Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Stepping up: Kierra Reichert takes it to the next level

Team member and MVRU volunteer, Kierra Reichert attended her very first horse show earlier this month as a competitor and more recently joined the team on an outing to Spokane Sporthorse Farm to test her skills on their magnificent cross country course. She took the time to write about her experience as an up and coming rider. We are impressed with her focus and growth in the last few months! A huge thank you to the individuals who have helped sponsor her participation on the team.

On the 15th-17th of June, I was privileged with the amazing opportunity of coming along on the team’s cross-country schooling trip to Spokane Sport Horse Farm. I got to take an extraordinary, well trained and super fun pony named Finesse, who I have been quarter leasing for a while. I learned so much during the trip to Spokane, and feel that it marks an overall step up in my riding and knowledge of horse showing.

While at Spokane, I had complete responsibility of Finesse, which was a huge leap in my usual tasks of horse keeping while at an event. While at the Farm, I had three lessons, not including the much needed bandaging lesson on the first day there. In my Stadium lesson, I (mostly) memorized a full sized course of about eleven to twelve jumps for the first time, while jumping at a height that I felt was very appropriate to my level. The constant changing of directions in Stadium really gave me a feel for the first time of what canter lead I should be on, and how it matters to having a successful jump, as well as what it feels like to be on the wrong lead and be able to control that factor. Canter leads were something I had always taken for granted, mainly because Finesse is so good about them and it was never really a problem for us.

In my two cross-country lessons I learned that I had to focus more on balancing and slowing down
Kierra riding her first ditch. Finesse says, "I got this!"

my usually lazy mare. Throughout the lessons we had trouble with coming at jumps like a ‘motorcycle’! I had to work a lot harder with my half-halts and lines than I usually do because of the habit we had made of careening around turns and just barely making it over the corner of most jumps. I am very happy with my cross-country lessons because I got to try three new elements that appear often on cross-country courses: the ditch, a corner, and the down bank. I am so happy to have such a pro pony to ride! I was slightly nervous about the down bank, but soon learned that if ridden correctly, it was no big deal! Finesse was also a huge help especially on the new elements- she taught me to ride them while still making sure that they were jumped successfully every time!

Finesse is an older mare, and since the only time I have ridden her off of the Ranch was at a small dressage show, I still had (and have) a lot to learn about taking care of her when we are doing more strenuous work than dressage. The bandaging lesson proved useful that very first evening when Fin’s fetlocks began to show the swelling that was expected of her after a long, hard day’s work. In taking care of Finesse I learned to adequately cold-hose and wrap her legs in standing bandages, as well as becoming more aware of how much swelling her legs would usually hold after that amount of work.
Kierra practices bandaging Fin

I learned a lot during the Spokane ‘outing’, and am looking forward to spending more time and growing as a rider and person with Finesse. I am looking forward to grooming and learning at more shows and clinics this year, and hopefully competing again before the season is over. I’m so happy that I could come along to Spokane, and think that it really shed light on all that is possible to achieve through time and commitment.

Thank you: Annie, for coaching me, Tulie, for being an amazing example of excellent riding, Bob, for helping me with my dinner expenses, and most of all Finesse, for always trying so hard with everything I ask of her, and teaching me new things along the way.

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