[Explanation of saddleseat Boot Camp here.]
This week’s Boot Camp lesson was on lanes. Lane 1 is on the rail. Lane 2 is a few feet in. Lane 3 a few more feet in. And so on to the center of the ring. At the top of the ring, a rider picks a lane and then passes straight down the long side of the ring in that lane. Easy-peasey? HA!
Saddlebreds are not geared to suddenly turn off the rail. At least, I haven’t figured out where those knobs are. So, I would decide to turn for an inner lane. Then I would have to take several moments to figure out how get where I wanted to go. At which point, my window of opportunity had closed and I was left to make a wiggly hash of the corner. I suspect the point is be ready to turn at all times. You know, rider listening to horse, horse listening to rider, rather than both of us larking around the arena and occasionally checking in with each other. Easy to say. Hard to do.
Combining the diamond from last week [see explanation link above] with lane choice gives me the ability to get away from others. Being alone allows me to be seen by the judge and to demonstrate executing a plan that results in same. These maneuvers can also be used to cover up other competitors. I’m not as comfortable with this. It seems mean-spirited. Will have to converse more with Instructor.
So, there we are. Seven horses in a small outdoor ring being encouraged to pass and repass each other. Figuring out how to ride and steer at the same time gets complicated when the horse you are riding decides to get offended with violations of her personal space. Deeply and actively offended. Lola is a nimble little mare. When she starts heaving and plunging, it’s rubber ball rodeo time.
I attempted to mitigate the marestorm by keeping an eye out behind, by staying isolated, and by turning her head in slightly to get her eye on an upcoming horse.
Mainly, I had to convince her of three things:
You are still fabulous.
You are being a beech.
Unfortunately for you, I am a bigger one.
Once we got that sorted out, we had a lovely time. Although, I still couldn’t organize a proper turn.