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Fresh Tracks!


Its a typical Friday for me. Here I sit in the Denver airport waiting for my flight to Sacramento. After my morning workout and packing, I hit the road for my weekly threehour drive to the airport. Ill pick up the rental car at the other end, lugging my three 70# suitcases every where I go (not the best part of my job), then head for my hotel. A bonus of traveling so much (besides the perks I get from the airline) is that I have friends almost every where I go and this weekend is no exception. Ill meet a friend I havent seen for a few years for dinner tonight and another one tomorrow night. And Im looking forward to meeting new people and horses at the clinic over the weekend.

Last nights ride on Dually was darn near perfect. With all the moisture weve gotten lately, the arena footing fluffed up nicely and Rich put a perfect groom on it right before we rode (as a former slope groomer, hes diligent about the arena grooming!). We usually ride together in the evenings after he gets home from work. I LOVE riding in a freshly groomed arena as much as powder skiers love fresh tracks! Aside from the nice soft, consistent footing, its a great time to test your riding precision.

With fresh tracks, I like to work on my dressage moves, coming down the centerline in a straight line (nearly impossible) and mapping out my arena with my tracks across the diagonal lines, the middle, the center line and the quarter lines. Its a lot harder than youd think itd be to truly make a straight line.

One thing that occurred to me last night, is that its a whole lot easier to ride dressage with two hands rather than one! Yesterday was my day to ride entirely with one hand in the legal split rein hold (instead of thetrainers hold I usually use with the reins bridgedone tail on each side). When Dually is working really well, I try to practice this, so it is not a foreign concept to me when I get to the show. As I came down the centerline practicing straightness, it occurred to me how much easier it is to make subtle corrections with two hands on the reins and riding on direct contact.  But thats okay; just think how much better you are if you can do it with only one hand on the reins!

Dually is a horse that loves speed. I am never quite sure whether to avoid speed so he isn’t thinking about it or let him go fast for long enough that going slowly starts sounding good to him. Last night, I opted for the latter and it was a good move. We practiced small slow circles then went into big fastreally fastas fast as the footing would allow. After about 5-6 of those, he was staring to think slow, so our transitions back to small slow circles was really good. I think Ill do that more often.

After some soliddry work, I decided to get out a cow for somewet work. What a blast! The little heifer was fresh and Dually was spot on in his boxing (similar to cutting but done with one cow and no turn back help, against the fence). Then we did a little fencing work, driving the cow down the rail, then turning her back on the fence a couple times. Dually loves this because it involves speed. I was really happy that Dually worked so well, especially since Ill be unable to ride him for four days. If Im lucky, I may be able to sneak a ride in Monday night, if I get home early enough. I think were about as ready as we can be for our first competition on Memorial Day.

Now its time to head for my gate and board the plane. Hopefully Ill have the time and energy to blog over the weekend. While most everyone else relaxes on the weekend, its when I go to work!

Until then,


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