Rope gates aren't really that hard, but you have to have a strategy. Trisha's show caters to novice and intermediate level English riders, most of whom have never schooled for a trail class. I think in the past five years, only two riders have managed to successfully negotiate the gate. I tried my best to explain how the gate should be ridden, but I could tell that my words were only confusing Cara. Luckily, I'm not limited to words. Just the week before, I'd watched several classes worth of real trail horses competing at the Aurora Horsemen's Association monthly show. I took lots of pictures and hopefully these will go a long way towards clearing up the confusion.
One note to anyone who might want to use these pictures for live show reference--these photos show a nice local level horse successfully negotiating a rope gate. Horses competing at the national level would be expected to complete this obstacle with an added degree of finesse and polish. Still, this should give you a feel for how the obstacle should be ridden.
First the horse rides up alongside the gate so her body is parallel to the obstacle.
When her shoulder is even with the standard, the rider asks her to halt. The rider then opens the gate by lifting the loop off the standard.
The horse takes a few steps back...Ta da! That's how it's done! Pictures are definitely worth a thousand words when it comes to explaining a complicated maneuver like this. Hopefully Cara will agree with me, and she and Arwen will do themselves proud next week at the show.
and then turns to walk through the gate.
The rider must be very deliberate through this part of the obstacle so as not to lose control of the horse's body position.
She wants to end up so that the horse is once again parallel to obstacle.