However, that's not all we do.
I'm a big believer in the benefits of cross training and I would love to make Kachina into a well-rounded horse. Also, while I'm generally quite comfortable being the only dressage rider for miles around, sometimes it's fun to blend in for a day.
|We blend in pretty well... none of them suspect that |
there's a dressage rider hiding in their midst muahaha
So what kinds of things do we do when we're not dressaging?
Right out the front drive of my barn is a quiet dirt road, and many miles of unfenced fields. It's one of my favorite features of the barn. I have a few friends at the barn and we'll meet up to go hack around together.
I enjoy trail rides as a chance to ride on a loose rein and spend some low key time with my horse and my friends. Trail riding is also a great time to work on speed control, straightness, and even sometimes lateral work too.
Occasionally I will haul out to trail ride somewhere new with exciting terrain. I hope to do this a few more times this year.
|Coulees by the river|
|That one time I convinced my non-horsey SO to come on a trail ride with me|
I can't wait for the snow to melt and the mud to dry up so we can leave the confines of the arena after winter.
|Riding along the road in falling snow last spring|
The place that I board is also a working cattle ranch. I don't have anything to do with the cows most of the time, but sometimes when the owner is moving part of the herd he will put the call out to any boarders who want to come out and help. I think it's super cool to get an up-close look at how important horses still are as working animals, and to be (a small) part of that usefulness.
|A view of the action|
You know what is one of the best tests of the adjustability of your horse's stride? Keeping the proper spacing behind a herd of cows.
|First time herding cows, Kachina got right in there|
If you're not familiar with Cowboy Challenge, it's basically an obstacle course for horses. You are scored on each obstacle by how smoothly and correctly you complete it. There's a score for speed as well, but good horsemanship is the focus. If you do a google image search for cowboy challenge you can see a lot of the type of obstacles included.
I'm not interested in the competitive race part of the sport, but I think working through obstacles is a good way to get Kachina used to more things and build our relationship. With this in mind, we've gone to a couple Cowboy Challenge clinics. We did one unmounted clinic last year, and I did a mounted clinic this past weekend.
|Unmounted Clinic Spring 2014, sorry for the terrible photo quality|
Western clinics are formatted so differently from any English clinics I've ever been at. The clinic this past weekend was only one day, but we all spent a solid 5 hours in the saddle, with another 1.5 hours of ground work to start the day.
I was super impressed with Kachina at the clinic. It was a pretty chaotic environment and she handled it really well. She's not used to doing nearly as much standing, but she was pretty content to stand relaxed either under saddle during the clinic, or tied at the trailer for lunch and when wrapping up.
|I'm so proud!|
The morning was spent working on controlling different parts of the horse from both the ground and the saddle - hips, ribs, shoulders, neck, poll. Then obstacles were introduced in the afternoon.
|Lots going on|
The obstacles we successfully tackled at the clinic were:
- Back Through L - backing up through poles on the ground where you had to turn 90 degrees half way though
- Hula Hoops - getting her to put her front feet into a hula hoop on the ground and then doing a turn on the forehand around without stepping out. Getting Kachina to put her foot in the hula hoop to start was the biggest challenge since it would move and rattle when she hit it with her foot.
- Tire Inner Tube - same idea as the hula hoops, just a different kind of ring
- Bridge - this was a challenging bridge that was very skinny and had 4 different levels that the horse had to navigate
- See-saw - a bridge that tipped once you were halfway across
- Mattress - getting the horse to walk across a thick spongy mattress to simulate deep unstable footing
- Jump - a pole set on top of a 5 gallon pail on either side. I have never ever jumped Kachina so this one worried me, but we went for it and she stayed calm and did well. As an English rider, it was weird for me to jump in a western saddle.
|A view of some of the obstacles|
|The terrifying whale carousel|
I took this picture while standing in a hula hoop
What horse activities do you like to do outside of your normal discipline?