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Riding Xtreme
By Kelli Paulson, Mid States Ranch Horses, LLC
Extreme Trail Horse events, the newest horse sport, are popping up across the country, even in Eastern Nebraska, near Tekamah. Rules, courses and judging may vary but the goal should be similar: to test a horse’s willingness and confidence and measure teamwork between horse and rider.

A well-designed course will test a horse’s willingness to try and their confidence in themselves and their rider. It takes confidence, trust, communication, accuracy, and forward movement to complete a course with finesse.

Prepare your horse for Riding Xtreme with building blocks.

Start with foundation horsemanship. Basic maneuvers such as pivoting on the forehand and hindquarters, sidepassing, stopping and backing are essential. Lateral movements, lead changes and spins add to finesse. Learn to connect the reins to the feet and keep the horse between your legs. Foundation horsemanship skills are essential to having a relationship of respect, communication, safety and enjoyment with your horse.

Build Confidence and Trust. Confidence is a relationship of trust and reliance. Start small and build on a solid foundation. Take the time to get it right. Horses gain confidence when they know they can do right. They know they have done right when you release pressure. Timing is important. Reward the try by releasing pressure when they think about trying. This works for trailer loading, crossing a tarp or learning a new maneuver.

Establish Willingness and Try. Try means to make an attempt. Reward the try and the horse becomes willing. Use an appropriate amount of pressure ( a little as possible) to encourage the try then use release of pressure with timing to tell your horse he did the right thing. Learn to get it done without bothering the horse. Try + Reward = Willingness

Prepare for success. Set up situations that allow success. Give your horse a job they can do well. Start simple and build on it. First, cross the plank on the ground, then the bridge, then the tetter-totter. Build confidence as you go. Part of being a good and confident horseman is knowing when to push through a problem and when to go back to the fundamentals.

Riding Extreme: Start with a solid foundation. Build confidence and trust. Establish willingness and try. After you and your horse can do it well, add speed. Soon you will have a horse that will do anything for you!

Ride Extreme in 2009! Kelli Paulson is hosting a Trail Rider Challenge Saddle Series in 2009.. Beginners welcome. Ridin Xtreme clinics will be offered