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Barrel Racing for Dummies
[Misc] Flowers
Today's Friday, which means a journal entry extolling the greatness of horses.

First, though, I was so sick last night. I have no idea what caused it, but I haven't been that sick in at least a year. I was actually shaky. *shudders* I don't know if it was something I ate or the antibiotics I'm taking, but yuck.

Anyway, the main thing in today's lesson was just working on endurance...trotting around the arena. That's a lot harder than it sounds. If you don't believe me, stand up and do mini-squats and see how long it takes for you to get tired. It was really valuable, though, because it helped me work on my focus and was a good learning experience.

First, it was good because I was working on keeping a steady pace, which meant watching places where he wanted to speed up and others where he tried to slow down. In other words: "horse magnets." For instance, a lot of horses will speed up when heading to the gate and slow down a bit when they pass it. So the trick is to hold him back a bit when he's speeding up and being ready to push him through the slow spots. On the one hand, I already knew this, but on the other, it's a good lesson to reinforce.

Also, there was a good lesson about me focusing on my job and letting the horse do his. There was a mounting block in the area near the gate. I should have focused on keeping Blackie moving past the gate, but I looked at the mounting block and realized we were headed straight for it, so I started trying to figure whether to go to the left or the right. Meanwhile, Blackie took my brief distraction as an excuse to drop to a walk. The proper response would have been to focus on keeping at a trot and letting Blackie figure out how to get around the block.

I also made sure to spend a good portion of the lesson riding around the arena clockwise. I tend to prefer clockwise (even though I generally do most stuff in both directions), so it felt a little weird going counterclockwise last week. No problems today.

And now for the barrel racing for dummies part. Or, more accurately, barrel racing for snails. Wayne had some barrels set up in the arena from where they were playing around earlier, so he had me walk the pattern at the end of the lesson as a cooldown. It was fun, but I actually messed up the pattern because I didn't completely circle the last barrel.

Still, barrel racing isn't something I'd really want to pursue in riding. There are a lot of barrel horses that are just pattern horses (they learn exactly what they're supposed to do and just do that without any rider input). So, it's just a matter of the rider getting on the horse and hanging on. That's why you have so many wrecks. Call me crazy, but I refuse to get on a horse that can go that fast and won't stop or turn when I say so.

What interest me is reining. It asks for so much more from the horse (and rider). And slide stops are incredibly cool, but it's a disconcerting feeling until you get used to it. When I stopped Blackie at a trot, I got a little bit of a slide and his bottom just dropped out from under me. Since I'm still getting used to riding again, my first thought was "Did he just stumble?" (That was actually what went through my head the first time I did any sliding. Perfectly reasonable. I mean, isn't it much more likely that the horse would fall than do what I told him?)

Anyway, it was a good ride. Wayne said he was proud of me. He said that when I first started riding, he never thought I'd ever get to the point where I'd be able to get over it and really push the horse.

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Oh gosh, I hate when I get shaky sick. Usually from a fever with chills for me. I hope you feel better.:(

The riding stuff is all very interesting. I personally never knew just how much of a connection has to be there to make it all work.

I was actually shaking from vomiting. It was horrible. But I'm all good now.

A connection is a good way of putting it. A lot of people think it's about a bond and the horse "loving" you. Some do, but there are horses that would happily kill themselves if they could take the rider with them that a still great horses if you can handle them. It's just a matter of working it out with horse and making sure you're on the same page.

The cool thing about riding (or horses in general) is that you get out of it what you put into it. If you want to just take the horse out and ride it around a field, you can do that and be happy. If you want to do something more complicated (like today), then you can do that, too.

For me, I love that good riding is both physical and mental. In addition to being a good workout (my calves were sore yesterday ;-)), it also really engages your brain and that's really good when you're constantly worrying about something like law school.

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