Monday, November 30, 2015

Drill Team

Obviously not us...yet
I have to say that I’ve never been particularly enthused about riding in a drill team. I’ve always loved watching drill teams ride but never thought that I would get that much out of it. So when I initially found out that my barn would be forming a drill team on Thursday evenings I didn’t sign up and was just trying to figure out how to schedule my rides around the arena being closed during my normal ride time on Thursdays.

Then I had a lesson with L and she strongly encouraged me to ride. She said that it would be a great thing for Katai and help me to break up my dressage specific rides especially without the ability to trail ride now that it gets dark so early. She said that she knew I would gain things from it too but that mostly it was just a fun time. What finally convinced me was actually the social aspect. Now that I live where I’ve been wanting to live for the past 10 or so years and have big chunks of my life figured out I’ve made it a goal to do more social things and try to make more friends. It was tough when I always sort of felt like I had one foot out the door since I planned on moving but now that I don’t, I need to make this a priority.

So I signed up to ride.

Some additional history about drill team is that most of the people at my new barn have moved with the barn manager. She used to manage a huge facility that was very close (within) the twin cities but when the owner of that facility passed away she needed to look for a new location and found this one. Because of this most of these people know each other very well and there are just a few of us that are new to this group. They’ve done drill team for the past several years and so joining this group seemed like a great way to get to know my new barn mates better.
I did my first drill team ride in October and it was amazing!! It was nice to be focused on big things and just let Katai take care of herself. The most rewarding thing for me though was that I finally have a horse that I can do things like this with! I’ve had so many years of green baby horses that to be able to ride in something like a drill team is such a fun and rewarding experience. I feel like I’ve finally got a horse to ride and not just a horse to train.

I also felt like it was very beneficial to Katai. Something that she struggles with is allowing me to regulate her speed. She wants to find a speed and settle in. Once she’s done that she can’t be bothered to speed up or slow down but in drill team that is so important! She was actually nearly climbing up the butt of the thoroughbred ahead of us a few times and when I slow her trot much more than that she wants to just walk. This helped me make my intention to her clear enough that I was able to get a more rate-able trot then I have in the past. It definitely still needs work, but it was better than it’s ever been in lessons. I also felt like it was really healthy for her to ride so close to other horses. That’s never been something that I’ve worried about or had any sort of anxiety over since we used to basically act like we were riding horsie bumper cars when I was growing up. Our horses and ponies were always well behaved in close quarters and I remember multiple trail rides where our horses were pretty much joined at the hip and we clinked stirrups for miles. Of course Katai hasn’t had the same experience because I normally ride alone or with one other person in a big ring so it was great for her.
Already planning my outfit
During our first practice, with four horses, we worked on the basics of the of the maneuvers. L is the one that is organizing/coaching our drill team and she knew that I hadn’t done it before so she broke down the movements and put me behind a more experienced rider so basically I just had to follow. I learned to watch where my "partner" was along the other side of the arena so that we met up appropriately, or missed eachother as needed, and other then one mistake where I almost went to the inside instead of the outside it went really well! Now I just need some additional practice on these and to add more maneuvers. Then during our second official practice we had six riders which was ideal! Katai and her roommate are at the end and paired up and they are so cute but sassy with each other that it makes it even more fun :-)

I’ve been looking forward to drill team this week since two Thursdays ago L was busy and unable to coach and then of course last Thursday was Thanksgiving. H is invited to spectate and so I may possibly have photo or video proof that I don't just ride in circles!

For anyone who is considering signing up for drill team I would highly recommend it!


  1. So glad you're enjoying it! You've just about convinced me to give it a try :)

  2. Replies
    1. It's pretty awesome and it's great that we're both learning new skills :-)