Training the Mind of the Horse and Rider

Training the Mind of the Horse and Rider
Click on Logo (Original artwork by Lanie Frick for Messick Quarter Horses. Not permitted to be copied)

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Hill & Dale CTR

June 19-21, 2009

This is the 4th CTR this spring/summer that I will have competed in. I won’t have another CTR until September, and I was looking forward to some relaxation time this summer.

I didn’t want to leave too early Friday morning. I had plugged the trailer in the night before and had started the frig. To save time in the morning, I loaded the food and drinking water the night before. The trailer was ready with tack and hay and water. I filled the water holding tanks for shower and toilet water. I got up Friday morning at regular time and did chores and fed dogs. I loaded my horse, and while he ate some hay that was in his manger, I went inside to change and grab my cup of coffee.

I was going to follow my friend down to Hillsdale, but as I was about 15 minutes down the road, I remembered I left a water turned on! So I turned around and headed home, after calling my friend to start without me. I would catch up to her. And I thought I would, but I didn’t catch her until we got to the campground entrance gate.

We found our sites that we reserved. We backed the trailers in and hooked up to electric. As it was a very muggy 90 degrees at 1, it was going to be a good weekend to have air conditioning!

After putting hay and water out for Finny, I went to check in and get our ride info. They didn’t have any of the info ready and we would get it at ride briefing. The flies were terrible and I had to wash Finny’s legs off and put fly boots on him. His whites just drew the nasty horse flies to them, biting him and drawing blood!

Once the vets were ready to check in horses, I went over to the lunging area. With the heat, Finny wasn’t moving fast at all, and he got a score of 2 for movement. They are only checking for way of going, and if he isn’t excited at check out, and he won’t lose points. He was clean and stood well.

With rain during the past few weeks, the trails were still wet and boggy. And rocky in places. And did I say boggy? The ride was 5 mph, but we had a hard time making time. The boggy areas slowed us down. The rocky paths slowed us down. The obstacles went fast, so that didn’t slow us down too much. We can count any of our hold time to our overall time, so if we are held up at obstacles, that doesn’t make us get behind.

Obstacles weren’t too hard to perform. The horsemanship judge was a good ’ole guy, showing and judging for decades, and he was looking for a quiet horse that stood for obstacles. I don’t think he scored actual horsemanship though, as it seemed as he placed riders who sat heavy in the saddle. The horsemanship judge pointed out that he judged on safety, balance, control, and courtesy. The vet judge was thorough and friendly. She would do trailer checks on Saturday night, checking the horse for lameness issues at the trailer.

At check-in, the vet judge wanted riders to trot away from her in a straight line. The horsemanship judge wanted riders to be on the same side as the judge, and not standing directly in front of the horse. We trotted the horse away from the judge, trotted a circled in both directions, and trotted back to the judge. I scored an excellent on this and earned a plus.

Saturday maneuvers included an up and down hill. I thought we did this great. Finny stood quietly while the horse in front of him did the hills. We walked down the hill slowly and picked our way up the stoney hill perfectly, with me up and out of the saddle. Great job, I thought! The horsemanship judge said I needed more control of the horse! And I had upper body sway, going uphill! Uphill? You have got to be kidding! I think it may have looked like sway as I looked from side to side to help pick the best path for my horse. I couldn’t have been slower, so I wonder what the judge sees that I don’t feel? The vet judge scored me an excellent plus going downhill and a very good uphill. That will be on my mind as I will SLOWLY do obstacles during the fall CTR’s.

We had an off-side mount, from the ground! We could use the terrain, and we were suppose to position the horse in the ditch! After 3 hours of riding in the humidity, I just couldn’t get on gracefully! I can always do this at home! My horse took a step during mounting and a step during settling and I lost points from both judges. I need more control so that Finny doesn’t move and he needs to stand still at all times. I’m sure my very ungraceful attempt did not help him to stay steady!

The horsemanship judge was at the P&R, and he watched as we cared for the horses. I got a plus for watering my horse off, as I poured water onto his neck to cool him. I always loosen his girth when I first get off. The vet judged checked our horse and watched us trot away. At the last P&R on Sunday, the horsemanship judge was in hiding, watching as we left the P&R to see if we stayed in a good horsemanship form. And don’t you know it, after I filled water bottles, I mounted on the off side to practice, and my horse stood quietly! Don’t you know it - this time it wasn’t judged!

The vet judge met us on the trail on Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday, Finny was anxious and wouldn’t stand as quiet as he should. I stayed on him and asked him to stand still while the vet checked his gums, hydration, and gut sounds. We lost a point for not standing still well. On Sunday, she met us right before the last P&R. At this point, after riding for 4 hours through the bog and hills, my horse was pretty tired. Even though he was as tired as he was, he was a little anxious.

Sunday morning, we trotted a circle, stopped, turned on the haunches, and trotted a circle in the other direction. Finny did great, but I was marked down for not performing a solid pivot.

We had a log obstacle where we had to step over the log between 2 ribbons, stop and side pass to the tree, stop and pin a ribbon to the tree. Finny sidestepped a little as we stepped over the log, and we ended up on the side of the ribbon. We side passed perfectly and put the pin on the tree. I got marked down for not standing still to tie the ribbon. Sometimes, I wonder what part of the obstacle we gain or lose points on.

We had some creeks on the trail and Finny wouldn’t settle to drink the water. He needs to learn to do this. At one place, we had a large creek crossing and he drank water both days at this place. We had one area where we could go into the lake, and after a few minutes, he drank water.

The days were very muggy and the trail was very boggy. Finny was extremely tired during the last hour on Sunday. I slowed our rate down a lot as I felt he was struggling going up the hills. We did better at the last 2 miles on Sunday, as we had the P&R right at the 2 mile mark.

I knew Finny was tired. The poor guy. After I unsaddled him at the trailer on Sunday, he did not want to move and come with me to get rinsed off. We managed to get there and I’m sure he felt better after he was cooled off. The judges weren’t ready to check out, so we went back to the trailer for another drink of water and more hay. When the judges were ready for us, Finny didn’t want to move! Lol

Finny will have a little break over the summer. He lost a little weight during this last ride and seemed a little sucked up. He will be used for a lesson horse during the remainder of June and through July, and I will ride him 2 -3 times each week. He is getting some fresh grass, and fresh round bales are ready. I will work on settling him more during obstacles. We will work on the Stop, Settle, and Slow obstacles.

Practice, and get ready! Come along on a ride with me!

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