Winter riding time….

Now that I have Mocha in the Back on Track hock boots with a plan to give her the weekend off from them (per recommendation from the manufacturer), there’s been some interesting complications to the horse life.  Today, I premiered the next step of the new regime by stopping to put her boots on before going to work.  When I finally reached the barn tonight (prep time at work plus meeting), the hocks were toasty warm.  And The Girl was ready to work.  Not as elevated as Friday, but still, very much of a difference.

We also spotted a covey of quail outside the arena door early in the warmup (second walk loop).  I reacted in predictable ADHD mode…”Oooh!  QUAIL!  SHINY!” and pulled Mocha up at the door to watch them.  About twenty quail in all, pretty good-sized.  They skittered back and forth, nervous about us watching them, then finally flew off.  Mocha didn’t get excited but just watched them, ears forward.  Good horse.

The work was snaffle, pretty much plain vanilla schooling.  Tight circles are right out because the footing is slick in places thanks to the monsoonal downpour outside creating seepage and some drips.  We did several fanciful features that had larger small circles but allowed us to avoid the slick spots while still working on bends and changes.  After a bit of limbering up, we schooled counter-canter and a few tempi changes.  She’s tense about it, but that’s why we’re schooling in the snaffle.

After that it was just plain putting on some mileage.  Schooling figure 8 circles, but lots of trot as well of canter before changing direction/leads.  Consistency in reading seat and leg is the name of the game, and this winter I really want to improve the shape and placement of our larger circles.

At the end she was sweating pretty good but breathing steadily.  Normal function of early winter weather in the high 40s in early winter/late fall haircoat.  Walked her out then stuck her on the crossties with the cooler on while I checked waters and did other small errands.

Overall, I’m pretty pleased.  She’s clearly moving better, even after only a few hours with the boots on this round.  More responsive to seat and leg, springy movement in the hind end.  She’s also more willing and relaxed about working on things like counter-canter and tempi changes.  Clearly an arthritis/pain issue.  Not that she hasn’t been compliant before, but she has more energy and is just a bit more keen about her work, which clearly makes it a case of a low-level but very real pain that makes her more self-protective.  The end of ride coolout walk was her big, happy, swinging walk.

Had the barn to ourselves, rain drumming on the corrugated metal roof, other horses occasionally stirring but for the most part, a quiet schooling ride as wet afternoon became damp evening.  Yep.  Winter riding time, once again.

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