Spring Legging Up and Legging Down

Yes, only just over a week ago I was talking about major blizzards, incapacitating amounts of snow and sub freezing temps.  And now I’m talking about SPRING.

As only the crazy Chicago weather can do, there has been a major turn about in temperatures.  One week after major snow and windchills 30 below zero, it’s now been beautifully sunny with temperatures between 40-50.   There’s rain in the forecast, too, and hopefully that will mean melting snow and a return to working outdoors with the horses.

Of course that also means MAJOR MUD.  There’s so much snow right now that when it all melts, the ground is going to just liquify.  The barn where I board is a nice, small, backyard faciility, but there’s a lot of horse-traffic pounding the ground away and that means weak soil.  It gets muddy every spring and fall with the rain anyway, but combined with this much melting snow and now early rains, too, it is going to be absolutely aweful in another week.

Can’t wait for that.

But, taking advantage of the warm weather this past weekend, I’ve started the 2 ponies back into ground driving.  Luke the hackney started out a little bit rusty after his 4 month winter break.  On Saturday he started back to ground driving forgetting what “whoa” and “stand” meant, and ended up tangled up in the driving lines.  (not the first time that’s happened….)  But by Sunday he was back at it like a little pro. 

Right now, I’m just line driving Luke and Dixie is following along on a lead rope behind us.  She needs exercise.  I thought the muzzle would cut it, but she really has not lost much weight.  I’ll get her started ground driving next weekend, when I have time.

The carts are still buried in their shed with all the snow, there’s no way I can access the driving vehicles at all for now, but I hope to get both Luke and Dixie hitched in harness and put to vehicle soon.  I’ll be looking for someone interested in keeping Dixie worked for me as soon as the spring hits fully ~ I will not have time to work her along with the other 2.  There’s just no way.  I can almost manage to work 2 horses 3 times a week, but it’s just not possible to keep 3 horses worked as often as they need to be.

As far as Chewbacca goes, he has been doing well.  He was about 5% lame last week, and that quickly improved to about 1% off and by the end of the week he was fine.  I think it could have been the ice and the hard ground bothering his feet.  In the summer, he does not do well on gravel driveways and chooses to walk on the grass shoulders instead of the roads.  I may put shoes and pads on him soon, mud-dependant of course.

However, Chewie will be leaving my trainer’s barn in less than two weeks.  I can no longer afford to keep him there, which means he’ll no longer be in jumping training of any kind.  I will not jump him on my own without supervision and instruction.  I will no longer be able to take lessons with him at my trainer’s, either.  So, in a few weeks, he’ll come home and rejoin Luke and Dixie and probably get a mini vacation before I start riding him again in the arena for hacks and on trails.  So while Luke and Dixie begin to get legged up for the spring, Chewbacca will actually get some “legging down” time.

Actually, he’s been progressing so well – improving in balance, collection, jumping, lateral motion, flexion, and impulsion – that he’s been bulking up!  His shoulders are becoming more muscled every time I see him, and my new saddle, which fit him perfectly for 3 months is now tight on him through the withers.  It’s slipping back and does not sit well across the pommel anymore.  Amazing.  I’m trying a wither pad the next time I ride in the hopes I can get away with using that and not have the saddle readjusted- because once he’s out of jumping training, he’ll lose that muscle mass.

In fact, I don’t expect to be able to continue any real progress once he’s home, since I’ll have no instructor.  I can not teach myself.  I’ve tried and I’ve just screwed up horses as a result.  I’m very afraid to bring Chewie home and ride him without any instruction at all – it’s never panned out well for me or my horses.  I also do not expect to be able to show Chewbacca.  After the horse show debacle I had with him last September, I know I am incapable of getting him to quietly compete in an arena with other horses.  I would have liked to have hired my instructor to ride him in a show or two, but the costs of doing that are just too exorbitant and I don’t have that kind of money.

So, it’s a bit of a bummer- having a great horse and the inability to do what I want with him.  But I am hopeful it will all work out on its own, and I’m trying not to think too hard on it.

I do have some super cool things coming up in the next few months that I am occupying myself with thinking about–  I’ve got my tickets for the MidWest Horse Fair $40,000 Grand Prix.  I love the MidWest Horse fair- it’s an amazing place to attend to shop, watch clinics, and meet all kinds of cool breeds.  I missed the Grand Prix last year, so I’m looking forward to attending this year, and even bought front(ish) row seats.

