Heatwaves Aren’t Without Hitches

Are you even British if you don’t moan about the weather? Too hot, too cold, too windy, not windy enough – people often make fun out of us brits for always commenting on the weather and I don’t blame them, its true. So, I suppose I might as well jump on the band wagon and discuss the heatwave that has hit us this summer.

For almost 3 months it feels as though the weather has been hot and dry. And by hot, I mean really hot. We have had consistent temperatures above 30 degrees and I don’t know about you but I’ve certainly taken a bit of time to adjust. I’ve been feeling the heat and for that reason I have also been very cautious of making sure Hamish is coping okay too. The poor ponies aren’t used to such hot summers – although, saying that, ours seem to have been dealing with it pretty well. We often catch them standing by the water trough, catching a breeze across the fields; they’re sensible boys.

With the heatwave has come some beautiful weather and I’ll admit, it has been great not having to think about whether you need to take a jumper, cardigan or rain coat with you before leaving the house. However, unfortunately, it has also brought us a slight set back. I have been doing a lot less schooling with Hamish, his exercise routine has consisted of early morning hacks, ground work or long-reining in the school, with the occasional light schooling session in the cool early morning. This is both due to the heat and the fact that this super dry weather hasn’t done our sand and rubber surface much good at all. The sand had gotten so dry and deep, I struggled to walk through it myself, let alone Ham with his precious old legs.

Whilst he has still been getting plenty of work, the schooling side of things has taken a bit of a detour; in the sense that it has turned around and walked backwards a few paces in the wrong direction. Its okay, nothing to worry about and we will be able to pick things back up soon enough but I thought it was interesting to see first hand, how quickly progress can be lost with veterans when they don’t have consistent exercise to keep them going.

I had a lesson last week and it was the first proper lesson I’d had in a while. We had a day of downpours and a the temperature dropped a few degrees, which made huge improvements to the school – Finally we could get back to business. I noticed that the left side was very tricky again, this has always been the worse side but it had been much better up until then. The left was like riding a plank of wood! Bless him it’s not his fault, its just the lack of schooling meaning he’s gotten a little stiffer on that side. The canter work also had to go on the back burner. Just before this scorching weather, we had started cantering large around the arena working on straightness and starting to introduce shallow loops, with the plan to progress to counter canter. On our first canter in the school for a little while, it was quite obvious that we weren’t in a position to think about those exercises again yet. Back to circles for now, to build up the canter and get it back together.

Initially I felt a little disheartened about our lack of progress, I knew I hadn’t been able to do as much and in the back of my mind, I guess I also knew things would have slipped a little bit. At least it goes to show that my strict advance planning of our weeks wasn’t so over the top after all. It isn’t always possible to stay on track with routines and schedules, things like the weather (in both winter and summer) can throw a spanner in the works. What have I learnt from this? I’ve learnt how our routine has really positively impacted our progress so far and when we can’t keep to the routine…? Expect and welcome the changes, with a mindset ready to get back on board and work hard to get back to where we were – we got there before and we’ll get there again.

How have your horses been coping in this heat? Have you had to change your routines to avoid the hot sunny weather?

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