Oct 31, 2013

More From Indian Cave CTR


I thought by the end of this week I would have an update on our Kanopolis CTR that we rode last weekend.  Yeah, the usual.  Lack of time.  I’ll get to it this weekend hopefully.  But in the meantime, I got the pictures I ordered from Indian Cave ride photographer, Andy Klamm.  He gave me permission to post on this blog.  So I wanted to share some of those that I found fun and entertaining. 





First off, he must have noticed our dogs right away.  They both made the cut.  Many times.  We had one tied to Sharron’s truck and one to our truck.  When I would take them away from camp and let the run, they ran for all their might!  I love having the dogs with us but they are happier when they can hang around the trailer at liberty rather than be tied.  But its good practice for them and they love to come along. 


The other thing that tickled me was John grooming sessions with Windy.  One who usually just brushes the sweat off, I was proud to see him really give her the star treatment.  With a mare as pretty as this, she’s a pleasure to groom.





Not only just brushing but making sure her teeth and nose were clean! 




First the front feet, then the back.  Look at her shine! 




Very serious as he watches me show to the judge.  And then it’s his turn.




Did I mention Windy placed 1st this time around?  Coincidence? 



I was not without my own grooming sessions. 

Note that Nahla had to photobomb that picture.   





Showing for the vet judge on the last day of the ride.  He kept us entertained (and relaxed) by telling stories as he inspected our horse.




A nice circle each way.  (Really, I can’t remember if they were or not but looks good here!)




And a quiet moment with the 2nd place horse. 

Oct 18, 2013

We Did It Again!




We had so much time at the Turkey Trot that we decided to do it again.  This past weekend was our Competitive Trail Ride at Indian Cave.  I had planned to ride it and after John got a taste of CTR at the Turkey Trot, he was game to do another one.  I had teased him that I was going to take Fancy and he said he would ride Windy.  Gulp.  I don't know about THAT!  As the day grew closer, I mentioned that I should probably ride Windy and he said he didn't care but that I do ride Fancy quite a bit where he doesn't have the opportunity to ride Windy ... like EVER.  So what I was reading between the lines is that he wanted to ride Windy so he did. 




I recruited my friend Sharron and her horse, Boomer, as first time competitors.  She had never rode at Indian Cave, nor done a CTR but she and Boomer rock at the various trail challenges and she loves to ride as much as I do.  We convoyed down to IC on Friday morning and set up camp next to Shari and Mika.  Shari was mentoring our friend, Carol, on her first ride.


We checked in and showed the horse to the judge.  I used the "walk while lunging" that the last judge recommended.  I thought it looked okay but she did cut in front of me changing direction.  I was dinged for that and asked to make bigger circles next time.   




Unlike last year’s Indian Cave ride, the weather was pretty close to perfect and we rode out around 7:30 on Saturday AM.  We were scheduled to ride 19 miles.  The horsemanship judge observed us on a downhill right away and the vet judge wasn't far away asking us for a trot across an open area down toward the trail.  I didn't think I could screw either of those up too bad but my score card said I had upper body sway when going down hill.  It tickled me because I was trying something new and I guess it didn't work.  Lost a point there! 


The next thing we were asked to do was step over 2 logs that were off the trail.  They weren't big logs and were kind of uneven, perhaps one higher than the other.  Plus it was going uphill.  How hard could this be?  Evidently harder than I thought because Fancy clipped every log.  Horsemanship I got a "fair" but didn't lose any points.  Fancy lost 1 point. 




Later we were asked to step over a log and count to 5.  Fancy & I both got “Excellents” on our score card.  Whew!  And just so you know,
Windy kind of stumbled thru the first logs like Fancy did but did
well stepping and standing on the log.  So I kind of thought we were pretty even at this point. 


