Tuesday, June 16, 2015

HCWE Clinic Day

Sunday I was lucky enough to get to participate in the High Country Working Equitation Clinic held at Circle Star Arena in Weld county. Chris S (my trainer) held the clinic and we worked on dressage in the morning, then EOH in the afternoon. I had originally signed up for the clinic when it was being held on the 23rd of May. It was rescheduled to the 7th of June (I couldn't go), then rescheduled to the 14th (when I could). All of the rescheduling was due to the non-stop rain we have been dealing with in Colorado. I was holding my breath on Friday, hoping it wouldn't get rescheduled again.

We were supposed to be at the barn at 7:00 to get Ashke (trailer was already packed and ready to go) and then to TMR by 7:30 to get K and Eddy. When we were loading I grabbed the hitch out of the back of the truck to put it on the receiver and the hitch pin fell out. The cotter pin that holds it in the hitch was gone. We had used the hitch the day before, so I knew the cotter pin had been there then, but it was no where to be found. I looked all over around the base of the truck and even under the tires when J pulled the truck forward, but it was gone. So strange. So, we were late due to needing to stop at the hardward store (the one that requires me to carry my dick in my pocket when shopping there) and I got a replacement cotter pin, plus a replacement set for the glove compartment of the truck. I figured for $5 better safe than sorry.

We pulled into TMR fifteen minutes late, which gave K time to run Eddy in the round pen. He walked right on the trailer, wuffling a greeting to Ashke as he did so, and we were on the road. We pulled into Circle Star arena right at my target time, which gave us about 30 minutes to groom and tack up. It was already hot and the humidity is ridiculous for Colorado (I've seen it rain here with a humidity of 80%, so having the sun out and a humidity level of 80% was horrid). We greeted the other riders who were there for the clinic and then headed for the dressage arena (20m x 40m) to meet up with CS.

There were a total of six riders for the clinic. CS had us pair up and do some posse riding work to start. I really like this exercise, since it is difficult to time your horse's pace to other riders around us. It also makes it easier for me to ask Ashke to collect some, since he is moving at a pace (canter) but is expected to stay behind the horse in front of him who is invariably moving slower (we always ride behind CO). If we were going to do posse work for a show, I would team the horses with each other that share the same pace, since it makes it easier for a horse that moves the same way (if not the same speed) to ride next to one that shares it's stride length. Ashke and Eddy rode together, since they are used to being on trail together and it would give Eddy some emotional support in the new to him venue. Eddy's stride, however, would have been better matched to the QH mare that was there. However, since this was just for play, it really didn't matter.

J sat in the Mule and took some video while we were riding.
The Mule was the only spot of shade in the area.

CS had us work on a bunch of different patterns and speeds. 

One of the challenges is speeding up when you are on the outside and slowing the steps when you are on the inside.
Do you see the Sooty Palomino? He was beautiful. Morgan. Well put together horse.

We even threaded the needle.

After working in pairs, the horses were nicely warmed up. Ashke had a thin sheen of sweat on his neck. CS suggested working on dressage tests (we all rode the novice test) so we all exited the arena to watch from the outside. I got off Ashke and loosened his girth while we waited. There were some misstarts in the beginning, but by the time we got the kinks worked out and the first test rode through to the end, we all had a pretty good idea of what we needed to do. Several weeks ago I purchased the Equisketch Dressage app and loaded the WE Novice test on it. It's kind of a fun app and although I suck as bad at drawing the geometric figures as I do riding it, it has proven to be a very nice app. There was one part that I didn't understand. The directions were "Loop to quarterline maintaining left lead". In real life what this means is a shallow serpentine at the canter, maintaining the left lead, even when you are moving from the quarterline to the rail. (I think this is a little bit of counter canter). It was very nice to have that clarification and gives Ashke and I something to work on when we are practicing our dressage. It also makes a lot more sense than how I was riding it.

WE Novice Test

I was proud of Ashke. He listened well and was engaged with me.

K and Eddy did so much better than the last time we hauled out to ride with CS. He only balked once and refused to canter but K let it go rather than picking a fight when he was doing so well. Every one else did well on their tests. It was interesting to see such different horses ride the same test. I guess one of the things that Western Dressage is trying to do is set a standard that isn't predicated on the confirmation of a particular breed, so that anyone who wanted to ride in WD, could do so and have the opportunity to show well. That way, when you are showing a QH or an Arabian or a Haflinger, the differences in how those horses move and what an extended or collected gait looks like for them is not detrimental in a show. We can't or won't all ride WBs.

After the dressage tests, we broke for lunch. Ashke got set up at the trailer with hay and water, and I pulled his tack. He was a big boy and stood at the trailer without fussing for almost an hour, a first for him. It was a good test of his patience and willingness to just stand tied. Even when the Lusitano in the big arena began tearing around, farting and bucking, Ashke stood and watched quietly. It was good to see.

After lunch we rode in the indoor. The shade was welcome and the breeze blowing through made a huge difference in how it felt. There were eight obstacles and the garroucha was much shorter than regulation (and so much lighter). The focus was on riding each obstacle to the standard, which is really a great thing to work on for those of us who are serious about showing some day.

It was fun to work through the different obstacles. Ashke and I are still working on getting him strong enough to canter a smaller circle around a barrel, but over all he did really well. CS had me cue him earlier than I had been to set him up for the correct bend right where we should be, which I think was effective. We struggled a little bit with the sidepass from the right to the left. I utilized a dressage whip to help touch his haunches over, and once I had touched him a couple of times, he knew what he was supposed to do.

We rode through a second time, although I made the mistake of trying it at a canter, which was Ashke's cue to go racing though. It was not pretty. Eddy did a lot of the course without any problem. He was a little hesitant to move sideways closer to the gate, so I walked out and helped cue him in hand, then opened the gate for K and Eddy to walk through. It was good for him to work through the issues, rather than avoiding them. The only other issue K had was the sidepass over the pole. I walked out and helped Eddy get the idea. Overall, he was stellar and tried really hard for K. She has some things she can work on to continue to desensitize him so that maybe some point in the future she can pick something up from his back.

Overall, it was a great day. I learned a lot and it was great to finally be able to ride a dressage test with someone watching. CS did a wonderful job of keeping every one engaged and learning. The facilities were fantastic and it was good to meet a few new people who are also involved in this sport. I think everyone learned stuff and it was great to watch Eddy be a decent poneh, rather than the little bastard he sometimes channels.

After the EOH, we loaded up and headed home.


  1. LOVED all the videos! The drill/posse work looks like so much fun. That sooty Palomino is gorgeous. And I agree: him and Ashke would have matched perfectly in speed and cadence.

    Your dressage test is lovely. Ashke looks so happy and relaxed and is in self-carriage! Fabulous job!

    Ashke's trot looks floaty in the EOH video, especially at the beginning when he's really stepping out around the barrels.

    What an awesome, productive day full of both fun and learning. Thank you for sharing it with us. It was like I got to live vicariously through you for a bit. :)

    1. He is moving so good since our last visit with Dr D, and my switching to the SmartFlex Rehab supplement. He was tired, though, at the end of this day. I rode briefly on Monday, but he gets the rest of this week off. We are going to do a long ride on a new trail on Saturday, so I want him ready.

      Thanks for the feedback on our dressage ride. I am looking forward to actually showing him at some point in the future!!


    1. Thanks. Glad you think so. He feels pretty amazing.