The more I thought about this, the less inclined I was to want to do this. We’d need to pack up the horses, and get gear together. And we’d need to somehow tie up her horse that has not yet been hobble trained or ground tied for any great length of time. Far better, I decided, to go through a mock Competitive Trail Ride scenario. This would then better prepare us for the upcoming mid-July event.
My To Do list was as follows:
Work on setting up camp, work on making Heather’s trailer camp safe.
Work on presenting horses to the judges, and on lunging them before the judges.
Go for a trail ride – put Pete in charge of logistics.
Do obstacle work.
Go for a ride – put Pete in charge of logistics.
I am happy to say that it was one of those rare instances when everything went as planned. The list wasn’t overly long, so none of us felt pressed for time. So it didn’t at all matter that there was no time frame. And there was plenty of leeway in terms of the To Do headers.
Heather arrived, and set up camp – me offering camping particulars. Then Pete, after checking out her trailer, decided to build her a table, which fit over her wheel well corners. The most cool thing of all was the water bucket holder – Pete took his Sawzall and cut a hole in it – the bucket fit perfectly.
After, she and I practiced presenting our horses and lunging. This was really good for me – Heather pointed out various things that I would not have been aware of, such as the fact that I needed to get my horse out farther when lunging her.
Next, we went for a trail ride first to Grizzly Camp and then up and down the bench. We took Rio and Heather on this route so that he’d better get used to water crossings and going up and down hills. What I learned in doing the water crossings was that it’s a good idea to have other horses along, on the far side of the creek. This way, the horse on the far side is more inclined to cross, which was the case. I was concerned about Heather and Rio’s going down the steep part of the bench, the portion of the route we call Pete’s trail. But he did just fine.
On Sunday, we began the day with our taking Raudi, Hrimmi, and Rio through my self-designed obstacle course. Interesting – I gave Raudi my handful of treats when she turned the wheel on the wheelbarrow. This is where she was rewarded – so this is where she returned when I worked with her off-line. She practically marched over to the overturned object, and with her nose began moving the wheel, fast.
In the afternoon we went to Matanuska Lake and did a trail ride there. This also went quite well. Raudi was at first very antsy, and I had to work at keeping her from doing what she wanted to do, which was to run off. I was decidedly nervous, for I feared that she and Rio might take off together. I needn’t have worried – Rio was a gentleman, and in fact at times he seemed calmer than Heather.
The grande finale came at the end of the trail ride. We came to a steep hill, which was a few hundred yards from the trailhead/parking lot. As I went down it, I recalled that there was a time when I would have hopped off and walked down the incline. However, Raudi and I did well what we now have done for some time – we went down it with me looking up, keeping my heels down and setting my bum. Once at the bottom, I looked back and saw Heather and Rio – Rio, who does not yet have experience on steep hills, was at that point going backwards.
I must say that Heather rode him like a pro, remaining calm and confident. It was as if the weekend’s biggest challenge came right at the end.
It all went well because we acted upon a plan. This is something important to keep in mind in the future.