The last thing we did was an offside mount onto a big tree stump
and then remount without the horse moving.  I got an “Excellent” on
that; Fancy stood very nice.  As a bonus, the judge told me my ass looked nice in my tights.  (Female judge).  When you are 52-years old and just lost 30+ pounds, you will take "nice ass" from anyone.  John got dinged on this one - not because he doesn't have a nice ass, he does, but because his foot bumped Windy's rump when getting on. 




We had a hard time finding a pocket in our ride that day.  The riders were pretty evenly paced and we would bunch up often.  When we finally got out to the front, we moved out pretty quickly.  We didn't break a trot but GPS said we were moving 12 mph which is an awesome ride at an extended trot. 


At vet check after the ride, Fancy had a bump by her girth and lost a point.  It could have been there before - she had a lot of bug bites but neither vet or I noticed it.  That would be the only point she lost on soundness or condition all weekend.  She pulsed down good at the P & Rs.  Once I pulled the saddle because her respirations were pretty high but her outgoing was always good. 
Windy lost a point on gut sounds as she was up 1 from her check in.  That was the only point she lost in condition and soundness, too. 




I really thought John and I were pretty even.  When the judge let us see our horsemanship card on Saturday night, I was pleased that my score was higher than John’s.  I felt pretty darn good about that. 


But then it all went to hell. 


The next day, the ride was 13 miles, the map reversed with some trail taken out.  I was a little disappointed with the mapping because I know there are more trails at Indian Cave that could be used that Sharron hasn't seen but I also know that without volunteers to help clear or mark trail, it is hard to get too creative.  And I always have said taking the trail a different direction gives you a different perspective and it did. 




Sunday morning we were to do a trot out at 7:15.  I'm a morning person as far as getting up, but doing anything is tough for me.  I hadn't given our trailer a full battery charge before we left and I barely had light when we got up.  John upset the coffee pot so no coffee and by the time we got to breakfast, all the eggs were all gone and I was cold and I forgot to get coffee from that pot.  I would never make a cowboy because saddling in the dark was a challenge.  While
warming up the horses, Fancy had 2 big spooks and both times, I about went off.  I think she was seeing shadows and I am not use to her spooking.  Plus I had just oiled my saddle.  Thank goodness my riding pants had suede on the knees.  We trotted out by the judges in the morning.  My card said I was balancing too much on the reins and I probably was. 


The first obstacle was opening a gate and going through it.  John went first and he and Windy did okay.  Windy and I have done a lot of gates but as I learned from the previous CTR, what Windy knows doesn’t really matter – it’s how she feels on that particular day!  John has opened gates on Fancy quite often – even wire gates, so I was hoping for a good showing.




I approached the gate and needed to line her up parallel to get a hold of the gate.  Whenever I would line her up, Windy went out of her line of vision and she would move her but around to see Windy.  Really, Windy was less than 5 foot from her but still….  Rather than “stop, settle & go slow”, I tried some sort of creative gate opening maneuver which could only be described as a big fat FAIL!  Fancy and I both lost a couple points. 


The final obstacle was stopping and backing 5 steps.  I thought we did okay – I even counted the five steps out loud.  The vet judge gave Fancy a “good” but the horsemanship judge wasn't as kind.  Use my leg more (-1) and learn to count my steps (-1).   Windy & John both got an excellent for that maneuver so you can see here the tide is starting to change. 




Have I mentioned that Boomer didn't make a mistake on any obstacle? 


When we checked out, I tried using a longer lunge line with limited success.  Just something to practice.  Fancy's condition and soundness was good, the girth bump gone.  Windy and John checked out good, too. 


I want to comment here because when we talk about CTR, we tend to think so much about the obstacles.  While they are important in the game and probably the thing we stress out over the most, they are only worth 15 of the 100 points. 
Condition (40) and soundness (45)  are worth 85 points.  Windy and Fancy only lost 1 point each for condition and soundness.


When the awards were announced, I help my last place position in horsemanship.  I came in 5th out of 5 contestants.  Always the bridesmaid, never
the bride.  John came in 2nd and the horsemanship winner in our class was a CTR regular, so I was real proud of John for getting close – especially on my horse. 




