Holy lord the barn is frigid. You Idaho people will think I'm whiny, but there is something miserable about 33 degrees and slushy, sloppy snow. It's like the weather gods think it's hysterical to makes things as cold as possible while still maintaining a bone chilling damp in the air and making sure that all the horses are muddy and damp and gross.
As I drove to the barn this morning (work, what?) I watched carefully as the big heavy rain drops turned into semi frozen splats on my windshield before muffling into quiet snow flakes by the time I got to the barn. Now, I still have a 12 year old's obsession with any sort of snowflake so the snow itself was totally fun and exciting, but the ensuing damp, shivering, mud covered ponies were not.
Oh, also the lights in the barn are being replaced so instead of tacking up in our aisle (with a heated tack room to escape to for a moment here or there), I had to dig all my crap out (in the dark) and lug it to the other barn aisle where the lights were still functional. Prairie was not amused and by the time I returned with all our accoutrements, she was standing with her ears flopped out sideways and shivering while in her big puffy, medium weight blanket. She was also dry under the blanket which means the cold damp air (and her damp neck/legs) were enough to make her just as miserable as I was in my boots that slowly leak cold mud in through the sole..
Perfect start right?
I kept Prairie covered in a fleece cooler and her quarter sheet until the very last moment when I pulled the fleece as I hopped on. I opted to trot right off the bat and try to get her blood pumping and warmed up.
To my total surprise, Prairie was (yet again) a total gem. The electrician was lurking at one gate to the arena making all sorts of terrible noises with terrible tools and the tractor was clunking around on the other side of the ring while stalls got cleaned. Basically my brain was on high alert since according to the Gerbil-Terrorous Theorum: cold + strange sounds + guys popping in and out of stalls + loud rain and snow on the roof = totally loony Prairie.
But, it never came. I had a loop in the reins the entire time I warmed up and Prairie just jaunted along maintaining her own steady rhythm and bending softly.
I mean seriously, where did this mare come from? where are the scoots? where are the motorcycle turns? what's happening!???
S set three canter poles that we started trotting back and forth over before we moved up to the canter. Our first canter set had us canter all the way around the arena three times prior to heading over the poles. Mind you it is a small arena, but I still don't really let Prairie just canter.... and canter... and canter very often. She tends to slowly build up steam as she goes and the long sides are not conducive to keeping her in a package. Our usual MO is to canter a circle... go do something, regroup with a circle... do something. trot and start over.
But today Prairie just popped into a canter, found a nice forward pace and stayed there. I still helped package her in the corners a little - but not much and not nearly as obviously as I have had to in the past.
So a cantering we went - And over the poles we bounded... and no drama was to be had. Today was the first time that
a) multiple canter poles didn't cause a gerbil-rage-blackout and
b) that Prairie could miss her distance, or scissor a pole and still recover before she was through all three poles.
Then we opted to work some counter canter which was not super successful. I think we've been schooling our changes so much recently that for me all of the sudden to hold Prairie on the wrong lead was confusing and she got a little stressed out. S had us dial back the exercise to a true canter on a circle and asking to switch the bend from true to counter and back to true again.
This apparently made sense to Prairie and she obliged happily while maintaining a soft mouth and nicely balanced stride throughout.
Then as I put P2 away S grabbed P1 and I lingered long enough to see the start of their ride. It's interesting. Pia is still starting out a bit sticky, and doesn't really open up her stride for about 15 minutes, but I don't think it's driven by pain. Even when she's sticky these days her eyes and ears are soft and there's no sign of the total stress-meltdown-face that used to accompany her balks. Our vet is coming out on Friday for bodywork and I'm eager to see if she finds any lingering issues or if Pia is still on a comfortable, happy path.
Anyway here's a quick clip. She's still not moving out fabulously at this point and she was insistent on jumping through the poles so S was trying to keep her at a walk or trot...