How to get "exercise" for picky mare during muddy season?
Sorry for such a long title. =P
My issue is my lease mare. She's very picky about her footing (think trying to run in high heels) so I can't ride her when the footing's not hard, unlike the boys. Today I took her to the driest corner of the paddock and lunged her, just at the walk and trot, and she was definitely feeling frisky. It'll be at least another month, and probably more, before I can give her a real workout again - does anyone have any ideas for "exercise"?
The property is extremley small - 1 acre, so I can't do much handwalking but it's an option. She also gets too excited for me to handle when we're on the road, so a little "off terrain" is out of the question.
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I think I understand that she is living in a stall and not getting turnout, which describes my two at the moment. We are freezing and thawing here so we turn out at night after the ground freezes back up, otherwise they end up skating. I have tried handwalking on the levelest part of the property but frozen ground with an inch of mud on top is a problem no matter what. If they even think of getting a little silly they are on their butts and it's too dangerous.
Is there an indoor arena that you can make arrangements to get to and use? I understand from posts here that some facilities offer arena use for a reasonable fee and I know my trainer has permitted her arena-less neighbors to rent time, as well we have a public park with facilities including an indoor and they have been advertising indoor rental in a very quiet way.
Could you or would you want to board somewhere larger with more all weather space for a month or two?
Mud is high on the list of things I like the least w/regard to horsekeeping!
Perhaps try to make the most of what little space you have to work in by making the exercises more frequent and more mentally challenging, actually expect her to learn something or develop a skill rather than just blowing off steam. If it were me I'd be doing a bit of in hand work, maybe some simple trick training, and then some longing over cavaletti or longing through a small simple jump chute, etc. Whatever the footing allowed.
When one of my geldings was stall bound for almost a year a long time ago, I taught him all sorts of things like spanish walking, picking things up, ground tying, etc., and I did a lot of TTouch. Giving him problems to solve kept him from being explosive and cranky.
Right now we have frozen ground too which cuts the horses activity level to near nothing. I'm working at driving with my younger gelding, and he's extremely pent up and hot to trot. However, even though we can only walk for the most part because of the footing, the work itself is so challenging and stimulating, he focuses and settles and is relaxed and refreshed when we're done.
Worry is the biggest enemy of the present. It steals your joy and keeps you very busy doing absolutely nothing at all... it’s like using your imagination to create things you don’t want.
Time for her to get over the princess syndrome and learn to go where she's told by her rider, icky footing or no. An excellent lesson in obedience, and an excellent time of year to learn it.
Nothing at all wrong with lots of walking during down time to maintain fitness, and there is ALWAYS an opportunity to be schooling them under saddle. In this case, a gold-plated one to make the horse a better mount in less-than-perfect conditions.