We headed over to Rochester today to spectate at a Skijoring clinic hosted by the NESJA. Let me just tell you, I have found my winter sport. Hella fun, y'all. The season starts next week and goes through March. I don't think we'll be ready to compete this year, but I intend to make it a 2010 goal.
I will ride Brego and the SO will ski behind. It's a win, win. I don't have to ski (which I am rubbish at) and Brego gets conditioning speed work. Plus, it gives me an excuse to ride out more and play in, and pray for, snow.
Of course, there's one little hitch in the plan. Brego hates, HATES, H-A-T-E-S things dragging behind him. Remnants of his disastrous and short-lived driving career. So it very well might take me to 2010 to get him comfortable with the whole idea. But I think once he gets it, he will love it. He's definitely a sprinter, not a marathon runner and the average track length is 1000'. Woot!!
When I got home, I got out our 30' tow rope and worked with him from the ground. I sacked him out with the rope (he didn't care). I then threw the majority of the rope across his back and pulled it back to me so he could see and feel it moving on his off side. I then repeated for both sides. Finally, I threw it across his back and while holding it and his lead rope (with gloves!), I walked him so he could drag it and feel the slight pull against his back. I turned him both ways so he could feel it across his hocks and watch the end moving across the ground. He did amazing well for him. He looked at it and I let him smell it and pick it up in his mouth. I generally tried to discourage his mouthiness, but if he wants to bond with the tow rope by chewing on it, so be it.
Tomorrow, I am going to go for a trail ride (to get him tired) and then try dragging the rope while under saddle. That will be the major fireworks, I believe. He will walk through fire if I am at his head talking sweetly to him. When I am in the saddle, his bravery wavers. This will be a good experience for him.
I will be able to use my eventing saddle, rigged with a continuous nylon strap which wraps around the front of the saddle, under the flaps, and joins a breakaway loop at the back of the cantle. The tow rope then attaches to the breakaway loop via a carabiner.
In other news, I bought a winter helmet. It's for snowboarding, but it feels more solid than my craptacular Tipperary and it covers my ears. That's a high speed, high impact sport, so it's probably more protective than riding-specific headgear. I also got sexy matching goggles for when we're going so fast Skijoring!!! I imagine I can wear it a good 4 months of the year, for all my winter sports.