|Post-Drill Team refreshments for horse and rider|
This year, as our trainer prepared to head south, a few of us were chatting after a lesson one night and one of us said (the culpable will remain nameless) "Wouldn't it be fun to start a drill team?"
If memory serves, this comment did not come entirely out of the blue. There had been some discussion of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and their musical ride. One of our members is Canadian, so she may have been the one who planted the seed. All I know is that an "Isn't that cool?" became a "We could totally do that!" and then it completely fell apart into a "How about we practice Sundays at 10am?" There may have been wine involved. I'm neither confirming or denying anything. There also may have been discussion of setting our musical ride to the dulcet tones of Def Leppard. Again, the culpable will remain nameless.
So, on Sunday morning Sophie and I headed down to the barn, ready for Day 1 of Altea Drill Team practice. We prepped like you would expect. We googled a few RCMP videos on the way down to the barn, checked out a couple of "How to Start Your Own Equestrian Drill Team" sites and a few example drills and pretty much decided to wing it from there.
At this writing our team consists of Sophie on Cookie, Me on Sugar, Libby and Stratego, and Tamsin on Toby. After we convened at the barn, we discussed basic strategy while warming up with some Dunkin Donuts coffee (Sophie abstained) and a few donuts (Sophie had 3), then decided we'd better get on and warm the horses up as well. After some WTC (the equestrian equivalent of Jersey Shore's GTL) we commenced trying to follow each other nose-to-tail at the walk and trot.
This was easier said than done, as we had one GINORMOUS warmblood with a GIGUNDA stride (Stratego), a very large Thoroughbred with a pretty darn big stride, a mostly lazy warmblood mare with a medium stride, and a feisty pony that might have been born with short legs but has the personality of a horse that was born to lead and who was mightily peeved that she wasn't. I couldn't stop giggling, because while we may have been trying for the RCMP, I think we looked more like Colonel Hathi and the Elephants on Parade from the Jungle Book.
So we walked nose-to-tail, and trotted nose to tail, following each other in circles and on straight lines, down quarter lines, and across the diagonal, with Tamsin, our leader, exhorting us to "stay in line" or "turn sooner" or "bend to the right!" Most of it went pretty well, until we started to get fancy. Then it went to hell in a hand basket pretty quickly so we retrenched and went back to the basics.
You know, this drill team thing is really quite applicable to jumping (what we normally do). You have to regulate your pace and rhythm. Your horse needs to go forward and come back as soon as you ask it to, and you need be able to turn right and left and ride on a specific line so that you arrive at a specific place under the right set of circumstances. Who knew, right? Here's hoping all this fun has a positive effect on my ability to see a distance!
We had a BLAST! The horses had a blast as well. It was a change of pace for them and they got to play with their friends. They also got rewarded with small bits of donut afterwards (Sugar LOVES sharing Mom's Boston Cremes).
Sophie and I have been doing some research, and we think we may ask the others if we can try this pattern next week...