Trec Training

This weekend I will be taking Galahad to another trec event.  It will be his first outing since August and the first trec PTV (basically an obstacle course) for almost a year.

I haven’t really practised a huge amount over obstacle since then.  The idea of the obstacle course is to recreate the sort of things we might find out hacking and obviously we get to do a lot of that.  We are well versed in opening gates and I try to make sure we walk over all sorts of different surfaces.  We are also very much used to riding under low branches!

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The trouble is that doesn’t necessarily transfer well to the man-made obstacle course.  Take the gate opening.  Galahad has got very good at this and unless the gate is particularly tricky I rarely have to dismount nowadays.  In a competition though, marks are lost every time the rider lets go of the gate.  Galahad is not too keen on the gate closing behind him so at the moment I normally have to let go.  It is fine for hacking but not so great for competition.

Apart from that, sometimes the gate is not a real gate at all but made of rope.  Galahad doesn’t like them much either, although he was getting better.  I think he has regressed over the winter but that is entirely my fault for not working on it.  I did build a little course in the last couple of days so at least we aren’t going in entirely unprepared.

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This is my sister and Cookster on their first attempt at my rope gate.  They made it look easy – perhaps I should take Cookster to compete instead of Galahad!

I know we will have fun and it will be interesting to see how we do compared to last year.  There will almost certainly be some brand new obstacles we have never seen before anyway!

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I couldn’t find the tarpaulin so used feed sacks instead.  The puppy though she would be helpful!

Sunday Adventures

Galahad and I finally made it to our second trec event. It has only taken us three months!  We couldn’t make it to the training this time so we had to go straight in for the competitions without a look at the obstacles first.  There were some we had not seen before and hadn’t even tried at home so I was a little apprehensive.

Our first class was the pairs – I had asked for a sympathetic partner!  Galahad was very good with the new obstacles,  even the maypole which was the one concerning me most.  It is made up of two posts with a length of rope between them.   We had to pick up one end of the rope and ride in a circle round the other post, replacing the rope at the end.  Galahad was very good about letting me play about with the rope and the only trouble we had was that the rope wasn’t rotating properly and got tangled round the pole.  That wasn’t our fault so we got another go which went much better.

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Tackling the maypole

The only real problem we had was with the side pass – walking sideways along a pole.  Galahad didn’t have a clue what I was asking him to do!  We didn’t score anything for that but we did get a few tens – for the immobility, tarpaulin, rein back,  leading under low branches and double U bend – and with our pair we came second so I was thrilled.

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The water crossing – complete with rubber ducks!

Our individual event was outside near an apparently very scary (it was rather noisy) tractor so there was some spooking but in general he behaved very well.  We didn’t score nearly so well this time but it was our first attempt at trec in an outdoor arena and there were a lot of distractions.  We still got a ten for the immobility though – dismounted this time – and were third out of four.

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I had another fantastic day and enjoyed it just as much as our first attempt.  This is definitely something I want to keep doing!

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Trying our hand at trec

This weekend Galahad and I went to our first ever trec event and we LOVED it!

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The day didn’t have a very auspicious start as I had to get up early to clean my tack and Galahad came in from the field covered in mud.  He even had mud dreadlocks in his mane.  I hadn’t left myself all that much time so we had to have a very fast, very effective grooming session!  We still managed to arrive in plenty of time which gave Galahad a chance to settle a bit before I actually got on.  He was very spooky though and kept jumping at the slightest thing.  When a rug billowed in the wind (it was very windy!) he shot sideways and caught the side of my head with his lead rope.  Again – not a good start!

However, once I was on he felt a lot better and even walked straight past a pile of wrapped bales – all with wildly blowing loose ends – with barely a glance.  We ride past a flappy set of bales at home and he hates them but that could be because they are hidden behind a hedge.  He was still a bit tense and he was not at all keen on the big doors of the school which were also rattling in the wind.  I took him in the little warm up area and after a few times round he was beginning to settle nicely.  For him the warm up isn’t so much about warming up his muscles – although obviously that is important – but more about warming up his brain and reminding him that he should listen to me because I’m not going to ask him to do anything dangerous.

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Once we were in the school – which he walked straight into with no trouble – we started introducing the horses to the trec obstacles in hand. Galahad was quite happy with them all except the mounting block which he has never liked.  That is something I meant to work on before the weekend but I never got around to it.  I had to mount from the ground this time but I am determined to change that!