When they started announcing the horse ribbons, I figured Boomer would be the #1 horse.  He didn’t miss an obstacle and the vet loved him.  So I was surprised when he got 4th place and even more surprised when Fancy was called as the 2nd place horse.  Wow!  And then, just as exciting if not more, Windy was called as the 1st place horse.   The only thing sweeter would have been if I was riding her. 


Boomer lost points because of the capillary refill on conditioning.  He vetted in on Saturday and Sunday higher than the Friday baseline.  So even though he excelled at the obstacles, the conditioning of the horse has a greater value in this competition.  I think sometimes we forget about that.  Sharron did talk to the
vet afterwards to ask how she could improve it and the vet suggested electrolytes.  The vet went on to tell Sharron that her horse is awesome; that he is either very confident or has a lot of confidence in her.  He was so impressed at how he listened to her and never paid any mind to other horses or activity around him.  He said several times he would like to own Boomer.  So she felt
very good about that.  Sharron and Boomer got the first time competitor’s high point award. 


And guess what?  We are going to do it one more time!  The last Region 6 ride is at Kanopolis State Park in Kansas next weekend.  We are going to go for it! 

Oct 5, 2013

Just Get On Your Horse–Day 2




There was no rain overnight.  The sun came up and it was going to be a beautiful fall day for a ride.   The horses looked good.  We saddled up.


We were scheduled to ride out at 8:00 AM, but the judges told us at the ride meeting the night before that they would be having a judged mount and a trot- by beginning at 7:15 AM.  We lined up in no particular order; Dwight and Mary, John and then me.  I noticed the judge was asking riders to sidepass the horse inhand to a picnic table and then mount.  I quietly asked Windy for a sidepass as we waited and she moved off to my touch.  Good girl.


When the judge called my name, he approached me and asked if I had a hoof pick and a knife.  I did.  Whew!  Then he asked me for the sidepass.  I moved her just like we had practiced and she refused.  I wanted to kick her in the gut!  (smile)  After some struggles, I got her to the picnic table but as soon as I stepped up to mount, the witch moved away from me.  We did this a couple times and I finally reminded the judge that the last time I rode under him, he told the riders they dink around too long getting on the horse and sometimes 'you just need to get on the horse', so I was just getting on my horse.  Who gives a shit if she was 2 foot away from the table?




When we trotted a circle, the vet judge said she was a bit short-strided in the trot and to warm her up a bit and come back.  I took her in the back pasture and ran her up a hill. She kind of bucked up it so we did it again.  I rode her for about 5 minutes at a trot or lope.  When I came back, the judge said that she looked better but she was kind of dragging her hind toes a bit.  She does this all the time so it is what it is. 




We were back on the trails that were originally planned for that day with lots of hills.  So to make up for those climbs, we did a lot of trotting on the flats.  Once on top, the views were breathtaking.  New phone functionality prevented me from getting a lot of good shots and with the sun, I had trouble seeing the screen.  Sometimes you just have to appreciate what you see rather than mess with what you have to record it.  I hope I remember the beauty of it for a long, long time. 


The first obstacle was right out of camp. Cross a bridge.  It wasn't a bridge over a creek but a bridge that was constructed for an arena or ground games.  We have one of those and the horses should be fine with it.  Fancy was in front and she stopped, put her nose to it and then stepped on it and crossed it. Windy approached it.  Then she stopped.  And then she swerved to avoid the bridge.  We tried again.  No go.  The judge told us to move on.  We moved on. (Shaking head…) 


When we came into our first P & R, all the horses vitals were all high. I think Windy was 16/9. I loosened the saddle and started to fan her.  A P & R volunteer refilled my water bottle and I poured it on her neck and chest.  At the appropriate time, she pulsed down to 12/6 so we were good to go. Another rider had came in after me and asked if I would stay so his horse wouldn't get anxious. He had 5 more minutes at the hold.  John and I weren't in a big hurry, so we stayed until he got his final read. 




