By Patty Wilber
I have always liked the horse show class “trail”. I like helping horses learn to navigate gates, bridges, and poles at all three gaits. I like backing Ls and Hs and Zs. I like tight transitions and side passing over logs. Lucky for me, most of my horses (except LT) have liked it as well.
But when the class “ranch trail” became a thing, I found that to be even more fun (LT did not, but Lucy likes it very well). This class is done at a more forward pace and includes rope skills, ground tying, real gates and sometimes even cattle. The best patterns have a good flow and interesting obstacles.
Fortunately, I happen to know a fantastic trail designer (Kathryn Erickson), who came up with a fantastic idea for a fund raising clinic, and I got to be one of the clinicians.
So, last Saturday, the NM Appaloosa Horse Club and the Estancia Valley Ranch Rodeo Association ran a Ride the Pattern Ranch Trail Clinic to raise money for charitable causes. The NM Appaloosa Club’s portion will be used toward a scholarship fund in memory of one of our members, Thomas Jackson, Sr.
Kathryn designed and set up a first class pattern. Four clinicians were stationed at various obstacles on the course. We ran multiple sessions. In each session, five participants got to work obstacles of their choosing with coaching from the clinicians. Then, each rider rode the complete pattern, with coaching, followed by a judged and filmed “for real” pattern with written comments. Luckily, Kathryn is also a carded judge and she did the scoring! Lori scribed the scores and I recorded (and added to) the verbal comments.
I liked the clinic concept on paper, but in practice, it was even better than I imagined! Every rider got personal instruction on things of their choosing, and because we had four clinicians, and a maximum of five riders per session, people spent very little time hanging around doing nothing. From a clinician point of view, I felt like I got enough time with the participants to provide specific pointers for each individual and see improvement in every single person. Since everyone got individual attention at each obstacle, we were also able to accommodate varying skill levels in each session. It was super cool.
On Sunday, I hauled Lucy and Deets to the venue and got to ride the pattern myself! (And snap a few photos.)
It was a good way to spend the weekend.