Fall Riding: A Well Deserved Break from the Busy Summer

by DFS-Pet-Blog on September 24, 2012

My trainer, Jessica Jo Tate, and my horse, Sacramento, enjoy time outside of the arena. Photo by Richard Malmgren.

My trainer, Jessica Jo Tate, and my horse, Sacramento, enjoy time outside of the arena. Photo by Richard Malmgren.

Fall is a time when most riders’ show schedules begin to lighten, and horses get to take a well-deserved break from the stress and travel of competitions. Soon winter will approach and for many riders in the northern part of the United States, that means serious riding will be limited mostly to indoors. But as the summer heat and flies start to let up, fall is the perfect time to take advantage of riding outdoors. For me, fall is the time of year when my horses get to take a mental break after a summer of showing and before a winter of heavy training in preparation for the next show season. As a way to give my horses a mental break from the stresses of showing while still keeping them fit, I spend time riding my horses on the trails and in the fields.

On days when I want to work on exercises without riding in the arena, my horses and I head out to the field. Though I may go through some of the exercises I normally do in the arena, my horses find it fun and exciting to be outside and in a new environment. Oftentimes, I find the horses work better in the field because they do not associate riding in the field with hard work. I often work on exercises like flying changes or canter departs in the field. Sometimes I will do trot and canter sets with my horses to help improve their stamina and to allow them the freedom to really move through their backs.

When I want to ride my horses lightly, I will take them on the trail. Not only does walking help some with my horses’ fitness, but also riding up and down hills is a great way to develop more strength in my horses’ hind quarters. Exposure to new surroundings is another reason why I like to take my horses on trail rides. It is good experience for both my young horses and my more sensitive competition horses to learn to respect and trust me in exciting situations, like when we encounter wildlife such as deer or grouse. Then when I go to a busy show grounds, the same trust and respect that was established on the trail carries over to the show ring. For the older more experienced horses, the trail is a nice mental break from the hard work in the arena.

Katie Foster

About Katie Foster

I began riding dressage, when I was six and was addicted to horses and the sport of dressage ever since. Dressage is a French word that means training; it is an English style of riding in which a horse performs maneuvers in response to soft aids from the riders seat, hands, and legs. When I was ten, I got my first horse Prodigy, who was a National Show Horse that did eventing prior to my buying him. He was a perfect first horse who safely guided me through my first dressage competitions, allowing me to find joy and confidence in the show ring.

As my riding progressed, I began setting goals of riding in the upper levels of dressage and competing at the North American Junior and Young Rider Championships (NAJYRC). My horse, Sacramento (aka George), helped me achieve these goals. In 2007 and 2008 I competed on the Region 2 Junior team, and qualified for the Junior National Championships both years. In 2010 and 2011, I made the Region 2 Young Rider team and the Young Rider National Championships. In 2011, George and I placed third at Nationals, and finished the year as the number one ranked Young Rider at the Prix St. George level for the United States Dressage Federation (USDF) year end awards. George and I again qualified for the Region 2 team and Nationals in the Young Rider division in 2012, but we were not able to attend either championship due to George having colic surgery this past spring.

This fall I transferred from UW-Madison to Michigan State University to focus my studies on Equine. I am excited to be learning about horse care and management including proper horse nutrition, equine breeding and reproduction, and the business skills needed to work in the horse industry. I am passionate about horses and want to learn as much as I can about these wonderful animals.

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