Warning: This is largely a post about me complaining about the weather.
Texas has decided that it’s time for summer and therefore I am in a perpetual state of making a face of disgust. I tried to find a picture for you but apparently I am smiling in 95% of my pictures, which is weird and kind of ruins my image. But just know that I am busy giving Texas the middle finger (and yes, I know it’s “NOT EVEN HOT YET.” Shove it.)
I don’t really understand what to do in this weather other than hide in air conditioning. When it got to be 95 in Minnesota (granted, when it does that it’s usually a lot more humid than it is here), I went to the barn to hose off my horses and stick them under fans for a little break. And then I went home to air conditioning.
Occasionally we’d go on an evening trail ride, or have a light ride, but usually 95 meant no riding (again, with the humidity the heat index was such that it wasn’t recommended to ride anyway, so this wasn’t just me hating the heat).
Make fun of my Northern blood all you want. Winter is coming.
A couple of weeks ago it was in the 70s. While I thought I’d be done showing by May at the latest, it was nice out! One night we even got a cold front and the temperature dropped about 20 degrees in 10 minutes! DOWN TO THE 60s! I am fairly sure that will never happen again, but that one night was magical.
Because the weather was nice for all of 25 seconds, I thought “I am going to sign up for this show the first weekend in June.”
And then the week leading up to the show was when Texas decided that the temperature is 95+ all the time. And then they scheduled my ride for 3:20 in the afternoon. Not only at the hottest part of the day, but a solid 2 1/2 hours after the other riders in our group rode. Super!
To be honest, once I’m out working in the heat I’m fine. I get over it pretty quickly. I drink a lot of water and I sweat and I deal with it. Cholula, on the other hand, may explode. It doesn’t take much to get her puffing and I haven’t figured out how to effectively work her in this weather. I’m terrified of her overheating, so I am working lighter, and somehow she still requires massive walk breaks in between work sets to cool down. It’s going to take awhile for her to acclimate to this, I think.
I was worried about this show. I was showing her off of the trailer, I had no idea what the shade situation was at this facility, and while the dressage arena was covered the warm up wasn’t. Second level is a lot of work for Cho, and we had to do SOME warm up to get her settled. That was the whole point of this trip – sometimes you have to go to new places and warm up and then do a test, Choface. Settle down.
All in all, it went really well! We managed to find a nice, shady area to park the trailer and tie the horses. There were enough trees in this spot that even when the sun moved we had shade. That and a bit of a breeze pretty much saved the day. I think we both would have been miserable if we were in the sun all day.
Cholula spent most of her day pawing and screaming, broken up by eating her hay as fast as she could.
The facility was beautiful and has a huge cross country course with lots of trees.
Cholula was jealous of the horses walking the course, and I debated galloping around instead of showing my test.
I got on about an hour before my ride. I really wasn’t planning on riding that early, but it was pointed out to me that I could use the time to get her to relax and stop screaming. She largely stopped calling to her friends once we were working. Most of the ride was walking from shady spot to shady spot and circling tree trunks. After the first 20ish minutes, I took her into the outdoor ring to warm up her trot and canter for a few minutes. We returned to the shade to walk, back to the outdoor for a little lateral work and transitions, back to the shade. I decided to work on transitions – trotting from one shady spot to the next with a walk or halt in the shade.
What you should get from this is we really weren’t doing that much work. But around 3:00 I stopped over at the arena to see how things were running, and Cholula was moving me back and forth in the saddle because she was puffing so badly.
Cue “I broke my horse” panic. We still had a test to ride! We didn’t even do that much!
We walked, strictly in the shade, for 20 minutes. By the time it was my turn to ride around the ring she had (thankfully) stopped puffing.
I’m glad we started the warm up when we did, all things considered. She settled into the work and wasn’t terribly looky around the grounds. It still took a good 20-30 minutes before she really relaxed and let me ride her, but once she was there she stayed there.
With what little warming up we did of the actual 2nd level movements I thought the test went well. Mostly I was thrilled because we did ALL THE THINGS. No breaking in the canter! It was a relief to finally be able to ride through the test without incident. It wasn’t pretty and I have had much better days riding-wise, but I definitely needed the reminder that we CAN do the test, now we just need to refine and improve upon it.
And now we have all summer to figure out how you work horses in the heat. She is fit, and once she switches into “work mode” she will go and go and go, so I have to be VERY careful. She won’t give me any indication that she’s hot and needs a break. If I ride in the evenings I think we’ll be limited to walking, and maybe a few trot/canter transitions for good measure.
(By the way, for all of you who like to say “Well at least you can ride year-round there, unlike in Minnesota where you can’t ride when it’s too cold!” I have news for you: I guarantee I lose fewer riding days in Minnesota than I will lose here this summer. My job prevents me from riding early in the morning most weekdays, and when evenings are still in the 90s it’s too much. Cholulas are not meant for hot weather.)