Friday, September 4, 2015

Ranch Versatility show

The weekend of our show was finally upon us.  Having the part time job has really cut into my riding time, but I was still managing to get in 3 rides a week, some times more, and while I knew we were far from perfect, I felt pretty decent about how it was going to go.

The plan was for me to ride Trax in all the RV classes and my little friend Rhiannon would ride Melody in the youth classes, minus the trail, and I would also ride Melody in the Ranch Reining and work a cow.  I can only have one point horse at the show so I chose Trax, and Melody was just for a judged score and critique....and the practice at working a cow on her in a big arena.  I have only done sorting and reining on her, so was excited for the chance to try holding a cow on the fence with her.  

I ended up being sick all day Friday, behind schedule all day Saturday, and a nervous wreck by Sunday.  Luckily the kid was calm and helped me relax as well.  It seemed like every time I turned around some little thing was going wrong and I was starting to think we were never going to make it there at all...but we did.

It was 106 and 85% humidity.  It had rained hard t the arena the night before, the warm up arena only had one spot that wasn't under water, the second warm up arena was completely under water, and half the parking lot was flooded.  The storm the night before had also taken out the well pump so there was not much water available for the horses either.  Luckily I carried my own, but when I got there and saw that the cows (which I had secured and was responsible for) had no water, I was livid!!!

I managed to get that handled, got our horses saddled, and we started warming up the ponies.  Melody mostly just needs to get limber and acclimated to her surroundings.  Trax isn't bothered by surroundings as much as energy in the air and it usually takes 30-45 minutes of riding to get him to a place mentally where he is ready to relax and remember that he has a rider on board.

In 10 minutes we were all dripping in sweat.

The arena was covered so we had shade and that did help some, although sometimes the air was more stifling under the cover than out in the sun.   I had originally planned on wearing a long sleeve white western shirt.  But was wearing a sleeveless western shirt while warming up.  I was so hot and ready to die, I never did switch to my show shirt.  I probably should have, and would have looked more professional, but by that time I didn't care, and the club rules state "An attempt at western wear", and I was wearing a western shirt....soooooo.

I never did feel like I was able to connect to Trax that day.  We would do our usual "Lope nice big relaxed circles" but in a few minutes he was so hot I had to stop.  I don't know how to explain this, but I don't think it is the hot and tired part that "warms" him up.  It is more like it is the number of foot falls that he makes.

Melody looked like she had just been hosed down in about five minutes and pretty much stayed that way all day.

Looking back I can admit to being more nervous than I should have been.  I knew my horses would do okay.  I know their strong points and their weaknesses.  I know my own short comings as well.

We had a lot of new contestants this time around, and lots of them were really good.  One trainer from Tucson brought several of his students up with him, and they pretty much monopolized the show,  I am not complaining in the least.  It was nice to have good riders there so that we could see what it is we are striving to become.  These riders were friendly and gracious and, as I found out later, just as nervous as I was!

I'm not going to go into detail about every class.  Lets just suffice to say that Trax and I DQ'd in almost every class.  I forgot patterns, he forgot I was there, I forgot where my hands belong, and a few times I used 2 hands.

Melody really struggled with the classes that required her to work in and out of trail obstacles.   Rhi, got her through it, but it knocked her placings down to second out of 2 every single time.  However she did excellent on the flag boxing AND got first in youth reining.

The one thing that really kind of screwed things up for me was when they rearranged the class orders which had me riding Melody in adult reining before Rhi was done with all of her classes.  That meant that I did not have time to switch saddles our and ended up doing our reining in a youth saddle.  Still we completed the pattern with no major flaws.  However, the judges did not realize that a non-point horse still gets judged, so they wrote down no notes at all, gave me no score what so ever.  So I have no idea where I did good and where I did horribly.

When it came time to work the cows, I was up first on Trax.  I have to get major props to my paint horse.  He did really really well.  Granted he doesn't make the fancy cutting moves like Melly does, but we held our cow, on the end, on the fence AND turned it in a circle.  He was working hard to keep his butt up underneath him, and I was not at all unhappy with our run.  He ended up placing 5th but from what I understand was later bumped up to 4th because one of the riders was scored on 2 horses and should not have been.

