Following the rail, learning to follow the patterns

Seeing as how Rocky’s feet are finally getting less sore, I decided to resume my Freestyle journey with our third Level 1 Follow the Rail session.

I tucked the patterns book into my pocket and then forgot to consult it the entire time.

It was going well in that I was settling into my seat and moving more fluidly and using my focus more focusedly, but I could tell he was not engaged. I decided to hop off and put out some obstacles, to give him a bit more challenge. Four poles, a cone, a huge ball.

Bad idea.

Well, not a bad idea; I think it was neat that I experimented. But it’s something I won’t do again for the Level 1 sessions in this pattern. I think it distracted from the lesson, which is: don’t change gait, don’t change direction. (Moving away from the rail counts as a change of direction.) And I started Managing when we came to the poles. Not to mention that he’s still in the “there’s got to be a treat under this ball” thing and since I wasn’t steering him in a soccer game, I ended up steering him away from the ball after a few noodges.

It made too many purposes for Level 1.

Next step is to re-watch the Patterns video for that segment, because I was not consistent with the backup, either. In fact, I see now that I took the pattern out of the pattern by varying too much about whether and where to back, and not turning in consistent places either. And that’s not even counting shoving obstacles in our way.

This was our third time with Follow the Rail. I don’t know if I’ll get to ride tomorrow, as I have to get through some work and I have family visiting in the afternoon; then the housesitter arrives to keep things secure while I’m out of town for a bit. When I get back to this pattern I will:

  • Be faithful to the pattern as Pat describes and demonstrates it
  • Include more trot transitions now that Rocky’s feet can handle it
  • Make the next four play sessions Follow the Rail sessions even if I think I “don’t have time to ride”
  • Start the Freestyle Figure 8 pattern after the fourth Follow the Rail
  • Wear my knee brace

I set up the Flip camera on the fence so was able to catch us on one of the long sides of the arena. Boy is that humbling, watching yourself, seeing the bad banana, the overuse of the reins, the waffling between fluidity and brace.

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