Some eventers prescribe pretty heavily on the winter vacation for their horses. Shoes get pulled, clipping gets put off, and horses get thrown into fields to be wild beasts for a while. This year, May got a bit of a mini version of that. The occasional light ride and, due to her fierce love affair with the round bale, a LOT of turnout.
However, this vacation wasn’t really for May. Does she feel great with a bit of a break? Totally. Would she probably have felt as good if we just did a lot of easy, stretchy work a couple of times a week for a while? Probably. And she’d be a bit fitter.
But… this break was for me. I love my horse. I love riding. And I love eventing. But last time, temps dropped into the 20s before the sun went down, the world of KY was covered in INCHES of mud, and I didn’t want to go to the barn. So I didn’t. May got an extra day off.
As eventers, we often put our own needs (mentally and physically) behind those of our horses. And while that is all well and good, sometimes, it’s ok to take a step back. To reevaluate what we need to be happy and healthy in this sport and in life, and to change course a bit.
Now though, I am starting to lift my eyes up from my feet and looking a bit more ahead. We have a couple of early shows on the calendar that I am INCREDIBLY excited for. We are going back to Spring Bay (aka Storm Bay/Snow Bay) in early April, but at the Beginner Novice level this year. Pray for good footing people!
Then, we have a bit of a lull before our second show of the year, IEA. I have volunteered at this show for the past couple of years and just absolutely love it. The whole set up should suit May really well.
So for now, it’s time to get back at it. I need to make a schedule regarding our annual soundness check up and I need to get on a local saddle fitter’s calendar to reflock and replace the billets on my county. And May and I need to get back into the fitness game. My goal is for her to be Novice fit for her first BN… which means a lot more time in the saddle for me.
What about you? Do you give your horse (and yourself) any kind of break during the off season?
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Since I brought the horses home, they’ve pretty much had all winter off. When I was doing self-care, it was hit of miss. Sometimes we rode, sometimes we didn’t depending on how bad the winters was. But since they’ve been home, they’ve had off. Obviously Subi’s been retired for years, but Batt was off. Because of this, after losing him, my plan was to wait until spring to try and find a horse because I know I just don’t ride in the winter. I mean, I lesson semi consistently on lesson horses, but I don’t ride. Then Subi couldn’t cope and Nay Nay joined the family 4-6 months ahead of schedule.
It’s different. This is the first winter since I’ve been at a full care facility that I’ve been riding all winter. Granted, it’s been the mildest winter in forever and I don’t know If we’d be riding as much if it were cold, but the wet and mud are just as bad. It’s almost better when 25 degrees because at least Nay Nay isn’t coated in mud. Could I do more than 2x a week? No, but 2x a week is more than I’ve ridden in the winter in years. It’s HARD. But in my case, I love seeing Nay’s progress and it’s motivating me to do more and keep going. But I just want the precipitation to stop!!!
I lost my point and my comments won’t go through, but I hope a light winter helped the same way riding this winter helped me. But next year? I might need to win the lottery if it’s as muddy and wet as this winter so I can full board if I plan to ride. And have a groom (hahaha) and a personal blanket washer.
Ugh the commenting section of this blog is killing me. Not quite sure what I have set up wrong. Maybe I need to turn down the spam filter… Anyone who knows better… let me know.
I think when you first get a new horse in, it’s important to establish some kind of routine while you’re both getting to know one another. And it sounds like you both have been making a ton of progress over the winter! Buuuut I think we are all excited for when ponies shed out and we can give them baths again 😛
I can’t comment from your blog (connection reset) but can post comments through wordpress reader…
I haven’t had a full year of riding available to me in a few years due to injuries etc, but I don’t usually let my mare have any extended period of time off. She doesn’t do well with it, mentally or physically. And I get bored af.
She gets short periods of time off due to weather usually. And sometimes we just have light rides, but we are almost always going. Unless she hurts herself.
Yeah. This has mostly been how our winters work out with May. Lots of light hacks, a lesson here and there, but nothing super taxing. More of… letting your foot off the gas vs. hitting the brakes.
Breaks never hurt, for rider or horse! Dante got a bit of a break when we moved to our current barn – just easy flatting for a couple months and ramped up to lessons last January. This year I thought I broke me foot and we’d have to step back again, thankfully not, but I’ll probably do some easy work around the time we move barns again to make sure he’s settled.
I think a lot of horses do better in some balance of light work and full work over the course of a year vs. 100% full work, 6+ days a week, for years on end. I know that if I worked like that, I would burn out pretty quick! Glad your foot isn’t broken! No one needs that kind of break 😉
Chimi does really well with time off and comes back stronger for it. We have to rebuild fitness but I swear it helps him physically to have long periods of time off. I usually give him a break in Dec bc of holidays and it gets dark so quickly after I get home from work which makes it really tricky trying to fit riding in. Though recently Chimi has been giving himself self prescribed time off with various weird injuries soooooo yeah… but he always feels better once he’s back in one piece 🙂 But I also enjoy the time off!
Yeah, you know my feelings on this. I do this for fun, I’m not trying to go Prelim, if I go to the barn and do nothing but shove some cookies in my pony’s face, so be it.
also commenting worked just fine for me?
My comments section is evil lol
Exactly! And your pony seems to love having cookies stuffed in his face. 😉
This is the first year I have actually ridden at least once a week this winter! And my horse is being ridden more than that. Sure maybe just walk trot lessons and sometimes an adult rides him in a lesson and he gets jumped oh and the U of M eq team uses him for thier lessons some…so my horse is in better shape that me for once ha….
IF i was still up north, Remus usally got the Jan/Feb off…since moving south Spring comes earlier and earlier. With the mud we have and the cold we have I am so glad he is at Trinity!
Anyway send me your list of shows so I can figure out if me (and Remus) can get to KY!! 🙂
Also, cookies stuffed in faces always wins (The day it was so cold when I was supposed to lesson was exacly that. STUFF COOKIES KIND OF DAY, hence Remus’s fave day! HA
So exciting to start thinking about show season! My horses regularly take vacations… though never planned. Lol. Hoping REALLY hard I have a couple of sound horses soon as I’m DYING to get back in the show ring. Until then though, I’m excited to live vicariously through blogs! Excited to follow along with you and May this year!
Thanks! I think its shaping up to be a super fun season but keeping my fingers crossed that May doesnt have other ideas 😉