Thursday, December 8, 2011

Blessi and the Extreme Trail Challenge

This is one of the videos submitted to the NW Horse Expo that helped us get early acceptance to the All Breed Competition.  This fall, my dressage instructor Dannelle Haugen rode Blessi in the 2011 Kitsap Saddle Club Extreme Trail Challenge in Port Orchard, WA. Dannelle is an accomplished dressage trainer who teaches Intro to fourth level dressage.  Dannelle also holds several titles within the Arabian Sport Horse circuit including:  Top Ten at 2nd Level, 3rd Level, 4th Level dressage.   This was both Blessi and Dannelle's first attempt at an Extreme Trail Challenge.  They took the Grand Championship with 191 points out 200.  They scored 10 out of 10 for 17 of the 20 obstacles.  They were the only competitors riding in English tack and Blessi was the only gaited horse.

Dannelle rode Blessi brilliantly.  But what is so surprising about this performance is the number of obstacles that Blessi had never encountered or encountered only once:
  • rocking bridge--I led Blessi over a rocking bridge a few times two years ago
  • jumping--Dannelle took him over a few jumps once last summer and I free jumped him with a longe line once
  • carrying tarp over head--never
  • dragging a barrel--never
  • straddling a pole--never 
  • cantering in figure 8 with lead changes--never
And Blessi and I don't spend a lot of time practicing side passing or opening gates or doing 360 turns in boxes--these are not traditional dressage movements.

Based on Blessi's reactions to things in the arena and on the trail, I believe that Blessi was ridden a lot on the trail in Icelandic before he was exported to the US.  And if you have ever seen the "horse treks" in Iceland, this must have seemed like a walk in the park for Blessi.

So to Blessi extreme trail is just dressage with scary things--which is much more interesting than dressage.

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