Monday, January 25, 2010

Cross-Training For Dressage Horses

Meanwhile, back on the farm....   Yes, winter continues to rage on.   But not only does the USDF Region 8 Dressage Season get back into swing in April....   so does the New Hampshire High School Equestrian Team activity.

This year, assuming all goes well, and with him...   or any horse for that matter...  that is never a given, Piper will be debuting over fences with a young rider on the Kearsarge High School Equestrian Team.

To date, Piper's experience with jumping has been limited to freejumping, something he really seems to enjoy, and popping over a few cavaletti and cross rails.   However, as of today, he has had 5 jumping lessons with his newest jockey.   Today's was the first jumping session that we videotaped.

(Comically, since YouTube's audioswap is not working right now, clever dressage riders may note that the CD from which Piper's 2010 dressage freestyle music will come is playing in the background!)

Work started with what he knew from under saddle work.   We keep the work at trot for the first jump, but allow him to canter after that when the striding is good.   We want him to develop confidence and his own eye.   And so far, he is doing great.   More questions will be asked as we progress.   More importantly, he is having fun!   Just look at those ears and his face!   This is horsey good times!

In a couple of weeks, Piper will be introduced to his first standards and wings which are currently being custom built by "Jumps By Jill" in Raynham Massachusetts.   Until then, more of the same...

...Today jumping. Yesterday, our first fairly good half-passes at trot, followed by a nice trail ride in 8 inch deep snow in the woods. Yes, we are definitely well and truly cross-training!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Diets & Hairdos

We are roughly 90 days from when Region 8 Dressage Competitions start up again.   As winter rages on, that may seem like a long time from now.   However, from a training perspective, that is Very Soon!

Both Jeddien and Piper are now back into dressage work.   For the 19 year old mare, this means DIET TIME and losing some of her heavy winter coat.   Her new hairdo, a "Trace Clip", allows her back to stay nice and warm while the areas that tend to sweat up can easily dry and cool down both during and after working sessions.   Her 5 inch tall mohawk, however, will remain for now.

And with a return to work, the plan is for the rather "large-boned" mare to drop some of her winter weight and get back to a good level of condition!   It will be a while before we are back to cantering a mile just to warm up, but we'll get there before April.