Monday, January 14, 2008

Let the Season Begin

We're under two months out from the first schooling show of the season so I decided it was time to actually do something with Brego. We had a nice arena ride on Saturday, just getting things back in gear, like working off my leg. He has a new mouth, after his float, and a new bit (7" behemoth loose ring), so I did not ask for much. I am hoping to restart Dressage lessons next weekend.

On Sunday, however, we started to work on condition. Since Brego had been ridden periodically over the last two months, he has some level of fitness, but not near enough to actually compete and not risk injury. So I am started to bring him back by doing lots of long, slow rides. We rode for 12 miles yesterday in some very hilly, rocky terrain. He did pretty well, but definitely got out of breath after long uphills.

I also took the opportunity to try out his new mega-sized hoof boots. I was pretty skeptical, but they worked really well and did not twist. I chose this ride to test them on because I knew he could complete the ride barefoot if needed. He didn't mind the boots at all, and I was inspired enough to make him trot for much more of the rocky trail. There was lots of good interval training, trotting for 5 minutes, then walking for three, etc.

Around mile 10, however, one of the cables on the boots broke and he shed the boot. We were in the middle of a good trot and I didn't notice at all until my riding partner saw his naked foot half a mile later. I went back to retrieve the boot and ended up finishing the ride without either boots. He trotted on fine barefoot over the rest of the trail. It's good to know that he can handle that kind of terrain, but I think the boots definitely give him longevity. I can go longer and faster with them without worry. I also wanted to point out that I was very concerned about slippage and traction in the boots prior to the ride. He had a few slips on the rough-and-tumble parts of the trail, but he also slipped with his back feet as well, so I can't say for sure the boots were a problem.

Anyway, he was one tired boy, but we did finish the ride with a nice canter over some railroad ties. My one concern about this season is getting him confident enough to move up and jump strange fences without prior schooling. He tends to be a looky-loo which in extreme cases can lead to getting marked for "refusals" even if he does successfully jump the fence. He did well over the little jump, even tired, but we have lots of training ahead of us.

I will give him a couple more weeks before I start any gallop work (and pray for rain for this hard ground), but I will continue to leg him up with these longer rides over varying terrain at the walk and trot. And of course, the arena work never ends.

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