It’s just me over here in October, trying to wrap up my at-home riding year on a good note. The 23rd of this month is the average first freeze in my area. It is getting harder to find the right time to ride as the weather becomes more unstable with see-sawing temperatures and increasing wind. Winter is around the corner.
Most years, I can ride at home until about the end of November, but not always. Overall, I am doing well if I can ride once a week in the late Fall. Twice a week is cause for celebration.
Come December, I experience typical daytime highs in the thirties/forties and nights almost always below freezing. The skies are grey and cloudy. The winds howl. It is physically painful for me to ride at that point. The months of January and February are even colder.
At home, I hang up my chaps and spurs until Spring (not that I actually use either of those things, but “hanging up my paddock boots and helmet” just doesn’t have the same ring to it). My horses get a break from riding from at least the start of December through the end of March, save for maybe an occasional bareback ride.
But I still want to ride more than that! So I switch to riding lesson-horses at a local barn with an indoor arena for the rest of the Winter. While I get my horseback riding fix, my instructor gets to fix all the bad riding habits that I’ve indulged in while riding by myself at home all year. 🙂
So as I finish up my 2022 at-home riding season, I continue to work on separating my two remaining geldings. Whoever is left in the paddock by themselves still tends to let out a few whinnies periodically. Maybe pace the fence line a bit. But it hasn’t been going too badly. Even on the days when it is cold/windy and the horses are more snorty/alert, I have still been able to work with them without feeling like my death is imminent, as I think you will see in the following series of photos.
I thought this first shot was funny. I am riding Shiloh in my round pen, practicing with my trail obstacles. As I parked Shiloh on the trail bridge temporarily, I noticed Piper watching Shiloh intently from their paddock gate. By the time I got my phone out, both horses turned their heads, but in opposite directions.
Next, we have Piper in the round pen while Shiloh is in the paddock. You can see Shiloh hanging out by the gate. Even though I decided not to ride Piper anymore, I still like to do some activities with him on the ground. Piper is parked with his front hooves on the trail bridge and notices Shiloh, but Piper doesn’t call out to him or move out of position.
I think I have mentioned before that Shiloh’s favorite spot is anywhere there is shade, at least until the weather gets super cold. Here, we are halting for a minute during a ride in the far corner of the pasture, just south of their paddock. A line of trees behind us gives some cover from the sun. If you look really closely with a magnifying glass, you can see Piper across the way. He is munching on hay, not worried in that moment about where Shiloh is.
I really like this next photo of Piper. I think he looks quite happy as he hangs out on the tire pedestal. While the middle of the tire is solidly packed with dirt, there is a little bit of give around the edge of the tires where the dirt has moved with time. I watched Piper’s chest muscles move back and forth as he worked to center his balance but without moving his feet. A bonus proprioception exercise.
Later that same day, I took off Piper’s halter and stood on the tire while Piper and Shiloh gathered on opposite sides as I gave them some scratches in their itchy spots. After Shiloh sauntered away, Piper spontaneously stepped up on the tire all by himself. I took this photo as I stood on the tire next to Piper. My husband titled it “Hoof N Boots.”
Next up are some photos of Piper and my husband. On a day he came out to take some media of me ponying the two horses, my husband got to tackle the tire pedestal with Piper. Here they both show good form on the approach to the obstacle!
And looky there! Piper’s Up!
Good boy, Piper! Nicely done, husband!
As for Shiloh? Well, since he is still a riding horse, Shiloh’s idea of ground work is shaking himself off after having a good post-ride role. 🙂
In a future post, I’ll write more about our continuing ponying practicing (say that tongue-twister fast three times), including our first attempts at moving a little bit faster together. I’m hoping that all the work this Fall on separating as well as our ponying practice will give the horses and me a small foundation to build on come Spring.