Jen Mellace: Maintain Focus

Fall has definitely come to Maryland and with it the cool, crisp riding weather I absolutely love. And while I do love this weather, it has a tendency to turn the quietest of horses into leaping lizards distracted by anything they can possibly think of!

Woodrow has been slightly unfocused my last few rides, and getting him to listen has been a bit of a challenge. I will admit that the other night I was getting a little frustrated. So during one of our walk breaks I thought back to our November issue and the article “Going Pro” by Hilary Moore Hebert, our senior editor. For the story she interviewed former Young Riders Caroline Roffman and Endel Ots who both train with Olympian Lars Petersen. In the story, both riders shared exercises they’ve learned during their riding career and continue to use when riding and teaching.

One of the exercises Endel shared (Quick Transitions) he learned when working with German Olympian Hubertus Schmidt. The idea is ? to ride quick transitions between the gaits in an effort to “get your horse responding to your leg aid, make him a bit hotter?in a good way?and develop a more uphill tendency.” (You can read the full exercise on p. 47 of the November issue.)

After focusing on this exercise for a while, Woodrow began focusing more on me, and he became more fluid and responsive to my requests. I ended our ring work on a good note and finished with a relaxed hack around the farm?which helped me remember why I love fall so much!

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