I try to attend 3-4 Grand Prix’s throughout the year.  Lamplight Equestrian Center has several, and it’s close to home.

I’ve also got my tickets to the KENTUCKY DERBY!!!  YEA BABY!  THEY’RE IN HAND! (Well, Ok, they’re on a PDF on my computer)… But I’ve got them!  I’ve got a hotel narrowed down and also have plans on visiting the Kentucky Horse Park the following day and several farms around Lexington, and I will be getting to meet Fusaichi Pegasus and Lookin at Lucky, too.

Super cool!!!!

So the next 12 weeks or so promise to bring some major dissappointments and major super coolness awesome times all at once!  I can’t wait – at least, not for the cool stuff, anyway!

Well, that’s that for now.

About kshai1715

I am a lifelong equestrian, photography enthusiast, sci-fi lover, and sci-fi convention & costuming geek that also loves movies and video games. I am a hard working 30 something woman that survived cancer and am looking forward to a long, healthy, self-empowered life. Welcome to my blog and I hope you enjoy reading about my horses (and the rest of my life) as much as I like writing about them.
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5 Responses to Spring Legging Up and Legging Down

  1. Dom says:

    The only thing worse than the snow is the mud that comes right after. I know what you mean about having a great horse and not being able to do what you want with him. Ozzy and I are both raring to go in terms of conditioning, but we can’t get any real miles in until things dry up.

    • kshai1715 says:

      OH, we’re going to have so much mud. It’s already getting a little muddy out during the days, but at night it’s cold enough to freeze it over. By the end of the week, it’s going to be bad. By March, I think we’re all going to sink.

  2. svet says:

    Hi – First-time poster here. I’ve really been enjoying your tales and adventures with Chewy. You’re really inspiring me to get out there with my boys this spring. Thank you!

    May I offer a comment for your current situation? I, too, took lessons with my boy, and when I had to stop, I was lost. But try to keep up with what you and he already know when out on the trail. Keep going with the flexions, the impulsion, the circles. They’ll keep trails extra interesting. ; ) I’ve let some of that go the last year or two, and now we both have to relearn and re-teach each other.

    Do you think you’d be able to take just an occasional “evaluation” lesson with your instructor while Chewy’s at home? Or would she be willing to discuss things with you on the phone if you run into a problem?

    Just some thoughts. Hope I’m not sticking my nose in too far. It’s just that you’ve made some wonderful progress with him, it would be a shame to get discouraged by life getting in the way. Been there, done that m’self.

    Sorry this got sooooo long.

    • kshai1715 says:

      I’ll try to take a lesson if I can. Thanks for the comments! I too am hoping I don’t get lost without lessons. I haven’t even moved him back yet, but yet I already feel lost!! Good luck with your horses! Keep me posted!!

  3. Tracie Noel says:

    Okay, you’re doing the big KY trip. You will have a BLAST! As a veteran of a couple adventures down there myself, I have some recommendations. DO NOT miss the Kentucky Derby Museum. It’s a fabulous place with awesome exhibits. I imagine it’s going to be crazy-busy during Derby Week, but please try to get in. The other “do not miss” place in Lexington (along with the Horse Park, of course!) is “Old Friends.” http://www.oldfriendsequine.org
    I promise you this place will truly bring joy to your heart. Michael Blowen has a little bit of paradise for every horse there, and you are sure to find your “favorite stallion.” The volunteers are all lovely people as well. I can’t wait for my next visit as they now have Tinner’s Way, Secretariat’s son.
    While you’re at the Horse Park, I recommend taking their guided trail ride. It’s fun and not horribly expensive, and you can you pretend you’re getting ready to gallop over some of the Rolex jumps (hah!).
    Don’t forget to call ahead and make a reservation to tour any breeding farm you’re interested in. I imagine during Derby Week they will also be very busy. I’m planning to visit Lane’s End next time in the hopes of seeing Miss Zenyatta.
    I myself would like nothing more than to MOVE to Lexington, but until my kids are out of H.S. I can’t consider it. It’s great that you’re going to the Derby! Every year I tell myself, I’m gonna get there, but it hasn’t happened yet… now I can get a full report from someone who has done it! 🙂

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