Blanket tips!

Some blanket adjustment tips! An improperly adjusted blanket can be unsafe, uncomfortable, or not as warm as it could be. Here are some tips to making your blanket as safe and suitable as possible!

  1. Always make sure your horse is safely controlled when you adjust, add, or remove a blanket. Doing blanket changes or adjustments to a loose horse can be very unsafe! All it takes is a spook, strong wind, or even a little static shock to have disastrous consequences.
  2. Front closures. My preference is to do up the front first, and undo it last, but this is just my preference as I know Pony Club teaches the opposite! I prefer this as I don’t want the blanket sliding back around their legs if things go wrong!
  3. If your blanket uses clips on the front, always make sure the clip is clipped so the open side is against the horse, otherwise you run the risk of the clip accidentally becoming clipped to the fence or another horse! Yes, the risk is minor, but better to be safe!vs
  4.  When doing up belly band straps, have them adjusted so that they are of equal tightness when the blanket is straight. You should be able to snuggly fit a fist sideways under the straps. Any tighter and they will be too tight when your horse lays down or if he takes a deep breath. Any looser and you run the risk of a leg getting caught in the  blanket OR of the wind pulling the blanket up off his back like a parachute (brrr!).
  5.  Leg straps: A blanket either needs a tail strap OR TWO leg straps. One is not enough! It is important to only use leg straps that are in good condition. Leg straps that have lost their stretch aren’t going to do as good a job.  Leg straps can be crossed, but I prefer the link method. Both methods keep the straps from rubbing the legs, but the link method pulls back against the blanket rather than away, and is less likely to damage the blanket. Try to ensure they are adjusted equally – they look uneven in this photos as I have his tail and blanket pulled out of the way to one side. Always make sure  any  clips  are  closed  properly  as  well:  dirty  or  old  clips  don’t  always  close  properly  on  their  own.
  6. Before taking the blanket off, it is a good idea to do the leg straps back up to the blanket, so the loose straps aren’t going to swing around and hit the horse when putting the blanket back on! This also keeps the leg straps from dangling on the ground when the blanket is hung up.7.  If your leg straps are regularly coming undone, replace them! They aren’t expensive, and it isn’t worth the risk to your horse, your blanket or to the person who tries to fix them to keep old straps in use.

Week 7 – brrr!

Well, we are now on week 7 of no lessons. And it’s cold. Very very cold. I realize it is hard for me to come up with ride ideas as I feel out of touch with how you and your horses are all doing, so over the next two weeks I will try to come out and supervise some of you ride. Supervision (basically me watching you ride, but not telling you what to do, or charging) IS allowed under the current rules.

This you may want supervision to do: jump a small jump? Lateral work? You decide. I will try to write some helpful tips on lateral work this week.  If you want to arrange some supervision, sent me a message ahead of time!

Please keep in mind how cold it is though! Horses have very large muscles that take a lot longer to cool down than our puny human muscles, and putting a horse out into the cold before their muscle have cooled would be unkind.

Some ideas for cold weather riding: Spend more time warming up at slower gaits (walk, and a relaxed trot), doing easy/loopy serpentines and circles. Do transitions and take lots of cool down breaks. Cantering heats up a horse more than walk or trot, so consider cantering earlier in your ride, and then doing trot work, and finishing with some walk work. Things you can do at the walk: turn on the forehand, shoulder in, haunches in, side pass, rein back, walk poles drop and pick you your stirrups, neck reining, and ?

If you haven’t cooled down from your ride, then chances are your horse won’t have either, so leave lots of time for grooming/cooling down after your ride.

Alternatively, stick to doing some ground work! Will your horse for forward and back off of light aids? can you get him to do a turn on the forehand or side pass? Will he stay standing while you walk away? Ground work is a great cold weather activity!

Stay warm everyone!

Week 5 – break the boredom!

If your horse is like mine, they are starting to get a little tired of the ice and general boredom that comes with winter. If you find you need to help get your horse’s attention back, or just want to help limber them up, AND work on your spatial awareness, then this first TROT exercise is for you.

Quite simply, you are trying to do a four loop serpentine from A to C, staying between the quarter-lines. From quarter-line to quarter-line is 10 meters, so you should be able to fit four 10 meter half circle loops and should be done a few meters BEFORE you get to the opposite end.

With Scotch, I expect a certain degree of collection and balance, so I am using half halts to prepare for the change in bend, a bump with the inside leg to create the new bend, and outside leg and rein to shape her turn.

With Midas, I am making sure I come in with a reasonable trot, and then just looking and turning with my reins close together, but with very little help from my leg, as I don’t want to overwhelm him. I am not as worried about correct bend, but I am making sure he is flexing (looking) the correct direction. If needed, I can always complete the circle rather than moving on to the next loop.

I am using this to keep them thinking on their balance without overwhelming them, as a way to help them focus and use their body with more symmetry.

It’s also a good way to get a feel for a 10 meter circle and to see if your left and right turns match is size and feel, without being overly repetitive.

This second exercise is more challenging. I have three poles set up at the C end, on a circle. Can you get the same number of strides between the poles to the left as you can to the right? I can you get the same number twice in a row or does your control and bend change as you go? If it changes, remember to half halt and rebalance!

To up the difficulty, add in small circles over the poles: if you circle over the pole, do you still get the same number of strides on the arc as you did without the circle? This is a good way to see if you are loosing balance and/or power on small turns, and to help you remember to LOOK where you are going.


Week 4!

This is hopefully the last week without lessons! For this week, I am hoping everyone works on getting a solid position in preparation for starting back over fences!

My favorite trot exercise is the “up, down, down” posting trot exercise. Sit two like you are changing your diagonal, and then up for one, sit two, up for one, and repeat. You may find it helps to stay more forward with your upper body, and only lightly touch down for your down phase. Try to think about how you feel in the down phase once you find your balance in this exercise, and then see if you feel the same when you change your diagonal…you should!

You can also mix it up with the “up, up, down” posting trot where you more or less hold your two point for two steps, and then touch down for one. This can really help ensure you maintain tension in your concentric and eccentric muscles in your legs, and your core muscles, to ensure you keep control of your position ALL THE TIME.

A similar exercise at the canter just involves switching from two point to sitting and back to two point every so many strides. Try to use the different positions effectively: sit when you need more control, and two point when you want (or are able) to let your horse have some freedom. Again, make sure you maintain tension in your leg and core muscles to control both positions in the canter.

Want to up the difficulty? Do these exercises with one arm stretched above your head or pulled behind your back!

I am ready to start tentatively booking lessons starting on the 11th. Text me your preferred times, or we can start filling in the lesson board. I think we should assume we still have to maintain a limited number of people at the barn, so until we hear otherwise we will continue using the booking calendar.  Lessons will be able to have up to two people, as I feel some horses/riders may be better off with a buddy, and we need to be safe!