Sunday, July 7, 2013

Bootcamp Weekend

Misty had a bit of a bootcamp going on this weekend. I've ridden her several times during the week. By our third ride on Wednesday she had improved a lot under saddle. She really did try a lot harder to give me a nice jog, which I know is difficult for her since she has such a springy trot. Canter transitions were a lot easier as well, not quite as much running into them. And, I can say that after three rides we have a halt cue using only my seat! It's not 100% yet, but she does it fairly reliably at all gaits and we just need to fine tune it to be straighter and not with her head in the air, but I'm impressed with how quickly that came about! Backing has magically appeared as well, though that brings up another problem which I'll mention later.

I took her home over the weekend to take her to a trail course to practice on. Our first competition is coming up fast, it's this coming Friday! I rode her at the neighbors outdoor and she was fairly well behaved though she started out a little disctracted withe the neighbor's horses running around. I put her in the pasture overnight and she stayed put (she has a reputation for being an escapee).

Then yesterday, I hauled her to the trail course. She was actually really good. I started out on the ground. I sent her up and down steps on a hill. I sent her over some logs arranged in a fan. I got her to walk across the teeter-totter and stand in the tractor tire. She was game to jump off a big log into the water and back up again. She went through the ditches and over the raised logs. And then came the backing through logs. It's arranged in a zig-zag and when you do this obstacle in a competition, you have one minute to complete it. If you step outside of the logs you have to start over. And you can't walk through it first to line your horse up, you have to start outside the logs. Ha.

On Wednesday I tried doing this with her just using poles in an "L" shape and she was not having it. Apparently it is not possible for Misty to move her hip over. Just not possible. Now she can kind of whirl it around 180 degrees, but one step? Forget about it. Add in the fact that with her new backing skills comes the need for... stopping skills. At first I couldn't get her to back up and now I can't get her to stop. Once she gets in reverse, she just powers over and through stuff and won't stop. So we worked on that for the better part of our ride, probably about thirty minutes until we could do it in a semi-manageable way. Geez mare. Definitely going to require a TON of work to do that obstacle the way it should be done.

Once I was on we went back through everything - over more bridges, more log jumps and hills, we did the pulley, opened and closed gates, stood on the tire, went through the car wash, etc. The car wash thing was adorable. It's old fire hose that's been hung to make a curtain. At first Misty wouldn't go through it because she thought it was solid, so I parted it for her a couple times so that she figured out it would move. Finally I got her to go through it without parting it. She was doing it so well, that before I left I was trotting her around the course and I figured I'd trot her through the curtain. She trot right up to it and planted her feet, SHOVED her head through, then kept trotting. I was laughing as I almost fell out of my saddle.

Benefits of a small horse - she easily fits inside the tire

So overall, she wasn't awful. We just really, really need to work on body control so that she will listen when I tell her to take one step - forward, backwards, sideways, whatever direction, I need her to be listening better. I think she'll probably do well at the competition, unless she has to do obstacles that require forehand turns or really technical maneuvers. For instance I found two tractor tires filled with dirt and pushed together. At another trail competition one year, we had the same obstacle and in the first tire the horse had to put both front feet inside and do a forehand turn all around it and then in the other tire put the back feet in and do a haunch turn all the way around. All without stepping out and doing it in under a minute. I definitely don't think Misty could do that. We're going to try and enter a novice division if they have it and if they'll let me. While I didn't compete last year, I did compete and win the past four years on Jazz so they might not let me, unless they have a novice horse division and not just a novice rider. We shall see!

Then today it was time for a trail ride! First trail ride for me on Misty and it was my friend CL's first trail ride on her new horse, Hayes. We used to board together and she has a huge WB named Tanq that I used to ride when she wasn't able to. He fractured his coffin bone and while he has healed a bit, he's still lame so CL finally decided to officially retire him and bought this new horse, who I love. He's a stunning Trakehner with conformation to die for. Can't wait to see him go in an arena!
The odd couple

Both horse handled the trails well. I'd never been to these trails before but they were awesome. The only hiccup we had were the mountain bikers. We passed the first one without too much of a problem though both horses weren't too sure of what to think of him. The second one came up behind us and Misty was not pleased. We scooched over and tried to let him pass us but Misty wasn't having it when he got off to walk his bike passed and picked the front up to let it roll on just the back wheel. I think Misty thought it was rearing up to eat her and we almost had a nice jaunt through the blackberries. We survived and came up to a third biker. My approach? Charge! We were trotting at the time and as soon as he saw us he stopped his bike on the side to let us pass so I didn't let Misty think about it too much and we just kept trotting past. Whew, crisis averted. Other than that she was a champ! I was able to let her walk and trot on a loose rein the whole time. She didn't really spook at anything other than that second biker and she crossed the two bridges like a pro!


  1. Man, I love a good trail horse. Sounds like Misty is a champ!

  2. Wowza, Alex would run away from that tire :-)