I don't have time for a real post, but here's a little something for a number of my readers that are contemplating ride and tie.
My partner Michele (and her gloriously fun horse Stashi) and I went out for a practice on Saturday.
There were several things that worked really well at this practice.
Lesson 1: Have a way to mark trail.
See those ribbons on clothespins on my waist pack?
It can be hard to have a productive practice if you and your partner aren't familiar with the trails and (more importantly) be able to accurately verbalize the plan of which trails we are going to do.
A lot of previous practices were spent with the person in front waiting at intersections for the person in back to catch up, so that a consensus could be reached on which direction we were going. It absolutely won't do to have members of the team take one turn off, and the other half of the team take another turn off!
I carried some ribbons on me, Michele had some on her, and Stashi carried a few on his breast collar. I knew what trails I wanted to do, but as extra insurance, every time I came to a turn off I would hang a ribbon a shoulder or higher height so that Michele would know which way I had gone. Sometimes on a long stretch of trail I would hang a "confidence ribbon" just to reassure Michele that she was on the right trail and I *was* up ahead of her.
When Michele encountered a ribbon, she would pluck it off the branch. I would refill my waist band from Stashi's breast collar when I ran low.
As it worked out, I got to do most of the ribbon marking since I was in front everytime there was a choice to be made (or I was close enough behind her to call out which direction to go, and then followed). However, this system would work even if both partners needed to hang ribbons.
Lesson #2: Warn other riders
As a casual trail rider, it's not every weekend that you share a trail with a ride and tie partnership practice. When we pulled into the trail head I noticed a LOT of western type casual trail riders and not very many endurance types. I had already picked a trail route that would keep us off the technical single track so I wasn't worry about a tied horse blocking trail, but I made a note to watch out for green horses and riders as I ran down hills or galloped up them. There was also someone in uniform that was volunteer trail patrol. I tracked down the volunteer before we left and explained that if she say a grey arab tied to a tree that EVERYTHING WAS OK. LOL - I didn't want to get to my tied horse only to find they weren't there! I also explained our ribbon marking system. Because the back person would be picking up the ribbons as they passed, there would only be one or 2 at a time in a quarter mile distance, but in case the patrol came across the ribbons, I wanted them to know they were being removed and picked up and what was going on.
Lesson #3: Sometimes you don't practice how you compete
During an actual event, Michele and I do alternating "ties" and "hand offs". ie - Michele ties Stashi to a tree. I untie, mount Stashi and ride until I catch up to Michele. I then hand Stashi off to Michele on trail without tying. She rides up ahead, ties, and runs off. Tying and untying takes time and Michele and I are faster and more efficient with this combo tie-handoff method.
However, this method wasn't working well in practice - neither one of us rides Stashi as aggressively during practice, and especially if there's a lot of down hill it's hard for Michele to get far enough in front of me on Stashi to keep me from catching up on foot as she's tying.
At this practice we tried doing 2 tyes instead - Michelle got ahead of me and tied as usual, but then when I rode up to her, instead of handing off, I rode past her and tied. This seemed to to do a MUCH better job of working the riders/runners equally during practice, and since tying is the hardest/most technical part of RnT, both of us got the practice. It didn't matter if I caught up to Michele as she was tying Stashi since I was going to ride out in front of her a quarter mile before tying instead of handing off.
For events I suspect we will keep our Combo tye-handoff method, but modifying it to ties only for practice made practice go so much more smoothly.
Hope some of these tips help you and your partner when you go off and do your first practice!!!!!
Off to study and do some packing (we got the house and I'll be moving in mid-September).
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