Monday, April 13, 2009

A Single Blue Ribbon

I had butterflies in my stomach the moment I said yes to a friends invitation to a playday being put on by the Tahoma Chapter of the Backcountry Horsemen. Not only was it going to be Mercy and my first time doing any kind of competing that wasn't performance, I was also going to pick up my friend, Chrissy's horse, Luna. I have never loaded Mercy and then picked up a strange horse too. My Saturday morning my nerves were about all I could handle.
It was trying to drizzle, but for the most part it was just cloudy. We were going to be late because I had a hair appointment, oh well. My parents helped me out by hooking up the truck and trailer while I was gone. When I was out of the salon, I called up Chrissy so she could get her horse ready and ride down to the road I was going to pick her and Luna up from. Then I went to grab Mercy.

Oh boy... we had 'appy-tude' from the get go. She didn't want to stand still for grooming, didn't want to leave the front pasture, and walking up to the trailer she had that mischievous twinkle in her eyes. Well, sure enough she didn't want to load. It has been about a year since I have trailered her out alone, but really? I didn't expect that at all. I had my mom stop watching so Mercy didn't feel so pressured or threatened by a bystander. Sigh...

After a few 'kinda' tries I demanded she get in. She did, but didn't stay. After a few circles and half-hearted rears and freak outs, I got her in again. This time she moved all the way to the front like she usually does and I started to close the divider. She hit it, but moved forward off of the pressure. I probably should have lead her out and in a few times more, but we were really running late at that point and it's not like she hasn't done this before. Get over it! :)

Star was exercising herself in her paddock and screaming up a storm as we drove away. We finally reached Landsburg and I pulled over on the large gravel shoulder to load up Luna. More fun... she didn't want to load either. Mercy got a little nervous while Chrissy and her mom worked on getting Luna in, but once she was, both horses acted like they knew each other forever. Not a peep or kick the whole way out to the Double B. Nice.

We quickly unloaded the horses, saddled up, registered, and entered the arena where maybe another 20 horses (and a mule) were halfway through one of the events, keyhole. We made our way to the end of the arena where we got up and were promptly moved to the actual end of the line. I really wasn't to sure about doing this event since I had not warmed up myself or Mercy, and it had been a challenging morning already. I wasn't sure what to think until it was too late and my name was called. Mercy was feeling good, a little too good, and was dancing around a bit, but we just walked circles until I got a nice walk, then we headed down the run. I asked her for a trot before she headed into it herself. We went through the four upright poles with no hesitation, performed a kinda good spin to the left, and headed back down the arena toward the finish line. Took another circle or two to get her to a walk once we finished, but man! What a great first run!

Didn't win in that event, but that's OK. Most of the other BCH members were going all out, or were letting their finished gaming horses go all out! The next event was barrels. While they were setting up the course a baby pigeon fell from the rafters. He was moved out of the way into the corner behind where Chrissy and I were waiting our turn. After half of the riders had gone, the bird waddled (hmm, do pigeons waddle?) out into the arena. Not wanting it or any horses who spook to get hurt, Mercy and I attempted to herd the pigeon back to its corner. Unfortunately, I think Mercy would have just stepped on it, or bit it, so I got off and herded it myself. Too bad, pigeon herding could have been the next great equine event! NOT!

When it was our turn at barrels we got right to it. I have practiced barrels at my friend's place whenever I trailer out to ride, but I don't 'let her go.' We work at the walk and trot until she gets the point of rating and pockets, then if she's lucky, I let her lope a go. I started out here at the trot by she was responding so well I let her move into the lope. Coming out of the third barrel she stumbled a little, but still got around and did a great job listening and feeling for me to stop her. Sorry the pics are so blurry. It's not operator error, I had it on the wrong setting. Sorry mom! :)The next event was 'Simon Says,' but Mercy thought it was 'Mercy Says.' We were walking along great, then we were trotting. First ones out too, sigh. It actually worked out fine because that meant I had the whole end of the arena to practice standing still and pivots.

The walk-trot relay was where Chrissy and I shined this day. There was a barrel at the end of the arena and the first horse had to walk over to it and around it without breaking gait. After crossing the finish line the second rider leaves at a trot, goes around the barrel, and trots home. Fastest time wins. Chrissy was my race buddy and volunteered to go first. Luna and Chrissy were off and (kinda) soon made it back to the finish line. I had Mercy in a trot long before she got back and crossed the line as soon as Luna's tail was past. She tried breaking into a lope a few times, popping up, but never completed the lope stride. I can get her moving pretty well and going home I past the horse in the other lane. We waited for the awards. I thought maybe 3rd or 2nd cause we did complete a clean run at a decent pace. When they said Chrissy and my name, we both must have looked almost horrified! There was no way we won! Really!?! Naw.... but here they came with the ribbons. Wow. A blue ribbon. A silly blue ribbon. I was ready for more!

TP race was next, another partner race. Unfortunately, Chrissy and I were already in trouble cause both of us were riding green horses and only mine *kinda* knew how to neck rein. We didn't run into trouble until they asked us to turn left. I told Chrissy to let me push her horse around cause I knew Mercy would turn for me. Well, we made it around and Chrissy decided to keep Luna turning. In order for me to catch up I had to trot, so we were out. Never broke the TP though!!!!

We participated in the baton race, but Luna had a little melt down so that was that. I think Chrissy did a great job handling her little mare and all ended well. The last event was team flags. So many teams had DQed, so all we had to do was complete the course. Luna went first and it took some time getting her positioned correctly to pick up the flags cause she just wanted to eat them, but after that was worked out Mercy and I were off. Now, I have never practiced flags with her, but I do use a flag around her in training, so I wasn't expecting a big deal. She just went past it like she didn't even know it was there. I reached over and picked it up, carrying it to the neck barrel. After dropping that one and grabbing the next flag we headed for home. I let her lope and she travel straight and true, so I got it in the barrel and flew across the finish line. At thins point most people had left the arena and were packing up. Before we left, we were informed that we had been awarded 3rd place, a white ribbon! Yup, that's right! Persistence and green horses do, in fact, mix!

We decided not to hang around and ride in the free arena just in case they wouldn't load. We loaded Luna up first since, supposedly, she has really only been trailered up front. Of course, it didn't take long and I loaded Mercy up like we had for the past year: point and load. Automatic. Since Mercy was in last, we dropped her off at my place first before heading to Landsburg to drop off Luna and Chrissy for their ride home.

All I have left to say (er, write...) is driving an empty trailer is a real treat! ;)


Pony Girl said...

That TP race looked like a good challenge! I think I will suggest that for our family rodeo this summer! ;) Sounds like a really fun day. And I totally get "Appy-tude", hee!

Cowgirl Sprat said...

It was so much fun! Everyone started out with 10 sheets, but after they ran out of 'tasks' for the competetors to do (like side passing, loping, reversing directions at the trot, etc.)they took 5 sheets away. Good thing too, cause that could have gone on forever! Especially with some really thick double-ply! Your family rodeo sounds fun, maybe that's something I could put together too for my 4Hers as a relaxing show relief event. Hmmm... ideas ideas! ;)