It amazes me how quickly time flies by when there is so much going on. The nine horses I took to Florida for the winter arrived home safely at the beginning of April, and we’re all glad to be back in New Jersey at Upper Creek Farm.
The horses are happy in their large turnouts with lush grass, as they enjoy the crisp spring air, a change from Florida’s heat and humidity. Being at home also gives me numerous options for riding and training without leaving the property.
My first choice for exercising the horses is the grass riding field. They enjoy stretching their legs, a change from riding in small areas with so many circles. In Florida, the farm where we board is on five acres with a track around the arena as well as a regulation dressage arena with mirrors.
I think one of the best parts about leaving Florida is that we don’t see any flies for at least six weeks when we head north, and no longer have to deal with sand that gets into and on everything.
The Florida flies seem to evolve annually, eating at the horses. We have to keep the horses protected with more stuff (leg coverings and fly sheets) every year. Some horses get attacked more than others, though I haven’t figured out why those get picked on.
Don’t get me wrong. Wellington is a necessity during the winter months for anyone who wants consistency in training and showing. It’s where so many top riders and trainers from around the world congregate for the first three months of the show season. The group includes my trainer, Debbie McDonald, who has done so much for me and others who have ridden on U.S. teams, or aspire to do so.
It is where I go to continue my own training, as well as to bring along clients and their horses, while exposing them to shows with impressive atmosphere. It is also where all the competitions are that you need to qualify for just about anything, with at least nine CDI (international) options and weekly national shows.
Reno is recovering fitness after an operation last year to remove a cyst on his stifle. He was especially happy to be home because the variety in his training becomes much more interesting.
In Florida, we lack the covered walker I have at home in New Jersey. The difference between hand-walking him and putting him on the walker where he is not attached to anyone is huge in the momentum he can achieve. Reno is able to stretch down of his own accord and even let out a buck if he gets excited (we try to limit that activity) but it makes for a much happier horse.
In Florida, we don’t have a lot of space to ride and train. At Upper Creek, we enjoy numerous options on 52 acres, one of them being our insulated (warm in cold weather, a maximum of 75 degrees in summer) and mirrored indoor arena. We have two outdoor arenas, as well as that 12-acre groomed grass riding field.
For the most part, I have been riding Reno in the field this spring. He really enjoys the soft turf and the open space. I have to be careful about how excited he gets out there, but for the most part, he enjoys it and stays relaxed in his work. It is so good for him mentally to have this variety. In Florida, I could tell he was getting bored with going in circles and looking at the same surroundings all the time. He continues to make progress in his journey back to high performance training, and having the ability to move more here helps tremendously in his fitness.
Since coming home, I have discovered a new therapy I use with the approval of Reno’s veterinarian that I believe has been helpful in my horse’s recovery. It is called BEMER, which stands for Bio-Electro-Magnetic-Energy-Regulation, a non-invasive treatment with an internationally patented biorhythmic signal that targets the microvascular system. It involves a light blanket, which he wears for 5, 10 or 15 minutes before and after his work. A spot treatment device also is included. We use it on his body or legs wherever we feel there is a need to isolate treatment.
This product encourages micro-circulation on a cellular level. That improves overall function of small capillaries, which encourages healing and balances the energy within the cells. He now also goes on the covered walker twice daily for 30 minutes at a brisk walk and I ride him for another 45 minutes in between.
We also do lots of hands-on attention and grooming with a metal curry comb to massage and see how his muscles are feeling with pressure. In addition, he gets massaged with the Thumper hand-held device at least once a week as well, and is hand-grazed in the field.
We hope to be at a level of fitness by July or August where we can start more serious training with Debbie at her home base in Idaho. Reno will tell us when he is ready.