Since the Kanopolis CTR, the time has changed and we lost our precious Daylight Saving Time. And I sold my beautiful Sundowner trailer. Time keeps on spinning, spinning, spinning… Let me back up a bit….
I was super excited to enter the Kanopolis CTR. It is one of my favorite places to ride. In the heart of Kansas, the terrain is like none other. When you see shows about Jessie James on the History Channel and supposedly where he buried his treasures, it looks a lot like Kanopolis. Very cool rock, a real Horsethief Canyon, fun water crossings and autumn colors to die for! I signed John up to ride Windy again and I would be riding Fancy. John told me no matter who I rode, I needed to “get my game on”. Hmm. A challenge? A quick trip to the vet to get our traveling papers and we were ready to haul early that Friday morning.
I had hounded my friends, Mary and Dwight, to come ride with us again. They entered the Turkey Trot and had good rides, but Mary said they had just been away too long and had to catch up on “housework”. In my opinion, that is what winter is for. But Mary was adamant. I was surprised to get a call from her on Friday morning asking where we were and to find we were coming upon the gas station that they had pulled into. They surprised me by signing up and keeping it a secret. Mary reminded me that she feels the same way I do about housework! So it would be Mary, Dwight, Sharron, Shari, John and me – our Nebraska contingent – heading to Kansas for this last Region 6 ride.
We arrived not long afternoon, set up camp and did a quick ride to warm up the horses. We were rather surprised when we showed for the judge and both Windy and Fancy were quite animated on the lunge line! We had our ride meeting and looked forward to a 20 mile ride the next day with a 4.3 mph pace; quite a bit faster than the last 2 rides.
We were saddled at sunrise for an 8:30 ride time. Fancy felt good and was anxious to move out. We found the judges on the trail pretty early. We didn’t have to stop; just ride over some timber on the trail. I mentally pumped my fist when we easily sailed over the logs without so much as a tap. I hear the judge say “excellent”. It was a great start to the day!
As mentioned, the ride was faster than Indian Cave or Turkey Creek; most likely
because there are not the hills that those places offer but it is not without challenging terrain. While not as steep or high of climb, those ups and downs into the canyon can be rocky and sometimes on sheer rock, so it is tricky in places. It was important we move out on the prairie so we could take our
time when we were at the rock. Shari would put Mika in a foxtrot and we would trot behind. The vet had asked me if Fancy was smooth. I had told him that she wasn't too bad but that she wasn't my normal ride. He said the way she moved and is put together, she should be. Well, I found that gear with her. At
times I think she may have been single footing. I had no problem "riding the balloon" that Shari talks about with her. It was a pleasure.
The next obstacle was opening a gate. Due to the wind, they wanted us to pull it toward the horse and pivot around it. I was glad because this is how I practice gates, albeit it I haven't practiced on Fancy. I had a little problem lining her up but once I got ahold of the gate, we got it open, moved around it and closed it. Score! John and Windy struggled. Windy was in her "no-no-no" mood. Game on!
At the P & R's, you want you pulse to be 12 or less and your respirations to be 9 or less at check out. They will usually give you an incoming reading so you know where you are, but they were short of volunteers so we just got the outgoing read. Luckily, we pulsed down well. At one P & R, we had a judged mount. Fancy stood nicely and I managed to get on without plopping into the
saddle or without Fancy stepping off. John did the same.
My only complaint of the day as far as Fancy was concerned is that she wasn't drinking. There was plenty of water on the trail but she wasn't interested. We rode 20 miles in 5:36 hours with an average pace of 4.21 mph. My only ding at vet check was her capillary refill went to a 1. This was most likely due to her lack of drinking. Overall, I felt good about the 1st day's ride.
At the ride meeting on Saturday night, they told us to be ready for a trot by at 7:45 AM and ride out at 8:15 AM. At Indian Cave, I was dinged on my trot by for being "loose in the saddle" and "balancing on reins". It's interesting what a judge sees because I thought I did pretty good. I even posted! Shari said she
usually two points or is up in the saddle so she doesn't risk being off on the post. She said a lot more can go wrong when you post so I remember that. Also remembered how spooky Fancy was at the trot-by at IC, so I took her out early and lunged her for awhile to scare away the demons. It seemed to work. We had a nice trot by and got a "good" on our score card.
Sunday's ride was a reverse of the day before with a few cut-offs to reduce the miles to 17.1. We started out to the back of the pack. A group of two passed us shortly after the ride started and we were on our own after that. Once again, the judges were in the first mile or so and just observed us going down a rockier area of trail. Eyes ahead, don't look down.... we did that just fine.
