I'm finally home from the 2 day show and boy what an event it turned out to be. I was going to let Trax tell the story, but he opted for grazing instead, It's ok though, he earned.
Friday I got home from work, got him washed, and dried off and the last of my stuff in the motor home. I was supposed to be meeting RC there, with another gal and we would all stay in the motor home the whole weekend. RC is the driving force behind the Central Wyoming Performance Horse club. She busts her butt to put these events on, and for the most part doesn't even get to ride in them much. So I want to say thank you to her for all her hard work. She has a helper named Sky who also works very very hard, and she deserves many kudos as well.
The first night we had motor home issues before we even got on the road, weather issues in the form of hail, tornado's and torrential rain. The next morning was flooded arenas and a late start due to not being able to set up jumps right away. However, we all pitched in and got the jumps up, and got things moving in the warm up arena, so it was ok. I helped out where I could, but felt pretty useless most of the time.
Finally, it was time for me to start warming up my horse. He looked great, was nice and clean (for the most part) and seemed pretty calm and relaxed. So I saddled him and took him to the arena that was still wet, and started lunging him. He was smooth and easy at the walk and the trot, then I asked him to lope and he literally blew up! He bucked and ran and jumped, and pulled the rope out of my hands and bucked from one end of the arena to the other. Everyone ran over to make sure I was ok, and then a few people helped me get him caught. But not before he led us on a pretty good chase. He was literally having the time of his life!! Once he was done with his shenanigans we went back to work.
I want to insert a very important point here. Trax had either been in a trailer or in a small stall since 6pm the night before, and it was after 10 am already. He obviously needed to let off some steam and as far as I am concerned he absolutely chose the appropriate time to do so. I had several suggestions to work him till he was lathered, but I truly was not upset with him at all, and didn't really want to punish him. I mean, it took a few of us to catch him, but only because he wasn't "done" yet. The minute he was done, he stood quietly and waited for someone to walk to him. He told me exactly how he was feeling and what he needed, and I was okay with him having that.
From then on, he was pretty much a dream. I did lunge him longer than usual, but not to the point of being lathered, just until he was soft. That is when I knew it was okay to get on him. We warmed up just like any other day, and it did not take long till he was feeling pretty darn good, to me.
About that time RC asked me to help set up the trail class, and then go get some lunch for the judges. I was kind of bummed because I felt like we had some good momentum going, but I also knew that she really needed help so I set aside what I thought I needed to give her a hand. As it turned out it was all good. By time I got back with the food another storm was on the horizon. I went ahead and grabbed my horse, feeling a little bit rushed, but pushed it aside. Helping set up the trail course gave me a real good understanding of how it went, so practicing wasn't a big issue.
There had been a barrel racing event going on in the biggest arena, but they all left when the storm was coming, so from then on I was able to go over there to warm up. That right there made all the difference in the world for us. I could focus on just him and I, no one else was going over there, and it was perfect.
First we did the Adult Trail, and DQ'd but I honestly can't recall what we did wrong. I just know that we did. Then I waited just a little for some others to go and went back and did the Open. Trail was an "at will" class so we got to chose when we did it. He did the rope gate perfect, he did the back through an L perfect. He struggled with the sidepass over the L, but got it done, the bridge was a walk in the park, turn in the box was good, trot over poles was fair. I was very very happy with our run, but was pretty sure the side pass over the L blew it for us. Most of all he didn't run off, he didn't break course, and he did a correct lead departure. Good Boy!
Then I grabbed my pattern for Ranch pleasure. I was very happy to see that it was one of the ones we had done several time, and it was a relatively easy one. The main thing I like about already knowing the pattern is that if I can remember it, and run him through it a few times, He knows what is coming and tries hard to do it right. So we practiced back over in the main arena again. We worked and worked and worked. Sometimes on the pattern, sometimes just on downward transitions or serpentine's. It rained on us, and we stopped for a minute, but as soon as it blew past we were back out there again. I did the pattern from each different corner of the arena so he would focus on the pattern and not so much the land marks (if that makes sense). The main thing was staying calm, lots of big exhales when I needed him to rate, and a lot of repetition. At first I thought we were going to have to go ahead and DQ and do it 2 handed, but by time the class was ready to start, I knew that we could do the whole thing with one had.
When it was my turn we rode quietly into the arena. There was no pulling at the reins, or charging through the gate.
The Judge said to me, "Wow, you are really going to ride that horse?" (referring to the bucking incident)
I laughed and said, "Of course"
I set us up in the starting place and took a deep breath and a big exhale. I felt him do the same, and started him forward. Now I'm not going to sit here and tell you that it was perfect, because it wasn't, we struggled a little with the lead change, which we always do, and of course his stops weren't perfect...BUT he stopped. He stopped on his own without a fight. There was one time when I had to check him with my other hand because he dove into a turn, but we did not break the pattern. We had a clean run. We rode out, I jumped off and loosened the cinch right then and there. I gave him a big hug, took him for a drink, and then a nice roll in and empty cow pen that wasn't too nasty.
About 30 minutes later they started announcing the winners of my classes. We got 2nd out of 13 in the Open Trail, and 3rd out of 6 in the Ranch Pleasure! Unfortunately I don't have ribbons to show for it. I guess they ran out before the end of the day. But it is ok, because I know that we did good. I was/am so happy with my boy right now. He could not have impressed me any more if he had one the Triple Crown. He worked hard, and tried so hard to do good. I don't have any video or pictures of the first day either, but I do have some of day 2.
Day 2 was the Ranch Horse Show. TC came down and sort of worked my camera. His skills are actually even worse than Simon's! But, for now I am beat and so day 2 will have to wait till tomorrow.