Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Back To Work


Sorry kids, but the party is over and so is your retirement.  It’s back to work for everyone.  This past weekend was time to get started working on a program with Dusty and Blue to get them in shape…me too. 

The day began with a thorough grooming session for each horse that took quite a while due to a considerable amount of shedding.  They are very hairy still but soon enough they will be sleek and muscled up properly.  I decided to start them on a longeing program for as long as they need it.  Unfortunately, they have been not moving around much in the catch pen but chowing down on hay nets all day.  This past winter was one of the worst I can remember between the huge amounts of snow and frigid temperatures so they couldn’t have gone walking the pastures as usual if they wanted to.

Dusty was the first candidate for a refresher course.  We stayed at a walk in each direction for about ten minutes.  Twenty minutes total was enough for the first day.  Blue got the same treatment.

I realize that there are different schools of thought about longeing, some being for it and some being against it.  I’m all for it because if it’s done properly I feel it’s very beneficial.  My horses haven’t been ridden in months because of winter woes.  By longeing them to get them moving and in better shape I feel it puts less stress on their backs, legs and minds.  Once they are built up enough to support a rider I will mount up.  Do I want to simply jump on and ride…yes I do.  However, I feel it wouldn’t be fair to them until they can comfortably cart me around and we can then move on to more strenuous lessons.

In my opinion longeing also helps the horses and me get on the same page so to speak.  They get a refresher course in verbal messages and body language.  They can understand what I want from the way I position my body and the tone in my voice lets me communicate my wishes to them.  Also, I feel it forms a bond of understanding, guidance and improves our relationship, which is something that is sorely needed after a long winter of missed opportunities for riding and interaction. I don't feel it would be right--it might even be downright rude!--to jump right on without getting reacquainted with my horses, spending some time watching them move, re-acclimating them to the idea of working, and just interacting with them in a relaxed but purposeful way until we're both back up to speed. It just seems like the most sensible re-introduction for us. We keep it light, stress-free (mostly ;-) and trust that the right time to climb back in the saddle will present itself clearly. Fingers crossed it all goes to plan!

Until next time
Quote for Today
Correction does much for the horse, but encouragement does more.


  1. I'm with you! I could get on Berlin anytime and she would be great...we would just walk. Abbe is a different story and has been on vacation for a long time with off and on lameness problems. She has been sound for months and I hope she stays that way, so we can get started. She will need some ground work and I will do some free lounging and line driving (which I love to do, now that my knee is working). My horses have been on easy street and it will take some time to get them back to serious work...although what we do together is for pure pleasure and they are spoiled rotten. Need to get started once this weather breaks. Good for you....you have motivated me.

  2. I agree totally with everything you said about lunging.

    I almost went out there today and groomed them all up. But I didn't have a lot of time and I knew I'd get COVERED with hair and have to change completely, maybe even shower, so I put it off. Maybe tomorrow. We are ALL out of shape. It was a horrendous winter.

  3. I am definitely a longeing person for all the reasons you said. It's not like I think we'd have problems if I just jumped on but it lets me fit her up without putting weight on her back (she's not the only one out of shape), it lets me evaluate how she's moving (otherwise I never get to see her go) and how her fitness is coming along (can't see that fat jiggle from her back), and lots of other things. It's all good stuff!

  4. Glad to hear that your winter has finally ended and riding can begin - I know it's been a rough winter for a lot of folks up north. Down here we are to the point that I have to get the fly masks out of their bin and use them when riding! Keil had an ear full of culicoides yesterday when I got off. UGH. And ticks are out in full force. Double UGH. But we're having good rides and I'm enjoying the greening of the fields and the dogwoods in bloom.

  5. Spring has finally arrived! I'm so glad, it's been a long wait, I'm sure. I'm no expert, but your approach makes so much sense. People are advised to ease back into an exercise regimen gradually if they've not done so for ages, why not the same for horses? Hope all goes swimmingly to plan :)

  6. I agree with every word you wrote.

  7. Sounds like a great way to get everyone back into the swing of things, gradually.

  8. That's a great post. I am just where you are and starting a gentle lungeing and free work programme. I intend to ride Ben (on short hacks) soon, but Cloud needs a lot of work. It has been a very long winter!

  9. Very sensible. You could push it (them and yourself) but it's hard to see the benefit. Glad winter is over up north.


It's so nice of you to take the time to visit. I appreciate your stopping by and commenting on what I've written. Even though I sometimes don't have the time to reply to each comment, I do enjoy reading them.