Monday, March 21, 2016

Conditioning in March, 2016 – Ups (and Downs)

Conditioning for the 2016 season has started in earnest. The video below was from my last conditioning ride, also featuring our riding buddies Vanessa and her Arab gelding, Jinn.

In three weeks we’ve had three really successful conditioning rides trailering out to parks with good riding. I’ve been filling in the gaps with arena work (boring, but the local farm roads I will ride on later in the season are still too muddy to traverse).

Last ride I borrowed Vanessa's extra side-pull bridle for half the ride, and Deli went pretty well in it. I like that it does not twist on her face like other side-pulls we've tried.

Grazing break while Vanessa looked for a lost hoof boot in the mud.
There have been some bad points. Mostly: my Deli was an absolute nightmare getting back into my friend’s trailer after one conditioning ride at a local park. She’d been recalcitrant before, but had always gotten on (after our first ride she even hopped on with very little fuss). This time after nearly six hours in the dark and rain, my barn owner offered to rescue us. I’ve never had to be rescued in that way, and I was incredibly humiliated and frustrated. I know the weather and her fear (of a small trailer) had something to do with her behavior (hail and rain, which makes noises on the trailer roof and frightens her) but she was also just being a brat at times.

We rode in the rain, then it cleared up. Then (when we were trying to get back into the pictured trailer) it started raining again.
You know when you work so hard to make your horse a solid citizen and then you have a day where it seems like they willfully forget everything? Yeah. FacePALM.

Deli sure does not look like she's about to fight loading forever, does she?
She just seems to dislike my friend’s trailer (an older Brenderup) and this does not apply to ALL trailers. She loads without much hesitation into an old stock and everything else I’ve tried recently. Though, because I really want to ride with my new friend, this is problematic nonetheless!

Ironically the trail ride before that nightmare was AMAZING. 

Looking out at the Clackamas River.

Deli and Jinn hanging out and being polite like good ponies.

Deli waiting patiently to GET GOING.

I mentioned there was a muddy bit, right?
We have found a conditioning buddy who is, essentially, the perfect match for us. I think we riders get along great and have a lot in common. And Deli and Jinn have quickly become buddies (but without buddy-sourness). As an extra bonus, their paces are similar. Deli seems to truly enjoy these rides. She’s forward, offering to trot along on a loose rein. She really excels at tackling hills and technical footing, though we walk sloooowly for the downhill bits. She seems to recover quickly. During our last ride she drank whenever offered water.

And I'm happy to report that my horse happily leads the pack now. It helps that she isn't nervous about Jinn being behind her. It's lovely!

Our new saddle is comfortable and I just got some NEW wider panels which will hopefully spread my weight out even more. I still have plans to get some Skito foam inserts and other ways to niggle with our tack. For instance, we need to figure out a better system for attaching out trail bags, since my bags are made for an English saddle and don't exactly match my new GHOST saddle.

Deli at home after our most recent conditioning ride. She's looking good for an almost-17-year old mare!

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