Beth Clemons of Beth Clemons Performance Horses gives insight on how to plus your gate in a trail class.
Clemons has been riding horses since she was seven years old, riding hunter/jumpers before falling in love with the versatility of the Quarter Horse showing world. While in college, Beth began to work for several horse trainers over the coming years before establishing Beth Clemons Performance Horses in 2013.
Clemons says that you should start with your hand even with the gaate rope. She talks about the second step, “Your back is going to depend a little bit on your horse, I can't give a specific number of steps, but I feel as though the horses nose should be about half way down the pole when you stop backing.” Clemons emphasis on the importance of knowing what your horse's stride is in order to execute these maneuvers to the best of your ability.
Clemons continues her explanation, “That should give your horse enough room to move forward before turning to walk over the pole and give them enough space to think about walking over the pole without leaving the gate wide open.” She then talked about how trail originated from working on the ranch, the gate a mimic of trying not to let the cows out.
“When you're thinking about walking forward over the pole, you’re going to look about three quarters of the way up the pole. You wanna make sure that the inside front foot is the first one to go over the pole, it just makes the arc to be more fluid...so working where knowing where your horse’s feet are is also very important.” She proceeds to express the importance of not letting your horse suck back or run forward, to try and keep a good consistent pace.
The fifth step of this obstacle is entering the gate and getting over that pole. “Once my riders get about two steps from the pole I always tell them to look to the spot where they want their horses front feet to end up so you're gonna look around to the other side of the gate to where you want to end up.” She also expresses the need to ride confidently over the pole, “It's important to keep your horse moving forward and think about their hind feet not just their front feet. You want to keep the horse moving over the pole until their hind feet have cleared and then you can move their shoulder in position by moving your outside leg to straighten them up to the gate.”
Next, Clemons talks about the importance of vocal commands, specifically of the ‘woah’. She says that, “...the woah is important here you don't want them to keep going forward so woahing with their hip about the center of the gate pole is another good option so it makes it symmetrical from the nose on the other side, half way down the pole and their tail about halfway down the pole on this side. It makes a nice symmetrical arc around that pole.” Clemons finishes her tip with the final step in the gate, “Then when you go to back up you want to end up similar to how you started. Hand is directly across from where you're going to hang up the gate and that's what makes a good gate you can plus.”
Trail can be an intense class to participate in with so many obstacles to perform in one pattern. By following these tips it should help most riders to really plus that gate maneuver. Who better to give that tip then six year horse trainer Beth Clemons, thank you for this amazing tip.