Having access to an indoor arena this winter has been transformative. I don’t remember the last time I was able to ride on such perfect footing! The only problem with riding inside in the winter is snow. And heavy rain.
The first time we were in the indoor when the skies opened the rain hit the canvas top like a drum solo. Convinced the sky was falling, Zelda executed a spin and bolt that would make a cutting horse proud. It’s amazing how fast that horse can move when motivated.
That response was nothing compared to the first time she heard snow slide off the roof. We were alone in the indoor when it happened: a roar that sounded like a predator outside read to attack. Now, this is a horse that doesn’t flinch at at the howling of coyotes. She’s usually pretty brave. Not this time. She gave the mother of all spooks. Deciding that discretion was the better part of valor, I hopped off and put her on a lunge line so she didn’t think that she could get out of working every time we heard a scary noise. After the next roar of snow departing the roof, Zelda reared and bolted, then stood snorting with the whites of her eyes flashing as white as her blaze.
Time for ground work. There are times when it’s easier — and safer — to control your horse’s body from the ground. Especially when you’re in an indoor and can use the wall as a way to contain the energy. I started the session by asking Zelda to move her shoulders over, then her haunches. I wanted her to bend her body and focus on me. I mostly succeeded. When she was focused on me and had only a minor spook after the next crack I asked for for one more trot around the circle and we retreated to the safety of the barn.
How do you deal with snow on the roof (if you’re lucky enough to have an indoor to ride in).
Photo courtesy of my friend Suzanne Adams, who was brave enough to ride her lovely mare Shanti with that snow still on the roof of the indoor.