Once we were mounted we went back round all the obstacles again.  The bending, tarpaulin, immobility and neck reining were no trouble at all.  The s-bend was sometimes brilliant and sometimes terrible.  It was the first time Galahad had seen it though and he was still working out what was expected of him.  He was definitely trying hard!  The rein back was okay but the gate was not good at all.  We did manage to open it, go through it and close it again but it was not at all stylish.  Something else to work on.

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At the end of the lesson we had a mini competition which was great fun.  We got no points for the gate or the rein back (which started well but then went to pieces) but we did get some good marks  – including tens for the tarpaulin and immobility!  We came fourth out of the four in the lesson but I wasn’t expecting anything else and I was so proud of how relaxed he had been about everything.  He had never been in an indoor school before so I was prepared for him to be terrified and refuse to do anything!

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‘Very calm’ was the judge’s comment for our immobility!

We had a break then, while I watched the more advanced classes, before I got back on board for the newcomers class.  Galahad was a bit worried about things rattling around again but soon settled and was fine once we were in the school.  He had clearly remembered what he was doing in the morning and had improved immensely.  We still got no points for the gate and I had to get on from the ground but this time we got four tens!  Again for the immobility and tarpaulin but also for the led s-bend and the jump.  We hadn’t jumped in the morning and we obviously haven’t at home for a few weeks so I wasn’t sure what he would do but he flew over it.

The newcomers class also contained the control of paces section which we hadn’t tried in the morning.  The idea is to canter slowly and walk quickly.  We got no points for the walk – fast walking has never been Galahad’s strong point.  The canter felt very rushed but the score wasn’t too bad – probably because he only has little legs!  With a bit more schooling to balance the canter we ought not to do too badly with that.

There were three people in my class and I knew I would probably come last.  I thought I knew where we had all come but then this happened:

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Our first first!

Not bad for our first try!

I had such a fantastic day and I can’t wait to try it again.

Working Hard

Galahad and I have been making the most of the time we have to work on facing all sorts of scary obstacles.  I think we really are improving.  Opening rope gates is no longer a problem, although we have started to have a bit of trouble with real ones.  I think that is mainly because the gateway has started to churn up a bit.  Galahad has never been very happy when ridden on slippery ground and trying to force him to slide towards the gate is a bit much.

The other obstacles have got much better though and we have had a few lovely mornings playing with them.

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Aren’t the hedges looking beautiful now!

Whilst I had the obstacles out I decided to take my sister’s pony over them and I took the opportunity that gave of leaving Galahad tied up wearing his new rug over his saddle.  It seemed a good idea to let him experience it at home in case he has to wear it out.  It was a little windy – although nothing like as much as it has been – and I was concerned the flapping would worry him.  He was actually perfectly calm and barely moved at all.  He has improved so much!

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Trec Training

Galahad and I have signed up for our first trec event in December.  Both a training day and a mini competition.  I have no idea how Galahad will cope with all the scary obstacles but he will never cope if we don’t try.  It will also be his first time in an indoor school but hopefully that won’t be too much of an issue.  He has been in barns before which ought to help.

There is no real way to prepare him for what we might find when we are there.  Any obstacles I create will be different to the ones we find elsewhere and no matter how comfortable he gets with mine he will be back at square one when we go out.

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However, I am hoping that by introducing Galahad to as many scary obstacles as possible I can make it easier for him on the day.  Today I built an obstacle course along our lane – it is now definitely too wet to use the field.

We had a rope gate – which went a lot better than I expected.  We managed to open it and go through without dropping the rope.  I couldn’t close it again because the bank was in the way but Galahad was brilliant.

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We also had cones to weave through, a tarpaulin to walk over, a board to walk on, things to step over, narrow spaces to squeeze through and a rope to duck under.  A lot of the obstacles were similar to things he has seen before so were navigated without too much trouble.

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The only real issue we had – and he wasn’t panicking – was walking under the rope.  The rope itself was fine but I had draped a sheet over one end which was a bit too scary.  I got off and led him under a few times then got back on and he went under with no fuss at all.  I was so proud of him!

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After all that hard work I was a bit irresponsible and let him eat some grass which is not normally something he is allowed to do when wearing a bridle.  I hope it doesn’t put ideas in his head!

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