The Trail Challenge Clinic
Part 2 of my All Horse Weekend was the Trail Rider Challenge Clinic hosted by Kelli Paulson of Authentic Horsemanship. I had heard of Kelli’s Trail Rider Challenges and her obstacle course, but was never quite ready to “take the challenge.” The clinic provided a venue for experiencing the event in a clinic like setting rather than a competition. This is much more in my comfort zone. And I was thrilled that many of my friends had also signed up. I knew we would be tired just coming off of the Friday Before Mother’s Day Ride, but heck, why not make it a riding weekend!
Saturday morning, I took the ATV to the pasture to fetch Windy. I could almost hear her saying “not again!” as she turned away from me as I started to approach her. But she’s a good partner. She stopped and put her head down as I haltered her and trotted back up to the house next to the ATV.
We worked on the ground some. Windy understood the disengage stuff from the ground albeit she was a bit tired and seemed bored with the whole exercise. When Kelli brought out pool noodles and hoola hoops, among other things, that brought her back to life!
Once saddled, half the group went one direction and the other half the other direction as our horses weaved in and out each other. I truly think it was more of a challenge for the rider to figure out which way they were suppose to go (right or left) than a challenge for the horses! It was a fun exercise.
We went over to the obstacle course. What a great playground! A huge rubber tarp, different planks, bridges, platforms, and teeter totters were the first thing we encountered. There was also a large gate and big tree trunks for jumping. A canopy made of pool noodles. There was a natural water crossing and a bridge over the water. She also had torn tarps hanging from the trees and more timber to cross in a small pasture and a natural hill to slide down or climb. I am pretty sure we tried everything. Didn't succeed on it all, but didn't expect to. Windy didn't refuse any of the natural obstacles -- the creek crossing, the steep embankment or the real bridge. We had more challenges with the contrived obstacles.
The most challenging for me as a rider was a big hill with two large steps made of rail road ties going up and down both sides. Going up was easy, but when I got to the edge to step down, my knees turned to jelly and my heart started pounding. I couldn’t get myself to ask her to go down. My friend, Sandy, came to the rescue and took Windy over it a couple times. After I could see she could do it without killing Sandy, I attempted and succeeded at it. It was really no steeper than the solid rock we had to drop down at Harney Peak. I guess I have a little fear of contrived obstacles, too!
As I watched the other riders, I saw all different skill levels. I was so impressed with those who handled the course effortlessly. And even some of those who I know are novice riders, showed grace when manuevering the obstacles. I compare my riding skills to Elaine on Seinfeld's dancing skills! And I’m sure it showed yesterday! But I had the best time and literally laughed out loud, as it was such fun! One big weekend down and I’m looking forward to next week's Competitive Trail Ride adventure on the prettiest bay horse around!
Sam & Apache