Flags, Friends, and Horse Fun

I’m happy that the season for horse clinics and shows has started up again, because I’d been feeling isolated and worrying that I couldn’t do much this year, since Drew isn’t quite ready to show under saddle. But hey, I have my old buddy, Apache!

Don’t forget me!

He’s been blossoming, so I figured I might as well see what he can do. He did ok in a clinic last year, so I dragged him out of his dewy morning grazing and took him to a clinic with Tarrin, to see if we could do the functionality patterns and obstacles.

Must I?

We were in the first group, and definitely the least experienced. And it didn’t start out well, when he decided he didn’t want to do what I asked, but after a little calming activity, he turned around! We managed to complete the functionality test just fine for our first tries. I think we had fun.

I wasn’t scared of the blue tent or the other horses.

After the patterns we all tried something new, working with a flag. It’s a thing people like to do on horseback. Tarrin introduced it slowly, having us follow her while she carried the flag.

The riders whose horses who did ok with the flag then got to try carrying it and doing a figure 8. We did well, and I learned it’s hard to use your feet and hands to direct the horse while carrying a flag, so you need to use your body. What fun!

If a horse just isn’t up to being ridden, though, em riders can dismount and walk them, so they don’t forfeit the whole thing. Sully did fine with this, and there was another horse who needed this option. They can keep working on it!

Other obstacles also got worked on, different ones for each group, which grew more advanced throughout the day. We enjoyed practicing figuring out the best path between obstacles, which differs whether you’re doing the precision phase or the timed phase. We did ok. I was just happy Apache was up for 2.5 hours with me on him.

I did get tired, but I got to relax in this spa-like stall.

I enjoyed watching all the groups of horses and riders. You can learn a lot watching others. I also learned in the “class” part of the clinic, where Tarrin showed us things that can happen to horses that aren’t visible from the outside.

This horse’s entire lumbar region was fused solid. That made it hard to move!

Sara was a good sport and helped demonstrate how pulling back even gently on reins makes it hard for horses to move. I had to unlearn that habit. And I’m still learning.

Tarrin is being a good rider here. So Sara is smiling.

I’m feeling lots better about this year now. Apache and I will have fun and work to improve our skills. And maybe Drew will get to join us later. I’m sure grateful for this horse community!

Gratuitous picture of snoozing Sully. Gestation is hard.

If you want to join us, check out Working Horse Central.


Author: Sue Ann (Suna) Kendall

The person behind The Hermits' Rest blog and many others. I'm a certified Texas Master Naturalist and love the nature of Milam County. I manage technical writers in Austin, help with Hearts Homes and Hands, a personal assistance service, in Cameron, and serve on three nonprofit boards. You may know me from La Leche League, knitting, iNaturalist, or Facebook. I'm interested in ALL of you!

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