Thursday, February 18, 2010

pre-spring training

Yesterday afternoon was warm if you only looked at the thermometer, but there was a cold wind blowing that made being out for any length of time a miserable prospect.

However, chores had to be done, so I went out and groomed Salina, who was lovely and soft and black on one side, and crusty orange on the other. She moved from spot to spot as I brushed, until we found a sunny place she liked, and then she stopped. This ended up being in the arena, and the donkeys were happy to do their donkey play on the soft, clean, non-muddy footing.

The geldings were in the back field, keeping an eye on us in between bites of hay.

I finished up Salina and then gave the donkeys a good brushing. Keil Bay and Cody came to the arena fence and hung their heads over so I could clean up their faces and heads. That's all they wanted, and when I tried to brush further down the necks, they stepped away.

The next chore involved doing the last of the mucking, and I was really not in the mood, as it was actually cooler in the barn than out in the sunshine.

So I found a distraction. The arena has been clear for months now. I like the dressage markers in place, and nothing else in there, and that's how it's been. But suddenly I decided we needed some variety, and I spent an hour setting up five jumps. This involved bringing standards out of corners, pulling poles from the sides, and rolling/securing barrels. All of which was prime entertainment for two young donkeys.

Rafer Johnson and Redford investigated and supervised every move I made. They enjoyed getting on either side of a jump and doing their donkey play over the pole in between. Redford made a very dramatic game out of spooking at the barrels, racing around and around them and then darting away as if they were coming at him. Rafer thought this ridiculous and didn't participate.

At some point they made their way to a jump and both went over it together, knocking the pole down in their haste. They both decided at the same instant that this meant RUN, and they galloped out of the arena like wild things, in search of Salina, who had done her walking and exited earlier.

I'd been so intent on watching donkeys I hadn't noticed there were now three geldings lined up at the arena gate, all wanting to come in and play.

So I let them in.

Of course the donkeys came running back. The horses checked out each jump. The pony went around and methodically knocked each pole to the ground with his nose, and then used his hooves to roll the poles away from the standards. He tried to climb on top of the barrel jump, but I think realized how silly he'd look if he ended up with front feet on one side, rears on the other.

Keil Bay checked each jump out, almost as if he were doing a safety inspection.

Cody became engaged in a play session with Redford. Rafer and I were cleaning out a corner of the arena that needed some attention while watching all the activity.

After an hour, I had moved on to mucking and my daughter came out. "Mom?" I heard her voice and then she was in the arena, galloping on two legs over the jumps. In a few more minutes, she had the pony in with her, and was offering an alfalfa pellet for each jump he took with her. So by the end of the afternoon, there was actually a little bit of pre-spring training going on.

It was fun seeing the pony trotting along with daughter, then breaking into a canter as they approached the jumps.

Hard to resist on a sunny but cold afternoon. I'm not sure if the furor over rollkur has me completely put out with dressage, but all I could think of yesterday afternoon was popping over the jumps on Keil Bay. And oddly, whether I should look for a jumping saddle! I'm sure it was spring fever, but the thought was there! :)

It looks like we're in for a string of very nice days: 52 degrees today, 57 tomorrow, 60 and 61 for the weekend. And NO RAIN! Perfect for getting a few out of work geldings back into the swing.


Grey Horse Matters said...

It sounds like a good time was had by all. I'm afraid I can't commiserate with you over those temps, they would seem like a heat wave here. I'll take them anytime you want to send them up here. We're still under snow with a possible storm coming in on Monday. Hope not. Have fun with your crew and enjoy your warmer temps.

Dougie Donk said...

I'm SOO jealous that you can get some jumps out. When we had 6 weeks of foul weather in Scotland, I decided it was too dangerous to walk my herd to their field, so just gave them the run of my school to play & eat hay in.

All well & good, but the remnants of muliple big bales have acted as a very nice thermal blanket & my school still has a layer of frozen poo & ice :((

Roll on Spring!

billie said...

Arlene, believe me, I am not complaining about these temps, now that it's into the 50s and the wind is not biting!

The ground was frozen hard this a.m. but now it's thawed and in many places it's actually firm underfoot again, which is such a relief.

billie said...

Dougie, I was a little surprised at my own self as I dragged things around - it's usually me dragging them out of the way so I can enjoy the clear arena for riding.

Today is so nice - although the wind is still blowing, it's not the biting wind we had yesterday, and the temperature is very close to perfect when you're in the sunshine. I've been out most of the day, and after a break, I'm heading back out there again. Too nice to miss out on!

ponymaid said...

Billie, I enjoyed my sojourn with you and the herd in the arena. Redford is a caution, isn't he? That boy could do grand prix if he put his mind to it. Rafer is a born organizer. I wish he could be here to help out with my party. No penny uncounted with that eagle eye at work. I can't even begin to imagine what those temps feel like - our place looks like a carbon copy of Dougie's but with more snow.

billie said...

Sheaffer, today was even more fun than yesterday. The nephews did some free jumping, and Rafer Johnson took Salina's lead rope into his mouth like a bit (during her walking work-out) and nearly made off with the big black mare and my arm! I think he is trying to tell me something - it is probably time to start him with long reins and a bridle. He seems keen to work.

Cody got a ride, and I worked Keil Bay and the pony in tandem from the ground. I'm exhausted!

Michelle said...

Oooh, sounds like FUN!!!

billie said...

It was! We're having a day of rain today, and then back to sunshine and more exercise.