Wispy’s Winter Fitness Update 1

It's been a couple weeks but Wisp and I are still doing well!! Janneke helped kick us off on the right foot with lots of ideas to play with. We have been mixing it all up to keep it as interesting and engaging as possible. Too much of anything gets old, even something good! First of all, I have to say, Tumble Mats have become one of the greatest investments in our whole barn! Everyone is enjoying them. They have given us a list of fun exercise behaviors to do with Wispy too! We are starting on easy as Wisp and I don't do "stretching" - we both need a little yoga! So here we go, double sized Yoga mats for Wispy and we're ready to get started!

We can't forget our cardio though, so we've taken to using the round the round pen. We don't have the stamina to keep up full circles of trotting, but little bursts, and fun balance awareness with the mat mixed in really helped us get going. Now Wisp and I have approached using the round the round pen before in the summer and we failed, pretty miserably actually. Wisp would slowly walk around, I would jump and bounce and run ahead to try hard to encourage her to follow, I'd double back and get excited - she'd roll her eyes and wander off. Silly humans, why expend energy in the heat? So let's talk about how we arranged our antecedents (wink wink, nudge nudge) to help encourage some energy from Wispy! First of all - we are exercising in winter - we are both heavy ladies, and her dark, heavy coat doesn't make her the ideal candidate for warm weather. We'll lounge by the pool thank you very much! So winter is our time to work out, at least the cardio stuff, the things that require alot of movement... Wait that's all of it. Another thing we did was set up the round the round pen in a paddock she hasn't been in in a long time. She used to live her, so we know she's comfortable here, but it's been over 6 months and the horses in the bordering paddocks have changed. This sense of new, especially new social dynamics, really helped amp up her energy, so our later few sessions weren't as thrilling as her first few - but we will change it up again soon! We also brought the mat outside to play. She has recently been doing a few sessions on the mat inside - which has been super highly reinforced - so this helps transition those awesome feelings to the outside where the work has to happen. We also shuffled up asking for trot or asking for slow, balance work, mixing them together made the trot easier, as she was ready to "shake it off" after all the slow work. Rather than just asking continuously for trot after trot. Variability keeps things interesting!! We also switched to using smaller handfuls of higher value treats. So she gets one bite of delicious each click instead of a big satiating handful. Typically I prefer the large satiation, but that's when I'm looking for relaxation, not enthusiasm!!

So far we are having lots of fun and keeping up with our regular yoga or exercise - we do something at least 4 times a week. It's been tons of fun! We've also integrated some into our day to day, trotting for turn in/out, and playing with variable terrain, as well as turning out with and next to different friends to keep her excited and socializing.