The Sky is Falling

The Sky is falling

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.

8 thoughts on “The Sky is Falling

  1. I sent my horse out for a couple of months of training- back in October. He is still at the boarding stable, lol. He was sick the first couple of months so he did not get a lot out of his training and we decided to leave him for another month. By the time I was able to start riding him myself we were deep into winter here in Minnesota and had two feet of snow on the ground- my wonderful husband asked if I wanted to leave the horse another month.

    Well, he has been there for five months and we just re-upped for another month mainly because of the heated indoor arena. Unfortunately the boarding stable is over an hour from our farm so I only get up there three times a week but I have spent my happiest hours there this winter.

    The horse will definitely come home to our farm in April (or May, lol) so that i can ride him here every day, but I might reserve a stall for him for a few months next winter just to be able to enjoy the indoor riding while it is too cold to ride outside here.

    1. This was the first time I’ve boarded a barn with an indoor in about 15 years. Wow. So nice to be able to ride all winter! I’ve just brought my horse back because she prefers to live out, but I’m already thinking about what to do next winter.

  2. I’m at an indoor with windows along one side, so when the snow glacier breaks off, it also falls within sight. Thankfully, I have the most sensible mare on earth but I’ve seen other horses come unglued. Despite this once in a while event over the winter, it is essential to have an indoor for consistent training. Even here in Maryland the footing gets too frozen or slippery or the wind/rain/sleet keep you from being able to ride outdoors. Our indoor also has mirrors which are essential for checking your position, what the horse is doing. I love riding outdoors, but need that indoor, too!

  3. Oh, phew, Liz. I thought the sky was *literally* falling on you and that the arena roof had collapsed. I’m so glad that wasn’t the case. Ride (or ground school) on–when it’s safe to do it!

    1. Happily it was just the snow, not the roof! I loved being at a full care facility for a few months. Zelda just moved back to a co-op barn now that I can walk again. I think she prefers 24/7 turnout with her friend Curly. She doesn’t care much about how easy it is for ME!

  4. My lease has serious PTSD from this exact thing, he spent a year at a barn with “a bubble” and he hates it. Like run for the hills like his tail is on fire spooking. Barn #2’s ring had a solid roof, but he dumped me good one time from it. The barn we are at now is completely insulated with attached ring, so it’s not as loud, and he does wear noise cancelling ear bonnets to help, but I avoid snow on the roof like the plague. Noises from above do not bode well to him 😂

  5. Here in the Pacific Northwest, having an indoor arena, or even a fully covered one, is more valuable than gold. the luxury! Hearing the rain on the roof while riding and one is still dry is priceless. I absolutely love a covered arena, although I’ve never experienced a heated one. . The most recent barn Raven was at had no mirrors, which was a blessing because he loved to look at himself in them!

    1. They aren’t uncommon here. Just expensive! That’s why I was driving 40 minutes because to find a barn that was nice and affordable doesn’t happen closer to me.

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