Sunday, May 31, 2009

Fun in the sun

Last Sunday was Mercy's big debut in the (local) gaming world. We loaded up at about 7:30 in the morning and headed out to Green River Saddle Club where the first PSHA Cascade Region show of the year was being held. I decided to go Sunday instead of Saturday because the real first day is usually HUGE! We rolled up around 8 and there was plenty of parking still. We unloaded a very 'up' Mercy and I went to the show office to check in.

Once I placed my Cascade Region number (C-188) on my saddle pad, I saddled her up and walked her over to the arena where they were working the ground. Mercy was still not really paying attention to me, so I did a few ground exercises with her before I got on. We headed over to the warm up arena, which is REALLY rocky and us many unidentifiable objects stirred into the dirt, so we took it slow and only walked and worked on rollbacks and stops. Once she softened up and was responsive to my slight cues we left the warm up arena and headed out to the main arena where there were a few other riders warming up. I let Mercy walk and trot around on the super soft dirt and get a feel for the large, open space. After the timers were set up and the start line was marked, the show began.

Since this was Mercy's first show, we entered the D-class, for slow pokes. Fine with me! My goal for the day was to stay on if she tripped, prevent any bucking, and let Mercy get use to the busy environment, not win. I preferred to walk and jog, but if she offered a controlled lope I wasn't going to discourage it. The first event was Cal Stake, and event where a single pole is stood at the end of the arena and you simply run down the arena, around the pole, and back through the timers, pretty simply. When it was our turn, I circled Mercy once, just to get her use to a routine, and asked her to jog. She decided otherwise and tried to lope, unsuccessfully, and started a little crow hopping. *sigh* I asked her to trot, which she took her time to respond to, and rounded the pole. She tried to take off again but I held her back and made her jog. What was I thinking taking her to a gaming show...

We rode back into the middle of the arena, between the two gaming sides where everyone stands waiting for their turn, and found some friends to hang out with. This is the time when Mercy shined! It really didn't matter what was going on around her, she stood still and quiet. Other horses would bump into her and she would just look at them. I love social horses! She never once tried to kick or bite anyone, but she also didn't buddy up with any one horse either. Sweet.

At some point I headed over to the trailer and offered Mercy a drink and some hay. While I was hanging out for the next event, I determined that my barrel saddle did not fit Mercy very well at all. She just doesn't have any withers, and being built downhill, the saddle was not staying in place. I hauled out my old breast collar for her and tightened it on. Until I can find a better solution, the saddle will just need to be held in place. We heard the buckaroos (lead line, basically) riding, so we bridled up and headed back up to the arena.

The next event was keyhole, another down and back event, where there is a "keyhole" shaped chalk outline on the ground. You have to run into it, perform a rollback, and get out without touching the line. This time Mercy was much more behaved. I momentarily thought we would get down to the keyhole and she would stop to inspect the chalk, but I kept my body language forward and she didn't even glance at it. I was quite impressed and almost forgot to roll her back, lmao! After the successful controlled jog down I decided to let her lope back through the timers, which she did beautifully! No silliness what-so-ever! One more down!

After another quick break, in which she stood at the trailer like a pro, we headed back up to the arena. This was going to be my last event for the day because I had to head over to a different show to help with the 4H kids. Figure 8 was another event I had not practiced at home. Really, only barrels is the only one I have set up, but that will change soon as I have finally pulled out my cones and poles! It took so long to do because my motivation to practice on my rocky pasture is less than anything else. Anyway, Mercy really settled in for this event. She was responsive to leg, seat, and reins. We actually got a little lope going again too! We definitely had more trouble turning right around the pole than left (very slight, however).

Once we pulled up to a stop, we were done! I jumped off, loosened all the gear, and walked back to the trailer. The breast collar had helped keep the saddle in place, but I had to keep it tighter than I like to. I have a new saddle pad being shipped to me that I think will help a lot with this (if it ever gets here... it's been two months now...). I took off her tack, brushed her down, and headed to the office to pay up. It was only $13 for the three runs and haul-in fees, nice! I also got our times. Not too shabby for a few problems and our first time out:
Cal Stake- 21.665 sec
Keyhole- 17.431 sec
Figure 8- 21.002 sec

She loaded up like a champ and we headed home. I wish we could have stayed for barrels, pole bending, key race, and flags, but I had prior commitments. I plan on heading over to South Seattle Saddle Club next weekend for another show. We'll see what we can build on from this show!

Obligatory Picture of Mercy being cute while I try the barrel gear on her for the first time a few days before the show:

1 comment:

Paint Girl said...

Sounds like Mercy settled in quite well. The more experience she gets, the better she gets!
What a fun day!