It’s been a challenging spring bringing my Lipizzan back into training after having the winter off. The big take away lesson for me is that I can’t count on an “open” winter, even in these times of global warming. I need to line up an indoor training space because inevitably my arena WILL freeze, and the work I can do will be limited. I found some exercises focused on winter training based on limited footing. Since I found these after I got my arena thawed and cleaned, I will put these into use next winter. The exercises focused on the base of the Training Scale- RHYTHM at the walk. In the meantime, I also discovered some SUPPLENESS/RELAXATION work I can do in the winter to keep the 2 foundation elements in place when riding is limited. (I can get a 3 day/week riding slot in a beautiful Cover-All arena that stays quite warm, even in the bluster of a stormy day.)
Because we didn’t have the indoor this winter, I was traveling so much, and I didn’t have the winter exercises, I gave Monarch the winter off to hang out in the pasture and just be a horse. While he probably enjoyed his long winter vacation, it was quite difficult for him to come back after so much time off. We had to start back at the very beginning in March with Rhythm, just like a green horse. (Click on the Training Scale to enlarge to read the directives below the labels.) It wasn’t so much that his rhythm was compromised by a lack of balance as a young horse newly saddled would experience; instead he lacked ENERGY & TEMPO. His regular, even rhythm was so slow, it was not effective. Without energy, nothing can happen.
To rebuild strength and stamina, we did lots of groundwork, (long lines, in hand, longeing, etc), as well as work under saddle, with lots of rest breaks. It was slow, careful work……at times frustrating because I had to maintain a sense of foresight in my goals, instead of getting impatient. We began working with Deb Hindi again, and she helped to clarify that sense of vision: where we needed to be to get to where we wanted to go. Consider the TRAINING SCALE as your roadmap as you travel along your path to brilliance.