You know, I woke up this morning and found myself thinking about all my specific daily plans for my horse, and how all of a sudden it just seems like a LOT to be doing every day at this point. 15 minutes of canter gets easier every day, but lord have mercy, it's still 15 MINUTES OF NONSTOP CANTER for god's sake. No mere mortal is capable of this. (I mean, we all know Gogo has some Pegasus blood in her, but still.) The prospect of 20 entire minutes of canter loomed over me in the form of next week's forecast, and I found myself thinking, now really... what is my big hurry?
On Tuesday, Gogo felt fabulous. Her tendency to be stiff as a board left and Gumby horse to the right seemed far less dramatic, and I actually got some outstanding moments out of her. We did our scheduled 10 minutes of canter, and I even took exactly 2.5 minutes of my warmup time to hack her once around the barn before we began our work - success! First, um, 'hack,' kinda! I mean, not officially... but everyone had to start somewhere. Yesterday, however, while she felt just as sound as ever, her general inability to produce a consistent left bend without some serious dressage work had returned, and she gave me some crabby head-tossing whenever I took a little too much on the left rein and did not add enough supporting left leg. To me, that screams "I am TIRED! This work is HARD!" The last thing I want at this point is a tired horse, because tired horses have tired muscles, and tired muscles dump their share of support onto tendons and ligaments. Fatigue is a huge cause of athletic injury, or reinjury in this case, and I am not about to take that chance. She's been using her good dressage muscles quite a lot over the past few months, and while this had given her a significant muscle boost (yes, even the Ewe-Necked Wonder can have something resembling muscling over her topline!), now that we are cantering she is using her muscles twice as hard. 15 minutes of canter made her feel like she had jelly-legs by the end of it all, and she was clearly a little tired.
Today, I considered giving her the day off, but thought long and hard about it after seeing just how bright and perky she was (and how nice the legs looked), and decided to come up with a new plan for the day - ride in jump tack, and do everything on the buckle so long as she is quiet and balanced. She completely surprised me by being totally relaxed and lazy about the whole ordeal, bebopping along in the trot with her ears pricked and her head low, despite the fact that it took some encouragement to get her to go at a speed somewhere beyond western pleasure jog. Despite all her freshness, when she's under zero pressure she really is quite lazy! We had a total blast during our canterwork, Gogo loping along completely on the buckle, stretching down to find the contact (she stretches in the canter?? That is new!!), me chit-chatting with the other boarders riding while we loped around and around the ring. Nose practically in the dirt as we were finishing our final trotwork, Gogo felt sort of like she had legs of lead, but she was clearly pleased with herself even if she was still tired. We even hacked a little outside of the arena again once we were cooling out, and I wished I had brought my camera... it was so gorgeous out. Obligatory day off for Gogo tomorrow, though. She needs it.
At this point, the level of work we are doing is clearly a lot. When we were just trotting, so long as the legs were good it was easy to get on 6 days a week and keep pushing just a little bit more every day. Now that we are cantering and the rehab as far as technical tendon structure is essentially complete, I find myself going wow... what is the point of cantering for 15 minutes around the rail of an arena? All I want to do this fall is just be able to trail ride. That's it! No shows, no AHHA approvals, no nothing. Just trail ride! And maybe hilltop if she's ready. And maybe hack on the beach. But that all sort of falls under the same broad umbrella category of 'trail ride.' That's all I want to do! In reality, wearing her out in an arena is a very silly thing to do. I know she can stay sound under this large workload, and that's great! But now it's time to make a change in the routine.
What I want to do is this: give her tomorrow off, work in hand in the clinic on Saturday, give her Sunday off. Next week.... little tiny hacks outside the arena all week, just at the walk. That's it! No trot, no canter. Just letting her to relax and enjoy herself outside of the ring, even if it's just for 15 or 20 minutes a day. That will bring us to September, and to a new schedule. It is time to very carefully start splitting up our weekly workload instead of just do rehab/therapy w/t/c work in an arena 6 days a week. I am hoping to do one day of just in-hand work (instead of our typical going-into-winter lunge session once a week), one day of exclusive hacking out at the walk (maybe adding trot somewhere?), one day of 'jumping' (trotting over poles, cantering over poles, eventually starting to actually jump again!), and two or three days of light dressage. It will all be baby stuff at firs, but this way her muscles will have a chance to do varied activity and have some active/passive recovery time, and we will both not be bored out of our skulls as we enter the fall season. Who is excited for September? I am!
And I can't wait to do THIS again:
((Remember, always wear your HELMET!!!!))
The very special Ridgeway weekend
1 day ago