Monday, September 3, 2012

Cross Country Western Riding

I was excited when I hauled out to my lesson with Sarah today. I really wanted to show her all of the progress I’ve made in the last week. When I first saw her Sarah let me know that we would be riding in the grass field not the arena, oh well so much for showing off. That is one of the things that I appreciate so much about Sarah, she continually challenges me. Riding over poles in the grass field brings out a lot of the same tension that creeps up at a horse show. The rolling hills are nothing like riding in a flat arena, if I tune out and don’t ride it becomes dangerous and my horse had better be on her hind end riding across the grass. We worked on adding leg at the base of the poles, leg to slow down the horse, straight lines to and after the poles and keeping my back soft. The thing I like best about lessons in the field is that Grace has no idea that she is working. She forgets to suck back and resist it’s more like asking her to work during a trail ride.

When we were done with the poles Sarah brought me out to the expansive yard where she had set a line of cones.  The cones were set on a line of level ground, which sat between two hills. I walked Grace through them over and over again while Sarah had me work on the body position for line changes. I couldn’t imagine loping in this place even though Sarah had set the cones with a very generous amount of space between them. When we moved up to the jog she had me also throw in the cross lines which meant going up and down the hill. Sarah talked me down off the ledge and reminded me more than once to stay off my horse’s face so she could find her balance down the hill. When I finally let go, rode with my body and corrected my horse only when needed I started to have fun! I was preparing my left hand turn to come back up the hill when Sarah told me to lope. It wasn’t a big deal since Grace was already moving so well from behind. I was able to stay out of her way, execute the cross change and prepare for the line changes. When my right foot lined up with the cone I half passed Grace to the right, I then stopped the half pass with the right rein and changed the bend to the left – bam beautiful flying change. When my left foot lined up with the next cone I half passed to the left, stopped the movement with my left rein and changed the bend to the right – bam another beautiful flying change! OMG I just did cross county western riding! If I keep riding in those situations horse shows in a flat dirt arena will become downright boring. Ah I see what Sarah did there, well played!

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