I have started my training in traffic management. At the National Academy Championships, one has to ride with more than two people in the ring. Plus, one has to ride with style in order to distinguish one’s self. Therefore, Instructor has started special Saturday group lessons for those of us headed to the finals. My first lesson was last weekend.
This is all new to me. Aside from the flat class in a hunter division, I’m used to being alone in the ring. Plus, I never played team sports. I’ve never had to evaluate moving targets in order to make game time decisions. For example, at my last show, the announced called for a walk. I “finished my pass” but landed in a wodge of other riders. After the class, Instructor told me that I should have trotted past to a clear spot. Same thing happened in the next class. This time I trotted past. Even though I was doing what I was told, it was taking too long. It felt wrong. That feeling was correct. In that situation, I should have stopped my pass early. So the rule is you trot past other folks to a clear spot. Except when you don’t.
If a rider gets caught in a traffic jam, it is judged to be the riders fault. She should not have been there in the first place. Per Instructor:
Most believe that if the horse in front of you comes apart at the seams and you fall prey to it and your horse and/or you make a mistake because of said first horse, you are also held accountable and you too will be penalized. This is because you should be “aware of your ring” and what’s going on in front of you. You should have enough horsemanship to maneuver out of said bad situation. In a defensive driving course I took many moons ago, to get out of a ticket, the officer unequivocally stated that there are NO accidents that aren’t unavoidable. If you are truly paying attention and are following the 3 second rule you can avoid any and all accidents. Same goes with showing in my book.
The first technique we learned was the diamond. If you follow the rail at the end of an oval ring, you get a U-shape. Instead, you leave the rail, head directly to the apex, make a 90o turn, and zip to the other rail. This makes a V-shape. Riders use it to get clear of other horses but also to hot-dog. I likened it to taking the direct five strides between two fences rather than the bending six-stride line. Harder to do, but flashy if you pull it off. It’s all about maneuverability and showing off of same.
Sure, I grasped the concepts right away, but then, I used to write this stuff. I can spout theory all day long. Whether or not I can execute remains to be seen. Just because I can write about the preparation for Grand Prix (interveiw with Jessica Ransehousen in Dressage & CT, Sept 1997) doesn’t mean I can ride my way out of First Level.
Camera ordered. Things should get more visual around here soon. Details as soon as camera arrives.