Although we’ve been to lots of horse shows over the years, today marks the first day we’re participating in an event class. Specifically, I’m running Romeo in the barrels. Here I am the morning of the event, nervous and realizing I wish I had spent more time practicing. But I promised myself I’d do this and I know it will be good experience for me and Romeo. He is experienced so he mostly knows what to do. It’s a matter of me being able to give him the right cues at the right times.
Having never been to a show as a participant, I’m amazed at what goes into preparation. If you’re a regular participant, you already know this but you can’t really just load and go. That’s especially true for the first show of the season. There’s tack to clean, a horse to clean, making sure…well, let me make a list:
Check horse trailer for wasp nest. (I almost learn this the hard way last year)
Check tires on horse trailer for proper inflation and dry rot/wear
Clean tack (watch for wasps!)
Assemble grooming kit for show grooming
Locate Coggins papers (can’t trailer without them)
Find my bumper spurs (and straps)
Run through a list of all tack needed and load into tack trunk
Charge camera batteries and remember to bring them
Get cash for entry fee, class fees and concession stand (we’ll be there a long time)
Load hay and a bring water bucket
Bring lawn chairs (sitting on the ground gets old)
Bring umbrella (chance of rain today)
Optional but maybe bring a cooler and sodas
That list may not look bad but some of those things take time, like cleaning tack. I’m glad the show isn’t until 3 PM because I need some time to run through this list.
Spring 2010 is less than a week away now and the weather is noticeably warmer. While buying feed the other day, I saw another sure sign of spring – a local horse show event schedule. I’ve been saying for a while “this is going to be my year!” but this year I’m serious about it. We have beautiful horses and relative youth on our side but none of us is getting any younger. Sure, we love to ride trails but I’d like to push our horses and ourselves a little more and learn something new. So we’ve asked a gaited horse trainer to help get us all into shape. Now we’re not talking about big fancy horse shows, though those can be fun. We are talking about local shows where you don’t have to show up with a $50,000 horse trailer and flawless fur. It’s in local shows you don’t have to worry about being the newbie, you just need to worry about having some fun. Plus, our two Tennessee Walking Horses, Cash and Valentine, have very nice natural walking horse gaits.
Our first official lesson was supposed to be yesterday but as frequently happens in east Tennessee, we were rained out. At least Cash was groomed. So instead, we spent some time learning about the different show classes, what’s expected and how we can prepare for them. For example, some exercises like butt lifts (lying down and lifting your legs and rear into the air for a few seconds) help prepare your back muscles. Also, balance improvement by riding bareback in the ring. I feel like I have good balance on a horse but I’m winter-green and could always use some improvement. Our trainer also suggested riding in a round pen with our arms out and heads back (it’s safer having some help guiding the horse). Apparently it’s harder than it sounds and we expect to find out on a clear day this week.
We’re looking at the following gaited classes: Open Gaited Pleasure, Go As You Please Gaited, Novice All Age Walk Pleasure and possibly Open Gaited Trail & Pattern but maybe later in the year, as we’ll need to practice a bit more for that class. Additionally, I’m still planning to run Romeo in the barrels, Mikki will run Cash in exhibition poles and we’re considering the Costume Class for Romeo or Cash. Fun!
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Mikki and I got our first pole bending lessons last night and we even got the Kid back on a horse, briefly. Horse friends invited us over to try pole bending and it’s something Mikki has been wanting to try on Cash anyway. Even though Cash is a gaited horse (Tennessee Walking Horse), we think he might be good in the poles, especially since we’re sticking to small local events. If we win something, great, but we like to have fun, too. Trying to hel the Kid get over his fear of horses, we saddled him up on our most trained and calm horse, Romeo and made sure the stirrups were at the right height and headed out. I used a bit and reins so he could practice holding the reins while balancing on a saddle but I walked Romeo using a lead rope. The Kid was a nervous wreck since his last ride ended with him on the ground.
Mikki rode Cash, who seemed easy to spook tonight. That’s unusual for him because he’s normally very calm and sure. At first he didn’t like the poles and then something in the woods made him nervous. Eventually he settled down and did pretty well walking the poles. Hey, you’ve got to start somewhere! I hopped on Romeo and did the same. Romeo is an old pro at the poles so it wasn’t hard, though he was distracted by a hot little mare named River who was also trying the poles last night. And since I forgot my spurs, we ended up not going very fast. Romeo needs a little encouragement from at least bumper spurs. We ended up staying late and riding home in the dark, which was thankfully uneventful.
I can’t wait to try it again! Any of you guys run the poles?
Romeo participated in a youth rodeo this past weekend and placed 1st, 2nd and 4th in a few competitions. The competition was pretty good but in the end Romeo and his rider were apparently better in the mud (it rained one day). Of course the ribbons go with the rider but we’re proud of both the rider and our appaloosa. It’s neat having a horse already trained for barrels and poles. Now we just need to train his new rider (I’m working on it)!
I went one of the two rodeo nights and snapped some pictures but since the competitions happened after dark and I was using a long lense on my camera, most of the pictures came out too blurry. (BTW, the picture above is just one I snapped at the event. That’s not Romeo. He doesn’t do roping…yet)
Okay, so how many of you do the rodeo shows or barrels or pole bending? If not, do you want to? I haven’t seen any “gymkana” events here in east Tennessee but I know Laura out in Colorado has been active in that this year. She’s even been on a cattle drive!