Friday, April 29, 2011

How not to ride a rope gate

Rope gates really are deceptively difficult.  They look simple, but riders who attempt to tackle them without a clear plan often come to grief.  Today's photo series show how quickly one short length of rope can completely undo two good riders on two nice horses.  Fortunately, this story does have a happy ending!

This cute faced bay gelding looked a bit spooky as he approached the rope gate which was part of the Handy Hunter course at the Arapahoe Hunt Club's 2011 Point to Point.
Still, he settled down nicely as his rider opened the gate...
and stood quietly while his teammate passed through. 
The first hint of trouble came when his rider tried to close the gate.   
The cute bay backed into his teammate.  Both horses shot forward and the lead rider dropped the rope.  Undeterred, she circled and rode back to the gate.  
Unfortunately, by this time her horse had decided that rope was a scary monster...
and he was transmitting those beliefs to his teammmate! 
After a brief attempt at the teammate closing the gate... 
the riders decided discretion was the better part of valor.  The team leader dismounted... 
and handed the reins over to her partner. 
She closed the gate easily...
but didn't do it fast enough!   
You know where this is going, right? 
 Yup--that's a freaked out horse with his leg through the reins.
Meanwhile, the team's other half was also experiencing technical difficulties.  
Things were looking pretty bad, but here's the thing about good riders and well trained, sensible horses--they have a way of working through their problems.  
It didn't take long for the teammate to get her horse under control...
and that cute bay was just as quick to realize that he'd rather eat than run.
Moments after what had looked like certain disaster... 
 both riders were back in the saddle...
and heading confidently towards the next obstacle.
So, take note everybody, that's how not to ride a rope gate!


  1. Great pictures! You captured everything so perfectly. And that last picture of the two cantering in that beautiful countryside is just lovely.

  2. Thank you! The full sequence contains more than fifty photos. It was a challenge to cut that number in half and still tell the story!

  3. Eeep! That rear looked almost physically impossible the way his hind legs were positioned!
    Good to see them all canter off at the end though. :D

  4. Obviously, they hadn't practiced with the evil rope monster! :)

  5. O noes!!! Great set of photos though.

  6. I did the leg through the reins bit on a spunky shetland. Wow did he ever take ME for a ride. In the end I did fall off him and break my tailbone tip. Couldn't finish riding camp :(

  7. I did the leg through the reins yesterday..... While standing in the paddock. We'd jut got back from a trail and the horse was fighting off flies. So I let the reins loose to let him shake his head. When he lifted his frontleg to scratch off a fly he caught his leg in the reins. Realizing he was caught he made two mighty steps back before I could calm him and release the reins. Pfew, scary moment there.