My First Horse Show

That’s right. I’d never been to a horse show until yesterday, when Sara and I returned to the beautiful McClennan Community College Highlander Ranch for a working equitation competition. Fun was had by us, and we sure learned a lot!

Amazingly beautiful grounds with immense oaks.

It was hard not to drool at all the gorgeous gaited horses, Gypsy vanners, and giant warmbloods. but, thanks to the very welcoming people at Heart of Texas Working Equitation, we did learn what was going on, what the goals of the dressage and obstacle competitions were aiming at. What fun.

Here are Pam and Jed in the dressage part of the competition. They won!

We lucked out in that two really experienced women were sitting near us, and they were nice about explaining what made a good horse, what made a good rider, and the history of some of the competitors. That made it lots of fun.

Our favorite of the many great stories we heard during the day was about Pam and her gray paint/something fancy Jed. It turned out he had a year like Apache did last year, only worse. His feet were so bad that they recommended he be put down, but they managed to nurse him back to health. This was their first time in the arena since 2019 (well, they didn’t compete last year anyway, but he wouldn’t have been there).

This is BEFORE she got the overall best rosette! We were all so happy for her.

He is such a great horse that I see why she didn’t want to lose him. He basically slept between his events, breathing so heavily on Pam that her shirt was wet. Then, when she put his bridle on, he perked up, went out, and won the obstacle course, too!

I just cut the nice lady’s head off, because all I cared about was her horse. It’s the family pet, raised by them, and with an incredibly laid-back disposition. He also aced every move and won the more advanced class.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I was very happy to get to see my first Gypsy vanner horses in person. These are small but robust horses that were used to pull wagons, but also had to be very tame, because they were always around children. They are a perfect “Suna size” horse. And of course, there is the hair. The glorious hair. Brush, brush, wash wash, braid braid. Sounds like a good retirement hobby to me.

This one is their stallion, doing the gate opening activity. The judge is behind them. Can you see how long the braid is that’s keeping his mane out of the way?

Naturally, these are really expensive horses, so I will admire them from afar. But, they are living My Little Ponies!

It was also fascinating to watch all the gaited horses, which have a different, smoother “trot” than quarter horses and most other horses. The horse looks quite busy when gaiting, but the rider is smooth as if they are sitting on a couch. I am really tempted to get one of those, since Apache has a really rough trot (one of the horses in the show did, too, and its rider was bouncing around at both trot and canter). I’m afraid I was too enthralled with the warmbloods and hair horses, so I didn’t get any photos.

I did enjoy one little quarter horse, mainly because she was such a great size. This is the one where Sara asked if she was a former brood mare, and her owner said no, she was a nightmare. But, she did pretty well considering her history of not doing much until she was older, and was a very friendly girl

They are in Western dressage attire.

It was exciting to watch the experience riders, who were on Lusitano and Andalusian horses. Those are the big ones. They are able to do all sorts of collection moves, fancy walks, snazzy trots, and things I will never do in my entire life, but are fun to watch.

The final part of the day was where they ran the course as fast as they could. That was a lot of fun. Two of the most fun were when Doreen, the woman who did yesterday’s clinic, didn’t go fast, but did the whole course as smoothly and with as few extra steps as possible. She wasn’t getting scored, because her gaucho pants had knocked over something and disqualified her in the obstacle course. She was a great example of taking one’s mistakes with grace, and showed that even the experts have mishaps.

They are backing up.

But the most fun one to watch was a woman who raises Australian stock horses. She and her horse ran that thing like a race, and it was a hoot to watch. And in this part you are allowed to cheer. It was a great way to end the day!

Zoom!

I look forward to doing some of these obstacle things with Apache, if I can ever ride again, and to taking some lessons to become a better rider, even if I’d never get past the first level of this stuff!

Thanks for bearing with my horse love. I am moving on to another topic soon, I promise!

An Equitation Educational Event

Today Sara and I went and did something together! What? Yes! We ranch ladies went off and did a horse thing somewhere near Waco. We hadn’t done anything together since last year!

One of the horses and riders we met.

We went to a beautiful facility and audited a working equitation class. The clinician was really nice and let us stand close enough to hear her. It was tons of fun learning all the things horses and riders do in this relatively new sport in the US.

The hay thing simulates a cattle chute. the barrels and sticks you do a turning pattern through.

The idea is that working equitation includes aspects of cattle working from European, US, Mexican, and South American traditions. There are dressage elements (fancy horse steps), cattle working elements, finesse, and speed.

There were lots of different horse types and riders.

Another cool thing about it is that riders wear apparel from their own tradition. So you see all kinds of saddles, tack, and riding outfits. Some horses are big Andalusians, others are gaited horses with fancy walks and runs, while you also see quarter horses, too. Sara and I sure enjoyed all the beautiful animals and skilled riders!

This rider on a deep brown gaited horse is working the barrels.

My favorite of the things the students learned was picking up a pole in a barrel, snagging a ring on it and depositing it in another barrel. the gate opening task was fun, too.

That’s the pretend gate you have to open and close without “letting the cows out.”

I can see why Sara is interested in this sport! We learned all the patterns and figured out some of the skills we’d need to learn (me way more than Sara). Now we just need horses that are healthy and can learn with us. I still have faith in Apache.

Tomorrow we’re going to watch a show, which also will have dressage. This is all new to us cowgirls, but everyone was so nice to us, supportive of each other, and eager to learn. The horses all seemed to be having fun, and most of them were sweet animals, too.

I had to take this, because the flowers will get mowed soon.

In other news, there were more floods and rain today, but some fence work did get done. And I got to play with Vlassic much of the morning.

Vlassic enjoys his newly enlarged pond.

Another fun thing this morning was watching how curious the cows are about all the fence work. They are compelled to explore each new piece.

We’re fascinated.

And the little steer has been so cute and friendly. He kept coming up and licking my hand with his rough, black tongue. I can’t wait until Haggard joins the friendly cattle (hoping that will be tomorrow, since he is officially cleared).

I want to kiss you.

Anyway, despite the rain and more rain, it was a fun and educational day. Hope yours was, too.

I want to kiss you, too.
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