There are two things that horse people generally don’t like. COLD AND WET! But, we have these athletes that we expect to do their best for us at the barrel races. Sometimes we have to sacrifice our comfort for them.
I was looking at our forecast and noticed that we have several nasty days ahead. I plan to run my horses in a couple of weeks so I have been doing my best to get at least 3 rides in a week with this crazy Texas weather. I don’t have an arena. I dang sure don’t have a COVERED arena! If I did, I’d ride a whole lot more often than I do! No, I have two pastures that are black dirt. They have enough sand to not be super deep when we get flooded out. Another words, I can still ride when it’s wet. I just have to make sure I am safe. We don’t do barrel turns at home anyhow so this really isn’t hard to do. We focus on straight lines (squares really) and we make sure we long trot to warm up then lope. Y’all, it’s cold and wet today! But considering the barrage of ice upon us in the coming days, I needed to get my saddle time in if I expect to be able to go make a run. So I am going to share with y’all my game plan.
During these wet, cold, muddy days, I ride at least 3 days a week. We ride in the back since it drains off better and has a harder base. This keeps us from sliding all over the place! So I do about four big laps (1/2 mile) of long trotting then we lope. My goal is to reach 3 miles. I have a really cool app on my phone called “Equitack” that uses gps to determine how far/fast/hard we ride. I try to stay away from doing circles because my ground isn’t the best. So we do squares. When it’s dry, I will do big circles. I do a lot of counter arches at the trot and lope. Move in, move out. I feel this keeps them listening and also works on their tendons and ligaments. We expect them to run hard then slow and turn then run hard… so I want them to be supple in their movement at home. I want to be able to pick up their shoulder and move them over. I have been known to go 3-15 strides counter arching across my field. Sometimes from one corner to the other, but when it’s cold and wet, we just do a few strides. I also work on collection and really getting them to keep their butt under them as well as keeping the shoulder up. This is a must if it’s even a little slick. Then we cool down by riding through my little grove of trees.
But, when it’s cold and wet, I really have to motivate myself to get up and ride! Just like most of us, I suppose. But as a team, we need to do it. We need to ride. I could just work them in the round pen or four wheeler them but does that really do the same as my butt in the saddle? Nope. Some folks send their horse off to swim camp or aqua tread. Personally, I can’t afford that and I still don’t think it’s near as effective as putting my cold butt on their backs and riding! I do draw a line at ice. Ice on the ground for my Texas Equine just is no fun! I have seen a lot of stupid injuries with them just being dorks on the ice without me riding! So let’s say I have a race in two weeks…. my goal is to ride at least 3 times a week in those two weeks no matter the weather. If it is just flat nasty for two straight weeks, I plan ahead. I haul to an arena and get it done. If I can’t, then do I really deserve to go to that barrel race? Is it fair to haul them and force them to run if I didn’t get to ride at home? I don’t think so.
My motivation is that I WANT TO RUN. That’s it. If I wasn’t to run and I hold myself accountable for my three rides a week to go make that run, I will get off my butt, layer myself down and go ride. Today I had on my under armor, hunting pants, my skull cap to cover my ears under my helmet, and my gloves. By the end of my rides I was warm. Both horses did really good and other than a muddy girth and leg gear, we are all good! I won’t get to ride again until Friday and Saturday so no runs for me this weekend. It’s simple. Hold yourself accountable for your workout program and you will find the motivation to go out when it’s cold and wet!