I don't think this view will ever get old.
As part of my coming-back-to-work plan for Dino, I slated Tuesday evening as a hack out/trot set day. He had done some more challenging flatwork on Sunday and Monday, and I wanted to give his dressage muscles a bit of a break as we ease back into our regular schedule post-vacation.

We ended up doing about an hour of slow hill work, mostly walk and trot with two short little canters, which is exactly what I wanted out of the ride.

However, I noticed a few things on our jaunt around the soybean fields:

Remember DOC's Rider Responsibilities from the clinic recap post? Remember that one of those is "Direction"? Turns out, I don't have a very good mastery of the concept of "Direction" all of the time, as evidenced by my pony almost scraping me off of his back via a low-hanging branch. Twice. Add to that the copious amount of aimless sideways wandering, and it's pretty obvious that I am not very in control of our direction!

Dino loves him some sightseeing. It was stupid-hard to keep him focused and marching forward in a straight line around the perimeter of the crop fields, because he kept rubbernecking around to see EVERYTHING. He's generally not a spooky pony, he just wants to Know About All The Things. Like the neighbor's house. And the township maintenance building. And whatever's happening across the street. And that log pile. And the dogs in the neighbor's driveway. And this clump of grass. ALL THE THINGS. So he wanders around gawking at everything and occasionally tripping over his own feet. Annoying.

Riding downhill, by myself, still weirds me out. There are a few steep downhill slopes on my route, and my stomach starts doing flips as I get near them. My preferred method for getting down without hanging onto my pony's mouth for dear life has been to hold the reins in one hand, and grab the front of my half pad with the other. Dino stretches his little neck down to balance, I balance with him, and I don't interfere with him. Shockingly, he's able to negotiate the hills a lot better without me gripping and clinging and grabbing. Curious. I may finally have to break down and get myself a neck strap or breastplate for grabbing!

Neither of us know what to do with ourselves without a clear purpose or plan right in front of our faces. While Dino is certainly calm and confident enough to "just" walk and trot along, he's harder to get motivated when he's not sure what the purpose of our ride is. Sometimes I let him lead, but this wasn't one of those times. I also wasn't giving him a whole lot of direction, either. I kind of don't know how to handle myself on rides where we're "just riding". When I have a task to focus on, I ride much better than when I'm (relatively) aimlessly going along. Without a movement, exercise, or jump that needs my focus, my nerves come out in full force. What does this say about where the holes are in my experience?


  1. Going down hills is not my favorite either!

  2. ehhh i have a hard time making rides happen without a specific plan (unless that plan is to just toodle through the woods haha) so i try to have lots of different types of plans for different occasions.

    a nice one for the low-key rides has lately been another DOC nugget: the two poles on a circle at 12o'clock and 3o'clock and trotting and cantering around them with jacked up stirrups in galloping position. horse gets to kinda just do its own thang while i try not to cry from the burning sensation lol.

    also - fwiw, my trainer requires that all riders use a neck strap when jumping. i've never heard of anyone regretting having it there!

  3. You already know how I feel about neck straps! And I ride with a breastplate, because Fat pony be fat! Even when I am hacking out or doing trot sets etc, if my horse isn't paying attention to me then it's not a great ride for either of us. If the looking around is leading to tripping etc, ask him to go on the bit for a few strides, bending him gently left and right and then let him relax again or leg yield at the trots both ways, just so he still knows you're up there! Hacks aren't all about loose rein shenanigans! I think that by asking them to pay attention to us, even on a leisurely hack or trail ride that if something really scary were to come along, we know how to easily get their minds right back on us!


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