Thursday, October 25, 2012

Trail Rides and Training

I haven't posted much recently, because it feels like I haven't had anything to write about.  Its not that nothing's been happening, but rather that since our action-packed competition season's come to an end, we're without big exciting news to relay and I've apparently forgotten how to do the other stuff! Anywho, last  Sunday I trailered Cadence into what has to be the premiere trail riding location in Ontario, and is probably one of the best in Canada... not that I'm biased!  It was the first time in a long time we've gone somewhere and haven't done dressage, xc, and stadium.  We were meeting a few old friends, so while we waited we did some dressage in a nice large grassy field (with the loveliest footing I've seen in ages!) while families picnicked around us and commented on how beautiful my beastie was!  When we were done I could totally see her thinking 'right, now onto the jumping'! No such luck, little mare.  We had a lovely trail ride, I panicked about trotting her on hard footing (that wasn't really that bad... but I like to worry), and she had a temper tantrum when I didn't let her gallop with the other ponies which resulted in me forcing her to walk while she pranced and snorted for a while.  She eventually settled though, and was brilliant.  While the riding part was fun, the scenery we encountered was absolutely gorgeous!  The whole place was lit up by brilliant golden light filtering through the canopy of orange and yellow leaves, and falling onto moss covered rocks, leaf-laden trails, and pristine babbling brooks. Even if that description makes it seem like a unicorn covered in rainbows and lollipops should appear prancing through the water. Either way, it was a lovely way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

On the training front, show season's over which means we're free to get back to the training side of things.  Since August, we've focused mostly on keeping Cadence happy, maintaining the same quality of work, and not getting her rattled.  Its not that we didn't improve or didn't learn anything new, but rather that our focus shifted from tackling new concepts to perfecting what we've got.  We'd deal with any issues that arose, but other than that it was mostly just reviewing the basic stuff, keeping her energy levels down, and making sure she happy.  While I feel that this type of ride should probably make up at least half of a horse's training schedule, pushing onward, challenging yourselves, trying new things, and being unafraid to get a little dirty can be just as rewarding.  Doing only what you're good at lacks the spice that keeps things interesting.  In short, I'm ready for a challenge again!

We had one of those lessons the other day.  After warming up through a little gymnastic and cantering some oxer a few times, my coach set up two cross rails on a serpentine.  We started at the trot, focusing on landing on the correct lead.  Naturally, Cadence was perfect so after two attempts we tried it from the canter. The goal of the exercise is to canter into the fence on one lead, and land on the other.  The original plan was to just introduce the mare to it in the trot, and save the canter for another day... but she was so bored with the trot, we moved right on into the canter.  I was incredibly impressed with how well she did.  Did she change leads every time? No. Did we have some ugly, disorganized, awful fences? You bet!  But all things considered, she was brilliant.  That's the stuff I miss. I miss the ugly, disorganized, craziness. Because out of that, you blossom.  If you only have daisies and rainbows, what is there to work towards?

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