Monday, October 5, 2015

Preparations Continue

 I rode Ruby two other times last week.  The second time, I rode her out of the arena and in an empty pasture while warming up, with Laura, who was on BB, following me.  I took up and down several steep hills, and circled around trees and rocks, trying to use as little aids as possible to turn her.  Before heading back to the arena, I worked on riding her on a perfect square.  It was difficult, and I kept letting her dive in on accident, causing the corners to become round rather than the sharp, 90 degree turns I desired.  I also overused my hands.  After riding it a few times in each direction, I got pretty good corners, though it still needed some work.

 In the arena, I once again worked on riding into the box.  This time I added a second element: a turn on the haunches to the left while inside the box.  The trick with this is to work it slowly, one step at the time, but the first several times I didn't block her with my inside leg in time,  causing the turn to become uncontrolled.  After a few times, I relaxed and successfully asked her to turn slowly.

 Next, I needed to jog out of the box.  This required me to be quick with my aids.  I had to first ask softly, and if she only walked, I had to immediately back it up with a kick.  If I was too slow, she would walk a few strides, which is undesirable.  I squeezed lightly.  She began to walk off, so I backed it up with a kick.  It was a bit to strong, because she ended up loping instead, which was not completely bad excuse it at least meant that she was listening.  However, she continued to be super responsive extremely responsive to me leg aids.  Even when I squeezed lightly to sake her to exit the box, she loped off.

 A couple tries later, I managed to slow her down, halting at a white ground pole several strides away from the box.  I was going to learn how to side-pass, a movement that is often required in a trail class. I walked Ruby over the pole, halting when I was directly over the pole.  Side-passing takes concentration, coordination, and skill.  Like the turn on the haunches, it is best done one step at a time.  I had to just barely lift my inside leg off Ruby's side, poising it near her side in case I had to block her from going too fast.  Furthermore, I had to keep my hands ready to stop her from stepping forward.  I side-passed to the left.  The first few times were fiascos–I failed to block her with my inside leg and my hands.  Consequently, she rushed to the side, becoming crooked and knocking the pole with her hoof, then surged forward a couple steps.  It took many tries, but finally I was able to push her sideways, step by step, without hitting the pole a single time.

 Friday,  I rode her for the third time.  This time, I worked on turning and on riding over the walkovers, a series of four poles that the horse walks over in a trail course.  I rode an exercise in which I would go over the walkovers, turn around a cone to the right, go back over them, turn left around a different cone, then repeat.  It was quite similar to an exercise I have done on Lucky before.

Such a good girl on Friday.
At the beginning of the ride, I had difficulty making tight turns, and used my hands way too much.  Once of my problems is that I don't turn my shoulders nearly enough while turning, especially to the left.  The walkovers, however, went well almost from the beginning.  Ruby bumped them the first few times through, but when I actually put my hand forward, allowing her to stretch, she walked over them nicely.  Midway through the lesson, I really concentrated on preparing ahead of time for the turns, making them much more tightly.  I did the same exercise at the jog,  but still walked over the walkovers.  I struggled with turning left tightly in the jog, had difficulty slowing the walk enough; Ruby bumped the poles with her legs as a result.

I then tried another exercise.  The walkovers were situated near the rail, so I headed over them, jogged off, and continued along the rail right after, tracking left.   When I was across from the box, which was not far from the walkovers, I turned left, entered it, then halted.  Next, I trotted out of it, turn right immediately, and circled to the right around the cone.  I jogged toward the walkovers(which were ahead of and to the left of the box), slowed to the walk, and walked over them.  I went a little too far out of the box before halting one time, but the exercise otherwise went well.

 Now, the only obstacle I haven't tried is the rope gate.  It's still a work in progress, and I have a lot to learn, but I'm starting to feel more confident in my trail abilities.  I am better at turning Ruby than I was the first time.  I need to focus on taking my time more when doing the obstacles though.  The show is on the 17th and 18th, so I have a couple more weeks.  I'll be entering a couple walk-jog classes: pleasure and trail.  I feel pretty confident about the pleasure class.  As long as I prepare during the transitions the same way I do with Lucky, and keep my split reins even, which I've had a problem with; I'm a rein leaker, I should do well.  Regardless of that, this show is about having a fun, successful first show experience.  A successful experience doesn't necessarily mean one where I place in the ribbons(although I would like to as I am a very competitive person).  Mostly,  I want to ride the way I am learning and not throw everything I learned out the window while I'm there.  I'm looking forward to it!


  1. very exciting about the show prep - sounds like you've got a pretty clear idea of what still needs polishing before the event. i hope it all goes well!

    1. Yeah, through my rides, I've found what still needs work, and Laura is helping me to be ready. Thanks!


Thank you for reading this post! I love to hear from and interact with my readers; it's what makes blogging worth it, so please comment and let me know what you think.