So this week I opted to ride in the sand ring instead of the grass field. Given how distracted and spooky Luc was in there last week I thought it was the wiser choice, especially since this week there was a crew working on the fence in that ring.
I mounted just outside using my trusty picnic table (makes it so easy to get on!) and walked Luc over to the entrance to the sand ring. Unfortunately, I’d forgotten they’d recently put up a new gate to the ring, and it was currently latched closed. Determined not to have to get off, I manoeuvered Luc as close to the gate as I could get him. I reached down and surprise, surprise was actually able to reach the latch. I wasn’t sure when I attempted it, Luc is rather tall.
Unfortunately, he isn’t very patient. The latch was stuck and before I had time to wrestle it free, Luc decided he’d had enough standing and started walking off. Two tries later and I managed to get the gate open in a timeframe Luc found acceptable. Of course, I hadn’t really thought the entire scenario through. The gate was made up of two parts, and as soon as I undid the latch both gates started swinging towards us, lightly bouncing against Luc, who was not very impressed. He started backing up at a decent clip, not spooking just trying to get clear of the gate.
After the gate was completely open, Luc happily walked calmly through and into the ring. I tried to get the gates closed behind me, but just couldn’t manage to get both pieces back together. I finally gave up and let Luc’s owner, my sister Jen, close them for us.
You know how I’d hoped Luc would be less distracted in the sand ring – well I was completely wrong. They had just turned out a new horse into a group field next to the ring and the horses were running around like idiots. Even after the main herd calmed down the new horse still spent most of my ride cantering up and down the fence line, and Luc spent most of the ride staring at it.
Regardless of Luc being so distracted, I did go ahead with my original plan, which was to take away my own stirrups again. I tried to get Luc to focus on me as we walked, trotted and canter around the ring. I even did some trot poles. Then I worked on being able to pick my stirrups up while we were moving, a very useful skill to have.
With both feet out of the stirrups I tried to get my feet back into them. At the walk it was no problem. At the trot it was a little more difficult, and at the canter it was a disaster. I managed to get one in fairly quickly, but it took me a good minute to get the second. Not so helpful if you ever loose both stirrups in the middle of a jumper course. My round would have been over by the time I got it back. I tried a few more times at the canter and did improve slightly. It was substantially better when I only dropped one stirrup at a time.
After we’d cooled out I worked on opening the gate again. This time Luc and I got it on the first try and were able to easily walk out of the ring. I almost managed to get it closed, but then the gates started swinging on their own again. I’ll have to keep working on it.