I know that some riders use an indoor on windy days, but I do not have access to one. I am not sure if I understand the rational for riding in an indoor on really windy days anyway, because the creaking and knocking sounds of the building bracing against the wind is probably worse than just riding outdoors. I guess you do avoid dust or debris being blown around; that part makes sense.
Harley is not a "leaf" meaning that he doesn't get frantic just because the wind is blowing, but he isn't an uninspirable creature either. When I took him out to ride yesterday, a very windy day, his legs and belly were already splattered with mud. Thinking out loud, I asked him what he had been up to. The nice young lady working in the barn said that he had been "cantering all over the place" while she was out cleaning the paddocks. Oh, so Harley does like to run around in the wind. He was also pretty bright-eyed and electric in the cross-ties. He looked like a horse who was feeling really good and ready for anything. Did I mention that he has gained weight? (Happiness!)
For a split second, I thought about not riding. The wind was pretty high, almost borderline as far as safe riding conditions go, but I hadn't ridden all week and I just needed to be in the saddle. From the looks of Harley, he was itching for some action too and clearly had plenty of energy to burn. Then I remembered that I do not change my riding plans, because the wind is blowing. Harley is a horse, not a leaf!
So we went out and we rode. Harley's mane whipped up and fell on the opposite side of his neck, giving him a very romantic, salon-treated look. Even though the wind was blowing, I still needed to use leg to encourage him to be forward and carry himself through the transitions. He gave me some nice, long and low stretchy trot with plenty of push from behind. On long reins, he felt like he was gliding around the ring. He was smooth and easy. Not once did I worry about him suddenly scooting to the side, bolting or losing his mind. Ironically, when we did canter, he was less apt to jump around and try to change leads for fun then he did on windless days. Interesting. We also did several canter to trot transition with me remaining in sitting trot. His back stayed up and it wasn't until later that I realized I had stayed seated through the transitions. I think we are making progress. Rushing into the trot and anticipating the next canter is not his knee-jerk reaction anymore.
On our last canter circuit, I felt that he wanted to drop behind my seat (an indication that he wanted to try to change), so I projected with my upper body more (not back though!) and kept my legs on and my seat firmly closed in the saddle. Harley cantered a few strides that were downright magical. His forehand came up a lot and I could almost see his front legs articulating in slow motion during the increased hang time. We transitioned to a very balanced, very easy trot with a huge "Good Boy, Harley!"
As we cantered down the long side, Harley's mane whipped up and I had to close my eyes for a few strides to avoid the gusts. I know that horses can get excited in the wind. It was windy for the last trail ride that I went on and two horses who were normally Steady-Eddies bucked and got hyped up. Harley did prance a little, but kept his feet on the floor and clearly he has no qualms about charging around his paddock when the wind is blowing. I think that it is different when I am in the saddle. I like to think that it means he trusts me, I trust him, and he wants to keep me on board. I know that this type of trust, with an enormous animal, should always be combined with a healthy dose of caution and reality. Things can and do go wrong. My friend broke her ankle on that windy trail ride, because her usually quiet trail horse decided to pop his butt a few too many times. Really, once is too many.
But for me and Harley, riding with the wind can be a blast.
|Photos from a fun day in October.|