Monday, May 22, 2017

Barn Party WE Style

 One of the reasons I spent Mom's Day working on obstacles is because of our pending Barn Party and Intro to WE we were having at my barn. And Babe, the Big Blue Bull, perished this winter so I needed the Burro Bull, anyway. So, by Saturday, most of the stuff was done, including painting the obstacle numbers and putting the stencils on them. The only item that still needed work was the bridge.

We bought more 3" nails and a piece of mdf to go over the top of the bridge. We headed to the barn to fix the issues (hole through the top) and get it set up for Sunday. Luckily, our BO had pulled it out of the field and left it for us next to the barn. We carried it over to a power source and took a look at what we had to do. The mdf board was too wide, so after a quick call to the barn owners, we carried it up and cut it with their table saw (seriously need to get one of those!), then went back to affix it to the bridge. We strengthened the bottom board from the bottom, adding two additional layers under the hole, then laid the new board on top.

T wanted to work the power tools, so I left him and J to fix the bridge (they also had to reaffix the side pieces with screws rather than nails) and went to soak Ashke's feet. He has WLD and I am doing an anti-fungal soak every time I am at the barn. He was surprisingly sweet and didn't even fuss when I put his foot in the soaking pan.

 Power Tools FTW!

They finished the bridge about the time I finished with Ashke's feet, so we headed home.

Sunday morning, J headed to the gym (she is working out to prepare for her 40 mile bike race in three weeks) and I cooked lunch for the barn potluck. Then I created risers out of some of the spare wood from the bridge project. I want to replace them with the potty seats from IKEA, but until then, they will work. When J got home, we loaded everything up and headed to the barn.

 In the far corner is Varied Footing (14), #11 is Rounding Several Poles, and the Garrocha (#3,7)
  Amanda and her sister were there and helped us set up. 
The arena is 90'x130'.
We put 14 obstacles in there. Well, mostly.

 Along the back rail was the Double Slalom (#2) and the single slalom (#12)
The single slalom shared three poles with the Double Slalom
Drums in front (#10)

Amanda walking past the bull (#4), sidepass poles (#8), Gate (#1), Bridge (#6) and Corridor with Bell (#9). The bridge is on the far side of the gate. The Corridor was set in the scary corner, which wasn't as scary on Sunday.

And the Livestock Pen set outside the side door to the arena. 
The original plan was to do this in the outdoor, but you can see the effects of the snow we got on Weds and Thursday.

We ate our lunch first and my chili seemed to be a hit. There were fewer people there than I expected, but everyone that showed up was interested in trying WE for the first time. After lunch, I walked everyone through the course walk, explaining the obstacles and demonstrating the order they would be ridden. Once we had walked the course, everyone grabbed their horse and went to walk the arena with them. Ashke was in his stall and he got very animated when the other horses started working the obstacles. He seemed to be screaming "hey, hey, that's mine! Those are my obstacles! You can't play on them!!"

We started in hand first.

Ashke didn't need to do it in hand, but it made more sense to walk around with him rather than just stand and wait until people were ready to ride.

The only really bad distance was the livestock pen to the bridge. It was maybe two strides. Hard to get a canter transition up and down in two strides.

 Bridge approach

 Making sure it's his bridge

 SD Finnegan (Gypsy Cob) was nonplussed at all of the things
I think he would be so darn cute riding the obstacles.

 After the walk through we got saddled up.

People played around the course for almost an hour between the in hand work and riding. Then we pulled everyone to the front of the arena and had each person ride the course. Most people were able to trot between the obstacles, trot the slaloms and then do the obstacles at a walk. There were obstacles they were attempting that they wouldn't have to try in a show at Intro (Rounding Several Poles, Sidepass) and those obstacles were a bit harder. The gate flummoxed a couple of people the first time, but doing the reverse gate seemed easier, almost. The horse had begun to figure out what the point of the exercise was.

 Watching Amanda ride her Intermediare I horse through the course was amazing.
Four stride flying changes through the single slalom.
Something to Strive For.

 Hanging out next to Amanda waiting our turn.
(I went last)

So, I got that spurt of adrenaline in the pit of my stomach two rides away from our turn and spent the next ten minutes or so trying to let my energy go. Ashke had gotten warmed up prior to schooling most of the obstacles at the canter but then we had stood for quite a while and I wasn't sure how upset he was going to be at being asked to ride the course. I took him out for the warm up and asked for a canter. He threw his head up and charged. We stopped immediately and I made him back his ass up. Then we sat there for a few moments and thought about it. When I asked for the canter, he gave me the canter we have been working toward since last September. I cantered around a few obstacles and then gave my salute (might as well practice like it's a show). 

Ashke was wonderful. He was a little sluggish at the gate moving off my leg, but after that he was magnificent. Our double slalom was the best he's ridden so far and he was really moving his shoulders around for me, although I could hear Amanda say "look up" about half way through. Although, I did stop after the second pole and go back to try it again. He did not gather himself well and we did not get the canter depart. He did it much better going forward from there.

He did not veer away from the garrocha or the bull and after we missed the ring and were headed for the livestock pen, he stopped off my seat. I could hear people applauding when I dropped the pole off (I was the only one who did not stop to pick up the pole - but I was also the only one with experience). His sidepass was very good and the corridor was great. I made him pause for a count of ten at the end of the corridor before ringing the bell and backing out. We lost our haunches a little bit on the drums, but overall he did them better than he has ever done them in a competition. We wove our reinback down the Rounding Several objects on the right side and he did good. The single slalom was hard but we made it through with solid transitions. The reverse gate was easy and he didn't even hesitate to walk over the varied footing.

I was so proud of him. I think if we can do this in a show if I can control my nerves and keep him focused.

It was such a fun day. Hopefully, we will get to do it again some time. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.


  1. Hi! New to the blog, L. Williams sent me your way because I'm also doing WE. Looks like your Intro to WE 'clinic' was fun! Looking forward to reading about you and Ashke.

    1. Welcome. You might also check out our new WE blog:

      Thanks for reading!!