Jumping Cones?

Saturday, I rode a horse nobody expected to be in our lesson    Cisco. Cisco, as in the ex-professional gymkhana horse. The very one who is banned from the Student Play Day, which we have been practicing for the past month. The only reason I was allowed to ride Cisco was because we ran out of horses, and I was the only one without a horse. I was allowed to ride Cisco, or the employees could find a different horse for me to ride. I chose Cisco, deciding that I hadn’t ridden him in a while.

I got my stirrups lengthened and walked into the arena, warming up. I walked a few circles in each direction, then lightly brushed my heel on Cisco’s side. He went into a trot, not a lope, surprisingly. We trotted around, not having to pass people, for several rounds.  I got my stirrups shortened (they were apparently too long; I didn’t notice until I started trotting) and we started to lope individually. On my turn to lope, Cisco would not pick up the correct lead. I was told to wait until everybody had finished loping before I could try to lope again.

Finally, when everyone was done loping, I asked Cisco to pick up the correct lead. He didn’t. I pulled him to a trot, and asked him to go again. He finally responded, picking up the correct lead and cantering quickly around the arena. I checked at the reins occasionally, steering and riding his lope. When we reached the cones that were set up for keyhole (for the class before), I suddenly felt a jolt under me as Cisco evaded running straight into the cone. Someone in the class asked what exactly just happened, and Christina replied, “Cisco jumped the cone. Who said western riders can’t jump?”

Wait, I jumped a cone? My first jump… over a cone while loping.

Okay, then.

After all that loping, we continued on and reversed directions. We loped that direction, and I was unable to ask for the correct lead again. We were put into “time out” again and had to wait for the rest of the class to lope before we could try to lope on the correct lead. We ended up being in the “wrong lead group”, consisting of Snickers, Lakota, and Cisco. Two fairly slow horses compared to mine. After about half a lap around the arena of trying to pick up the correct lead, we finally did and loped around the arena, passing the slower (death trotting) horses on the inside.

We then did a pattern to practice for the Play Day, which is coming up this Friday! Carson’s (a new horse) rider got to choose what event we practiced, and she chose the worst event to practice with Cisco in the lesson- Cloverleaf Barrel Racing, shown below.


On our turn, I asked Cisco to walk. Christina told me to think of it more as a pattern, rather than barrel racing, since I was on an ex-gymkhana horse. Somehow, I got Cisco to jog around each of the cones without barreling through the pattern. We repeated the pattern, being allowed to lope it. When it was my turn to go, I gently asked Cisco to lope, and he loped around the first cone effortlessly. We trotted around the second cone, and loped to the last cone, which I somehow missed. I turned around and walked around the cone properly, and loped home to the end of the arena.

We cooled our horses down and dismounted. Once we dismounted, I grabbed a cone and led Cisco to the end of the arena where I put the cone away. I noticed how easy it was to lead Cisco around, pet him and loosened his cinch, and walked up to the office to end the lesson.


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