Training the Mind of the Horse and Rider

Training the Mind of the Horse and Rider
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Monday, September 21, 2009

Week before Stephens Forest CTR

I had decided to take longer rides to the fields. None of the fields have been harvested, so I will ride the waterways. I have a 5-6 mile area of waterways that I walk and trot. I trot a lot since this is how I usually end up riding the CTR’s. My horse has a fast walk, but not as fast as a gaited horse. Usually, we walk the hills and stony ground, then trot anytime the terrain is flat,

Monday and Tuesday, I rode the waterways. I walked the first ½ mile, then decided to let Finny decide when he wanted to trot, which was most of Monday morning. His ears were perked and he was listening, but I kept the trot controlled, around 6 mph. I didn’t have my GPS, but later I figured that after we trotted about a mile in 9 minutes, that was close to 6.5 mph. Good clip. He was huffing a little, so I left him eat a little grass, and we walked another ¼ mile.

My goal was to condition my horse at the trot. I will see how conditioned my horse is by trotting him until he is winded, then walk until his breathing recovers, then we pick up the trot again. We trotted about another ¾ mile, grazed, walked and trotted some more. By the time we had walked and trotted about 4 ½ miles, Finny decided he would walk the last ½ mile, which was my plan, too! I’m glad he cooperated! He took his time as he loves eating that tall cut grass any time I stopped to let him graze.

On Tuesday, we added another 2 miles, as we did a 1 mile stretch of waterway 2 times. This time, I added the extra 2 miles when we were at the ½ mark to home. Those 2 miles were a very pleasurable trot, and he wanted to go a whole lot slower. He walked home, trying to stop on his own to graze. We walked until I decided to let him graze. I didn’t want him to develop the bad habit of trying to eat all the time while on a trail ride.

I had planned on taking another short trail ride this week. Tammy and I were going to ride a faster ride at Oak Creek. Since she was also going to this weekend’s CTR, we wanted to get in some trotting. But she was sick, so I called Virginia, and rode at her place. She lives near a creek, with a wooded area on both sides. The area was wide enough that you couldn’t see from one edge of the trees to the other edge. She zig zagged her paths, and I was lost, but that doesn’t take much if I don’t have a map! We rode almost 2 hours, and I meant to ask her what she thought the mileage was. Since I did 6 ½ miles in less than 1 ½ hours, I’m estimating that we had at least 8 miles since we had more trotting. I told her I needed to ride faster, with a lot of trotting, but later I found out that she kept the ride slower than normal. She thought Finny wasn’t keeping up with her Foxtrotters, but I was allowing them to go out of sight, then keeping Finny at a walk or regular trot. But I thought the pace was fast enough, with more than ½ of the time at the trot. She hadn’t ridden for a week, and I can’t imagine that her horses would have wanted to ride the whole time at the foxtrot either.

Since I was hauling Friday, I used Thursday morning to finish loading the trailer with hay and grain, and whatever clothes that I had packed and waiting at the back door. I filled the water tank, and moved the trailer up to plug the electric in for overnight.

Friday was travel day, and a few of us were planning a short, hour long trail ride. The judges were going to be very thorough, and we spent time with last minute cleaning, waiting in line, and by then it was late afternoon. We all wondered where the last 3 hours had gone! Now, with hindsight, we should have ridden when we got there, and not have worried if we had sweat marks! We could have always sponged them off!

Obviously, my horse needed some ride time each morning before we started! You’ll soon read why in my next blog! I had a perfectly mannered horse at home, and a nervous, impatient brat with me! Oh, we love the life of horses!

Come along on the ride with me! I’m going to be riding this guy a lot harder these next 3 weeks!

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"TRAINING THE MIND OF THE HORSE AND RIDER"

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