By Finley Habenicht
Grand Times Eventing

I have always had a mental block about going over ditches.  My mom tells me that I am the one stopping at the ditch, not Aleta.  And she's right.  Since I plan to move up to beginner novice this year – this is a problem that needed to be solved!  When I ride up to ditches, I sort of stop riding, assuming Aleta is just going to go over it – which she does not.  She feels me stop riding and slows down and eventually we end up looking peacefully into the ditch.  We recently went to Kingfisher Park to XC school and my only goal was to practice getting over ditches – not Aleta getting over them, but me!  I really wanted to practice just riding a ditch like it was just another jump on course.  We warmed up and felt great, popped over a few jumps, then it was ditch time.  I told myself “Finley, just get over the ditch!”

We picked up a nice canter, cleared the first jump and turned to the ditch.  I pushed Aleta a bit forward - pretty much to make sure she knew I was ready this time - tapped each of us with the crop, kept my eyes locked forward, not down.  I wanted her to know I wasn’t going to stop so neither should she!  The, without any hesitation, Aleta was up and over the ditch without a thought.  I was so proud and excited afterwards that I yelled and cheered a little bit loudly but it was so great to conquer ditches!

We ended our day jumping our first keyhole which was so awesome.  The whole day was great and as with every ride with Aleta helped to show me how great things are when everything “clicks” into place.  As long as I show Aleta that I am there for her, she will always be there for me.

keyholeAleta and Finley - Kingfisher Park, Mooresville, NC

We’ve been working a lot on dressage lately too and recently rode with Ashley Parsons of Tryon, NC.  She was very helpful and explained things similar, but a little different, from Brett, which was good to hear.  I like it when I ride with trainers that say the same things to me but sometimes in a different way, it helps me to understand better what they are looking for in my riding.

With all of our prep, I feel like we are ready for our first beginner novice in a few weeks!