Another Nice Day
Dry and sunny, but the ground did not thaw enough for the water to drain down through so the arena is still pretty well covered in surface puddles with very wet top layers of sand over the clay. Riding out there would not be very good. Slippy in spots where the top layer of clay is just thawing and very wet--easy to get to because the top layer of sand it like soup.
But it is better. It looks like the last of the original ice has melted. If the temps stay up for the week as predicted, I may be able to ride a bit by the weekend. If we get more rain as predicted, it will all depend on how deep the thaw goes.
It reminds me a bit of one year when I boarded out. We had had a long, deep freeze. The ground had frozen down to probably nearly three feet. Then we had a thaw for several days and wind enough to dry the surface of the ground. I drove over to the barn and into the driveway. Suddenly my car began to sink. Eventually, it was resting on its frame, with the tires totally buried in the ground where they had sunk. This top layer of gravel/sand driveway had thawed out for at least two feet on the surface, but the ground below that was still frozen so the water had no place to go and actually created a kind of quicksand. I was apparently the third car that had driven in that day and suffered the same fate. The owner eventually pulled me out with the tractor. The top six inches or so of my arena are like that now. We won't sink in that deep as my ground is based on an aquifer. We had the topsoil layer, then a clay layer which varies in depth, but right below that is a clean, pure sand which will pretty much stay porous. Once the clay layer thaws, the water will filter back down pretty quickly.
So much for the weather report and the local geology lesson.
Horse news? Not much. The Boys were out basking in the sunshine when I got home. They still had a fair amount of hay in their stalls, and all looked well. They wore their sheets today as it was warm enough. But tonight I'll put the heavier, really waterproof sheets on because there is rain in the forecast. Even if the temps are up, when it rains it always feels colder.
My plan, when the weather does finally settle, is to begin the long lining in earnest with some stretchy riding every other day or so to build all the muscles back up.
On the plus side when I did ride Chance in the arena around the puddles yesterday before going out on the hack, it didn't take him too long to settle into a nice little long frame. The footing was far too bad to try to canter, but his trot was really good. That means the on the bit concept is fairly well settled in his head.
Oh yes, and on the way back during Tucker's hack, during one of the moments when I was holding him back from some risky trotting--some of the ground was very slippery--he gave me a few strides of a very collected, "lofting" kind of trot that felt like the first steps of passage. He is built to collect, so it makes sense. Now all I have to do is convince him to develop that same kind of energy and "wanting to go" in the arena. Once that forward piece is truly there, when you ask for the "super" collection, the passage or piaffe can come.
But the secret is always "forward." Somehow, I have to explain that to Tucker.