Today I finally got to practice with a garrocha for the first time with Dylan. The other day, Future Hubs and I were at Home Depot getting some random assorted house related things, and I found a wooden 8' pole covered in vinyl. I had been thinking I'd have to settle for a PVC pipe but this is so much better! It's shorter than a regular garrocha would be - I think those are usually about 10-11' - but it's a good practice tool for me at home. And seeing as I'd never used one before, I figured it would be good to start easier anyway!
It was easier than I expected. Dylan looked at it for a second when I first picked it up, then shrugged and went on without caring. I think K had said that they did a bit with a garrocha before, but I don't think very much - possibly for IALHA Nationals the year they did WE. I'll have to ask her and see!
My biggest challenge was getting the hang of riding with only one hand. Putting four reins into one hand is not easy at all, especially considering the fact that a) I'm not good at one handed riding anyway, and b) Dylan isn't broke to neck rein really. He will be within pretty short order, but for the time being his steering is quite good with only one hand, once we both got the hang of it. For Intermediate and below, you can use two hands in WE. You just need a free hand to do various things like carry the garrocha, ring a bell, lift a water jug, etc. Above Intermediate, it's all one handed riding!
If you're not familiar with doma vaquera, there are tons of YouTube videos of it. It's really beautiful stuff. (We do not look quite that awesome.)
One of the great things - maybe the greatest thing, to me - about working equitation is the fact that you do all of these things through dressage. You're not just going roundy-round the sandbox getting bored to tears. Especially for a dynamic, quick-thinking stallion, this is really ideal - he has to focus on these tasks and use his mind. It's great for me too for the same reason - I don't sit there and get all nitpicky and hard on myself about why I'm not a good enough rider or why I can't force my body to do whatever it is that it won't do. I just focus on the task at hand, and suddenly I find I am sitting better, directing him better, being better for him. And when I am better for him... he is better for me.