Training the Mind of the Horse and Rider

Training the Mind of the Horse and Rider
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Saturday, June 13, 2009

Perry Lake CTR

After my Centered Riding lesson with Carol, I headed over to Perry Lake for the Competitive Trail Ride. I found where my friend, Virginia, parked and she saved me a spot next to her. After backing the trailer in, unloading Finny, and unhitching from the truck so I could level the horse trailer, I checked myself and Finny in.

It was warm! We were told to expect a lot of ticks! I put Equi-Spot down Finny’s legs and sprayed his body with Pyranha. I put a UV fly sheet on him to keep the heat and flies off his body. With the ride time at lesson, and walking and trotting him at check in, I wasn’t planning on riding him that evening.

Did I say that it was warm? But I didn’t hurry. That is one thing the Centered Riding is teaching me. Just be slow and relaxed. Don’t hurry and tense. Don’t worry about what can’t be helped.

I was going to ride with Kate, who I met at the Centered Riding Clinic. This was her 2nd CTR, with the first one being only a 1 day ride. Up at 5 Saturday morning, for a 7 am start! The first morning usually takes longer, with getting the pommel bag on and adjusted, and filled with food and water! And with the looks of rain and mugginess, I took the cantle bag and carried 2 more waters. The 2nd morning, it was cooler and it really looked like rain, so I removed the cantle bag and tied on a raincoat and a long sleeve shirt. It didn’t rain on us either day, but when the sun came out the 2nd day, I wished I had more water! The P&R check had water at the 2nd stop, so we filled our water bottles. The horses had just come up a long, steep, rocky incline and that were huffing. At the P&R, we watered down their necks. Some riders pulled saddles off to help cool their horse off. My rider suggested bringing the horse’s neck down, as this could lower the heart rate. I also used the Centered Riding breathing techniques to slow my horse’s breathing. I took deep breaths, exhaling slowing so my horse could hear me exhale. Breathing deep and slow can relax your horse. Some riders sing softly or hum to their horses.


The ride was shorter in distance, but more difficult with the hilly, and sometimes rocky, inclines and some wet areas that turned into boggy areas on Sunday after Saturday night’s rain. This ride also had a very thorough vet judge, which is good, but she took longer. She checked metabolics throughout the day, not just at daily check-in and check-out. She checked backs for soreness and legs for swelling. She carefully checked for lameness issues. She also had some obstacles!!! One that Finny and I did not do so good on was the back UP a hill! Finny started backing, felt the ground go UP, and looked for a different route. I straightened him, and started again, but he refused, and I was asked to move on! Oh well… Next time. This taught me to work on slowing down, look at what I am going to do, apply SPECIFIC leg cues, and keep legs on him and keep asking! I will also practice a lot of backing at home. Backing around obstacles, and definitely backing up!!!

This obstacle reminded me to slow down and “breathe”! Through Centered Riding, you are taught to “ground yourself” and “center”. With “soft eyes”, see the whole area, not just the area you are working on or obstacle you are attempting. With your correct “building blocks”, sit tall on your seat bones, relax, and feel what your horse is giving you. Have “clear intent” to what you want to do at the maneuvers.

Our 2nd back was much better. We had to walk up to a person, settle for directions, turn 90 degrees so we were facing away from the path, and back up into the path, going slightly downhill.

We had 2 judged dismounts and remounts, both on the off side! For the first one, we were to come up against a concrete ledge. We did not need to side pass up to it, and there was room to walk up level with it. My horse settled fine for this dismount, as he was turned to face the horses who were in line. At the 2nd mount, we had to walk up to a stepstool after the horses had rested 10 minutes at a P&R,, treat it as a log that could not be moved, and position the horse next to the “log” to mount on the off side. We were to settle before moving off.

We had an obstacle where we had to leave our buddies. One obstacle had us loping to the judge, and stopping at the judge, settle, and lope off and out of sight of our buddy.

Another obstacle that we had to do was to turn into brush, then perform a 90 degree pivot and walk up to and touch a ribbon tied to a tree branch. At another time, the vet judge was on the trail, and we had to dismount, walk between 2 ribbons over a large log, and stand beside her as she performed a metabolic check. At the end of the ride, the horsemanship judge met us and she had us walk to her as she checked tack.

This ride, Finny didn’t eat and drink as much at the first day lunch break. I should have put out a fresh hay bag. I think he would have eaten more, than he would have drank. We only rode for 3 hours, and I left him eat some grass during the morning. He checked out, after an hour lunch break, with a 2 for diminished jugular refill and hydration check. The morning was cool and we had a short ride. He wasn’t sweating or seemed stressed, so it seems odd that we had such a poor score. I will make sure that he always eats when he can! When we checked out after lunch, and the judge thought he was still dehydrated, we went back to the trailer for a dose of electrolytes from a syringe. He seemed better after that and h e checked out better. I did put some granular electrolytes in his feed which he didn’t like! I even watered his feed but he must have smelled or taste the electrolytes. I will work at home on adding some slower to his feed.

The ride was a little boggy, but with some places that were hilly and rocky. The horses had to work hard to pick their way up the paths. This was a beautiful ride in trees, and in some places, could see the water. I look forward to riding here when it is dry!

I will practice more of the Centered Riding techniques. At one point on the trail, I worked on going downhill with “walking knees”. This should help with the upper body sway, as the knees are moving with the horse so that the upper body doesn’t. I had a friend watch me, and she said that helped! I only had a little sway at the end when I quit concentrating on myself and my horse and the trail. I will start to apply more exercises as I ride the trails and perform at more obstacles. Come along on a CTR ride sometime!

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"TRAINING THE MIND OF THE HORSE AND RIDER"

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