During the winter the horses have little ability to really stretch their legs. They are covered with blankets and they don’t really move around the large paddock too often. We just had almost a foot of snow this week and so far the three horses in Blade’s field have walked around maybe a 60ft roundpen’s space. Giant paddock, the biggest at this barn, yet they have no desire to clod through the snow (would you?).
As it is Blade has stiffness issues and he has a thin winter coat so he gets a medium weight rug almost the whole winter.
I’m fortunate that we have an indoor arena at the location where I board. Today I visited him and we took a walk down to the arena to do some lunging, liberty work, and then get in some playtime.
With a Back on Track mesh sheet and my Starwheel Bitless bridle I bring Blade out of the barn. We begin with a nice bareback ride across the property. The arena is a little bit of a walk since there are two horse barns on the property (and I’m in the farther one). It was a nice day and he stood perfectly still while I climbed myself up the corral gates to hop on his back.
The whole farm is beautiful under a fresh coat of snow. We meander the plowed driveway through the trees and arrive at the indoor arena. The only person around is one of our favorite barn helpers and he’s busy clearing pathways to and from the paddocks. Blade doesn’t bat an eyelash at the tractor, he’s used to them.
We get inside and the arena is freshly dragged. I lunged Blade for a bit. Warming him up with a nice easy trot. We get up to the canter and I’ve been so pleased to see how much better he’s been doing. Since June I really haven’t done much riding on him. His back was getting so sore and he couldn’t canter comfortably. After a thorough dental exam, chiropractic, time off, and myofascial release therapy I’m starting to see it pay off. He has a gleam in his eye today and he looks happy.
When I’m satisfied with our lunging session I take off his bridle and begin my liberty work. He has really taken a liking to the activity. Blade stays so attentive to my cues and looks to me with every step. If I change direction he changes direction. He stops when I ask for it. He’s eager to approach me but waits patiently for the invitation. I couldn’t be happier with his willingness to seek me out as his leader. It has taken a long time to earn the level of respect and trust that I feel he has for me right now.
We had such a great session that I gave him the ok to go off on his own. I could tell from his first step in the ring that he was dying to roll. He was craving the feel of dirt on his naked back, without the blanket. He wanted to dig his face in and get covered head to toe and forget about the winter for a moment.
Blade took his roll, got up, and stretched his legs a little more. He has the heart of a thoroughbred for sure. I have not yet see him get truly tired and I often have to tell him to take it easy. He’s got an athletic heart and the best work ethic I’ve ever seen, just not the body for it.
Enjoy some of the still-frames I was able to capture during his playtime!