work outs on a regular basis. I’m hoping to get to a point where once it cools off I can get back into running this fall and then carry it through on the treadmill this winter.
For Katai I had a great step by step plan but then she blew that up when she decided to be a right twat about lunging and then about being ridden and then about lunging and riding. Instead of a couple of easy stretchy days with a slightly harder cardio day she ended up doing an hour ride, then a long mostly canter lunge, and then a 45 minute ride/lunge. Pony mares….
At any rate she got a few days off that turned into several days off with the heat. As soon as I’m not worried that I’ll get heat stroke again (I’ve already had it twice this year) I’ll be getting back to the step by step work outs.
|Miss Puppy got stuck and couldn't turn around|
There are a bunch of things that I’ve wanted to do but that I’ve been throwing up barriers about. One is the wash “stall” at this barn. It’s outdoors, near the house so that it can share hot water, and is a concrete slab with a wooden fence on three sides. I like this set up except the wooden fence is SUPER rotted and I absolutely guarantee you that if I tie Katai to it she’ll pull at least hard enough to take down part of the fence (since I can move it around without much effort). Since I can’t have that risk it’s meant that it’s really tough to spray her off or bathe her since she’s really water averse.
However, since it’s hot and she’s getting sweaty I’ve needed to spray her off and I’ve been working on getting her to just relax and not mind so much. She’s still not a huge fan but I’m now able to spray off every part of her while she stands still with her head down on a loose lead. It’s HUGE progress for us and I’m proud of both of us for sticking with it. The real test will come this week when I give her a full bath.
The other is riding outside. Part of the issue is that I’ve boarded places that didn’t have safe space to ride outside or safe trail access. Now that I have that I’ve been working this summer to get her comfortable riding outside. We were doing REALLY well and doing mini trail rides around the property and longer trail rides with a calm friend (the horse not the person since both of us riders have anxiety lol). In the midst of that I started acclimating her to her easy boot gloves since I did some research and found that I could actually use them in an arena setting!! I had been worried about the added bulk but it turns out that barrel racers use these and if they can do those sharp turns at speed it’s probably ok for me to occasionally ride my pony in the arena on 20 meter circles and straight at w/t/c.
I started acclimating her to them on a walking trail ride and then hand walking her in the arena. She had been super calm about riding and working outside (which was frankly kind of shocking after her past behavior) so then I planned a light ride outside. Amazingly there were a couple of people working on dressage at the lower arena so I “joined” them and brought her down there. She was slightly tight when I mounted but after some work on walking and halting she breathed out and was perfect. I planned another longer ride out there, not thinking much about it, and she had a total meltdown. I was proud of myself that I put my trainer hat on and we worked for about an hour mostly riding but with some ground work as well. I was very patient and giving except when she was trying to rear because that is just not allowed. She was REALLY wound up though so ending on a good note meant just getting a decent, but very tight, trot and then a walk that wasn’t jigging as much.
I lunged her the next day and she was still really up but better so I planned another outdoor ride. The day before I’d had food poisoning and still wasn’t feeling 100% but I was just planning on a nice easy ride doing some walk, a little trot, and focusing on relaxation. That was not what Katai had in mind. She had another melt down which resulted in 45 minutes of work some lunging and mostly riding. I also overdid it and then ended up with mild heat stroke for the second time this year :(
At any rate I still had my trainer hat on and we did make progress. That was last weekend and this past week with the heat I didn’t make it out a ton and when I did I was being conservative with my rides. I decided to ride in the indoor to see if she was still as reactive since that might point to pain or discomfort. She hasn’t been uclery and after the first bad ride I palpated her back and couldn’t get a reaction but I figured it was still a good check point. However, we had an excellent, relaxed, flowing ride in the indoor so I’m 100% sure that in the outdoor it’s behavior related. I did a light halter lunge down there a couple of days ago and she was nice and relaxed and much less spooky and reactive so fingers crossed we’re headed in the right direction. At least with the easy boots I’m able to work on this!
I have high hopes that I’ll be able to finish up addressing this major tantrum behavior over the next week as I have time and then we can go back to productive rides that slowly ramp up fitness!