Focused Practice

Tuesday and Wednesday were nice cool days.  I love riding on days like that.  Tuesday it didn’t even reach the 80s.  Awesome.  Simon and I upped the mark and incorporated some more games practice into our rides and focused on a few specific skills that I personally need to improve.  

One of these skills is placing the orb back onto the turret in the Windsor Castle race.  This is the task of the third rider in this race, which is generally the position I ride for Windsor Castle, and I want to be able to accurately place my orb at a greater speed.  So I have been working on that and am currently placing the orb at a solid canter with consistency. 

I am also working on my flag placement skills.  Two flag placement is something I have generally continued to practice over the years, as this is a skill that I need to keep at to really trust in.  It requires the rider to stick a flag into a cone on a straight away.  So you are cantering past the cone and must place the flag into it.  This is a common place for mistakes in all divisions,  It is also a skill, that if done with speed, can really push a team into the lead in that race.  So I practice that skill quite a bit.       

This has been compounded by the recent rewrite of the Three Pot Flag Race.  This race is set up with three flag cones going up the lane.  One in line with the first pole, one on the B line and a third at the far end of the lane.  There are four flags placed in the center cone at the start of the race with all riders starting behind the A line.  In the end of the race there should be two flags in either end cone.  They can be moved in any order by any rider with each rider moving one flag.  This means that one rider will need to place a flag on the straight away into the first cone while heading for home, when there is already a flag in that cone.  Already having a flag in that cone can make a clean placement at speed a tad harder.  So I have been practicing this placement and am happy to report I am consistently getting it clean at Simon’s full speed.  Woo, go me! 

Another skill I am working on is part of the Bottle Shuttle race.  This race has a barrel set on the B line and a second barrel set at the end of the lane.  one barrel has a bottle on it and the rider carries a second bottle out from the start line.  Formerly I rode this race as rider 2 or 4, which means I would ride to the end of the lane, place my bottle on that barrel, and then pick up the other bottle as I galloped past the other barrel on my way back to the start line.  But, now that I am on a slower pony, and have teammates  that are skilled at this position and riding faster ponies, I have switched to riding position 1 or 3.  This means I ride to the first barrel and place my bottle and then pick my second bottle up from the end barrel before running for home.  Simple right?  Actually yes, simple.  But to place the first bottle on the first barrel with speed takes some practice.  Which I have been doing a lot of.  And so far so good, as I have sped up my placement and accuracy greatly.  I still have a ways to go though, so I’ll keep at it.  

And now he is ready to eat.

Those are the three main skill improvements for myself that I am working on right now.   I still spend time with Simon and his litter turn, and other skills for myself like ball and cone, which I should probably bump up to a main practice skill set soon.  And I usually warm up through mug shuffle.  Actually, I have a whole warm up routine I do most days that I’ll have to blog about soon.  It’s pretty simple and great for the rider that gets bored overly fast trotting in circles.

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