This morning we hit the water crossing early. It was pretty deep - up to Fancy's shoulders and she is 15.2hh. I managed to keep from getting wet and got a video that I posted on FB. Love the water crossings. We did a lot of trotting early because we knew we would be hitting the canyons on the way back and wanted to get our time padded before then. It was a little tougher on Sharron's Boomer today. He is a heavier horse and she could feel that he was tired. So we would bring it down until she felt he was ready to go again. She wasn't discouraged - said what she needs to do to condition for this is long trotting - something she hadn't done a lot of.
The first challenge was not planned. Shari and Mary come to a narrow part of the trail and just as Mary was turning around to tell us to watch our step, Dwight's horse, Tate, fell in it. We saw the horse go down on his side with Dwight under him in the ravine. I thought Tate was going to continue rolling over Dwight but he stopped and got up. Both were dusted off, check for injury and chop, chop - we were back on the trail again. We called Tate "Timex". He takes a licking and keeps on ticking. Apparently Dwight does, too.
The next obstacle, I think I mentioned, was bushwhacking thru a marked trail, keeping the markings to our left. I recall doing something similar years ago when I did my first CTR on Ginger. And I totally screwed it up. Again, deep breath. Shari went first and she had to sidepass along the way (CP obstacle) so I had some time to study where I was going and think about it. Again. look ahead not down. I did make sure I was up out of the saddle going up the slight incline. I felt like we did it okay. Too little too late, I remembered the last judge mentioning how I should use more leg when directing my horse and wondered if I did or if it would get mentioned.
The last P & R was at the top of a long climb. I think she came in at 16 or 17 heart rate. She quieted quickly and rested. Her outgoing was at a 13 which would cost me a point. I could ask for a retake, but if it came in higher, I would have to take the higher score. Knowing that Fancy usually pulses down good, I went for the retake. She was still a 13 so I lost a point there. Windy lost on respirations. John should have asked for a retake but didn't. Just something he needs to know about the game.
When we crossed the finish line, Shari had coached us to dismount right away as this judge liked to see that since the game was over and to give the horse a break. Us women dismounted, the men did not. Guess who lost some points?
At checkout, Fancy was 0-0-0 and 3. We only lost a 1/2 point for not being a 3.5 or better, if you recall the initial post. She lunged beautifully and I was happy with our ride. There were 7 in our class and I think I told the girls I had hoped for a 4th place or better. I really felt I worked at this one and did a lot better than the previous rides. All the horses did pretty good, so wasn't sure how they would come in.
In the end, I was pleased with my 3rd place finish and Fancy's 4th place. If Fancy wouldn't have lost that last point at the P & R and the 1/2 at the end, she would have had 3rd also. I couldn't help those and the ding at the gate for not lining up was rider error, not horse. The judge said I needed to be more patient and he was right. Stop, settle, slow...
Our group of riders did pretty darn well. In the class that Sharron, Mary, Dwight, John and I were in, here were the standings. The horse's placing is first and the rider's placing is second. I did not get the last place ribbon! Shari is not in
the Novice class so she is not shown here. I am sure she will report her own ride.
1/2 KS Bluestem Lady Liberty/Mary Hanson
2/1 Lethal Status/Sharron Ankerson
3/6 Silver Valley Tate/Dwight Hanson
4/3 Bartending For Money/Tammy Vasa
5/- R.M. Savanna's Hope/Karen Everhart
6/4 Windy/John Vasa
-/5 Tempra/Bobbie Barton
What I really liked about this ride was picking up the speed a bit. I liked the diversity of the trail - prairie, trees, canyon. I prefer it over the hills of Indian Cave or Turkey Creek and I think the horses did, too. I felt like Fancy could have kept going and had a lot of horse left at the end of the day. John commented on trotting being Windy's preferred gait and it is. I think she could do the whole ride at a trot.
I have to admit, I am hooked. I have had so much fun at these last three rides and contribute a lot of that to not only having John ride with me and having two good horses that can do the sport and learn from the sport but doing it with friends. I appreciate the encouragement that Shari has provided all these years and so glad to have her ride with us. Cherie, one of the horsemanship judges and winner of the CTR Presidential Award her last year of competing told me that we could not have a better mentor than Shari Parys. That she knows the sport and is a beautiful rider. She also told me that I made great improvements over the Indian Cave ride. Yes!
John enjoys it but he did complain about getting some jean rubs. When I mentioned riding tights, he said that will never happen. That’s what I used to say, too.