changing the story ~ 2nd in trail course series

Everything feels different towards the end/beginning of a year. There are gatherings filled with memories, anticipation, and reflection. Schedules shift, and everything feels a bit peculiar. When the December trail course date finally arrived, we welcomed the day away and all that it offered! A learning experience filled with challenges, friendships new and old, fun and laughter - lots of laughter - was sooo good for the soul!!

Interestingly enough, there was only one returning rider (besides us) from the first November course. The hosting facility called our trainer to see if we were coming. With only two signed up (guessing the sign up is at their barn?) they were thinking of canceling. Can't blame them, hosting is a lot of work! Good thing they didn't. They ended up with 13 different horses entered to compete, 15 courses ridden, and 2 horse/rider's practicing but not showing. We made sure the host knows now, consider us signed up for the series!

Cute tail on that roping dummy!
The gate rope had attached bells.
Thank goodness we arrived early enough to get some solid practice in, before the arena got busy. They had set up a challenging course, with things none of us thought to practice. Roping? duh! A teardrop back through? what's that? My hubby & I have never seen one (our trainer was kicking herself) and ohhh my, that was one tight serpentine!!

The December trail course:
Start: at Mailbox, retrieve & replace mail 
Walk to gate, turn at will, Work Gate, left hand push, close gate
Walk to 3 cones, turn at will, back through & around in a teardrop shape
Trot to poles, continue & Serpentine 5 poles, circle left & over pole, stop at bridge
Over bridge, stop at roping dummy
Swing & toss rope 
Walk to cone, 270 turn on haunches
Lope off right lead over pole, circle wide between back through cones & bridge, over pole, stop at beginning pole
Side-pass right, over pole
Exit at a Walk

The course was wide, and almost used the entire arena.
When not showing we were asked to use their extra stalls,
or hang out in the aisles or corners.

A snapshot of how our horses did:

Cierra was much better overall. She was great starting out, but as the arena filled up so did the stimulation, and her ability to deal with it. Typical of a young horse. They just don't know how to deal with heightened emotions. Brad has come a long way with her, and helped Cierra deal with the added energy. Our trainer Patty & I watched them work as a team, so proud of both of them! He chose to take the course second with her, completed the course as we cheered them on! Cierra still struggles with standing at the gate, altho she's had lot's of practice. Brad & I gifted our trainer with a new homemade sturdy gate for Christmas, but it only helps so much in new surroundings. Our trainer also showed her later in the course, with similar results.

New gate at our barn!

With Nemo, what can I say? Altho he had trouble dealing with the back through cones in practice (because of his personality) with help he figured it out, and rocked it by show time! Brad & Nemo placed 3rd, our trainer & Nemo placed 5th. He continues to prove to be the amazing horse that he is!! 

I was much more relaxed with Koda this challenge, altho I got the usual lack of effort on his part. When asked if I needed any help 
near the end of practice, I told our trainer I was struggling with keeping the trot through the serpentine (it was tight, the horses had to work) and of course the lope off. Yes I know, more leg. She offered to ride the practice course with Koda. She did, and made sure I knew afterwards that altho I always blame me, it isn't. She feels he isn't doing his part, meeting me half way. I know that, but I feel it's my lack of ability to get him to want to meet me halfway...I have no doubt, it will be a long road but we will figure it out together. I was very proud of Koda for not buying into the craziness a couple of the horses expelled, or better said, their young riders created... 

The two main things I got docked for: The dreaded (270) turn on the haunches...the move we've been struggling with...oh well, I'll keep trying. I also made a mistake on the pattern. Altho we nailed the lope off (I heard the supportive whistles, thanks guys!) I didn't circle wide, and instead took the harder version of the pattern ~ oops! Altho we completed it, I clipped the second pole. I can't complain, we placed fourth!!! 

We made a couple new friends throughout the competition, and ended up watching & hanging out in the "musical corner" (had to be there) where Brad eventually joined us. He picked up on it from across the arena...funny how those with a common outlook find each other without even trying.

Fun corner group
On the way home my hubby told me that now I'll have to change my showing story. I'm sure he's sick of hearing, "I've only ever shown once at a camp show, when I was 12..." I had sooo much stinkin' fun at the trail course competition, learned a bunch, even more then the first course...I didn't even know this was possible.


Sherry Sikstrom said...

Sounds like a great showing, yay you for trying this new event!

Grey Horse Matters said...

It sure sounds like a lot of fun! Its a great experience for everyone too. Betcha can't wait to go back.

C-ingspots said...

Sounds like a blast!! Before you know it, you and your horses will be old hands at this stuff...piece of cake. :)

aurora said...

Sherry, I've had more then my share of doubts...but I am happy I got over them & tried.

I really can't wait to go back, Grey Horse!

I don't think it will ever be a piece of cake for me Lorie, but each time I ride it does make things a little easier.

One things for sure, I plan to work on our dang turn on the haunches that I let fall apart...so I can...