She called me Friday night and said she was settled in from her trip down from Colorado, but had the opportunity to ride with Ed, so we agreed to meet up the next day. I was amazed when she called me Saturday afternoon after a looooonnng day riding, that she still wanted to meet. I probably would have just wanted to crawl into bed under the covers after such a mentally and physically stressful day. But she cowgirled up and we had a wonderful steak and enchilada dinner at Buford's Steakhouse and chatted like old friends. Unfortunately, it gets dark way too early so I wouldn't be able to see her "boys" until Sunday.
It's a terrible photo but, oh well, my camera is acting up something fierce. I click and click and click and finally, maybe, it takes the picture. I'm trying to get to photo #10,000 before I retire it. I haven't got many pictures to go either. As you can see from her beautiful tan, the sun was shining and the weather was warm. For mid October, the weather has been just beautiful. All one needs are short sleeves and sunscreen.
On Sunday, I drove over to the arena to watch the barrel racers study with the master horseman, Ed Wright.
A long, long time ago, as a teenager, I ran barrels, poles, and all the other speed events that they have at gymkhanas. This was on my first horse (pony actually), Alfie, a 13.2hh Palomino Appaloosa that I got when I turned 13. The second year we had him, I trained him to ride pleasure as well as gaming. When we bought him, he didn't know what taking a correct lead meant. We ran games and general all-around riding in a tom thumb snaffle. Then I bitted him in a low port curb to train him for showing Western Pleasure and Trail. I taught him to back up properly, slow jog, and lope both ways around the arena on the correct lead. It was a huge improvement from the beginning, when we bounced around the arena, in a wildly fast trot, trying to get him to break into a canter. The funny thing is, he already knew how to do alternate flying lead changes from pole bending. He could do a perfect rollback in the chalk outline of a keyhole during a race. But he was ignorant on etiquette and proper pleasure riding. We learned a lot together in those early days.
At a gymkhana that summer, I rode the junior game events and my brother rode the senior events. They were divided by age: 15 and under, 16 and up. I also rode Western Pleasure and Equitation. We cleaned up with High Point Trophy and lots of beautiful rosette ribbons. It was great! Everybody knew us and the handy, little, yellow and white horse. I think I was especially proud of winning in the Western Pleasure class, however, because I had worked so hard for it.
But that's all in the distant past. I haven't ridden any speed events in decades. lol. It's intimidating to me now.
Anyway, I watched as Ed worked with each rider, having them "rate" as they approached the barrel and then proceed with the tightest, smoothest turn possible, lowering their speed as little as possible. When it wasn't correct, he'd have them stop, back, do it again, keep turning, or whatever it took to get the desired results. It was interesting to watch him work them through their issues and I usually saw some slight improvement. Whereas, in my barrel racing days, I pretty much pointed at a barrel and ran full out, letting the horse do all the work, I noticed how much the rider can help the horse prepare and round each barrel. As is the case in barrel race training, there was no all out running; they varied their speeds and mixed the patterns although I would have loved to see them really perform in a real barrel race. In between warming up, cooling down, and working with Ed, there was a lot of standing around. Barrel Racing horses are actually some of the calmest horses around, when they're not racing. How well I remember those days of sitting atop my horse watching the other riders run, like this girl, with her leg slung across the pommel of the saddle. I love her turquoise boots, btw. Also, notice the over the knee boots on the girl next to her. Nice, huh?
Since I wasn't in the clinic, I will leave a lot of the technical stuff to BrownEyed Cowgirl and just share some photos I took with my poor worn out camera. Please visit her website to read her very interesting and informative posts. Her horses, Frosty and Moon, are BIG and gorgeous boys and she is a very sweet, knowledgeable, and down to earth person.
This horse has the biggest butt I've ever seen on a horse. The lighting actually doesn't do it justice. And he could run too! I think he belongs to the arena owners who were also participating in the clinic.
Sometimes, Ed rode the other person's horse to better demonstrate what he was talking about.
After the clinic I invited BEC over for some homemade pizza and to see my animal gang. We visited the alpacas who, unfortunately, became very shy and wouldn't come up to us. And then we visited the horses, or should I say, Annie and Yalla! Yalla! wouldn't leave us alone and she wouldn't let Scout or Nadia approach us. BEC showed me some leg stretches that she had learned about in her clinic and we tried them out on Yalla! who readily allowed us to play with all four legs. I was glad she was there to show me the proper way to do it because I was trying to pull the back legs up way too high, which could cause soreness and damage instead of therapy.
Lastly, this is what happens when two bloggers get together. lol.