I almost forgot to post about the 2nd ACTHA ride we went on today! It was an amazing day, spent with a couple of good friends and our horses. We arrived early, about 9:00 a.m., even though our ride didn't start until 11:00 a.m.. We wanted to spend a little time with our horses, let them graze and hang out a bit before asking for anything. Doing this is good for our horses, it keeps everything low key and they don't get the idea that they get unloaded and put right to work!! After the undemanding time, we groomed and saddled the horses and played with them online to get warmed up and make sure we had partners, then it was time to mount up and warm up freestyle.
We rode around the grounds a bit and explored a big pit (really a BIG hole) that was causing the horses some concern. After playing approach and retreat a few minutes, we had them riding through with confidence...no hesitation or rushing!!
Our ride got started a little late since there was such a large group for the first ride but we finally got started. The obstacles were interesting and some were pretty challenging. The numbers after the descriptions are the scores; horse first and rider second:
1st obstacle: the "vines" were caution tape strung in strips over the trail and we had to ride through the center; the challenge was there was enough room to the right for the horse to "avoid" the obstacle. Renegade thought about going to the right but with a gentle ask, he went through the center. 6/8
2nd obstacle: noise control was a person standing behind your horse and blowing a whistle to the left, directly behind, and to the right. Renegade slightly flinched with the first whistle blow. 9/10
3rd obstacle: tarp was spread out on the ground and you had to travel over it. It was narrow enough the horse could "avoid" by going around. Renegade wanted to go around and tried twice but I gently persisted and we crossed the center. 7/7+1
4th obstacle: sidepass over a pole on the ground. Sidepass over anything has been a bug-a-boo for us as Renegade will sidepass a couple of steps then want to step over the obstacle unless it's a large log. We bobbled a couple of times (I lost my focus) but I stopped and regrouped and we sidepassed the whole thing!! 7/10
5th obstacle: backing an L. Renegade was having no part of backing up and no matter how many times I stopped, regrouped, and tried again, we just couldn't get it. 0/0 timed out
6th obstacle: turn on haunches. Had to back your horse into a circle made of a hose on the ground then turn on the haunches 180 degrees. I was having trouble communicating with each individual foot and we kept getting 1 foot in and one almost in. Finally got both back feet in and got about 90 degrees turn. 4/6
We ended up with a combined score of 74+1 and were 13th out of 24 horse/rider pairs (and some of those had done the first ride and the obstacles didn't change so they had two bites at the apple!!). I love the fact that we did better on this ride than on the first one where we came in dead last and won the "booby prize"!!
We had a few "unofficial, unplanned obstacles" during our ride: the construction machinery, riding along the side of a busy road, the bicyclists coming out of the woods behind us, the pony pulling a cart, and the "horse eating whatever" that we never saw but was really rustling the brush on one part of the trail. All in all though the horses took everything in stride with the exception of Renegade; he really was having druthers about whatever was rustling the brush but we ended up getting past it confidently.
Something that pleased me greatly was Renegade's acceptance of horses being in his zone 5 and/or passing him without him getting defensive. We have been working on decreasing his "bubble" so he's more confident and he did really well on this ride. He used to either pin his ears and turn to try and bite or would try to kick at passing horses but not today. He accepted my leadership and trusted I'd keep him safe. He did turn to give a sneer to a couple of horses but I just lifted a rein to remind him I was in charge and to put his nose back to the center and he did fine!!
I'm loving how far we've come, how much progress we've made, and looking forward to the fantastic future with my awesome pony!!