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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Mastering the Contact Game

The Major General and I escaping the Balrog on the cones course at Hickory Knoll CDE.
 Photo by Kim Kuhlman Photography  http://www.kimkuhlman.com/

Had the honorable distinction of many compliments on both my horse, The Major General and my driving this past weekend at Hickory Knoll CDE, accompanied by wistful I-Wish-I-Could-Do-That comments.  I guess they didn't see my abomination of a dressage test when my beautiful, forward horse punched off the time clock immediately on entering the arena.  But he came right back in cones.  I'm still trying to work that out, but it must have had something to do with my contact.

Most people, take a more authoritative contact in obstacle driving to get the horse through the course.  Quite often, they lessen the contact in the arena or dressage test because 'the obstacles' are not real. An egg shaped 40m circle doesn't knock a ball down, just your score.  The consequences are not instant, you can't see them.

I consider the arena an imaginary video game.  I think of the path around the rail as a high mountain pass, if I do not keep the horse on the pass, we will both fall off and die.  You need to make the stakes high- for me, that is death.  For you, perhaps it will be a monetary fine.  Crossing the diagonal: a 4' wide bridge over infinity with no rail- one foot wrong, we both fall off into forever.  You might need to envision a lake full of hungry crocodiles.  A 40m circle to the right: the thin line over the seventh circle of hell: don't want to go there, now do we?

If we fall off the cliff and die, I simply push the reset button and start over.  Next go, I try to hone my skill at staying on the path, if the horse deviates- it is my fault for not directing or supporting him.  It is my responsibility to keep him from being feasted upon by flesh eating harpies or drowning in a boiling river of blood.  It makes driving in circles much more fun.

So if my horse powers off the minute he enters the arena?  Still working on that.  I didn't want to push the reset button for fear Major would over react and I would have a fight on my hands for the whole of the test.  Did my contact change, or was it my attitude?  Reset.  Reset.  Reset.  Warning: this game is highly addictive.

Kind Regards,
Michelle Blackler