Day Off

by Equestriangradstudent

I have nothing to do today and it feels quite brilliant.

That’s a lie. It feels a bit unsettling, as if I’m forgetting something extremely important. What do people do with free time? I tried sleeping in but that didn’t work. I woke up at seven. I guess that’s better than four. My body has finally reset itself from that awful student schedule. It took three months to make that change.

Since waking, I’ve really done nothing productive. I’m really just updating this blog so I can feel a bit more productive today. I’ve watched several Evention videos on YouTube. They’re fantastic. Schramm Equestrian puts them on. They’re informational videos for event riders, but done with a bit of fun and style. Anyway, that’s what I did with my morning.

As I watched those videos, I started thinking about the usual preparations I do for the upcoming competition season and how I won’t be able to do them this spring. The more videos I watched, the more upset I got about it. I won’t be able to use anything from my normal schedule. No hacking, no gallop sets. What am I going to do?!

Let me explain. The facilities here are far less than ideal for eventing. While I do enjoy having several different sizes of indoors to work in, I can’t do all of my training inside. I need fields to work in. There is one small outdoor jump field, but it’s pretty useless. It’s vaguely triangle shaped and rarely dry enough to ride on. There are immovable rubber mats under the fences because Ron didn’t want to have to mow around them. That’s all fine and dandy, but what if we want to change the jumps around? We can’t, because we can’t take the jumps off the mats and we can’t move the mats. Beyond being annoying, it’s starting to get dangerous.

Let’s take a minute to talk about why. Nancy decided a long time ago that there’s no reason to wait for good footing to take her jump class outside. So we jumped through the mud. That’s not so bad, it’s good to practice working on muddy ground. But those mats aren’t wide enough for the horses to take off from and land on, they’re just slightly thinner than that. So the horses take off and land right at the edge of the mats, creating huge pits in front of and behind the fences. That shouldn’t be a problem, because we can move the fences, right? Wrong. But there’s still hope! We had to stay inside for the winter, so hopefully the ground has leveled out a bit. We’ll probably get one good week out of that field. I can jump outside for a week, yay!

That still doesn’t solve the galloping problem, though. There is barely enough space in that field for a small course, so there’s definitely no room to jump at speed, or even practice gallop sets. Now, you should know that we don’t properly gallop the way race horses do, but we do have to have a strong canter faster than the 350 mpm (meters per minute) stadium pace. The actual speed depends on the level you’re showing. I’m hoping to do Training level with Abs this season, but in order to get fit I need a place to work gallop sets at 470 mpm. A track is ideal, but fields work well also. I, unfortunately, have neither. None of the indoors are large enough to work in at speed. Believe me, I’ve thought about it.

This wouldn’t be such a worry if Abs and I had evented together before. We’ve both done it before, just not together. I bought her just before coming here and haven’t competed since. I don’t know what it takes to get her event fit. I don’t know what she’ll be like outside. That jump field barely counts as outside. I’ll be taking her to as many clinics and schoolings as I can afford, but it’s not the same as having a fitness routine. Work indoors on dressage and stadium all week, then go out for a weekend of cross country with an unfit horse? Sounds problematic, at the very least.

I’m not sure how many of you readers are horse people, but I’d love any suggestions for fitness drills that I can do indoors.