As I drove through northern Florida surrounded by open plains populated with ancient trees dressed in Spanish moss, horses graze happily in pastures, the sun is shining and I had no idea what is in store for me as my week in Ocala began. HITS Ocala was always sort of this mystical land to me, something that has always been very much out of my reach in terms of finances.
It was simply dumb luck that I was given the opportunity to go this year, I exchanged some horse sitting for a plane ticket. I came down very blind, not knowing the farm, the trainer, the horses - unsure what seven days in Florida would bring me but ready to take a leap I took a week of vacation.
The week was nothing short of the best learning experience I’ve ever had (my four year degree included, so glad to STILL be paying for that piece of paper but that is a rant for another day). Cherie Gaebel, the trainer I was lucky enough to be joining for the week is not only an incredible horsewoman and rider but a kind, humble human being.
It didn’t take me long to feel right at home, helping with barn chores, getting to sit on a few of the horses and a bonus watching Cherie school her jumpers. Although I could go on for pages upon pages of what I have learned but what I wanted to share specifically was how important it is to consider cross training for the horse and rider.
To get a better idea of what I mean I’ll use the example Cherie shared with me, if you can’t ride down center line of the dressage test in a straight line then you won’t be able to stay centered down the outside line of the hunter course. Whether you ride the hunters or the jumpers you need to learn to adjust the canter, no matter if the fence is 2’6” or you are riding 1.30 meter course.
The same can apply for riders, like learning to land and look for the next fence ready to adjust and get in position for the next fence like a cross country rider because not preparing for the next obstacle can be a fatal mistake. Teaching the half pass can be the start of your lead change, so even if you are an equitation rider learn to properly cue the half pass for a better lead change or counter canter strengthening the connection between the horse’s hind-legs and the rider’s leg.
I’ll share some examples on how I plan to change my routine at home to incorporate this in my riding to make this concept more clear:
What are your thoughts? How could you incorporate more cross training into you or your horse’s routine?
Meet the Bloggers
Miranda and Julia bringing over 20 years of experience in the horse industry in a wide variety of experiences and disciplines. Here on this equestrian blog we'll share our horse experiences, tips, plus advice on surviving as an adult amateur rider.