Hitting the Trails

It is amazing what a week of sunshine and relatively warmer temperatures will do for the attitude of both people and horses. The recent change of weather from the bitter cold to mild temperatures in the 40s and 50s with sunshine that warms the skin cannot be ignored. Spring is so close.

Since the snow is thawing and surely on the way out, I took the opportunity to take Reggie out on trails while we could still make some hoof prints in the snow. While it was in the 40s, I could not resist the feeling of going out and riding in the sun. I was not the only one geared up to get outside, Reggie practically dragged me out of the tall open arena doors to get out on the trails. He loves to explore and is so brave. He actually chose to walk through a big (3 foot high) snow mountain where the snow had been plowed to get to the open field which leads to the trails.

This opportunity to be outside on a calm, sunny day benefits the mind and body of both horse and rider. I enjoy training in the arena very much. The process of developing a dressage horse is very rewarding. Part of developing a horse’s mind and body for the demands of dressage is changing the type of work and the environment and not always being in the arena.

My brain is stimulated when I go from shoulder in to half pass in the arena in a much different way than when Reggie and I take hacks outside. In the arena I am focused on each moment and am able to ride as if there were a spotlight on the horse and me. The hacks outside allow both horse and rider to connect with the environment in a way that is peaceful, while using the horse’s muscles in a different way than in the arena. In addition, hacks outside are beneficial to keep the horse happy in their work. For me as the rider, I appreciate this opportunity to connect with nature on my horse. I felt carefree riding through the trees that swayed from the passing wind while the birds chirped happily in the forest around us.

Now that the weather is allowing us to train and ride in more comfortable temperatures, it is tempting to want to stay in the arena and try to make as much progress as possible. I encourage riders up north to get outside for a hack, whenever possible,whether it be with a group of riders on horseback or just with your horse. Enjoy the ride!