Friday, February 7, 2014

Winter Semi-Hibernation and Shopping.

Well, this winter has taken quite the knock out of me! Things are still rolling but much more intermittently than is good for my motivation. I do best when in a program...when I let things slide, they sliiiiide. Needless to say, with all the insanely cold temps this winter, my riding has taken a hit. I just don't think it's healthy to ride when it's -20C(-4F) or colder without the wind chill. Actually, my cutoff is usually closer to -16 to -18C because with the wind chill it's brutal. Sure, we don't have wind in the arena, but still. Muscles just do not warm up properly in those temps, for horse or rider.

So I've done some free-lunging to let Armani loosen up, especially when it's been icy. Our barn turns out no matter what, which I love, but the horses don't move around much on their own when the conditions under foot are icy. I've also been careful to give electrolytes when it iced up and during out huge temperature swings. That kind of stuff is brutal on horses here and a little nudge to encourage drinking is good. I give a very small dose, though, because Armani responds to electrolytes like gangbusters.

The under-saddle work has been going great, despite the increased time-off and lack of real program. I've been riding more consistently in my rides, as opposed to bringing my A-game for lessons and being a wimp about asking him to work properly otherwise. The result is more consistency from Armani. Huh, what a surprise, hahaha!

Here is a picture from back in January sometime. It's not a great pic as we were just warming up, so soon in the warm-up that I'm still wearing my coat - that doesn't happen after 10min on Mani because he is such a bowflex. I usually don't even start with a coat, so it must have been an exceptionally cold day! We were  heading to the scary corner, hence the high-ish neck and my leg back to say 'git up there' as he has a tendency to balk at certain points.
I haven't gotten many pictures this winter either because I'm at the barn alone or because the light isn't great...or because I forget to put the memory card back in the camera...oops!

To alleviate some winter blahs, I decided to go tack-store shopping. While trialing a zillion horses as purchase prospects, I had ridden a few with the Royal Rider T3 stirrups. I loved them. I was out of riding shape and my bad right ankle *loved* the Royal Riders when we came across them. So, naturally, I began to believe I needed a pair for my crappy ankles.

Over a year after buying Armani, and having no necessities left to buy (save new show boots), I thought I would treat myself to a pair of the ridiculous $250 stirrups. Our highest-end tack shop was sold out, so I waited a few weeks for them to come in.


After a few rides, I realized...I don't like them. Boo! They are fine. But just fine. In fact, now that I'm in better riding shape (although less than I was in the fall), I find they hurt my bad ankle. I'm guessing I learned to strengthen my ankle properly during the last year. In other ways, I see no difference under saddle. In terms of tack care in general, I am finding them hard on my stirrup leathers and saddle.

So, a stirrup that doesn't yield any extra leg stability under saddle, I feel no difference, and my coach didn't even realize I changed stirrups...$250...they are going back. It's funny because I wanted them for so, so long but what's the point if my old irons are just as good and don't chew the leather? Boo! Granted, if I were doing jumpers, I think I would change my tune. So perhaps I will revisit in 5 years give or take, depending on where I think Armani would like to go.

Now, I'm at a loss for stuff to buy. How is that possible??  I guess at some point you've been buying good stuff long enough that it lasts and you run out of things. My top two right now would be a half pad for schooling and show field boots.

I am equally at a loss for both, in a way. My current half pad is ok but getting on in years and Mani has started to get some crinkled hair in the back of the saddle area. It's not saddle fit, so either his winter belly is making his mid-section swing more and it's rubbing or I could use something else. I guess I will have to do some research to decide whether to go sheepskin again or try a gel pad or something.

As for show boots, well, I guess I just have to start trying them! So much depends on fit there isn't much point getting hung up on Brands etc until I narrow the field.

Well, that's where were at. Hopefully I will get some lesson pictures tomorrow!


Laura said...

I find it a bit sad that you have everything you need at the moment and don't have much to shop for! ;-)

As for show boots, is there anything for sale locally besides Ariat?

Too bad about the stirrups not working out - they sound good on paper!

If you are bored, could you research blankets for my little short high-withered horse? I can't find anything that fits him properly!

Laura said...
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RuckusButt said...

It *is* sad!

There isn't much else, you're right. So annoying. I bet you can relate with the lack of western gear around.

I just might! I got injured and am house bound, so...