Tonight was a beautiful evening for a drive. About 60 degrees, sunny, with a slight breeze. The sun was setting behind the barn and there was hardly a fly around the place. Great jeans and sweatshirt weather. So, I harnessed Louie up to enjoy a very nice drive in the outdoor arena. The heavy rain that we had recently has just finally dried up enough so that the footing was perfect in the large outdoor arena today. Plus, it was recently dragged, so it was super smooth for my cart.
We tried a little bit different tactic today while driving, since it was mostly for conditioning, I thought I would pay close attention to how much we were driving in each direction, since most of the time I just kindof willy nilly choose which way I'm going to go and when I'm going to turn, how long we're going to continue, at what speed, etc. So tonight, we did intervals. I started with 3 laps of a nice medium trot in each direction. Then we walked a lap after the warm-up to sort of change gears. I planned a variable rate work out consisting of 3 speeds of trot in each direction, with no walk in between. We started off tracking to the right, with a slow jog (think western pleasure, very primpy and floaty) for 1 lap, a medium trot for 1 lap, then a fast trot for 1 lap (I don't say extended because the gait wasn't truly extended- that, along with blinders, is our winter project). Then we decreased back down to a medium trot, then a jog, then switched directions and completed the same build up-build down type of routine. I did have to change up my transition point a little bit as we went along as I figured Louie would catch on to that rather quickly, being as smart as he is.
After our intervals, we walked for a cool out- remember, our outdoor arena is like a football field, or maybe even bigger. Anyhow, it's huge and just those few laps, when I actually counted, really added up to quite a long drive. Louie wasn't sweaty and was really hardly breathing fast when we finished, but we had a nice drive and got some good conditioning in. A nice way to work, as his back has been a little bit sore again lately- too much riding and not enough driving. . . bad mom!
I also figured out something else tonight. We tend to have a problem while driving, in that Louie wants to keep his nose bent to the inside all the time (man, I wish we had that problem when riding!). It's really better than the opposite, in my mind, but at times it does get a little scary for me, as when I ask him to come in off the rail, he just bends more- and the cart and the rail can get a little close for comfort at times. So I figured out tonight that when I ask him to turn to the inside, I usually take up the slack with my inside rein and use my whip on the outside of his barrel. Well, when I do that I totally throw away my contact on the outside rein, allowing him to keep bending and bending and bending. So, I paid attention to my hands and held contact on the outside rein tonight when I asked him to turn into the middle a little bit and come off of of the rail. It worked pretty well and for the most part he turned much easier, without excessive bending. Yay! I hope that method continues to work for us.
All in all, Louie was a very good boy tonight and I really enjoyed spending time with my beautiful horse on such a beautiful evening!