Monday, September 22, 2008

The Ridge Track

I am VERY far behind in my blogging, so I am going to give you all a huge overview of what's been happening with the clinics. There have been so many different groups this year and the interest has been terrific.

You heard about the men's group. That was a hoot!

We also had our experienced ladies group that wanted to gallop over fences. I must mention we had one brave gentleman attend that class. Now this particular group was composed of the "die hards" who have lived through many previous sessions so they knew what they were in for.

I always begin the classes with a group discussion, which gives me general information and insight as to the direction our session should take. After reviewing goals and issues with our 7 participants, we moved briskly up to the famous "Ridge Track." Before jumping, we practiced adjusting strides (balancing techniques). The riders were asked to demonstrate various sizes of canter to gallop and vice versa. As always this was done on a one on one basis. After everyone had completed his/her individual "go" (opening their very own personal can of worms) they were asked to set off in a group with the leader picking the pace and adding abrupt stops turns and zoom offs.

Needless to say, we had a few fly-bys, grunts and "I'm sorrrrreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee's. OOPS! The riders are NOT allowed to use the "bale out, pass-by" system. This class demands that the riders understand how to stop their horses before a pass-by occurs. At this level, they are EXPECTED to be able to rate their horses. It follows that if riders have earned the right to go at the gallop they MUST be able to deal with, and control the consequences of, speed. Hence, the hours and hours of practice learning how to control the size of the stride and control issues. Remember...THE MOST IMPORTANT THING ABOUT THE GO IS THE WHOA!!!!!!!

Of course I hear a lot of "Well, he does this and he does that!" My answer to this experienced group? "Ride Better!"

So began the clean up squad and after we had made some adjustments, everyone jumped a few single fences to ensure they would stay together with the horses. Then, we set off to attack the drag lines at a reasonable pace, maintaining ORDER, size of stride, balance, and DISTANCES.

We also had a couple of horses that wanted to work on the very same elements - order, balance and keeping one's distance - without jumping. They followed the jumpers and had a very successful outing.

When I mention "Balance" all the time, I am referring mostly to pulling prevention and maintenance. Our riders need to have the ability to gallop (or trot or walk!) without their horses ripping their guts out, always feeling like they have to be in front.

After two hours of this, our riders all earned their gold stars for the day. This class will meet again soon for further excercises. Next time look out. We're going to the famous Bear Pit Line!

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