Thursday, March 12, 2015

A Fun Trail Ride

 Tuesday, rather than riding in the arena, Laura and I hacked/trail rode together on her property. Where I live, there are lots of hills, making it perfect for conditioning Lucky. It also made it perfect for me to practice changing my position depending on whether the ground was level, downhill, or uphill. In a way I was practicing cross country without the jumps. Laura believes that hacking or riding outside of the arenas beneficially for the horse. It makes their work more interesting, helps them to gain muscles, and can help a slower or less forward horse become more energetic from the excitement of being outside of the arena. The hills also help them to leaner to step underneath themselves. Horses only ridden on the flat have trouble climbing up and down hills for the first time because they need to gain the proper muscles and lean how to place their feet.
The field. In the middle of the picture is the path we cantered up, and to the left ,
by the small building is another field.

 We went all over the property, up and down hills, then around and up a hill with a path that led to the aisle between the paddocks. We turned left here, went through the dressage arena, then around and back past the paddocks and around the property again. The whole time I worked on helping Lucky to balance up and down the hills by leaning slightly back and putting my weight into my heels. Going up hills, I closed my hip angle, leaning slightly forward.

 At first Lucky was a slow and I had trouble staying beside Laura, who was riding BB, so I worked on getting her up to speed. After riding around at the walk several laps, we trotted up one of the hills. At this point, it became clear that Lucky was really enjoying herself. She felt balanced, her back swinging underneath me, and it seemed as if I could post so easily. I was slamming down into the saddle; her movement was pushing me up and then I lightly sat down. It felt so amazing.

 We continued riding, trotting up the hills and walking down. At first we had let Lucky and BB stretch and walk at the dressage arena, but after a bit we trotted through it instead, and I rode in a two-point position until we reached the top of a particularly steep hill, when we returned to trot. As we rode, I worked on getting Lucky round. She came round quite a few times throughout the ride.

 After trotting and walking the hills for a while, we cantered up the hill that led to the paddocks and barn.  On the flat section preceding it, we trotted then asked for canter. Lucky cantered off right away; I just made a kissing sound and listened. It was really exciting and fun to canter her out in the open. We cantered up the hill twice. Both times I lost my stirrup because I wasn't stretching my legs down, something I need to work on at the canter. By the time we had reached the top hill and stopped, Lucky was shaking with excitement and adrenaline.

I spent a while cooling her out on a long rein and riding on my own around the property while Laura schooled BB in the dressage ring. Laura had done the harder work outside of the arena so that BB saw the arena as a relaxing place.
What went well:

  • What was really amazing was that I had a light bulb moment when everything went smoothly. Lucky was round and balanced, and as a result I was posting more lightly too. It was really an amazing feeling. 
I really enjoyed hacking out in the open. While I have ridden outside the arena before, around the barns at both Silver Rose and Third Day, this is my first real time riding in the open. I love it!


  1. what a fun ride!! i agree the getting out of the arena every now and then is SO good for the horses - very refreshing :)

    1. Yeah I loved it! The horses do too!

  2. trail rides are good for both horse and riders' body and soul!


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