Sunday, September 25, 2011

One More Time Around [A Slightly Different] Block

Last weekend, Kate and I joined five other KVTRiders (and one sister) horse-and-rider teams, and a pit-crew of two, for a trek north to Wenatchee, Washington, for the "Dry Gulch Trail Challenge."  A locally produced event of the huge Appleatchee Riders group, this was their third time to hold a competition on a very well built trail course outside of their main barn/arena grounds. (Last spring's challenge was cancelled due to the EHV-1 virus: there was actually one horse from the Appleatchee barns who attended the Ogden Utah cutting show where the virus was traced to.)
Here's a [long] pictorial look at Kate's go on each of the obstacles in the "Greenhorn" division.
The course walk.
 First obstacle:  Water-filled ditch.
Kate took a long hard look at the water hazard--there was several inches of sticky mud at the bottom of a trench.  She got close, and gave it a few half-hearted tries, but we moved on before she could get too flustered.
We did do it later, first in hand, during a break between horses.  Then, after the competition was complete, I rode her through from both directions.  After the first tentative try, she did really well.  Guess we'll have to flood our "fake" pond at home and practice some more.
Second obstacle: Walk in-and-out through the barrels.
"Are they alive?!?" The wind was rustling the fleece "hides" slightly, then Kate's snort, even more so!
"Okay.  I can handle these cows."
Third obstacle:  Bridge.
I figured she would either do this short, wide bridge...or not.  She strode right over without a moment's hesitation.  (She also practiced the long skinny bridge later in the day, with little problem--other than "falling" off the side on the first go.)
Third obstacle: the "Blow-down."
I need to look up!
Kate made it look easy, in spite of me.
Fourth obstacle:  the "Trail ride."
First we went up the hill at a walk, then trotted a circle around a jump at the top...
...then we came back down.
Fifth obstacle: Trot logs.
I was a little worried about this, as Kate would usually prefer to "mosey," especially over logs.  But I think the excitement of the day had raised her adrenaline levels: she trotted right through, and seemed to enjoy the jaunt!
 Sixth obstacle:  Side pass.
Kate prefers to side pass to the left.  After offering that, and giving me a petulant little stomp when I said "no, thank, go right," she complied and did a very nice job.
I'm seriously exaggerating my left seat-bone cue!  But Kate crossed over with her feet very nicely.
Seventh obstacle: the Gate.
...ever! ('nuf said)
Eighth obstacle: Turn-a-round box.
Kate still doesn't quite keep track of her back feet.  And the one log at the back had been knocked out of position by the previous contestant, so that further confused things.
Gives a whole new meaning to the term "rubber-necking."  I have been told not to do this challenge too slowly--just get in the box and twirl around.  Kate wasn't twirling, however!  We need to work on her yielding her hindquarters to my leg.
Ninth obstacle:  The mailbox.
Kate approached it nicely.  Thankfully, they put their mailbox at horse-height.
Then she listened while I read the "mail" out loud: "Sanity is over rated--I bought myself another horse!"
Across the finish line.
The "Greenhorns" division was timed, but only for the sake of breaking ties.  I let Kate trot out from the mailbox.
I was again extremely pleased with Kate's efforts and attitude!
Besides the non-completion "zero" for the water, she got a "3" for taking a while to make up her mind to go between the "hide"-covered barrels, and a "4" for her back-end sloppiness in the turn-a-round.  Otherwise she got all "5's"!
All in all, our E-burg contingent did pretty well: 4th and 5th (Kate) in the "Greenhorn" division; 3rd, 4th, and 6th in the "Dude" (intermediate) division; and FIRST in the "Wrangler" division went to my friend Barb, and her usually mellow, quiet trooper, Fannie Mae, who had a whoopin', hollerin' time cruising around the advanced course!

 Kate and I had completed our second mountain trail event, in not too shabby fashion.  We still have a few things to work on, but it's obvious what they are (water/mud, yielding her hindquarters).
Next up: an ACTHA ride next weekend, right up the road in Cle Elum, at the Washington State Horse Park.


  1. I love looking at Kate's expresssion in the photos - you just know there's a whole lot going on inside that pretty head, and it isn't too hard to imagine what she's thinking!

  2. wow that looks like a fun outing!

  3. you guys look great. what a beautiful mare she is!

  4. Looks good. I tend to look down a lot too, I have to constantly tell myself to look ahead. Now you know what to work on and its not to much.

  5. As I said a couple of posts ago, Jean, Kate's become a thinkin' machine!
    Sally--It WAS fun! Way better than running around in circles in an arena.
    Thanks, Lytha. Come do our brand of "competitive trail" next time you're in the PNW!
    Anonymous-- I left that out: Kate needs to work on water and yielding; EvenSong needs to work on looking ahead instead of down, and keeping her legs underneath her and keeping the weight in my heels.
    Thanks, all, for reading and commenting!

  6. This looks like a BLAST!! It's kind of like eventing except you don't have to jump over all the obstacles. :)

  7. Go, Kate!

    My ride manager friend Gail attended this event, I think, so that she could take notes...she's thinking of running a similar event in the Yakima area next year. Maybe I'll give it a try and I'll see you there!

  8. Albigears--there is a similarity, only this has a much SLOWER pace! If one wanted to jump there were a few X-country fences scattered around (and we parked the trailers in their dressage arena).
    Aarene--Have Gail contact me if she wants some help! Is she related to Ryan?

  9. I think you and Kate did great. Congratulations! Looks like a lot of fun.