Oh, Wind, if Winter Comes
I can’t deny it any longer. Winter is coming. The days of riding a horse or two after my evening commute are over. With the advent of Daylight Wasting Time, I’ll be lucky to squeeze in twenty minutes of groundwork before dark.
I am trying very hard not to complain about this, to put my structured side on hold and allow my training and conditioning schedules to bend with the wind…and rain…and snow… That said, I do have a few goals for this winter:
- Maintain Aaruba’s fitness and (maybe) build speed in preparation for the 2009 endurance season. The good news here is that equines retain fitness much longer than human athletes. A fit horse can enjoy a month’s layoff with minimal loss of fitness. I think I can manage 2-3 rides per week for most of the winter, which should be sufficient for maintenance. If we can safety (in terms of both footing and temperature) do some speed rides, so much the better.
- Continue Consolation’s on-trail training and build foundational fitness in preparation to being serious conditioning in Spring 2009. This should be easier than my goal for Aaruba, as Consolation’s workouts are shorter and less strenuous. I’ll be thrilled to get in 3 rides per week on Consolation, but I’ll settle for 2 rides plus some groundwork.
- Continue Acey’s under saddle work in preparation for early conditioning in Spring 2009. In Acey’s case, I won’t need to worry much about a sweaty, chilled horse; however, wind may be more of an issue with her than with the others. Typically, the greener the horse, the more it is distracted by windy conditions. I’ll settle for 2 sessions per week and take more as they come.
My biggest challenge, other than finding sufficient daylight and reasonable weather conditions, will be cooling out sweaty horses. We don’t have a barn, so I’ll need to be sure my mounts are warm, dry, and fluffy after each workout. I plan to do this by:
- Riding as early as possible in the day, so there’s time to cool out before nightfall.
- Planning time for longer walks at the end of each ride (at least 1/2 mile; preferably a mile).
- Toweling after unsaddling (thrift stores are a great source of cheap towels), and currying to separate wet hairs.
- Using a jersey cooler to wick moisture away from the horse and prevent chilling. I ordered a cooler for $20 on clearance from SmartPak. It’s a touch small on Aaruba, but for that price, I wasn’t going to be picky, and it’ll fit Consolation perfectly.
- Letting the weather win, occasionally. The silver lining? More time to blog!
Oh wind, if winter comes, can spring be far behind? ~ Percy Shelley
Gone with the Wind
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