It’s turned hot in southwestern Colorado. My horse gets extremely lazy working in the arena to develop good conditioning through schooling dressage figures. At this time of the year, to keep him happy, I plan to do other activities to keep his mind fresh. Then when we do dressage, he is far more willing to work with energy. In the coming weeks I will post alternate activities Monarch & I are doing to keep us interested while pursuing our path of harmony.
A trail ride is always great for the horse’s mind, as well as for conditioning. The trail teaches the horse to be clever with his feet. In Colorado, the mountainous terrain allows us to build aerobic capacity through hill climbing, as well as to develop hind end strength on the descents. Getting out of the arena, with other horse buddies piques my horse’s interests, especially because he has many friends that he only sees when we plan rides or group training. Open country exposes horses to a wealth of stimulation, teaching the horse to trust his rider and himself when approaching new sights, sounds, and smells.
CAVEATS: Of course bring plenty of water, a first aid kit, rain gear, your cell phone, and some food. In the high country on a summer day, it is best to be mindful of afternoon storms. Plan to leave by 2 or 3 pm to avoid lighting. Bring plenty of fly spray, as the black flies are relentless. (Be sure to practice at home or in an arena having your horse stand quietly while you sit on his back and spray him. Then when he’s very bothered by a swarm of black flies on the trail, he will willingly let you spray to give him some relief.) Always ride in long sleeves- no matter how hot it is. If you run into a swarm of biting flies, you will rue the day you left your shirt at home. Beware of trails open to motorized dirt bikes, especially single tracks. I had a scary encounter today- stay vigilant! If you need to, explain to cycle riders their responsibilities to sharing the trail safely.