Wednesday, January 30, 2013

When good plans go wrong

After the extreme freeze we have been in, with temperatures not even breaking the 20 degree mark for over a week, I hadn't had much chance to ride since I don't ride if it is below 10 degrees.  When it suddenly warmed up this past week, I jumped at the chance to ride and planned to ride every day until I gave a lesson again on Friday.

I went on a nice trail ride with the TWH on Saturday and it started out really nice.  I took my GSD with us as she loves long walks, I tie her retractable leash to the saddle and both the dog and the horses are okay with this arrangement.  For 3/4 of the ride we had a great time, the TWH was just gaiting along, bebopping along without much care in the world.  As we got to the last leg, however, I figured we should slow down and go at a walk since the roads were still covered in packed snow and we had a big hill to walk up.  The TWH had a different opinion, however, and refused to go at a nice walk and as soon as I would let up contact, he would power into a nice gait.  Which would be fine except I asked for a walk.  I tried bopping him with the reins when he would speed up and that didn't work.  I tried asking for lateral movements and while it sort of worked, it required contact and I didn't want contact. The TWH was quite out of character with his behavior as he typically does what I ask without much fuss but he would have none of this walking.  At one point my dog went on the wrong side of a mailbox and so I was trying to coordinate her with the TWH and he started throwing a fit, he did not want to stand still nor be patient while I worked the leash.  He got some hard kicks and yanks before he stood still and when we finally continued on towards home I gave up and kept a nice short rein to force him to walk at the speed I wanted.  Unfortunately I was against a hard timeline and didn't have the ability to go around the block a second time to reinforce the walk like I needed to.  Will do it next time for sure.

On Monday I rode the TWH in the arena and he was much better behaved.  We worked on getting him into the outside rein at both a walk and a trot and I was very insistent that he provide a true trot.  We also worked on contact with the bit as he doesn't care for contact at all and will avoid much contact all of the time but insists on no contact in transitions.  At the end of the ride it was much better and he is coming along, the trot/walk/halt/walk/trot transitions are helping as he isn't getting time to avoid contact.  Next week we can start cantering again (still under rehab instructions from his lameness at the beginning of the month), it will be fun!

My plans were to ride every day until Friday as I need to be back in the saddle to prepare him for our first show in either April or May.  Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were all in the 50's so it would be awesome weather to ride, it would be great!  Because the weather has been so strange and it has been raining every day, the pastures are a sloppy mess.  I have been locking the horses in the arena and leaving the donkey in the barn until lunch.  This gives the horses a chance to eat their alfalfa hay so the donkey doesn't get it and then the donkey is turned out in the arena.  When I went out on Tuesday at lunch, I was so happy at the temperature.  Warm, wonderful.  I noticed some of the barn was flooded again.  Damn, that sucks but it happens semi regularly, no biggie.  I grabbed the donkey and went to the arena and my face fell.  3/4 of my arena was under water and I literally had a stream running through it.  The east side (long side) of the arena faces a uphill slight slope and the water and broken the little dam I built and was pouring into my arena.

The water had also reached under the pallets that held the hay stored in the corner of the arena.  I left work 2 hours early and spent about 4 hours fixing it all.  I made a trench in the arena to drain the water, made a new, bigger, dam on the east side of my arena, re-cleared the trench that moves the outside water away from the east side of my arena, moved about 30 bales of arena hay so they wouldn't be over wet ground, made a new, bigger, dam for the front of my barn and moved 20 bales of hay in the barn so they too wouldn't be over wet ground.  I started at 3p, took a break from 5-6 for dinner and didn't get back in the house until 830p.

Unfortunately there will be no riding until at least Thursday as I wait for the arena to finish draining and be fairly firm again.  I will go out at lunch and will try dragging the arena to see if I can make it be semi stable before things freeze again tonight, am just hoping that not much sand washed out this time.  Best laid plans fail.


  1. Aww dang!!!

    On the trail ride..... is there any chance TWH would bolt for any reason? I would hate for your dog to get dragged... I don't want you to think I'm trying to tell you what to do, but that scares me. Storm got her paws pretty messed up one time when I did that... Can we see pictures of your GSD? They are one of my absolute favorite breed of dogs. I had several when I was growing up. :)

    1. Thankfully neither of my horses are bolters. I also, however, have some safeties in place. I have the leash tied to the saddle with a slipknot so I could pull it and release the leash at any time. She is also on a Gentle Leader which, if she tried hard enough, will come off because I don't keep it tight. She also has on a collar with her name/address and is microchipped. It is also a 24 foot retractable leash so there is a lot of play that would allow for reaction time. Hope you can try it one day!

    2. Sweet! I'm glad you're taking precautions. I knew you probably did, but I couldn't help voicing my concern. :) When Storm got hurt it was a regular leash looped over the saddle horn. She's fine obviously, but I won't do that again. I might try it your way sometime though because she liked going.