Sunday, March 10, 2013

The secret to riding two horses at once getting some help, of course!

I've mentioned already, I think, that V., the girl I nanny for, is leasing Panama a couple days a week now.  That has been going really well, and he actually nickered to her the other day.  Well, I think he did -- it could have been to me, but he walked over to the gate to meet her when she went to get him.  He also nickered when she walked out of the tack room holding his bridle, something he does with me when he's excited about going for a ride, so I think it's safe to say he really likes her!

Well, today I took V. up to the barn to ride, and I decided to ride Rondo at the same time.  We did this one another time, and it worked out so well that I decided to try it every chance I get.  This time, though, I wasn't worried as much about Rondo getting distracted (he likes to play with Panama, though I am not sure Panama shares that sentiment), so we rode together a little more instead of keeping some distance between the horses.

We got a big snowstorm yesterday, so there was a good 6 inches or so covering the outdoor arena -- untouched other than when I turned Rondo out in it briefly before we rode.  (He left tracks, but also stole big mouthfuls of snow -- apparently he really likes eating it!)  The indoor arena was quite busy when I checked -- four other horses, which is when it starts getting crowded in our little indoor -- so I suggested we ride outside.  It would be good exercise for the horses, and something new and different for V.

She'd had a head start grooming and tacking, so she was already out there and riding for about ten minutes before Rondo and I finally made our appearance.  Thanks to the turnout, Rondo was well-behaved, even though he definitely had some energy to burn off -- the turnout doesn't really wear him out, but just satisfies his need to play, so that he'll listen and work instead of playing with the bit and tossing his head.  Riding in the snow was really hard work for him, though, especially because he still needs to build a lot of the musculature of a riding horse -- Panama has been ridden for years (plus he's an Arabian, a.k.a. full of energy) so he didn't tire quite as quickly.  Pan was finally starting to act a little tired by the time we went inside, but 15 minutes of trotting in the snow had Rondo so pooped that when I stopped him, I could feel how hard he was breathing.

By this time the snow was melting enough to create deep puddles in the footprints beneath the surface of the snow, and that was starting to trip up the horses anyway, so we went inside.  By this time, the indoor arena had completely cleared out, so we rode for a little while longer.  Rondo recovered and had plenty more forward motion to give, and V. got some good canter work out of Panama (I hadn't let her canter outside in the snow because I was worried about him slipping).  With the ineffable enthusiasm of childhood, right about when we were winding down from part two of our ride, V. said, "Okay, can we jump now?"  She'd been on Panama for an hour at this point, and the first half of that hour alone was a pretty good workout for him, so I said no and we called it a day.

I don't get to ride Rondo every time I take V. to the barn -- sometimes I can't, because I have to keep an eye on her brother, and other times I just want to be able to watch her lesson.  But after today -- even V. was raving about how much fun it was to ride together -- I think I will start doing this more often.  It will be a bit of an adjustment for Panama and I -- any time I talked to him while I was riding Rondo, his ears would perk up in my direction, and a few times he actually tried to head my way without V.'s permission.  Obviously I will have to make sure I keep riding Panama regularly so we don't lose our connection (and so that I make sure V. doesn't teach him any bad habits!), but I like the idea of being able to exercise both horses at the same time!



At March 13, 2013 at 7:31 PM, Anonymous Christine said...

I love riding with another! And how wonderful to know at the same time both horses are getting work :)

At March 13, 2013 at 11:00 PM, Blogger Katharine Swan said...

I think we'll be doing it again on Friday! :o) I have been so busy lately, though, that I haven't ridden Panama since last week. I need to make some time this weekend, because I don't want him to start thinking I'm not his mom anymore! ;o)


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