We watered the horses and then had another judged mount. By this time, I just lined up Windy to the mounting block to get on. She walked off on me (of course she would) and the horsemanship judge laughed and said 'just get on the horse!'  We were then asked to do a 360 on the forehand. We tried and she didn’t plant her front hooves, but at this point, who cares. John told me later he didn't even know what a turn on the forehand meant. I told him from what I could see, it looked like he may have nailed it (of course he would!) 




The ridge above what’s known as Rod's pasture offered breathtaking views again with the river below us. We looped around and went back through a cow pasture and up to Rod's cabin. We did the outer loop trail and then stopped for the last P & R. Finally Windy stood without issue. She was tired. We headed out to do the inner loop. The judge just asked us to follow ribbons down hill. I got a "good" here on my score card. About time!




After a short wait at the two mile marker we rode in just at mid-time like we had hoped.  We rinsed the horses off and grabbed a quick bite to eat while they were drying.  As I walked away from the lunch area, the vet judged stopped me and asked where I had found Fancy.  I told her about John losing Ginger and how he wanted another little red mare and what a gem Fancy was and the vet agreed.  That was nice to hear.  We got the horses ready and showed them to the judge for the final time. 




The vet judge found no problems with her metabolics; good hydration, good gut sounds and fill.  Her way of going was the same as when we checked in, so that was all good, too.  I enjoyed talking with the vet as we wrapped up the examination.  Frank, the horsemanship judge, had mentioned at the ride briefing the night before about walking in a circle with the horse as you lunge them, using a 10 foot lead rather than a long lunge line.  I have to see things to understand them so I mentioned to him that I would try it and he came out to show me.  Windy moved off gracefully and looked nice. If nothing else, she sure is pretty and no matter how naughty she was on the ride, she still takes my breath away.




To those who don't know the game, the horse and the rider both start the CTR with 100 points.  The object of the competition is to not lose any points.  The horse and the rider are both scored independently so a horse may place higher than a rider and it is possible for a horse to place in the competition but not the rider or vice versa.  Windy scored 40/40 for Condition and 44/45 points for Soundness.  She was dinged one point for dragging that toe.  Trail Ability & Manners. OMG! She lost 10 of the 15 points because of her refusal to do obstacles.  My inability to ask my horse to perform pretty much had the same affect on my score card.  Like I said, it is what it is.




My horse and I both came in 6th place out of 6 riders.  Or in other words, DEAD LAST!  I have to remember that she came in 2nd place out of 12 or 13 horses the last time we completed a CTR in 2010.   I had been working with her then, but the last couple years, I have been riding for Distance Derby miles. I shouldn't expect more than I put out. Things to practice. :)  Mary, Dwight and John all had good rides. There were two other people in our class as well. One guy, Alan, usually always places and is real close to ribboning out novice, I would think. There was one other rider besides John and my friends and I wasn't sure who would fall in what place.




They called the horse placings first and Windy got her 6th place ribbon. I think Dwight's horse was 5th and Mary's horse place 4th.  The 3rd place ribbon went to another horse.  When they called the 2nd place winner and it wasn’t Fancy, that only meant one thing.  That our Fancy-Pants had won it!  She got the first place ribbon with 99 out of 100 points!  We were both so proud of her! 




As a rider, John placed 5th, Dwight 4th and Mary was 3rd.  Next, they announced that John and Fancy won High Point Combined Score for first time competitor.  And THEN they also won Sweepstakes in our class - their combined scores higher than everyone in our class!  What a great first ride!  I was so proud of them both. 




The best part about the ride was having John ride with me and that he enjoyed it  And guess what?  Next weekend we are going to do the Indian Cave CTR together.  And we just might switch horses for the ride.  (Wink!)