06.09.13: Though Hills and Valleys

Yesterday cruised along like usual. It was back to the usual pattern of being up at 6:30 and having everything get started at 9:00. Remuda was nice, beside the Coverall working with Don who is always such a delight. We ended up talking forever and answering all sorts of questions which was really great.

We finished up there and headed straight out to the seat builders to begin our morning. We worked on staying light on it even while the people on the back rocked it way up, and then way down again after more rhythm.

We came back into the classroom again to have a lecture by Tina. We talked about how the horse's mane reflects what is going on within its body. When the mane flips over to the other side, it means there is an imbalance in his body. The last few inches of his mane reflect his ribs, and the mane is a mirror up the body, with the top of his mane reflecting the lower back and sacrum.

We also talked about how to handle the horse’s ribs if they are locked to one side. The horse gets stuck with his ribs sticking out to one side which means that they bend really well in one direction, but can't bend at all in the other direction. It’s impossible to see that, you have to feel it in the changes that they make in their body. The amazing thing is that when they are that crooked it can cause the stirrups to hang way off, even though they're set to the same hole. Tina said that Linda once had a student that had to "correct" the stirrups by a difference of 7 holes so they could be balanced on the horses back to help the horse correct the problem.

We went outside to watch a demo where Tina showed us how far off Mickey, her horse, could be. He's a very crooked horse and it’s a great challenge for her to deal with. Jesse also rode his horse Murry working on how to correct impulsion by going sideways. Only trouble was that Murry wasn't very impulsive so there wasn't much to see, but that was ok.

Lunch came around and was really good, except Emma dumped a piece of cake into my ranch dip when trying to put it on my plate for me. Needless to say that didn't get eaten. It was pretty funny though. I headed up in a hurry to feed since we had a small class meeting at 2:30 that afternoon. I got Roscoe fed and then headed over to the cabin with Lacy to change before the afternoon. It had gotten warm and I needed to put my breeches on anyway.

We arrived at the cabin and I had my shoes off on the porch when I reached for the door only to discover that it was locked. The last person out in the morning must have accidentally locked the door since it is only a push and turn lock.

Lacy and I headed around the sides to try to find the easiest window to pop the screen out of, and came up with the window at the back. She began working the screen out and I waited until she had it, and then we opened the window all the way. We swept everything on the shelf off onto the floor, and then she boosted me into the narrow window. I ended up sitting backwards with barely enough room to sit, and then I backed into the room, using Emma's bed for support. I opened the door again and all was well.

I headed down to get to class and arrived with plenty of time to spare.
The afternoon lecture was on trail riding. We went over safety and how to ride to keep things interesting. They also showed us a map of the trails in the area and gave us parameters on how to choose the right set of trails for ourselves. It was also interesting to learn that the safest place to be while trail riding is directly behind the other horse's tail. Not too close, of course, but in that position you can't get kicked by another horse. When riding up onto the side of another horse, it puts you in line with the other horse’s rear legs.

We headed outside to do a short simulation working on learning how to keep the correct distance between horses, by having the person in front defend the rear of their horse from other horses. We also learned how to play the “beep beep game,” and back up only by keeping your own horse straight and allowing the horse in front of you to push you backwards.

We broke from there and I headed up to gather up Roscoe and all the various things I needed. By the time I had everything organized, Roscoe finished up his lunch and I put on his hackamore and we set off to get the saddle all organized. I got it on and warmed him up for a little bit before asking Don again about how to turn the stirrups. We tried something and I continued to warm him up to get him ready for the ride. I've got to work on his transitions and change of direction, though it seems to be coming along pretty well. We did some sideways and worked on the yoyo game a bit more.

I headed out to the honeycomb and found a lot of people gathering preparing for the ride. They were going over direct and indirect reins and began to play the matador game to practice. Tina helped me get a bit lighter with Roscoe again since it’s easy to end up being rough. He did really well though between the two of us.

We then divided up into groups and did some practicing around the playground before we headed off. I was in Jesse's group and he made sure we were all in a reasonable order to help each other out and that the person that needed the most help was behind him, and anyone else that needed help was behind a field instructor. We set off and the ride was beautiful, winding up into the hills right behind the ranch affording views of the pastures and the entire ranch sprawling out in the valley with the high mountains as a backdrop.

Roscoe being generally slow did pretty well; he stayed back for the most part so that he was not reachable by the person with the carrot stick in front of him. I helped out Grady quite a bit since the horse he was working with was on its first trail ride. He did an excellent job, and I got pretty darn good at swinging my stick behind me to be effective.

We finished up and found several people hanging out in the playground. We asked if he was going to go around again. He said if there were enough new people that he would, and anyone else from the first ride that wanted to go again could.

So he rounded us up and decided our order of operations and we rode a bit around the playground before we set off. He quickly did some of the “beep beep game,” which sorta ran into a bit of a problem when the two people in front of me got a bit tangled up and Roscoe jumped. Jesse had me come up right behind him and we proceeded to play the “beep beep game” several times in succession. Roscoe learned real quick it wasn't a good idea to get close to Jesse or his horse. In fact a few times, Jesse swung the stick as the friendly game, and Roscoe backed off anyway. He was learning quickly. I got better at managing him while going backwards, which was nice. It’s tough to have someone else pushing the horse backwards and you have to guide the horse left to right and make sure they stay straight while pushing someone else's horse backwards. Oh, and you should be pedaling and staying on your balance point all at the same time.

Roxanne and I ended up switching places a few times for the duration of the ride, and towards the end, she was behind Jesse and he began backing up and beep beeping again, and she came backwards swinging her stick, and was really straight, and Roscoe backed up and I kept him pretty square while swinging my stick at the same time. She and I were both excited that it was coming together. We finally got back in the chilly air at almost 7:00. I hustled up to the pens so that I could get Roscoe turned out and fed his dinner and then head to dinner myself. It was quite chilly by the time I found my meal. I finished up with that and was looking forward to a hot shower. However that was not to be... apparently when washing dishes there is no other hot water. It was highly frustrating and I don't want to repeat that experience any time soon...

Next Page: Thursday, September 14, 2006: Bigger Hills and Valleys