Some of you lucky readers get to ride year around. Maybe you live someplace where it is seventy degrees 12 months of the year. Maybe you have your very own indoor arena that protects you from inclement weather. Maybe you are just super-duper immune to heat, rain, wind and cold. As for me, well, I don’t have any of those advantages.
While during the Winter I often ride at a local lesson barn on other people’s horses, my own horses typically have a good four-five months off every season. I find the temperature, weather and footing/road conditions are not conducive to riding at my own place or even trailering anywhere else to ride during long Mid-Western Winters.
This Winter I did get in a couple of bareback rides at home on my newest horse, Shiloh. Our first ride of the year was also our very first bareback ride together. He has one of those broad backs that ended up making for a very comfortable ride without a saddle.
So every Spring, once the weather warms up and the constant rain stops, I need to get my horses used to being ridden again. Its not so much that they seem to forget their training, its just that they get rusty with the whole process and are out of shape.
My goal each year is to start them off slowly. Usually this means lots of short rides at first (like 10-15 minutes rides). I spend more time tacking up and untacking than I do riding unfortunately, but for me, I find this helps re-acclimate them to a routine without the risk of souring them on work early in the season.
It also means that I do a lot of walking, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be productive. I was reminded of this when I was reading a recent post from the Relaxed and Forward Horse Blog by Anna Blake. You can read the post here:
Anna Blake’s post is complementary to a a previous post of mine. The post entitled “Ten Ideas For Staying in The Saddle If You Struggle With Riding Alone” includes a section with ideas for riding at the walk.
In re-reading that post, I now realize that I forgot to include a section on using ground poles at the walk. That gives me another idea for a future post. Stay tuned . . .
It will probably be another month or two before I will be able to start riding regularly at home again. I expect there is still plenty of March cold weather and an April rainy season to endure where I live, but I always look forward to that eventual first Spring ride in my own backyard!