Ground pole grid
I subscribe to EquestrianCoach.com and Practical Horseman On Demand to get ideas that enhance my riding, learn new skills, watch others to pick up on riding tips, and such. A few months ago, I stepped out of my comfort zone and decide to try something different.
I have been riding all my life but for the last 20 years+, I have consistently had jumper, dressage, and eventing lessons, pretty much 1-2 times a week, with 3 different coaches/instructors over that period of time. I did a time/cost analysis - For me to attend one lesson a week, it costs me $30 in fuel ( and then add the cost of actual lesson), and then the time. To quote a movie, Time is the most valuable commodity in the universe. A 1 hr group lesson basically was a 5 hr event when considering traffic and distance to instructor's barn. I could ride at least 3 OTTBs with 5 hours! To summarize, I have been riding/showing for over 45 years in various disciplines so I have more experience with equines than most.
Thus I made the decision to ride on my own with the plan of attending clinics as much as possible with advanced equestrians! In October, I rode with a 4* rider and it was awesome. He had Gus and I jumping technical exercises that really made me aware of where I was looking and what I was telling my horse. Gus, in turn, responded perfectly when he knew where we were going. He adjusted himself and felt like he really
appreciated making decisions. He just needed clear signals from me. I was so happy! Randy is coming again so I used today and the beautiful weather to apply what I learned a few weeks ago, as well as from other clinicians and various videos, to work on things with several OTTBs. Clinician Lisa will also be back in November so 2 full weekends of advanced work! Good time to declare today riding day!
Today's pole pattern was one I found on Practical Horseman On Demand. While it may appear easier than jumping, I think the OTTBs would disagree! By adding bends but then at other times straightness, the horses had to think as well as listen to my aides. I found that since I am not relying on my next instructor led lesson, I really have to focus and basically remind myself. They best way to describe this is being mindful. Around a corner, I hear myself in my head saying weight in outside leg, shape horse around the curve, more motor behind, now straight and support through the grid. Let the horse find the rhythm and adjust, keep supporting but allow. And this works. Gus has been much more forward, more careful through the poles and actually interested in what we are doing. Red is much more confident when I am mindful. Kitchen did not even blink at the box, the poles, or the poles to the box! And Tank - did the pole grid without any concern. This was a big deal as this was his first day trotting over poles, through a 12 ft box, and never missed a beat!