Working on Speed Control

After all the ice we’ve had this month, Dressy hasn’t been out nearly as much as I had hoped for. But I did finally manage to get out yesterday and today. The footing is vastly improved. On Saturday it got warm enough to make the ice kind of mushy on top, and then it snowed. So the snow stuck to the wet ice, and has pretty much eliminated all the slick spots.

Yesterday, Misha came out on Diego for a lap around the front field first. She wasn’t feeling too well, so she went back to the barn after that, and I carried on to the back field with Dressy. Dressy felt that having one of her subjects abandon her to the ravening wolves who surely live in that back field was just plain WRONG. It’s Diego’s job, as one of Dressy’s minions, to be eaten first. So that was a snorty speedwalking lap. I got her around and back home , and then took her to the round pen where we did quite a bit of circling and a few other exercises to reinstall her brain. Then we went back out and worked our way around the front field again. This time, doing circling exercises as we went.  It did seem to help somewhat. She was still excited, but all her bids for more speed were frustrated by the circles (which she had to do MORE of every time she put on a burst). Eventually it occurred to her that she really might as well slow down and pay attention.

Today was pretty much a repeat of yesterday’s ride, without any company (which was better really… being abandoned mid-ride was apparently quite a shock to her… though obviously that’s one more hole to be addressed in her training). We just went a bit further, and thus did many more circles. Especially once we got back to the yard and she wouldn’t walk up to the barn. We must’ve done about a hundred circles all around the round pen and the front yard. But she did finally walk to the barn politely.

I put on too many clothes for today’s ride, thinking that I’d be out there longer. But of course, I was working hard with all the circling and “discussions” about speed. So I worked up a bit of a sweat. And am now feeling rather wilted.

It looks quite funny in the GPS Track. It records the track intermittently, every couple of seconds I think. So instead of showing little looping circles, the track just has strange jittering zigzags and triangles. And ummm… yes a couple of big speed spikes just before all the zigzags 🙂

I think we have probably made a bit of progress anyway. She’s pretty much at her worst right now, being very fit, and having done nothing for a week or two beforehand. Her paddock has had terrible footing too, so she hasn’t even been able to move around outside much at all and so she is fizzing over with energy.  And although she was definitely hot and wanted to go today, she didn’t do anything awful other than rush. We even dealt with an unexpected man beside a golf cart, running a chain saw. That certainly woke her up 🙂   But she didn’t do anything other than open her eyes really wide… well that and a few snorts…

I’m going to try to keep up some sort of schooling work every ride for the next while. I’ve neglected that with her lately, and she needs it. I am very concerned that we never repeat the craziness of her first 50… wherein we did the first 12 mile loop in just over an hour (not intentional on my part… just too dumb to prevent it). And I ended up pulling her at the third check when she stopped eating. She was a nightmare to ride that day. That was the day that I realized that I was quite wrong to think she was smart and would take good care of herself. King… now he takes care of himself. King doesn’t even like to work up a sweat. And if it’s a choice between catching a horse ahead, and a juicy patch of grass… the grass will always win. Dressy could and would run herself into the ground if I let her.

Chrystal recently got some advice from Becky Hart on exercises for this sort of thing, and we are going to try them with our two (ex-racehorse) mares when I take Dressy over to the Ganaraska Forest for longer conditioning rides in March/April.

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