Winter - 1 month down, 1 to go
I think the hardest months to deal with are January and February. Even though November and December can get cold, there are always warm up days again. Not so much with January and February. Plus, since we are in a valley, we get the dreaded inversion - basically frozen smog. Depressing.....
But in 4 days, we will be done with January! February is usually a duplicate of weather events but after February comes March and March begins the warm up.
I will admit, this January has not been totally terrible. Last year, I put much focus and determination into creating an arena that could handle wet, frozen, and snow. I think I won! As soon as the sun hits it, snow melts and moisture disappears. No arena slick spots. One area is shaded a bit so that area can be frozen longer, thus avoided, but it is only a narrow section along the 'scary' side. Not a big deal! Even though, the arena has managed to give frozen, snowy January the finger, I still stick with ground pole work only. The Thoroughbreds have plenty of opportunities to jump the rest of the year so reserving one month to focus solely on trot/canter pole work seems reasonable.
This has been the grid for the past 2 weeks. I usually change it up weekly but this one I left up longer. There are so many variations of the pattern that it does not get boring. Up the center line with raised poles, turn right/left to make a tear drop shape thus going back down the center line. Figure 8s with utilizing the poles in the corner, go across the elevated pole on the diagonal and head to another set of trot poles. Serpentines, straight lines... so many options. What this does is keep the horse alert and engaged. Where are we going next? The rider must have a clear vision and a plan. The poles come up quick so if no plan and not looking, its not as pretty as it should be! Rider can also practice 2 point up the line, feel the correct diagonal and complete the turn to a set of trot poles and them back to 2 point. Great exercise for the rider, which is what I use it for!
Some canter poles on the outside edge to spice it up and work on transition back to the trot to complete another pattern is also a great addition to this exercise.