Once Trax was done I yanked his saddle and threw it up on Melly.  The sun was down by now and a storm was rolling in so it was much cooler.  I had soaked Melly down some with a wet rag and she was no longer dripping in sweat like she was before.  Her energy level was back to normal and Ifelt pretty good about the up coming run.  Keep in mind that I have only ever worked her on a cow in a sorting pen.

We called for the cow and I pushed it up along the fence.  We then turned it up the fence and pushed it down towards the other end.  The cow was kind of getting away from us so I kicked her up to a run. We caught up with the cow and he looked like he was ready to stop and turn back so I checked her down some.  Just that instant the dirty cow saw that tiny sliver of day light in front of Melody and took off again.  Well so did my horse.  She was NOT going to let that cow get away so she bolted after him, and I was ready for it.  I had both hands up towards her ears urging her forward past the cow. When she got just past his head she did her job and cut back to the left to push him back from where he came.

That is where she lost me.

She cut left, and I was not in my seat where I should have been and I went right off the other side.

I landed on my hip and my shoulder, and I clearly recall cussing as I went down the other side.  I also clearly recall thinking "Please God, don't let my foot get caught in the stirrup."  and looking at my foot to make sure it didn't.

I don't know how long I was on the ground.  Not too long, I was told, but I got up and the next thing I knew my horse was there next to me, dancing nervously, and I got right back on.

The announcer said I still had time left and before I even had time to think about it, Melody was turning and heading after the cow again.

Its is a shame that no one got any of it on video,

I was told it was a graceful fall and that once I went off Melody continued to work the cow.  She held it on the fence for about 5-10 seconds while I got up off the ground. The minute she saw me up, she ran over to me, danced in place next to me, as if to say "Hurry up, he's getting away". and then we still had a full minute to work our cow, which we did.  I can't tell you for sure what we did, but we held the cow where we could and pushed it where we could until our time was up.

I knew that fall was coming some day. I have been told more than once that if I didn't learn to sit back I was going to go over, and that is what happened.  However, my horse came right to me, and I could not have been happier with her.  She did her job and did it well.

Thinking back over the earlier portion of the show, I wanted to blame Trax for all the issues we had in the arena, but after looking at the pictures I know that I was just as much at fault as he was.  I was trying to ride one handed as much as possible and for some reason I cannot seem to remember to lower my one hand.

So here are a few of the photos a friend of mine took.  I am sharing the good and the bad here, where as I did not share the bad ones on facebook, just because I don't trust most people not to be downright cruel about some of my riding abilities.  I can take criticism, in fact I welcome it, but not in the form of rudeness.

I had told my trainer type person, that perhaps Trax really isn't cut out for this, but I think I shall retract that statement.  He has not been to a public event in a very long time, and he is not the same horse he was in  WY.  He handled most of this pretty darn well, all things considered.  If we get through a year of shows and he still is able to relax any, then I will re-assess where we are going as a team.  But for now we will just keep plugging along.

One of my boarders went to watch me, and told me that she thought that Trax was the ranchiest horse out there.  I asked her to elaborate, and she told me that my ability to work through things with him, rather than having a horse who never batted an eye at anything was more reminiscent of her ranching days than any thing else she saw.  Of course she may have been a tad biased!

I did get a lot of compliments on both of my horses.  Many people commented on how nicely built they both are.  That always makes an old gal feel better!


  1. Its so hard when going to a show to remember everything. I think being that hot you did darn good, I woulda just melted. And I've seen lots of people fall off when their horse goes that fast to turned around, and not just ametuers either, so no need to feel bad about that, at least you didn't get hurt and she come back to you, that's something special. Not perfect but gives you something to work on for next time.

  2. ah, you went , you gave it a go, and I imagine nerves being that frayed did not help you "get sat" sorry you had a fall, but yes video of the fancy Appy working the calf on her own and with you would have been very cool!

  3. Nice to see your posting on your blog again - missed reading about your horsey adventures! Despite your fall and glad you weren't hurt, looks like you both had a great day!