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Spring has sprung…at your horse March 30, 2011

Posted by twobitkc in Uncategorized.

I’m really glad that spring is arriving.  Or, at least it’s supposed to be arriving…maybe this weekend if the Kansas weather reports can be believed. It means slicker horses, no more Carharts, and feeling your toes again. But, for those of us in the show hunter world, it can also means a move from the indoor arena to the outdoor arena.

I love having access to an indoor arena in the winter and during inclement weather. But, really, I love riding in the outdoor ring. I’m an outdoorsy person, and I just enjoy the air, the sun, the birds…all of it. I think the horses really prefer it, too. They just seem to open up more outside and get more forward. That horizon in the distance makes them think they are free – and it’s much more interesting to look at than four wooden walls. I like a quiet horse as much as the next person but, really, riding hunters is a forward exercise and so I am in favor of anything that makes our horses want to go forward. Respectfully forward.


Remember to make adjustments and allowances during your first few outdoor rides. Your horse will be more “up” and forward and bright. There will be new things to look at – and stare at – and spook at. Unless you’re Mrs. Van-astor-built, your outdoor is probably considerably larger than your winter indoor, so make adjustments for riding longer lines and broader corners. If your horse gets regular turn out, he will have seen all the birds and squirrels and bike riders. He just won’t have seen them from the perspective of the outdoor arena, and believe me, they will look different there! The tractor starting up sounds different from the outdoor ring, and all those horses running and playing in their paddocks are a MAJOR distraction.

If you can, take your horse for a leisurely hack in the outdoor ring once or twice, without worrying about working. Let him see everything from the 2011 perspective and don’t have a lot of expectations. Then, when you do go out to work, you won’t have to feel sorry for him. He’s SEEN it this year…now it’s time to get serious. Horses are funny about new things…even new old things. It may look like the same old outdoor ring from last year to you, but it probably looks new and fresh to your horse.

Hey…the good side of that is that your horse can continue to go to horse shows and jump jumps that look old and boring to you – but fresh and interesting to him. It keeps them jerking their knees for the judges!


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