Exercise 7: 1. Team Gem:0

Sunday morning was grey with a low hung sky and a constant threat of rain. I wanted to get a ride in though and had already set up exercise 7 the previous night. I even carefully measured out the distances.

The storm clouds rolled through all day long dropping random showers. If you look hard you can see the horse way off in the distance.

It seemed so simple. Three trot poles, a 25′ gap, three more trot poles (only I used three and two because I only have five poles).

Ignore the fact that my arena is turning green. An arena drag is on its way!

I warmed her up walk and trot at large in the arena. She was relaxed and listening so I had her go straight through the poles at the trot. I remembered to keep my hands low and forward even in my dressage saddle without the neck strap. She felt fluid and didn’t hesitate at all.

From the side. I need a 5th pole.  And to drag my arena.

But it was very apparent that my planning skills were out the window. I left Gem completely out to dry after the end of the last pole and she had no direction as to a left or right turn. I’m not sure where my squirrel brain was focusing.

After a few times over I got busy doing the exercise. This called for going over the first set straight, then making a 20 m circle to the right and completing it over the poles. After that you go straight to the next set and make a 20 m circle to the left.

My paint skills rival my ability to actually ride this exercise but this gives you a general idea 

And my brain got fried.

Gem was being good and listening although what she was listening to who knows because I certainly wasn’t providing any direction.

I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what I was doing. I tried going straight over the poles and then making the turn right, circling, and coming back to the poles but it felt too abrupt and awkward. Trainer is always getting on my about taking my turns too tight without enough prep. I need to turn her ears first, then her head, shoulders, ribs and very last her butt.

Going straight through the poles and then turning made this impossible, so I tried turning through the poles. Since the poles were on a straight line and I was turning, it threw off the striding and Gem got all sorts of discombobulated.

Plus my brain couldn’t handle the idea of bending over something straight.

I decided to break it down to the walk and figure it out at a slower pace and finally got something that felt maybe right and asked for the trot again.

I never got it right though and it was all my fault. Gem was doing what I asked even when what I asked was confusing and misdirected. I just couldn’t get my brain straight to plan ahead enough to execute it. I’d find myself so focused on the turn to get into the poles that I’d have no time to plan for over the poles and Gem would then go straight and that would not allow me time to make the circle.

By the time the sky opened up I had managed a few go arounds in each direction that felt sorta kinda ok. I really like the exercise though because it kept Gem focused on me. Each time over the poles ended in a different turn. Sometimes we went straight through, others we made the circle over one set and went straight over the next and other times we did both consecutive circles.

The rain ended the ride early. I was fine with the drizzle, but when it began to downpour I called it quits.

I’ll try this one again when my brain is more focused and see if I can figure it out.

More rain.

11 thoughts on “Exercise 7: 1. Team Gem:0”

  1. That definitely sounds like a good exercise to keep her focused on you. I can understand the confusion with how it was working. Do you think that setting the two or three poles up on their own and figuring out the 20 meter circle with those before adding the other element would help you? I like to break things down if at all possible but I know Gem needs something interesting or she stops listening.


      1. Normally, that’s probably fine. But since you’ve already done this exercise and know you have had issues, now you can try it in parts for a bit. Maybe set up both parts but in different sections of the arena. And do other things with them than the circles over the poles.


  2. I actually really love grass arenas…. so my unpopular opinion is, “Noooo, don’t drag it!!!”

    GREAT exercise with the poles. Going to borrow that for a few students this week…


    1. The issue I have is that it isn’t supposed to be grass. The grass has just overgrown from the sides over the years. This means that the sections that are still sand are packed down and not very healthy for her legs. It’s easier at this point to get rid of the grass then to wait until the grass takes over the entire thing.

      If you have any insights on how to ride it please share!!!


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