Thursday, November 13, 2008
Friday morning came with the same nervous tension as yesterday. We arrived at the arena before 7. The walk thru with the judges was to be at 8 and I didn't want to miss it. Chapin and I tended our horses and made our way to the arena. The course was simple in design but did have a couple of objects that do tend to affect a horse. The course begins by leading into the arena, left turn and stop at the cone. Mount and lope off on the left lead along side the rail, at the cone continue a left lead and circle for 1 revolution and stop. Reverse and pick up a right lead and circle around one complete circle, drop to a trot and move directly into a cross formation. Stop, back down 1 leg and walk forward to a rope gate with flowers. Open the gate, pass thru,and re-attach gate always maintaining contact with the rope. This did require, in most cases a side-pass thru moving the hindquarters around to position yourself for the next object, a wooden bridge with 4 flowers. (For some reason potted plants just about scare all horses). Trot over poles, both flat and elevated 6-8 inches. Four minutes to complete this portion. Second came a two minute free-style where you could use any props attached to yourself or saddle. OK, this doesn't seem to bad so off to saddle up and get ready. I drew eleventh place so this gave the nerves a chance to settle by watching a few horses go thru the course. I moved Pardon as close to the arena as possible in hope of his fears falling by the wayside before entering. I noticed several horses had a difficult time with the rope gate, just the appearance alone created quite a havoc for most. OK, our turn..........
Gate opens, in we go as I lead Pardon to the left and make a tight circle and what the #$%^&*; Pardon comes unglued right here in front of the entire world. I haven't seen him buck this bad since the saddle rolled under him two months before. I felt like a kid with a "June Bug on a string" as he went round and round with me holding the reins. After the second or third round I noticed his flank strap was way out of position. Somehow, the tie that connects the flank strap to the cinch had broken and did we have a rodeo taking place. It took me over a minute to get him settled down enough for me to remove the flank strap and bring him back down to earth. Once removed, he settled right down and I was able "with much reservation" to mount him with no issues. Off we go on a left lead lope around completing the circle and a half. Halt at the cone, 180 degree and lope off on the right lead one full circle and trot towards the T. Well, it just so happens the cross was right beside where the monster had just taked a chunk out of Pardon and he would have no part of going anywhere near that spot. We had walked into this same configuration dozens of times over the past month with no problems but now, his preservation instint was taking over. With no amount of persuasion, left to right, approach and retreat, backing into the area, squeeze and kick, clicking and clucking could move him into that area. Well, as luck would have it, the time ran out after the third of seven tasks completed and we were done. I guess three tasks are better than none, Next, our freestyle, I had not planned on much other than but just to show his softness, ability to rate in trot and lope, stop, back up, yield both fore and hind quarters and stand. We did go thru each of these with style. By now I was feeling better and he had relaxed somewhat, so I just had to finish off with a bang, so we stop in the middle of the arena, I drop the reins, move myself to a kneeling position and up I stand on this little man. He never moved as I gave my salute to the crowd with a better finish than start and off we go! Knowing we were out of the running I still had a strong feeling for this guy, having understood all the things he had overcome in the past 100 days. Back to the stall and get ready for Chapin's run.
Chapin came into the arena with a flair! From walking Razin' Cain into place for mounting to trotting over the poles everthing moved as smooth as a swiss watch. From the first task on, tears began to pool in my eyes as my son completed this course without any issues. The cross? No hesitation, The gate? Normally a problem for most gave these guys little resistance. The bridge? Right across, Poles? No touching, WOW! His freestyle was much like mine, other than he had a spectatular finish. Sitting on the saddle he fires off 2 shots from his pistol, standing in the saddle he fires off 3 more shots and valts over Razin' Cain's head and fires his last shot as he lands on the ground! Not a flinch from this brave horse! My mind has now moved from a competor in the event to the most proud father in the world!
Now, how did we finish? The results were in later that evening and we both were very surprised! Pardon and I completed the entire event placing 33rd overall, moving down only 2 positions. Chapin on the other hand, moved up to 19th. His score under saddle placed him 16th. What more could a father ask for!
The pride I had in my 2 children that evening gave me one of the best feelings I have ever had in my entire life! Emily placing 11th, and Chapin placing 19th with this being their first ever training competion was more than I or they could ever have dreamed of. WOW
Off to dinner with my 2 winners and friends at the Cattleman's Steak House to celebrate.........
Posted by Jimmy Thomas