Meanwhile back in the dark depths of an Ontario winter, the less sun soaked persons of the O’Hanlon team are working away on the horses that will start competing in May when Selena returns to Canada. The most educated one that we get to play with this year is, of course, Heron Hill’s Wilhelmina, ‘Ena’ to her friends. We had to make a choice between taking her or Solo to Florida this year. Solo is a year older so he got to winter in the sun. Two years ago, the first Winter we had Ena, she stayed here and I rode her because she was too young to compete on, not having reached her fourth birthday. I had a fun time with her, but not as much fun as I will have this winter, now that she is fully mature and able to really work. Last year she competed in Ocala with great success, this year she has stayed at home for the winter to concentrate on her flat work. We know she is not yet polished enough in her dressage and ‘polishing’ is the task I have until her rider returns to claim her. It’s SO MUCH FUN. She is a big horse (17hh) but moves like a cat. Very light and springy. The other day I was walking ‘nicely’ in the arena when a brief but violent gust of wind caused the arena cover to make some sharp and sudden noise. I must admit, it made me start, but nothing to the way it affected Ena. She moved like a Harriet Jump Jet on vertical take off. Actually, it was not unseating, but I had a definite feeling for the ‘view from up there’.
I have two greenies I am working on. These two were considered too green to go to Ocala, they need more training before they are ready to compete against the creme de la creme in Florida. However, they are both gorgeous and very rewarding to work with. Although both crossbreds they are completely different in personality. The 17hh 6 yr old, Bruin, is shy and very sensitive. He is very sweet and loving, the only traits he shares with his 5yr old little ‘brother’, Cebastian. Cebastian is NOT shy, nor is he particularly sensitive. He is a happy little tank, trucking around the arena, ready to argue with anyone and take on the world. They are SO different to ride, but basically at the same stage of training, finding their balance and opening up their stride, without falling on my hand. Lots of work circling and serpentining continuously, waiting for them both to center underneath me. Bruin a little behind the leg and looking for too much support on the outside rein on his turns, and Cebby forging on through, and tanking down onto my hands, turning the bit into his ‘training wheel’ whenever he loses his balance. Same issue, but different personalities, conformation and type, result in a different reaction to ‘losing balance’. However, it doesn’t really matter what reactions they give me, I know that if I just keep quietly pushing them around my circles, figure eights and serpentines, they are both going to get supple enough and strong enough to stay balanced….. eventually.
All three of my regular rides like to jump, particularly Cebby and Ena. Bruin has not done enough to have an opinion one way or the other, although he is always up for whatever is on the day’s menu. Cebby and Ena however, are probably wondering why they have been cut off from their favorite activity. I don’t usually do much jumping as I have had some back problems in the past, however, this is just too good an opportunity to miss and I am frantically doing yoga and exercises to get my back in shape! It’s amazing just how DIFFICULT and IMPOSSIBLE yoga and exercises are! This week I have an extra horse to train and work while her rider is on holiday. I know I will be jumping her, so I hope my stretching efforts are going to kick in.
Last weekend I did a Pony Club clinic at Terelisa Farm, in Augusta, ON. It was a great break from my usual daily schedule. I love teaching and thoroughly enjoy working with the horses and ponies at Terelisa. The kids are keen and don’t complain about the icy temperatures. These Canadian youngsters are VERY hardy!
It seems that in the winter it’s a squish to even get three or four horses done a day. I try to do three a day, and four when necessary which does not seem very many, but the frigid temperatures in the early morning do not incite me to rush out and start working in the indoor arena much before 9.30am. At least by that time the sun(?) has been on the roof long enough that the temperature inside is more than the temperature outside, and not less! I was going to whine about the dark too but I must admit to recently noticing that the days really are getting longer. …it is definitely improving, I am back to being a creature of the light.