So I haven't been the happiest with Razz's physical condition lately. He lost his top line, gained man boobs, he's just not in shape at all. Yes the senior years are creeping up on us. He will be 17 next year. But that doesn't mean he has to fall all to hell.
This past Saturday we began our process of getting back into shape. Why wait for the new year to start working out? There's no time like the present. I am taking advantage of the soybean field behind the barn for our workouts. Put Razz in the ring and he turns down his go about five notches. Bring him into an open field, completely different pony. The beans are still there and need to be harvested before they go bad. But there is a huge mowed track around the beans almost shaped like a triangle. It's probably ten feet wide with good soft grass footing.
I began late in the afternoon on Saturday. My daughter was in a Christmas parade earlier so I was occupied for the morning/mid-day. I left my phone in the barn, no distractions on this ride. It also meant no pictures. But how many "between the ears" bean field shots does one need anyway? We started on the right lead at a walk of course. I was completely focused and doing my best to remember all my dressage training. My legs were right there on his sides, ready but not asking for anything. My hips were loose and I had my lower body moving right along with the sway of Razz's stride. My ass could not have been communicating with his back any more clearly, even if it had teeth. We worked on tempo and straightness. Same thing when I asked him to trot, tempo & straightness. I was happy with what he gave me. And he kept his back underneath me the whole time. In the ring he would have hollowed. We walked a little more before I asked for a walk to canter transition in a straight stretch. He got his lead. Good boy!! However he was totally pulling us along with his fronts. I expected this. And I let him carry on in this manner for maybe 50 yards. Then I sat a little deeper in the saddle and followed with my shoulders back, shifting his momentum to the hind. He responded as best he could. Knowing that for now it was the best I was gonna get from him, we began to work on tempo and straightness once again. And we were cantering along very nicely. And it was wonderful.
Then he spooked. At what? I have no idea. Something in the tree line. We went into the beans, which are brown and barely hanging on to the stiff, dry stalks they grow from. The stalks are just tall enough to poke my pony in the belly as he charged in. I'm sure it was very uncomfortable. He put the breaks on and shifted in the completely opposite direction, exactly like a cutting horse, to get out of those beans. Nice Razz, you got that hind end working after all.
We got back onto the mowed track and picked the canter up like nothing happened. At this point I was approaching the first complete lap around the field. I made him canter past the bridge leading back to the barn and demanded he keep his tempo. He did get a little crooked going by. But he kept his pace so good enough for our first pass. It takes five to ten minutes to go around once depending on your pace. Another round on the right lead, still asking for transitions, straightness, & tempo. There is one place on the backstretch where water runs off. It's not quite a ditch but Razz insists on treating it like one and we hop over it. We go almost to the gate again. Then we change directions.
And it was more of the same in this direction. Transitions, straighness, and tempo. No more spooks. Two laps and change directions again.
I made a total of eight laps, four in each direction. Razz was a real champ and I was pleased. The sun had gone down at this point and it was pretty much dark. We made one final lap to cool down.
I have to be careful not to overheat the boy, as he is sporting a full winter coat. It's been in the 70s for the past couple weeks. Had I known the season would start so mild, I would have given him a trace clip in the beginning. But it is gonna get cold (I think?) and I'm afraid to blanket him with his new pasture mates. One of them took his fly mask off all the time. I can only imagine what they'd do with a blanket. So he will keep his coat and we will work around it.
I did manage to get a post ride pic of him just hanging out in his stall after his dinner. It was really dark now and I was hungry too, so I gave him kisses and went home to enjoy my own dinner.