First (NATRC) ride of the season is the beginning of May. I have, at this point, no particular desire to recap March, so suffice to say that we probably managed 50-some miles, with about half of those as Serious Work and half of those just being miles with friends.
1. focus on sustained trotting. Enough of my making excuses for her; she needs to at least try the hills, the steps, etc. If it is too hard, that's on me, we need to work on that.. and we're not going to fix that by never trying to trot what she is, in fact, capable of.
Again, as I've started running a bit, I'm learning that I don't think it matters how fast she's going. She just needs to be physically capable of trotting for minutes on end, which includes steps and hills. She needs to be able to do it in competition; why am I not pushing that more in training?
2. listening to me, not the other horse. This is something we can train when riding with friends. I have 0 problems at rides when we're the lead horse and have a friend (even a newfound best friend of two minutes) behind us. I have had some pretty intense issues at rides when we're solo, particularly at the start.. but even all the way through Quicksilver 2013, we had Serious Disagreements and she scared me. Fireworks 2014 and Quicksilver 2014 both had us riding part of the ride solo. I had been hoping that the issue was resolved with additional confidence and trail miles.
We happened to go out at the same time as another barnmate earlier this week, and I can say confidently that the issue is not resolved. The other horse is one we've actually never even ridden with before, but heading home when Other Horse started trotting, Fetti was insistent that we Must Trot. The situation and the trail space did not lend itself to working through the issue, so I got off and walked a ways. When I got back on, she was fine. This is not an option for NATRC, and I do have some concerns about the slightly-staggered start that was high-anxiety for both of us last year. It's not any worse than AERC - except that I do not have the option of starting entirely at the back of the pack. She's going to have to keep her brain. If I have to tuck in behind someone for the first mile or so, I will sigh and ask their permission, but I'd really prefer that we could 100% ride our own ride this year.
Current plan involves schooling this every single time we're out on trail and I feel I can safely do so. If horse in front trots off, I should still be able to get a walk. Suggestions? I'll take 'em. Current thoughts involve circles and lateral work. When her head is back with me, she can trot up towards the other horse again.. rinse, repeat.
Oh yeah. And figuring out saddles and stuff. That too.