Several weeks ago, my daughters completed their summer riding season. Since then, they have worked on staying sharp and focused during the long layoff before the Las Vegas National in mid-November. They have kept the first round of practices easy and smooth, largely riding circle and grid exercises – the staple of every hunter/jumper – along with fairly relaxed jumper courses. Also, their class and study schedule has allowed them to practice under the watchful eyes of Mark and Trish, their instructors, on Saturdays.
fence rails ready for course setting
This month, the practice sessions will be stepped up in terms of preparation, difficulty and intensity. It means riding at an in-season tempo – very fast, very crisp. While there is plenty of riding, there will be plenty of off-saddle work. The off-saddle work is watching hours of video and reviewing their practice notes. Every detail from a ride is noted. It is a disciplined, methodical approach to training. My daughters like the focus it brings to their riding, and how it allows them to make adjustments as needed. And, yes, the girls will compare notes and push each other in riding better.
They are continuing to ride very well, my girls, however, believe they can ride better. Mark and Trish have instilled in them the work ethic to constantly improve and refine their technique. The riding becomes more instinctive while continuing to strengthen the trust and confidence between them and their horses.
Elizabeth and Lilith executing a sweeping right hand turn on a practice course (Oct 01 2016)
ready to jump: Comet eyeing the fence ahead while Deborah looks three fences ahead on a practice course (Oct 01 2016)
Tara and Candace (Happy Girl) entering a right-left fence combination on a practice course (Oct 01 2016)
Though practice is all business, part of the day is set aside for the horses to have their fun. It usually involves dust, water and horse games.
spray down: Tara spraying down Cameron – “Don’t drink that, baby! I just washed that off your foot.” (Oct 01 2016)
The practice course in the photos above was from a 1.45 m FEI Grand Prix course they rode while in SoCal this past summer. My girls seem to have ridden it pretty well, shaving nearly a second off the winning time in practice.