Canter or lope on trail

I must admit that my lope is not competition ready. Nowhere near in fact. I have done practically no consistent arena work with Q in two years. I do quick tune-ups occasionally but for a horse that is not professionally trained, our training time since the beginning is probably an abysmal amount under 50 hours. And very little of that is doing lateral work or canter circles.
The mere thought of canter circles, with the requisite shoulder-in, haunches-in, narrowing coils, transitions, rollbacks ... it all makes me want to vomit.Bottom line is that when I bought Q I had a very simple vision: find a really cool trail horse that was fun to ride. So my arena work has only had the objective of safety and malleability.One of the resident trainers said to their client that I was training for the purpose of insurance. That is, in the event of a potential wreck or accident, that we might increase our odds of “walking away”. I think the analogy was correct. Insurance.Every time something happens …

In between storms

Being a citygirl with my horse out in the country has its benefits and drawbacks. With a two-hour commute back and forth I don't make light of my decision to "go to the barn". I have become a fair weather rider, and I rely on the barn team to compensate for my absence when it happens. I do manage to get out to the barn 3-4 times a week in all seasons and almost every trip includes at least an hour ride. On average this makes for a 5-6 hour commitment when I go.

So, when the weather channel announces heavy rain, strong winds, blizzards or scorching heat ... whether for road conditions or just my forecasted lack of enjoyment, I often decide to stay home. Every once in a while the weather channel gets it wrong, and sometimes I just decide to chance it. Even when I get back sopping wet, Im never disappointed for having gone on a ride. Especially with Q. He makes me smile and giggle every single time. What a keeper!Aside from a great barn environment, and adorable horse, and f…

Colours in my life


Riding English or Western? Which is safer?

We had another trail accident this week, the fourth this season, that required an ambulance. All four accidents involved solo riders in English tack. Our club facebook posts were all atwitter about the safety of English vs Western tack. As an amateur rider having spent equal amounts of time in both types of tack under similar conditions, I feel reasonably confident in my perspective.Western tack is safer. 

The saddle fork on a western saddle (also on an iberian, australian, and some endurance saddles) blocks a certain amount of the centrifugal force that comes with a sharp spook, hard buck, abrupt turn or stumbling horse. The stirrup leathers provide more stability and it is more difficult to get your foot caught in the stirrup during a fall.However, the bulk and heft of a western saddle can also make a wreck worse, such as riders getting bucked onto the neck and caught in front of the saddle, horse and rider falling and getting pinned under the saddle, boot stuck in stirrup with no br…

It was really great. And then it wasn't. But in the end, it was still really great.

Im so proud of Q and I today! It was the culmination of many trails and arena sessions this summer working on our canter. I did declare back in June that this would be the Summer of Canter (Whoa Whoa Dragon), and today proved that we achieved that goal.

The day started out with the alarm radio going off at 7 am, and the radio host announcing what marvellous weather we would have today. Almost summer weather with blue skies and temperatures near 20C. It was quite breezy, and warmer in the sun than the shade but it was definitely marvellous! I cleared my calendar, texted B to see if he was up for a trail, and promptly headed out for the one hour commute to the barn.I was feeling a little cranky when I got to the barn, but mostly because I didnt want my plans highjacked. I kept to myself, avoided the coffee clatch, tacked up quickly and headed out for my rendezvous with B. It takes about 10 minutes of trotting and loping to get to our meeting spot and by then I was in a great mood. Q had …

The joys of autumn

Its been a glorious few weeks since my last post with lots of trail rides, both solo and with buddy B. My spanish dream Q continues to be a delight to ride and has gotten particularly good at his collected canter while following other horses at a trot. The transitions are prompt but not rushed and our accuracy on leads has improved ten fold. With all my gushing over his shy right lead he now offers it more often. This boy sure likes it when I shower him with compliments.The colours are beautiful right now, with the full rainbow spectrum. The weather has cooled, and now I am debating between jackets or sweaters. No gloves yet, and the battery powered sole warmers are still in storage.The school term is almost halfway done and Im feeling pretty confident about our progress so far. Im getting pretty good at the online technologies and have managed to do things online I was never able to do in a classroom. My students are benefitting from it, and class engagement is at an all time high!Th…

Goosebumps baby!

Riding four days in a row makes such a difference! My last two days were such magic that I got goosebumps as my wonderful steed carried me confidently forward on the trail.My last ride involved several canter departs, and most of them were on the correct lead at the first request. Occasionally I  needed to recorrect by the second stride but Q was not flustered for the first time ever of his little mistakes. In the past, he has gotten extremely amped and upset when I correct his canter leads on trail. The mellow soldier in the arena, is not the fiery dragon I have on trail.

That said, I am just so impressed at how forward he is on trail. He is really a pleasure to ride. Not much leg is required to get a jump into the trot or canter. In fact, I have to learn how to make a softer and quieter canter depart with 10% of the pressure I need in the arena. Ive learned this week as I practice canter departs on trail, that I am struggling with the down transition to the walk because Q is just amp…