This year I'm easing up on myself so far as "goals" go with winter riding. I always think I'll be able to do a lot more than I actually can and then feel guilt when I can't reach my goals. This year I want to work each Q and Grif 2x/week for > 20 minutes and I want to work Stan 1x/week. It may be lunging inside with or without ground poles or heading to the back field where I have various ground pole exercises and gymnastic grids setup.
Griffin helped me set up and test the first of many exercises once we got back to Elkins as I never moved my jumps and poles to Canaan.
After seeing the zig zag poles exercise (exercise 3 here) make its rounds on numerous blogs, opted to set that one up first:
As my poles aren't exactly the same as what the original exercise calls for, figuring out the pole placing is still a work in progress. I need to remember to bring a measuring tape!
I've ridden the exercise at both a walk and trot on Griffin and a walk on Q so far. Both horses took to it easily. Trotting shows exactly where my eyeballed measurements are off, so I haven't trotted it too much yet as a result!
Not wanting to throw any horse directly into the zig zag exercise - and really not knowing what to do with the surplus of odd length poles I've amassed - I opted to throw 3 of my 3½ poles together as trot poles.
It's simple and easy, but they are quite narrow, so the horses do need to be paying attention to what is asked or we'll miss our mark. Grif has no issue with this though and locks easily onto them at the walk and trot.
Finally, for the moment, I have a small gymnastic grid setup with 3 cavaletti bounces ending with a one stride vertical.
I worked Grif through this grid several times both the day I set it up and in days after. He compressed himself to a very awkward 2 strides our first go through, but we nailed it afterward.
Since then, I opted to see how he may handle a 4 bounce grid with the 3 cavaletti leading to the vertical; the cavaletti are set at 18" and the vertical is 2'6". Griffin is no stranger to bounce work over those cavaletti - but the cavaletti bounces ending with a higher vertical? I wasn't sure how that would go.
Apparently, Griffin wasn't so certain either as he refused the first go through! I put my leg on for our next round though and we got through it with room to spare. Subsequent passes were even better and I loved feeling him really use his hind end through the exercise. I've never really felt him bundle himself up so carefully before - it was awesome! I foresee a lot more jump grids with more height in his future...
I've got several of the Horse Physio ground pole exercises printed off for the future to pair with exercises from my 101 Dressage and Jumping Exercises books and various other exercises that have been in Practical Horseman over the years. With any luck, I won't run out of things to do this winter! From a riding standpoint, I'd love to come through winter thinking, "Wow, that flew by!" though the skier in me is certainly rooting for a long snowy winter.
How about you - Does the winter weather and shorter daylight hours limit your riding also? What do you do to combat it? What are some of your favorite ground pole exercises to work through?