Since my boy's body condition took a roller coaster ride over the winter it made me realize that we either use it or lose it. Because Razz just lost too much too quickly. At least I felt like it was a drastic loss at the time. Looking back on things maybe I got a little carried away with the issue, nevertheless his weight loss was real.
He's gained it back now. Well, most of it anyway. He's still more narrow just below the wither where his back starts. Its a matter of building that muscle up. So I have been pursuing a fitness program in hopes of getting it back. We haven't been following any plan in particular, I've just been using common sense and listening to my horse.
We have what I call cardio days, in which we make laps around the large corn field (formerly the soybean field). It's really perfect for that sort of thing. We do trot and canter, while cantering I usually let him set his own pace. Not a snail's pace, he has to work, but I do let him pick what he's comfortable with. Now that it's getting hot and humid his stamina is less than it was in the cool. I listen, he lets me know when he's done, and then we walk it out. With the heat we are doing about 20-30 active minutes and calling it good, this seems to work well.
Now I know the laps alone aren't the magical cure. The cardio keeps him prepped for our arena sessions. I used to hate riding in the ring, but not anymore. That's where the riding renaissance comes in. I actually call it a Razzaissance for kicks and giggles. We go in, we walk until his back is warmed up. Some days that's only four laps, some days it can be ten. He goes on the buckle for a stretch at first, and I shorten up the reins when I 'm ready for him to take things serious and put his game face on.
|excuse me, did you just mention work? I don't like the sound of that|
I generally go straight to canter from our walk warm up. He just goes better asking for a canter first. I usually ask on the long side, but never in a corner. I've got his leads installed nicely and he picks them up almost every time. Flying changes and roll backs are nbd for us either. I'm thankful for these dependable movements we have while flatting. Razz's trot following the canter is much nicer, and he steps under behind more these days, but he still hollows at first.
We practice circles of different sizes. I like to go larger than normal (maybe 30 meters) on multiple trot or canter circles just to save some horse for longer rides. Lots of small circles kick his ass. It usually takes me a full circle to come out of my two point and straiten up nicely. Then I have to think inside leg to outside rein the whole time. And I have to raise my outside rein a little higher to achieve the bend, but achieve we do.
We also jump. Because Razz has always liked jumping, and I'm really beginning to like it as well. Razz used to jump 4 ft during his days as lesson pony. I have taken him to 3'3". We have no business going any higher than that right now. I am too green. And homeboy needs a serious refresher. He gets very strong after the first couple jumps and starts to race around the arena, leaning into and bracing in the bridle. Back to our circles we go. I may use a 20 meter if he's absolutely flying, just to help pull him up. Son of a bitch doesn't have any brakes when this stuff starts. Once collected, we jump again.
We've dropped the fences to 2'- 2'6. I trot them just as much as I canter. I use ground poles. I set lines between two elements. Anything to polish. That's what we need.
Tons of polish.
Somewhere just past the half way point in our arena rides, which last a little less than a full hour, I actually start feeling Razz coming into the bridle correctly, the drive from behind is in full effect, his back is engaged and underneath me. It comes in bits and pieces. Maybe half a circle. Maybe three large laps on the rail. But it's there and I am happy.
We do all this to keep the boy and myself in shape. Like I said earlier, use it or lose it.
My birthday is approaching in June. I think I'm going to ask for a riding lesson for my birthday. One. Measly. Lesson. We have no in-house trainer so I will have to pay for the lesson and trainer travel. If Razz would hop on my little two horse trailer like he used to, we would just haul off for the lesson. But it's a huge fight getting him on there anymore, and considering he walks right on something tb height and more spacious I just stopped fighting with him over it. Yes, I let him win one dammit.
Anywho, I'm excited about the possibility of a lesson. especially a fresh pair of eyes that have never watched Razz and I go before. A new perspective on us will be refreshing. My budget is so damn tight right now that I'm just not able to schedule some instruction on the reg. I just finished traveling for three whole weeks collectively and lost just as much on my wages. I paid for two people during the travels. And I came home only to be faced the following month with more bills not in the normal rotation (spring vet, car insurance for 16 year old, my own annual dr. visits for general health, female things, and 6 month teeth, and don't forget prom dress, alterations, etc). I have been completely wrung out to dry. And any extra I get from here on out will be saved for my trip to AECs in Tryon this September.
We are progressing. I have had a total shift in though on arena riding, pony fitness, and barn habits. I crave arena rides now but we still hit the trails to take a break from all the work. Seeing the smallest of fruits from my labors, even if they aren't completely ripe yet, are so gratifying.
So yeah, we still kick sand, but now we kick sand with a purpose.