I was riding "buddy," so was wasn't scored or competing. I still got to do the obstacles and asked the judges what they thought, however.
Cross a tarp --
Everyone knows that tarps don't grow on trees and shouldn't be in the woods. That's what BG thought. I rode her up to it. She stopped with all four feet spread and snorted up a storm. I asked her to walk over it. She reached down, sniffed it, and walked over it when I asked, despite being scared. I really liked that she crossed it even though it was against her better judgement. The shows that she trusts my decisions and believes me when I say it isn't dangerous. I was more happy with her being afraid and crossing anyway than if she wouldn't have given it a second thought.
Trot weave --
Three poles were set up in a "pole bending" type pattern. I was asked to weave through the poles one direction, stop, and weave through the other direction. I was perfectly happy with how BG handled this obstacle.
Rain coat --
I gave these ladies a scare with this one! We were suppose to ride up to a rain coat hanging on a tree, take it off the tree branch, put it on, and then place it back on the tree. I was feeling all fancy. I sidepassed up to the tree and picked up that coat. The coat got about to my shoulders when BG bolted sideways. She ran sideways around 20 feet. I clung to that coat, because letting go is for quitters. XDD
I felt myself loosing my balance, swung off (landing perfectly on my feet), turned BG to face me, and stuck that rain coat at her nose. She sniffed it, sighed, and was all, "Ooooh. Rain coat. Gotcha. Sorries."
The ladies at the obstacle were in a panic. I was standing next to my horse laughing and smiling. I was all, "Can I use your truck to remount?" Before they answered, I walked over, stood on the tail gate, had BG sidepass up to me, got on, and was off down the trail again.
Turn on the haunches --
I bossed this obstacle. We were told to do a 360 degree turn on the haunches both ways. BG did it was a little reining horse of perfection. The judge was extremely impressed.
Back a figure eight --
Two sticks were placed on the ground a horse length apart. I was instructed to back a figure eight around them. BG was brilliant. She calmly and quietly executed the obstacle and was all I could ever ask for.
Turn on the forehand --
... Wasn't great. It was a simple 360 turn on the forehand in both directions. BG's forehand turns aren't great, but, as the judge said, "I've seen better and I've seen a whole lot worse."
The turn on the forehand and rain coat are homework.
It rained the whole ride. It was 35 degrees, blowing wind, driving rain. Several people pulled, but I've ridden in worse for longer.
BG stood around the trailer in her fancy rain sheet we won last year.
The trails were mostly pine trees and broom straw. Beaver Creek is a quail hunting plantation. I even saw a quail! It was uber cute. I loved it.
Janna and BG love each other.
I'm just so happy BG was calm the whole ride. She is getting over her buddy issues. At this ride, at least. She never got into a state so excited that she absolutely wouldn't stand still. She needed reminders sometimes that she needed to stand, but it didn't take much. I would circle her with energy if she wanted to move. She allowed other horses to leave her. She stood while other horses walked away. She walked away from her friends and did obstacles in a perfect state of mind. We didn't have to fight this whole ride. That's something special.
When she's good, she gets a handful of peppermint horse cookies when we finish. Today, she earned all the cookies.
Firstly, going to the obstacle trail challege this weekend. Love it.
Secondly, the region 5 mini convention is weekend after this coming weekend. The weekend after the convention is SPANISH TRAIL. Ride season is in our midst. More on that later.
Thirdly, I got my high point SSH awards in the mail from the SSHBEA yesterday! They sent a beautiful ribbon and classy black leather halter with BG's name on the near cheek piece and "NATRC High Point SSH 2012" on the opposite cheek.
That ribbon says "champion", and I never thought we would be the champions of anything. We've come a long way, and I didn't realized that until I saw it on a ribbon and ran my fingers over the the brass nameplate on her halter. Success made tangible, to help me realize what has been in front of me. I have an amazing horse.
We had a nice trail challenge. It was FLOODING, however.
Baby Girl was quiet 92% of the time. Her BFF Amber was there, and BG tended to look Amber's direction, but there wasn't any major drama if Amber walked away. BG was mostly content to stand with me sitting on her back and watch the other horses take their turns. I had to circle a few times, but nothing too dramatic.
BG wasn't happy when Amber was taken away and she was left alone in her stall, and BG wasn't happy when tied alone to the trailer. When I was with her (especially on her back, oddly; I had more trouble keeping her calm from the ground), BG was fine. Maybe I'm finally becoming the horse she needs.
