Tuesday, March 20

Trail Rides

This time of year, as the weather starts to improve (she states optimistically), I start getting pestered to take people out on some trail rides. Those of you readers who know me in person know that I would rather clean sheaths all day than go on a trail ride. I have a stock answer that generally gets me off the hook with people. It goes something like this:
Trail riding presents a lot of uncontrolled risk, and it's not relaxing for me to feel responsible for everyone and their horses' lives.

But... that's not entirely the truth. The other reason I don't want to go on trail rides is more along these lines:
Riding through the woods looking at trees is BORING!!!





I would so much rather putter around in an arena than meander in the wilderness. Trail riding has no challenge, and therefore I think it's awful. There, I said it. Anyone agree with me?

Tuesday, March 6

Trusting and Letting Go

As a riding instructor, part of my job is having faith in my students and letting them step out and do things independantly. I have always found this pretty easy to do,as I tend to have a large amount of faith in my students ability to rise to the occasion. I have seen pairs succeed that I was told would be a total disaster. I have seen these students continue on with those same horses and succeed in areas I would not have imagined possible. But for some reason, it's been a struggle to let my horses do the same.

A large part of my teenage years was spent riding the unstarted horse I recieved for my 15th birthday. I learned tons about training, and I really enjoyed watching my silly 2 year old transform into a steady eddy school horse and 4H State Fair Competitor. Sadly, though, I had a hole in my riding education. I went from a pretty uneducated backyard rider to training. I learned how to hold my horse together, how to manage the direction of his feet, and keep him supple and forward. But I didn't learn to let him go. I found security in my reins, which at times I really needed! So now, a few years down the road, I'm working on filling in that gap. For a while, my training philosophy was based on a lot of input, I wanted every step to be planned and executed the way I wanted it. Now, I'm working on treating my horses like partners. I want to help them perform the movements I ask for but allow them to start taking more responsibility for their actions. This means sometimes I go faster than I want, or in a less than perfect bend, and sometimes not even the direction I was planning; but these are all learning opportunities. I'm able to encourage my horses to be more willing and independant by not being afraid of their mistakes. I'm raising my expectations of my horses,  and it's cool the way they rise to the occasion. It's my challenge to be clear in what I want and to stay out of their way. It's their responsibility to try to the best of their ability.

It's definitely been a challenge, and I know this isn't the last hole I'll have to fill. The rewards are worth it. I'm having fun letting my horses do their thing, and I'm learning a lot from them.

Thursday, March 1

Tack Addict Shopping Guide

Those of you who know me in real life know I have an *ahem cough cough* affection for tack. I am indeed a tack addict. They say the first step is admitting you have a problem, but they never said you have to go beyond that! Good old "they" ;) So, I'm going to be sharing with you guys some of my favorite tack items... there will even be helpful links if you'd like to pick some up for yourself!

For this first feature, I'm going to share what I think may be the best tack invention ever. The simplicity and usefullness makes me wonder why these do not come standard on every set of western reins.

You can purchase these from Buckaroo Leather for around $12!
If you're like me, you like the option of easily removing your reins without having to untie the waterloops. I tried snaps for a while, but eventually I decided I wasn't crazy about the way they jingled and rattled while I was riding (not to mention the risk of breaking or coming undone). I've also tried quite a few of the quick change style ends, but these puppies are by far my favorite!