In other news, I'm going to be riding a mule named Ruby in the show next month instead if Moxie. I've just been having too much difficulty slowing his jog, and he has had difficulty as well because he has been trained to take large strides for dressage. Ruby is a nice, little, all-around mule who has been ridden by her owner in pole bending(and other classes). Even her owner's young son has had success on Ruby in kid classes.
Ruby is very maneuverable and sensitive. I rode her in a western saddle and bridle, kept a very light contact on her most of the time, and used only one hand on the reins. It was much easier to slow her jog and walk than it was to slow Moxie's, but she still got fast quit a few times, which was entirely my fault--I became tight and leaned forward several times. I also had trouble getting her to love. I often become floppy in my upper body when I ask for canter, becoming very disorganized. Ruby is very sensitive and usual responds to a kissing sound; it was only my fault. However, Laura handed me a whip. I didn't use it but once I was holding it, Ruby looked off right when I asked.
I also tried a few trail obstacles: the serpentine cones and the box. As I mentioned earlier, Ruby's owner had done pole bending on her at a gallop, so Ruby is pretty easy to steer. I only needed to use leg. The first time however, I oversteered by using the reins, making a large circle to turn around and missing the last come on the way back. I tried it a few more times with much more success. I started turning her with my legs as soon as her front end passed each cone, just barely going to the side of the cone. At the end, I managed to make a tighter turn to head back through the cone serpentine.
|Ruby and I in the box.|
Next, I had to jog around the arena, turning into the box and halting. At first, I turned too soon and halted in the side of the box rather than the center. I also asked Ruby to stop too early, and she walked over the pole instead. I should have asked for the halt just a tad later, as she was over the pole. I continued with varying degrees of success, but finally managed to halt near the middle.
Next, I tried the exercise again, this time turning left after exiting the box(I had jogged to the right around the arena before). My reins were also more slack, with the slightest amount of contact. Like before, I cut in too early, so I wasn't heading toward the box head on. I found myself in at the edge of the box instead. Again, I often asked for the halt a bit early, so Ruby walked over the pole rather than jogging over it. At one point, I jogged over the pole and asked her to halt with my seat. However, I didn't back it up with my hand when she didn't respond. She went over the first pole, and out the other side. Laura told me that it would be better to lose points on a trail course for using my hands than it is to have no points on the obstacle because I hadn't stopped in the box.
Finally, though, I really set Ruby up well for the halt by keeping my inside leg on to prevent her from cutting in. I headed straight toward the box, breathing out and blocking my seat to ask Ruby to halt. She halted just in the center of the box.
I enjoyed riding Ruby and can't wait to ride her again.