The second of the Equestrian Challenge questions asks what my riding goals are, but it doesn't specify a time frame. I'll make one up, and say that these will be my goals for this year.
This year, there are some new skills I'd like to learn. Ideally, I would take riding lessons but money is looking pretty tight for the next year. I just bought a house, and the monthly payments on it are $120 a month more than anticipated, which is going to squeeze our money bags quite a bit. Justin is looking at getting a new job, and if he does, we'll be able to breathe easier about the larger mortgage amount. I digress.
Since I likely won't be able to take lessons, I'm not sure how I am going to figure out how to do this stuff. However, I would like Rocky and I to:
-Travel with collection when I ask for it
-Perform flying lead changes
-Open and shut a gate without dismounting, perhaps even gracefully?
-Become more confident at walking over things (bridges, things he hasn't seen before, etc) This is the one desensitization area that Rocky tends to struggle on
-I also want to participate in at least one ACTHA event this year, and perform well.
I am really excited about ACTHA, but again, my budget worries me a bit. Still, it seems like a great organization and a lot of fun. In case you are unaware, ACTHA is the American Competitive Trail Horse Association. You do a 6 mile trail ride with roughly one natural obstacle per mile. Each obstacle is judged and has a time limit. There are a wide variety of available obstacles, including bridge crossing, going through a gate (some of my goals sounding familiar?), cantering, standing still while a "wild animal" crosses your path, and many more.
I have never been seriously interesting in participating in a horse show, but this sounds like the kind of competition I could get on board with. I love trail riding and this would be a great way to give myself riding goals that relate to my interest, improve what I'm doing, and have fun. There are no horse breed restrictions, and all of the horses have to trot out sound at the end of the ride. It seems humane, with no harsh training methods or easy cheats.
The goals of ACTHA rides seem to be have fun, be safe, and win a ribbon (or belt buckle, or cash...) if you can. Each ride also donates the proceeds to a charity of the ride host's choosing.
Those are my riding goals this year. Basically, I want to prepare Rocky and I to be successful at an ACTHA ride, and then see how it goes at the real deal.