Chillin' in the stall.
She was a little upset during her turn to do obstacles, but, in the grand scope of BG's fits, all I saw was her improvement in managing her emotions.
There were eight obstacles, all set up in a small covered arena. We weren't allowed to practice on them prior, so this was a while new thing for BG.
Off-side Mount: BG was a little nervous, so she took one step on her mount. Could have been worse.
Mail box: Mail boxes are a hell of a lot scarier opened than closed! BG sidepassed neatly up to the box and allowed me to open it. However, once she realized opened mailboxes are weird looking, she spun around and sniffed the thing. Well. I had to close the mail box, and BG refused to sidepass back up to it. I gave up; pushing her could have caused more fear and I wouldn't have gotten anything done. Gotta pick your battles.
Trot poles: We had to trot some raised (really close together) wood poles, stop over the last one, and sidepass off it. That's sort of hard. The arena had a little gravel, so BG wasn't eager to trot. When asked to stop over the last pole, BG didn't settle before we sidepassed.
Bridge: Walk onto a rope bridge. Stand for five seconds. Again, BG didn't completely settle.
Board pin wheel: I'm was so proud! This is something we've never done before. There were two barrels placed two horse lengths apart with a wooden board layed across them. You grabbed one end of the board and walked a circle, keeping the other end of the board on the barrel. You had a complete circle and returned the board to its original position. I thought she would freak out, like the rain coat incident of last week. But nope. Excellent.
Back over a pole: I feel stupid for not practicing this enough. You just had to back all four fee over a pole on the ground. BG caught it with her back feet once or twice, but completed the obstacle well.
Jump: We were suppose to canter to the jump (around a foot high), but BG has a god awful canter and there wasn't room to really pick it up. So we trotted nicely over the jump, and I thought it was a good trotted jump too.
Dismount and pick up your horses left front foot: Easy. I jumped off. Asked for the foot. BG picked it up and placed it in my hand.
Overall, good ride. I think a few people thought it was a little strange how happy I was after our turn. I mean, to them, my horse probably didn't do great. But she did great for her. As long as she keeps improving, I'm going to keep praising. All the cookies for Baby Girl!
They seem to fit really well. I rode hard in them today. Trot/canter, full out gallop, mud, water. Stayed on and in position. I like them.
They are also a zazzy red color. My students call them "Baby Girl's red high heels."
We basically did a full tack check today. I tacked up just as I would if I was going out for eight hours. Then I rode fast and hard for an hour to make sure everything was going to stay put. Everything indeed stayed put.
That was probably my last good ride before Spanish Trail next weekend. I feel unprepared and worried. I hope I did enough homework and conditioned hard enough and practiced perfectly... I want to finish strong and not embarrass myself.
Well, tomorrow morning I'm off to Auburn, Alabama, for the regional convention. It'll be fun to see my NATRC friends and kick off the year!
I was so embarrassed last night. I experienced literal tears of joy.
I'll keep it short and sweet. The mini convention marvelous. We toured Auburn Vet School and attended two great lectures. One lecture was titled "Riding for a Better Hoof," and I added to my knowledge regarding barefoot performance horses. The other lecture about about metabolics. I had a great discussion with the vet about PSSM, and we shared our war stories.
I went out for ice cream, window shopped, chatted, and touched the actual president's cup.
Awards came around. BG and I received three regional reds (2nd place horse, rider, and combination in open junior) and two national whites (4th place open junior horse and rider.)
I also ate cheesecake and cheered a lot.
I promised you guys tears of joy, and here they are:
As you may remember, I did a couple open lightweight rides to give Paula a bigger class so she could receive more points for winning. I even rode Coco last year at Uwharrie, as Paula was chairing that ride and couldn't compete. Paula was trying for president's cup, and every point counts.
I adore Paula. I rode Coco my first open ride. Paula rode with BG and I on our first open ride together, and has let us tag along almost every ride after that. I do my best to stay out of her way and not mess up her ride.
Everyone has someone in the game they want to be emulate. I want to be like Paula.
Unfortunately, Paula didn't get president's cup. She claimed a close third overall. Which is still amazing, mind you. Coco was also awarded a national championship. (Which is also a big deal, for my readers who have no idea what this means. ) National champions get a sterling belt buckle engraved with their horse's name.
And Paula let me have it.
She said I deserved it. I don't believe her, but it means the world for your hero to tell you that. Cue happy tears.