Back To Ground Work

It is no secret as Facebook has been filled with complaints and tales of woe. The temperatures in the Mid Atlantic have plummeted and Old Man Winter has finally reared his ugly head.

For most, this is really of no true consequence, but for those of us who make our livings outdoors either as professional riders or in my case running a horse farm, winter really tends to bite when it gets this cold.

When it gets this cold, the debate tends to shift toward “How many blankets does my horse need?” or “Can you really work your horse when its this cold?” In my situation, the debate is whether or not I have time to ride between all the new obstacles that have seeming appeared over night.

From frozen pipes and waterers, to plowing the driveway and putting out more round bales, my time becomes very limited to spend working my horses.

So how does one stay motivated to continue their work with their horse when the temperature is a much smaller number then your age? What do you do with your horse when your outdoor hasn’t been rideable  for weeks? What can possiblly be accomplished when the pretty white stuff we all love for Christmas becomes a four letter word we don’t speak of?

I say it is much easier to stay motivated bundled up in bib overalls and a Carhartt winter jacket and get back to ground work. There is an amazing amount that can be fixed, trained, and adjusted from the ground.

Ground work isn’t just lunging a horse in a circle until you’re dizzy. Its a great set of tools that can be implemented to continue the training process when the motivation to take off those warm puffy layers and pull on your riding pants is minimal.

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In my case, Ruth needed some guidance to further continue our training under saddle. We hit a road block going to the right where she would end up with her haunches curled to the inside with no control of where we were headed until we hit the fence or whatever else was set up in the arena.

I also wanted to install the beginnings of new buttons, like giving to leg pressure. So when the temperature dropped below twenty degrees, I decided to take the opportunity to stay warm and work from the ground.

These sessions don’t have to last for an hour or until your horse is dripping with sweat. They can take as little at 10 to 15 minutes and have lasting effects that become the foundation for further training.

My one true piece of advice, though, is if you are unfamiliar with how to properly use certain equipment, or are not quite sure of what you are doing, look to your support system for help. Remember, you do not have to go it alone.

The other thing cold temperatures are great for is planning for the future. Why not employ that daydreamer hidden inside and put him to good use? It’s the perfect time to plan the show season, figure out what clinics you may want to attend or audit, dream of Rolex, or come up with a great show name for your new horse.

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Since I’m not totally in love with Dancing Ruth as a show name, I decided to look at what speaks to me. First, my eventing colors are red, white, and black. Second, Ruth is a gorgeous red headed mare. Lastly, I am a massive hockey fan with the Washington Capitals being my team.

With all of that in mind, I figured I would honor the consistency of red in my equine life by giving Ruth the show name “Rock The Red.” I’m certain this will set the tone for our eventing career.