Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Mounted Archery Club!

This weekend I got word that a riding barn was hosting regular mounted archery practices right here in Cambridge! I'd attended a clinic by the same amazing people of Apex Mounted Archery last summer, but now the instructor Sara would be making regular visits to Long Shadow's Farm to teach and train people interested in learning the sport. Sara's hosting casual practices for anyone interested in joining the local club. 

We showed up on a rainy Sunday without our horses. Patty—my partner in crime in all things Equine—said we should use the clinician's horses and see if it's something our own mounts could do another day. I agreed (even though I was dying to try shooting at a canter off Merlin!)

At the clinic I rode a quarter horse named Scooter who calmly walked the course as a I shot the first few times, then trotted, and by the end of the clinic I was shooting at a canter! It felt so amazing, and comfortable. That's mostly because this horse had the entire routine down and I felt safe as could be on him. Merlin might be harder to push into a canter on a short stretch and Mabel, well, she might just leap over the fence at the end of the run! But it made me want to try with my own horses for sure. The video in the third slide of this Instagram post is me and Scooter! Watch us shoot at a canter!

Being so inspired by working with these fast horses I decided I wanted to spend more time riding Mabel solo. Usually I ride her with a friend, so she's always out on the trail with Merlin. Alone she doesn't have the same drive or confidence. She is way more stubborn, bucky and barn sour without her BFF. But the only way to get through that attitude is regular work and training. So yesterday we tacked up and rode up the mountain together.

Guys, it wasn't great. She was hard to get going and when asked to canter she straight up bucked. I stayed on, she learned I wasn't going anywhere, and by the end of the ride we were a team but I can't say it was enjoyable like riding Merlin. But there was also a time when Merlin was just as difficult when we were learning each other. Today I'll see if I can get on her again and keep it simple. I'm not going to be one of those people who looks at her horses in the pasture and never rides - oh hell no. Especially if she's got a future in archery!