Equestrian U: Riding for College Credit

Breanne Long, a senior at North Caroline State University, is taking riding lessons as a PE elective this semester and has agreed to let HN tag along.

From Breanne:

Program Ride

PE 260: Intermediate Equitation (1 credit hour)

Prerequisite: Beginning Equitation

Course Description: “This course is designed to apply knowledge of the fundamentals of health related fitness toward developing, maintaining, and sustaining active and healthy lifestyle through equestrian sports. Intermediate techniques, theories and performance in equitation including skill at walk, trot, canter over ground poles and small cross bars will be taught. Care of the horse, tack and safety around horses will be assessed. Students will travel off campus once a week. Students must meet the weight restriction of the North American Horseman’s Association. Refer to the online schedule of classes for the current fee. Students must provide their own transportation to the stable, paddock boots, and riding pants.”

This week we practiced portions of our program ride, which is the equivalent of a final exam for our class. I was on Bob again–I’m beginning to really like this guy. He may not be the most responsive (what school horse is?) but he tries very hard and is very sweet-tempered.

Getting a massage!

Bob is used for the large animal massage therapy classes that are sometimes taught at the stables–he seems to be enjoying it!

This is our program ride.

We’re not allowed to practice the whole thing, but we practiced portions of it in class this week–namely, the half circle, on the diagonal approaching rail canter. We practiced going both directions and both times the instructors had another rider follow me because their horse had issues moving away from the herd. They said we may do this arrangement again for the real test, which will take place mid-November.
I’ve never had to memorize anything more complicated than a hunter course (outside, diagonal, outside, diagonal) and maybe the occasional hunter course with a long approach. This looks pretty simple, but I still wish I could practice it at least once through before riding it for a grade. I think the hardest thing for us (assuming I ride Bob again) will be coming back to the trot after the canter cross-rail. Bob tends to lean into your hands at the canter, despite his French-link snaffle, but as long as you half-halt aggressively continuously, he comes back to you fairly well.

Below is the test for the beginner class.

Our instructors told us that some years the intermediate students are less experienced, as a whole, and ride the beginner test as well. Apparently most of the horses have memorized the beginner test and anticipate the moves. This presents a unique challenge for the beginning riders (and some intermediate as well), because we never ride alone or are singled out to perform an exercise alone until our program ride. Many students just allow their horse to slow down or speed up depending on what the horse in front of him or her is doing and aren’t accustomed to asking their horse to listen to their aids and ignore what other horses may be doing. A few riders in my class (myself included) have been called out on more than one occasion for continuing to trot after the instructor called for a walk, or vice versa. I just like to make sure my horse is listening to me and not playing follow the leader.

Bob (as much as I like this horse, I hate his name!)

About Breanne: I started riding at age 8, following in my older sisters footsteps. My first horse was a cranky 32-year-old appaloosa and my last horse before college was a bay TB mare. I showed hunters but stopped riding once I started college. Now I’m slowly getting back into the horse world and would love to try eventing in the future.

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