Saturday, October 1, 2011

Gym Can Uh

After the "incident" of last Saturday, I was very hesitant to be on my horse for any extended period of time. This was my first scary incident where I lost control of my horse, and my muscles were sore and I had a huge bruise on my belly from the saddle horn. I think I'll re-new my search for a saddle without a horn.

However, I had already agreed to go with my barn posse to a Gymkhana. What is a gymkhana? I hear you asking, and you're trying to sound it out in your head too. It's pronounced just like the title of this post, and is an event where a series of timed events are held. Barrel racing, weaving in and out of poles, and similar things are set up to challenge riders and their horses.

There were quite a few people and horses there, and I was very vigilant, watching for any possible trigger that could upset the great white whale. I rode him that day in his twisted snaffle bit, and I found I needed a very light rein, and he responded very well to it. I could also tell that he hates it still, but I wanted to be sure I could get his attention in case something spooked him.

He seemed just fine though, even happy/excited to have a task to do that we have practiced before.
They broke up the competitors into classes, Over 18, Under 18, Walk/Trot, and Lead Line. Over 18 and Under 18 is pretty self explanatory, Walk/Trot meant that if your horse broke into a canter, you would get bumped in the regular over/under 18 category, and Lead Line meant that your horse would be led through the course by someone on foot. We chose the Walk/Trot class, simply because his canter isn't polished enough, and I don't feel comfortable cantering on him, especially during a public competition!

We competed in the following events:

Barrels: The typical 3 barrel set up you may have seen at a rodeo
Bi-Rangle: 2 barrels set up, you have to go around both
Poles I: Poles are set up in a straight line, you have to weave in and out of the poles up and back
Big T: Poles like the above are set up, with 2 barrels at the end like Bi-rangle that you have to go around before you go back through the poles
Speedball: The rider is given a small ball that they have to take to a traffic cone at the end of the arena, drop it in to the opening in the cone, and come back

He only walked in the first challenge, and then after that, offered a trot with very little encouragement. My imagination would like to think that he figured out that speed was a factor, but my logical brain says he probably just wanted to get things over with quickly.
Competing on a draft horse who would rather not move at all is a little more difficult, and I know we'll never be competitive in a gymkhana, it was good to expose him to a busy setting, with trailers and trucks roaming around, some horses who were less than happy about being there, tiny little ponies running near him, and a loudspeaker announcing things.
Here we are trotting across the line after speedball.
After the competitions were all over, they started announcing the winners of the categories. One of the ladies at the barn has a very zippy horse, and even though it was her first competition too, she one quite a few ribbons!!  Yay!
Then I heard my name called. Whaaaaaaaaa-!!!!?!?!?!!
We won fourth place in Bi-Rangle!! (And yes, there were more than 4 people competing...)
I was shocked! We collected my very first ribbon in our very first competition!
He tried to eat it, so now it has a smudgy lip mark on the bottom, but I don't care! He got a celebratory flake of hay as I untacked him, and then we made our way back to the barn.
What a good day!