Before the riding season begins in full swing, the RRC brings their riders together. Known as the “test event”, it is part individualized training, part mentoring session, and part recruiting effort for the more promising learn-to-ride students to continue with riding. In other years, the test event is used as an open tryout for seasoned equestrians to be sponsored by RRC. The test event is seen as a fun activity where everybody talks horses.
RRC Test Event 2013 – Megan riding Viceroy in an open tryout, coming back from an 18-month injury layoff
While the springtime weather can be rather unpredictable here, this club activity is usually held in late May or early June. For the 6-8 more seasoned riders, like my daughters, they have missed the opportunity to participate since they’ve already started their individual riding seasons. With the March and April weather being very mild over the past few years, Mark and Trish decided to schedule this year’s test event for this past weekend. What could go wrong?
Last Friday, another winter storm arrived. While Mark and Trish mulled postponing the event, they decided to move ahead. In the end, it worked out well.
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Day One: Mentoring & Recruiting –
Deborah, Elizabeth and Tara looked forward to the first day, especially leading the mentoring session. The first half of the session, done off saddle, was to reinforce of having fun and keeping it fun while gaining the experience. Second point, allow a horse to be a horse. Taking a day off, a week off, from practicing and competition will do wonders for both horse and rider. When it is time to go back to the routine, both will be fresher for having the time away. Third point, be practical with the goals. Riding in “B” and “C” rated shows provides the experience. In “A” and “AA” rated shows, the competition is keener. Keep the goals manageable. Fourth point, no excuse making. Rather than making an excuse on why this and that can’t be done, be patient, take it apart and figure out why.
RRC Test Event 2016 – Candace (Happy Girl) having fun in the covered arena
While it was not groundbreaking advice, it is the type that needs to be practiced – even for polished riders like my daughters. It is about dedication and drive as much as it is about having fun.
The second half of the mentoring session was my daughters working one-on-one with three riders new to the hunter/jumper sport. They mostly worked on getting into good practice routines. A lot of new hunters make the mistake of not wanting to do exercises, such as grids or circles, and working on their equitation skills. When a rider does neither, especially in their development, they often become frustrated with their lack of progress.
RRC Test Event 2016 – new hunter, Jessica, riding her first circle exercise under Deborah’s careful watch
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Day Two – Individualized Training
Snow was falling at a rather heavy rate on Sunday morning, more heavily when we arrived at RRC. The girls checked on their horses, which spent the night in the main horse barn. Though it was 6:00 am, they expected more activity. Trish came in shortly later, surprised to see we were on time. She advised Deborah, Elizabeth and Tara that they may have the entire morning to use the indoor arena. Two other riders scheduled to follow them had already called to cancel their training sessions. Okay was the word.
RRC Test Event 2016 – Elizabeth riding one of the RRC ponies through the snow while waiting for her lesson
With their season beginning in two weeks, in Texas, the girls said they could always use more practice. This week and next, their training schedule is a bit compressed with the spring term coming to an end. Both Mark and Trish remain impressed at how well the girls are riding.
RRC Test Event 2016 – Snow Princess Tara with Brie (mom Laurie’s favorite)
When they begin their season, at least there will be no snow. But, they are ready if it happens.