Thursday, October 9, 2008
Day 1 of Competition-Conditioning and In-hand
After a very busy Wednesday moving over to the Will Rogers Complex, training, and meetings, Thursday came with a mixture of adrenalin and fatigue for both Pardon and me. We were 27th in the lineup so there was plenty of time for the bugs to set in. Chapin had drawn 23rd so I would get a chance to watch him go thru the course and hoped Pardon would relax with Raz'in Cain around. Watching the first few horses complete the in-hand portion made us relax as it was a simple course. I had met several trainers from last year and a couple of new ones prior to arriving at Ft Worth. Seemed all were a bit nervous so at least we were all on the same playing field.
I do want to explain a few differences from last year's competition to this year. First, there were 200 horses opposed to 100. Second, the trainers and horses were flighted by trainer choice. We were given the opportunity to select 1 of 3 levels to compete in. The first being the Stars division in which you performed in a roundpen and riding was optional. Next was the Idols and last the Legions. We were given the opportunity to move our self up in levels but not down. I had earlier selected Idols in hopes that I would have a horse as good as Medicine Man from last year. Well, as luck would have it I should have picked the Stars division. But that's neither here nor there so this is where we're at. Pardon and I will do the best we can.
OK, back to the competition. Prior to the start of todays event we were given an opportunity to have a walk-thru on the course with the judges. This also was new from last year. A very beneficial addition.
Now, Chapin and Raz'in Cain is up and boy, am I nervous for my son. The conditioning was done just prior to entering the arena. Cain's coat was excellent and he possibly was a bit under weight. Feet were great also. Next step.......Thought he would never say it Chapin was a shaky mess. In the arena he steps and begins the course. First off were 4 cones that you had to trot your horse thru from a stop. Cain just didn't see any reason to trot the entire way. So it was a slinky effect as he would trot-walk-trot-walk-trot-walk. Next into a eight foot square of poles and a right 360 degree turn in place. Cain did this well, out of the box and load into the trailer. No problem. 3 task down, now ground tie and pick up all 4 feet. Never have I seen this fellow give a problem with his feet until today. He just would not have any of this. As Chapin would attempt to pick up his feet he would step away. On and on until he picked up 3 of 4 feet. Right turn and trot across two different sets of poles and out the door. Chapin's score placed him thirty-third of 76.
Then my turn. Pardon's coat was superb, feet great, muscle tone good but his weight was a bit off. I felt Pardon should have been at least one hundred pounds heavier and the judges agreed. Into the arena we go and Pardon says WOW. What have you brought me into. The cones were a repeat of Chapin. We trotted thru the first 2 and then he also felt walking was much better. I would stop, regroup and advance again. We finally made it thru and into the box for our 360. He did this exceptional with no touching, just yielding from my non-touching hands completely around. Ok, now I'm feeling a bit better. Next the trailer, just a slight pause and he hops in, walks to the front and I back him out with no resistance. Ground tie and pick up the feet. As I start to the front feet he wants to back up slightly so we have to regroup, reposition, and try again. It took us about forty-five seconds to get around all four feet but we made it! Whew, now back up, a right turn and trot off thru the next 2 poles with no trotting problem and we are out of there. Pardon's performance puts us in 31st. Not a great score to win but an excellent score for this little fellow and his issues. The condition score = 20% and the in-hand = 30%. The riding portion tomorrow will be worth 50% of the total score. Pardon's weight cost us I'd say 10 positions. Now, back to the stall, relax and watch the rest of the performers.
Emily was up in the yearling class so we make a mad dash over for that. There were 70+ yearlings competing in her division. 18 years and up. Again, this dad was a wreck watching from the stands as Emily and Holly-Go-Lightly made their way into the arena. First up was walk in, up to the trailer, load, off-load, 360 turn to right, ground tie, pick up all four feet, trot off over a six inch jump, thru the cones, into an open box. 90 degree turn, back into a chute, walk out and trot off across a spoked configuration of poles, then 4 lateral poles and out. Folks, if I have ever been more proud of one of my children I couldn't remember when. This pair made this course look like a pleasure walk. Had I been the judge there would have been no question as to their abilities. The only hick-up was Holly stepped slightly to the left as Emily set to pick-up her feet. That was it! Like, WOW. Emily placed 11th missing the cut by one half of one point. She was ecstatic for the remainder of the day. I'm sorry to say this was the clincher as to whether this horse was going home or not. We would have at least one horse on the ride back to North Carolina. Horse course coming up tomorrow so relax for the remainder of the day. See Ft. Worth and eat.
Posted by Jimmy Thomas