Rhonda performing the snowbank mounting feat we needed today.
Heading across the hayfield / runway with dogs Cooter (cattle dog) & Ripley (hound) in tow
We set off through hock deep (on the Arabs - belly deep on Snickers!) crusty snow, with the horses frequently stopping and looking back to the trailer while clearly exchanging glances indicating how ridiculous us humans were for asking them to struggle though this snow.
Heading into the woods on slightly firmer footing - a few snowmobiles had run over this area & slightly packed it, although the horses still broke through unexpectedly. Rhonda & Snickers in the lead and Jodi & Rana following.
Crossing the hayfield / runway (Jodi's father-in-law flies planes) was the most difficult portion because the horses couldn't really count on consistent footing, and traded off breaking trail several times. The fact that you don't really see deer tracks in this snow at all tells you something - it's really deep & difficult going! The deer stick to the roads, driveways, and snowmobile trails to get around. We are all riding bareback (Rhonda & I with bareback pads, Jodi truly bareback) - which gives us nice toasty warm buns, but also requires quite a lot of balance & flexibility to stay with the horses as they lurch & lunge through the deep snow. It is a workout for both parties for sure.
The trails in the woods are more passable, which allowed us a little trotting and even a spot of cantering. Whee!
Making our way back to the trailer, coming around the far end of the runway, with tired & sweaty horses, though we only rode for about 1/2 hour
The horses sure got their cardio workout for the weekend! Lots of strength (resistance) training, too. We're already looking ahead to our endurance season & starting to get everyone in shape.
After returning to Jodi's, we each grabbed another horse to head out for a quick jaunt on the road so I could test Jodi's FreeForm Classic treeless saddle.
Shilo modeling the FreeForm Classic treeless saddle over a Skito Dryback pad.
I rode Shilo, an Arab mare & endurance mount, to try the FreeForm saddle. I was very comfortable in this saddle! It felt like a "real" treed saddle in terms of the support I felt for my seat & position, but was also very close contact and I could really feel the horse moving, too. It was a very brief trial, but I liked this saddle. I will continue to look into a FreeForm and keep it on my list of potential saddles.
Jodi rode her other young horse, Kiya
Rhonda rode another spotted horse, Gypsy - but this one's a lot taller than little Snickers!
After our two rides, I changed Rhio's bandage and started to think about other options to help him heal. I plan to start acupuncture treatments tomorrow, and also to discuss shoeing with my farrier at our appointment on Wednesday. I wonder if unloading the hoof wall below the injury will allow the coronary band to come back down into a more normal position. The injury is no longer draining and looks quite healthy, but the coronary band is not resuming a more normal location and that is worrying. I did let him run around the indoor for a little bit today, to blow off some steam, and he is perfectly sound again in all gaits. Yeah!
You can see how nice & clean & dry it looks now (Day 8) but that coronary band certainly isn't where it's supposed to be!
For comparison, here's the injury 8 days ago when I started bandaging & treating.
Rhio playing with the "pony pacifier" treat ball while I rebandage his foot.