Last week was so cold and windy I went out for training only once. Today the temperature was a balmy 20°F or there abouts. I put the bridle with snaffle bit on Dune and jumped on bare-back. We had some more snow last week. I suppose it’s about 24-30 inches deep now. When we rode into the training pen later (because he’s a short horse, about 14.2 hands) my toes were dragging in the snow some of the time.

As we rode down the driveway as a sort of preliminary warm-up, I thought I might have to get creative about the kind of training I could do with the deep snow and icy roads. Dune was a little worried, perhaps because he is used to the round pen warm-up, but he quickly settled down. When we got to the county road after our driveway it was icy and slippery. I could see that it wasn’t as slippery close to the edge of the road, but based on his horsey logic, he was afraid to get very close to the edge. I nudged him carefully to the edge as he slipped all over the place. When he finally figured out that it wasn’t as slippery there, he was happy to stay on the edge and the potential dangers were averted.

The neighbors were home and in their yard, so I went in to say hi. They had been splitting firewood and there were split firewood pieces spread around in our path. Dune was afraid of the chunks. I nudged him to go forward and he finally tiptoed over the firewood pieces with a lot of snorting and blowing. After saying greetings to our neighbors, we continued on our way back over the now apparently not so scary firewood pieces and continued on our journey down the road. When we got back to our driveway, which had the best footing, we worked on half-passes. We backed up several times. For a beginner he accomplished all this almost correctly and lightly with surprising agility.

After our exercises on the driveway we went into the training pen and remade our old figure 8 which was already filled with snow again. He waded through the snow with no resistance. For the most part we kept everything at a walk, but a couple of times I asked him to trot, always away from home, which he accomplished pleasantly without any inappropriate rush or hesitation.

In recap it was a good training day. Dune had to deal with the scary firewood pieces, carry me over the slippery ice while getting a lesson in trusting me to guide him and carried me through deep snow–in some places up to 30 inches. All this was new stuff for him. Finally, we were able to practice trotting calmly away from home, half-passes and backing up.

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  1. Jim H says:

    As your story flows along I found myself also riding alongside. Interesting to think of how a horse would look at things that we take for granted. It’s good that Dune has a wise master who nudges him along, realizing his fears will become learning steps. Reminds me of our wise Master.

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