Monday, May 21, 2012

A Somewhat Casual Competition!

After spending two weeks recuperating from her hives episode, I had plans to work Kate regularly over the last week, to have her ready for the spring Trail Challenge at the Appleatchee Riders facility in Wenatchee.  But the best laid plans...
Wind, rain, and other pressing projects (farm related, that need to get done at the right time) all conspired to keep me off her back.  I know Kate was disappointed.  By the time I finished the new brace posts and rehanging the main arena-to-barn gate, there was barely enough time to give her a bath.  And once I had her in the wash area, I realized her feet were in dire need of a trim before we went anywhere!  So, following these two tasks, as the darkness gathered (mind you, this is nearing 9:00 PM), I put her up for the night and loaded the trailer.
Next morning, we met friend Debby and her little mustang mare, Wendy, and headed out.  Arrived right at 9:00, when the office opened, and got the girls settled in, signed up, and started getting ready.  Deb hollered that they were doing the beginners' course walk, and though I was pretty sure I had the route down, I walked along to hear any questions.  Then went back and was putting my boots on when I realized they had started the class!  Then Deb let me know that I was "in the hole"!!  Quick put Kate's bridle on, and started a very cursory warm-up, especially considering I hadn't been on her in two weeks.  Then it was our turn.

We're off!
The maze:  3 (out of possible score of 5). 
There was a little bit of rubber-necking, but she got through without touching a single pole.
I think the judge deducted points here for not trotting to the next obstacle (though that was listed as part of the following effort).  There was only about 50 feet to generate a trot, and I DID get about a step and a half right before slowing down to walk the logs...
The walk logs: 4.   We then trotted fairly briskly (for Kate, mind you) to the next effort.
The bridge: 4 .  Kate walked right over, so I'm not sure what the judge counted her down for.
The turn-around box: 3.  These three photos make it look better than it actually was.
Kate had trouble with this one last year too, and actually started off pretty well this time, then got a little flustered, bumped the log, but then finished okay.
Maybe if we actually practice...
The blow-down: 5.
I picked the toughest route through I could find, for extra points...
...and Kate never took a misstep.
The car wash: 5,  Like it wasn't even there.
The mailbox: 5.  Kate actually got me too close, with barely enough room to open the door.  But the judge couldn't see it from the angle she was observing.  Otherwise, Kate stood like a rock.
The gate: 4.
The only reason I can figure we were marked down was that everyone else pushed the gate away from themselves, so maybe we did it backwards.
Kate did it very nicely, however, sidepassing over to the gate both for opening and closing.
The "trail ride": 3.  I'm not sure if Kate was confused by a bunch of cross-country jumps that were nearby, or reluctant to leave the rest of the horses, but she wandered a bit, heading up the hill.
Once she had these trot-overs to focus on, she straightened out...
...and trotted the rest of the way up the hill.
Then she had a little fuss about getting me up close enough to the vertical pole to ring the bell that was there.
Then back down the hill...
...with a quick snack on the way.  Poor starved darling!
Around the tires at a trot (not an obstacle, but we later went and clambered over them a time or two).
Final obstacle, ground tie and pick up feet: 5.  I've never really ground tied her, but I knew I wasn't going anywhere, so I took a chance. 
Being Kate, and obviously neglected and withering away from lack of proper nutrition, she dropped her head to eat, and puddled the reins in front of her--When I dropped her foot, it landed smack dab on the reins, but she was busy feeding her face, and didn't even notice before I quickly snatched her foot back and picked up the reins.

One thing new that she wasn't scored on, but I was very pleased with--It was spitting rain and I took out the yellow nylon poncho Pat had given me over a year ago (for slicker training that has never been done--no time like the present, right?).  I let Kate watch me unfold it, shook it at her once, and then draped it across my saddle.  NO biggy!  After all, there was food to be focused on!

Judging left a little to be desired--the judge (there was supposed to be two, like last year, but something came up), was on horseback, and was often visiting with spectators during competitors' runs.  After the first few go's, she didn't even bother riding over to the obstacles to observe--she just watched from 100-200 yards away (further for the "trial ride").  The most outstanding ride of the day was a flawless performance in the advanced class by a young gal whose horse was perfect on the obstacles, relaxed and steady, and happy...but she lost to another rider with the same score whose performance was rushed and whose horse appeared aggravated the whole time.  But the tie was broken on total time.  I thought that was too bad.  The better horsemanship certainly should have been rewarded.

All in all, I was very pleased with Kate's performance!  She placed 5th, but with so little work this spring I considered the trip to be primarily for schooling anyway. Now to get some actual practice sessions in, before we go to Walla Walla on June 10th for the "Cowboy Mountain Trail Challenge"!


  1. Congratulations to you, to Kate and to your photographer! What a beautiful photo-journal of a great day!

  2. I so want to start doing this!!!!Looks like a lot of fun!

  3. Kate is a really lovely horse. Loved the play by play in pictures, great post!