Ranger Recap: Happy Place

I’ve been awful about blogging lately. I had a great lesson last week on Ranger and a really nice ride on Batts on Sunday (we rode in the ring and both enjoyed ourselves), but never got around to writing about it. Oh well…

Last night I managed to drag myself out for a lesson. I wasn’t in the mood, but I made myself. And then showed up to an empty barn. Thankfully after messaging my trainer, she was home and willing to come out and teach me when I was ready so I got Ranger ready and rode.

I guess it was camp week so I had a camp horse. He wasn’t exactly responsive on the flat. I mean, I had great brakes, but that was about it? He was sluggish and just wanted to drift to the middle. So, inside leg was the mode of the day. Great. I had none. But, despite that, he was a good boy and was quite willing to move at the trot. [We also spent way too much time on sit trot circles… Good thing I practiced those without stirrups on Batts…] Canter to the right? Not so much. But, once we re-established that when we don’t pick up the canter I will stop asking, recollect, and ask again, rather than looking like crap until I do get a canter, I got there, but damn, inside leg was necessary because someone wanted to drift in. So, when we cantered left, I was crazy surprised that we stayed out, because normally we don’t stay out that easily to the left.


You can sort of see the course… Not the best view of the ring, but I took it from Ranger’s back while on a walk so…

It was another course change, but our outside single mostly stayed the same (but we lost the inside quarter line I liked so much). We started out cantering up our outside single and then down our inside single (brown boxes) which was actually UP to start with. Goal of this exercise was basically our path and pace. First time through, eh. I was a tiny bit slow the the first fence but the the spot was there, simple change was actually pretty neat and quick, we stayed out and had a nice path to our inside single. However, I didn’t actually trust someone enough and we were too slow to our inside single heading to the barn and chipped. Basically, I had no pace and  rode too passively. When I’m unsure, I get passive because Ranger will jump me out of pretty much anything.

So we circled and started over, this time with pace and energy and had a much better pace to fence one which we then carried on to the second fence. Now, after realizing that  I was riding Ranger, Camp Horse, aka, “I’m lazy and tired,” I was also I little more confident and active? Ranger can get strong and pull even though he’s amazing and perfect so knowing that heading toward the gate that this was NOT the horse I had, I rode his much differently and actually moved him up. So, turning the  corner to our fence, I saw the distance and instead of steadying him, we maintained our pace and had a nice forward pace and distance. From here, we continued to our inside line (I first almost turned to the wrong inside line… oops) in a 4, moving up on the landing of the first fence to actually get the 4.

Do you ever have one of those rides that after the first jump or 2, you just can’t miss?  That’s what this ride turned out to be. I saw every distance, made every correction necessary, because we didn’t actually come in perfectly at every given time. But, my eye was on. I need to remember and trust that I can actually find distances as scary as it seems. I just, most of the time, don’t trust that I can.

Our next course was basically the same in a slightly different order/directly. So, we came up the inside single (towards the road/away from the barn), down the outside single (towards the barn) and the same inside green line. And, because, for some reason I’m convinced my trainer likes me thinking on my feet, we can’t ever just do what I’m told, we have to add and keep going. So, after the green line, she had me do the brown boxes again, heading towards the barn. This time though, it just felt easy.


Some of my favorite ears…

We ended with our brown boxes again, towards the road, to our other inside line, gross straw bales (it’s rained a lot lately and they haven’t done well) to the white stone oxer. We landed from the straw bales pretty slow and drifted left but since we started jumping, Ranger has been SO responsive and moved up off and forward off my leg and jumped the crap out of that jump just because I asked him to. I mean, he had campers all week on his back so he wouldn’t have if I hadn’t asked, but he was happy to do so at the slightest asking. Such a good boy. Everything felt easy. I love him so much.

We ended with a nice walk around the property and a bath before helping turn out. Hanging out with him is really becoming my happy place. How can it not be?


summer in chester county

Oh and just because, meet Biscuit!


The Biscuit “Bisquick” kitty

Ranger Recap: Differentiating between the half halt and the tug tug

Lessons 2 weeks in a row? Shocking! But once again, seeing Ranger was the highlight of my week. After all, when your week includes things like window estimates, dying pool pumps, migraines, and kitties (!!!!), ok, forget the kitties, how could Ranger NOT be the highlight of the week?

