Wednesday 11 July 2012

Epilogue - lead, follow, get the hell out of the way...smash into others... etc.

You see, I knew the arena rules element of the last post would get you all going.

I should clarify - I TOTALLY believe that when you are done the functional "training" part of your ride, and have moved to the cool out portion, or even worse, the "wander around four abreast talking to your friends about Tim Horton's, Tom / Katie divorce, Anderson Cooper...(duhhhofcourse) etc, etc, etc... or doing absolutely anything involving a cell phone" phase - you should most certainly get the hell off the rail, and stay well to the inside.  Or, preferably you go outside, as in "far far outside the arena".  But this is not a factor of speed, it is a factor of function.  If you aren't doing anything productive, get out of the way of those who are.

Conversely - if you are "working on something" - you get to do it wherever you can do it most effectively, while abiding by general traffic rules (i.e. left to left).  So, if you want to, say, leg yield in the walk with head to rail as a training aid... you would do that on the rail. Or - practice free walk pick up / release repeatedly without having to worry about steering - on the rail.  Walk-halt transitions, prepping for trot - rail. Or - walk around on a horse with limited steering that pretty much only walks - rail.

Really, to be fair to non-dressage, parelli, western, h/j people who do stuff that makes no sense to me, but maybe it does to them - In my mind, I would say you should be able to do whatever fucked up stupid thing you feel like doing on the rail... if you think that is the place you can do it most effectively.  And, by doing so, you are not having a negative impact on those around you that they could not easily steer clear of if they felt like it.. by passing you on the inside, for example.  This is hard to write up on a "barn rules" list though.

However, I did have this conversation last night with a H/J friend of mine who was totally hard core at one time (the one who sponsored the short listed rude jumper that I mentioned a while back), and she said that she yells "rail" to anyone going slower than her - anywhere - and expects them to clear the road.  This may reflect this changing shift in arena rules in sporthorse circles that some of you have eluded to, or may reflect what happens when you spend too much time learning to ride with short listed rude jumpers.  What it does really clarify for me is why everyone I know at a barn where she used to exercise another friend's horse absolutely hated riding with her, and those who didn't realize we were good friends used to rant about what a self absorbed arena queen she was within earshot of me.  Huh.  The things you learn when you write a blog.

Having spent some time riding hunters, I do think riding on the second track when going slower, even if we are talking trot vs canter is a bit more do-able than with dressage. Hunter "flatting" usually involves going around-around-around-around-around without much stuff happening in between. In this instance, setting up kind of a W-T-C Tyco speedway in your arena really could work.   

(I like to call this "mounted longeing"... I was a designated "warm-up" (wear down?) rider for a group of hunters who traveled to a Virginia show a few years ago - wow, cantering around for 45 minutes in two-point really makes the thighs burn.  Take that, Susanne Sommers.  ).  

Fuck off  Craig with your overpriced pasta stirfrys already.  Virginia had free giant sandwiches.  

Anyways, to answer the most burning question from my last post... NO, I did not buy Jerkwad new stirrups.  I packed my things, hugged my friends, carroted their horses one last time and got ready to get the hell out.

And getting the hell out involved... anyone?  anyone?  What is the one thing you can't really practice with your green horse in the middle of winter, with 2 feet of snow and/or mud, but that requires much practice nonetheless?  The thing that if you don't master.. will draw more railbirds to you than flies to shit versus any other activity you may ever try to do with your horse?

That's right folks.  The only thing that outdoes riding a green horse in the "unsolicited advice" category is trying to get your green horse loaded up on the Red Rocket.  Drop the ramp and watch the crowd gather.  And try not to use the longe whip on THEM...


  1. Haaa. Nothing beats trying to trailer a horse in the 'unwanted advice' dept. I know that I myself have been guilty of dolling out the help (at a show the people parked next to us spent 3.5 hours trying to load their one horse... after 2.5 a friend and I popped in to ask how they were doing & offer our share of friendly unwanted advice. Turns out they'd already tried every trailering trick we could think of...) and have been on the receiving end of it as well. Now I just steer clear unless I've been asked to help. But it still amazes me how many 'experts' you can find when a trailer is involved. Maybe its the fact that no matter what you do, be it parelli, H/J, western pleasure, etc. you still need a trailer to move your horse... so rather than just getting advice from one set of people, you get advice from ALL of them.

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  3. My rule of behavior with people trying to load "the reluctant": I'll say, "If there's anything I can do to help, I'll be by _______", then I clear out of the way. They can find me if they need me. It's often just awful and frustrating to watch, and NO ONE wants to be watched.

    Good manners... where HAVE they gone?

    (deleted previous post for abysmal grammar)

  4. I'm still amazed that a difficult loading attracts the same crowd as a circus. Seriously!

    1. Seconded! It's hard enough to get a large, possibly frightened and dangerous animal to do something it doesn't want to without a crowd of assholes silently (or not so silently) judging you. Avert thine eyes. Eat a hot dog. Go sneak pulls from the 40 you brought to the show behind the portajohns. Just leave me alone.

  5. Being English if someone shouted "Rail" at me I'd have to reply "Sorry darling but what the buggery fuck are you on about?" !!