So ... somehow I got roped into going to an arena event yesterday. They had all kinds of things going on, and if I understand it correctly, it wasn't like a sanctioned competition ... just a fun thing ... put on by one of the gaited horse clubs around here. They had the typical show classes ... whatever they call those ... and then had a trail challenge ... and games. I didn't know if Kahlua had ever been in an arena, so I wasn't sure what to expect. I entered her in 4 events: trail challenge, Simon says, pole bending and the chicken race.
I got there, and the show stuff was still going on. There were a bunch of gaited horses in the arena doing their thing. To me, it looks like a whole bunch of leg activity with not a whole lot of forward movement, and after owning Border Collies, doesn't seem to be the most efficient use of energy. But it's a show thing, I guess, and I never understood the show thing in dogs, so I am not going to try to understand it in horses.
The lunch break hit and I saddled Kahlua up and rode into the empty arena. She danced upon us entering, and then was quite frisky inside the arena. The mirror along the wall would get her all excited. Could only get her to canter one direction ... toward the exit. She was bunny hopping on me and kicking and being a twerp. It made me laugh. And I don't know a thing about riding a horse, especially in an arena. A couple of people in the stands were giving me pointers, so I was trying different things. So much fun! It was nice to ride Kahlua when she was all spunky like that. She was dubbed the Owyhee Walker Crack Horse because of her fabulous "gait."
The first class I did was the trail challenge. We went into the arena, we rode up to someone who handed us a rope with a tire on it and had to drag that. She did that perfectly. The next obstacle was the rope gate ... just two posts with a rope going across that you had to open, go through, and close. I couldn't get her to sidle up to it, so we went around it. Someone later mentioned to me that they think the horses do not like those rope gates because they look like electric fencing to them. May be. Then you trot a bit over to the logs on the ground and go over those. She had no problem there. Then trot over to the tall weave poles. We took our time and made that nice and clean, she was very cooperative. Then weave through the cones, that was good too. Then there was a jump. I stopped her in front of it and walked her over it. We knocked it down, but that was ok with me. Then into a "box" of sorts, where the edges were those thin poles laid out in a three-sided square, with a cone "entrance" out about 10 or 15 feet. You go between the cones, go into the square, do a full 360, and back out between the cones. No problem. Then to the cowboy curtain ... or whatever you call it. It's a tall frame with colorful pool noodles hanging by twine and blowing in the wind. I could get her right up to it, but couldn't get her to put her nose through it to see the other side. Given more time, I was convinced I could, but the judge asked me to move on. Over the tarp, and then to the trailer. Here is the really ironic part. Remember I almost sold Kahlua about 8 months ago because I couldn't get her in the trailer? Here, I scored extra points for being able to send her into the trailer instead of leading her in. Our trailer was probably the most impressive part of our run! LOL! On this event, I came nowhere close to placing, but I didn't come in last, either. It was a ton of fun and I can't wait to do it again.
We ran back to the arena for Simon Says where they were waiting on me. (I hate when that happens!) This is what you think it is. The judge says, "Simon says ... trot your horse," and you trot. The judge says, "Stop." And if you stop without Simon saying so ... you're done. I was doing great. Down to five other riders (don't remember how many started) ... and the judge said, "Simon says ... gait your horse." Huh? So I put her into a trot, and as I passed the announcer, I said, "Would that be the Owyhee Walker Crack Horse Gait?" She said, "I am not sure ...", and we both laughed. The judge said, "Reverse your horse." So I turned her around ... and got caught! Oops! So we took sixth place.
Next up was the chicken race. Heats of four horses. You race down to the other end of the arena, jump off the horse, pick up a rubber chicken, get back on the horse, and race back. This all sounds like fun, except the part of "get back on your horse" from the ground! I still suck at this part. But here we go. We run down in a straight line, I hop off. Grab the chicken, put it in my mouth, hop back on (yes, I got on the first time!), but the saddle slipped a lot (didn't tighten the cinch after all the stuff I just did with her), but the other horses took off, so she took off too ...at a diagonal across the arena with me hanging off the side of her with a rubber chicken hanging out of my mouth laughing my ass off! If they went for style points, we would have won that hands down.
Last up was pole bending. You run up the arena along the poles, weave back through them, weave back through them again, and then run back. She did really well, did everything I asked. (And I had tightened my cinch, too, which made it a lot easier to ride her. Imagine that.) We took 5th place.
I really didn't expect this to be as much fun as it was. The people were really nice, very helpful, and it was fun watching all the other riders. This has convinced me to take lessons and really learn how to queue Kahlua, move all of her quadrants individually, and learn ground work. I have a couple of local trainers to contact, and hopefully, we'll come up with a plan for winter.
Crack horse out.