I did not steal kitties Quijote and Sancho from their family, but I thought about it…


The Lasagna kitty was NOT impressed by our visit with kitties.

Well, maybe the kitties were the highlight, but other than the kitties, Ranger certainly was MUCH better than that other stuff!

Ranger (and Ranger’s adorable new pasture mate)

Unlike last week, Ranger has a bit more energy to offer (not that he was fast or anything, but just slightly more energetic than asleep). Me on the other hand? I was back to being lopsided and riding on the flat with my right shoulder in the air and my hand raised… On top of it, my right hip was hurting all day (I think it’s finally better as of today) so I was riding even more lopsided so I’m sure that wasn’t helping. Eventually I guess I evened out? Or my trainer just stopped nagging me about it. Who knows. Flatwork wasn’t my strength this lesson. I was doing too much with my hands so compensate for my hip?

We started off trotting in to our outside line in the 7. Ranger had other ideas and 2 strides out broke into a canter and while we did manage a 7 (I still had too much energy and had to woah late), less than pretty would me my description. Second time through, I was able to actually ride to it and we trotted in nicely and I was able to maintain rather than woah at the last minute.


Single and straw bales

We then moved onto our outside single and thankfully cantered in nicely to that and then continued to our inside straw bales coming down to our in gate. The goal here was not to let Ranger get too fast and charge to the gate, because, being Ranger and having a bit of energy, we might do that. Coming around the corner, I felt him pick up the pace so I half halted and he slowed down-ish and but still pulled so I half halted again and he slowed but pulled again and but did not speed up. In my mind, mission accomplished?  And we came to the most awkward spot ever where I held, he added and it was super ugly. My trainer was happy I held so we didn’t take the super launch but… before we could talk, we continued around to jump 3, our white oxer around the corner to the inside  outside line we had just been doing. We actually managed to keep our pace and jumped it nicely…


our oxer and second fence of the outside line

So, our discussion and the point of this post.

Coming in to the straw bales I had been half halting to slow Ranger’s pace, but when I half halt, Ranger slows down, yes, but he gets really heavy on the forehand. So, instead of half halting, we introduce the “tug tug” method. Basically, a couple of short tugs, encouraging him to shift his balance off of the forehand whereas the half halt just gets him heavy. (Alternatively, if he gets really fast and draggy, we halt and back).

So, 3 jumps take 2. This time, the first jump was again fine. Employing our “tug, tug” method, we had a much better attempt at the straw bales and continued to the oxer which again was fine.


Outside single collection of boxes ?

To end on, we would attempt the whole thing one last time. Except, we can never just end on good enough. Because after having the best first three jumps, really nicely employing a lovely tug, tug to the straw bales, and moving him up to the oxer, my trainer had us continue down our outside vertical (first jump jumped the opposite direction towards the in gate). This was a test to make sure I really understood the tug, tug method. Evidently not only did I understand it, but during this lesson I could use it AND move up to an appropriate spot. This this with this is, the “tug” really doesn’t do too much to change Ranger’s speed, at least once he realizes who is riding him. All it does is changes his balance. It gets him off the forehand and using his hind end so that he can really jump well and it make it even easier to set him up for the fences. Even coming towards things like in gates. He is so well trained to do what his rider say so to that if you add leg, he WILL speed up. If you point him to a fence, he WILL jump it. (Alternatively, if you point him away from something, he WILL skip said jump.) So, if you tell him to get off his front end, he will, but he won’t unless he’s told to. So, after the outside single, we were told to continue around to the outside line in a 6 and since I remembered to keep my leg on around the in gate corner and going away AND remembered to look, the line was easy (and small). And Ranger was perfect. Because he is. We might have finished here or with another jump. I remember finished on another part of the ring. But that was several days ago. So there’s a chance we rejumped the outside single just because. If we did, it was easy because  Ranger is Ranger. And at this point he realized there was no point to test me because I won the battle of the tug tug.


Best Ranger Horse.

We finished with a nice walk along the fields to cool out. I enjoyed it, Ranger just wanted his carrots. Going to attempt to show soon (next weekend? Eeek). Really bad idea financially, but when are horses ever a good idea?

Meanwhile, it’s humid here. I’m stuck at work. Fun times.