Redeeming A Ride

This is how we do at Orchard Hill. Don't worry, there's a ground rail to keep it from rolling down the hill.
On Tuesday evening, I really wanted to get Dino out and about and hacking around the farm. We'd been schooling the dressage pretty hardcore the last couple days, and I knew his brain needed a break from working in the jump field and our lumpy-bumpy 'dressage court'.

To be honest, I also needed to do some work in two-point with short stirrups myself since I have been feeling a bit weak in my leg lately, so we set off towards the back of the property in hopes that I'd be able to ride the perimeter of the farm at least partway around before being sucked into the corn.

On our way down we were ambushed by a fawn leaping wildly out of the cornstalks, which set both Dino and I on edge, Dino spinning away from the little spotted monster and my heart leaping into my throat. Then, of course, by the time we got to the cleared-out portion of the back field, a fox popped out of the corn briefly before slinking back in. We were both braced and waiting for some other creature to appear out of the rows, and I wasn't feeling very good about my ride.

I tried to do a little walk and trot work, but after the recent heavy rain we'd had the footing was slick, and Dino was moving cautiously instead of freely forward. I felt tense because of the wildlife that was surrounding us, waiting to jump out. Riding the perimeter proved impossible, since what wasn't covered by corn was blocked by impenetrable brush.

To say I was grouchy about the whole situation would be an understatement.

In my irritation, I started walking back up the hill towards the barn. Not sure if I would just give up on riding for the day or find something else to do, I knew that trying to have a productive school would be futile.

Taking a page from my Winter Boredom Riding Book, I decided to ride around the outside of our pastures. It beat going back into the jump field for the umpteeth time that past week, and the footing was good there. I walked, trotted, and cantered Dino up and down the hills, just getting back into the swing of riding out and forward, and getting my balance and position in order. I decided to pop over my redneck "XC jump" (i.e. a barrel that I put next to the cornfield) because why the heck not?

Dino was fantastic, obediently jumping the skinny barrel dead-center each time, both up and downhill. But when I heard his front feet tap it when I held him back for a much-too-close distance, I knew that we needed to work on our pace and balance.

Hooray! Productivity!

At this point, Dino was really getting into the jumping (hallelujah amen!) and was BLASTING up the hill to the barrel, totally locked on. It was the perfect opportunity to work on our cross-country half halts and getting our canter balanced properly, since Fast & Flat was the name of the game for Mr. PonyPants that day.

So, on our next run up the hill, I lifted my chest and gave two or three strong half halts, making sure to support strongly with my leg.

And my pony dropped down into the bridle. And lifted his back. And jumped that barrel like a hunter.

Good, good, GOOD PONY.

While it's definitely not the way I want to come to every XC fence, I have to say it was VERY cool to be able to get that response from Dino! To have him come into better self-carriage in a hand gallop in response to my very rough & ready half-halts gives me hope that eventually, one day, we will be able to do this eventing thing without so much struggle.

I just love it when crappy rides get redeemed, don't you!?


  1. Ending on a good note is always the best thing about riding. Especially when things start out sticky!

  2. That sounds wonderful! I hate it when wildlife jump out too- it's the time of year but it's hard to plan for when you're riding!

  3. yay for fun jumping free from the hazards of wildlife!

  4. It's always nice to get to turn a ride around.


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