On Saturday we went on our first ever judged trail ride. I had no idea what to expect so I had worked on generic trail exercises the Thursday before. I rode with RB4 and after getting the TWH loaded up, I picked up RB4's new horse and off we went. It was only a short 30 min jaunt away so there wasn't a need to get up super early or have half of a day being taken up by driving. There were already a surprisingly large number of people there when we arrived at 10a but we found ourselves a little place by some trees, parked and got ready.
I registered without issue and my only real heart attack moment was when I realized I had forgotten a saddle pad. OPPS!! Thankfully I had some show pads in my trailer and I was able to use that for my ride, how silly of me to forget a saddle pad??? I suppose since I have had show pads in my trailer for a couple of years now that I had fallen out of the habit, hopefully I won't make that mistake again.
We started off and quickly came upon a group of 5 that were doing the first obstacle. There were three poles extended off the end of a square. You had to walk in one "tunnel" of the poles, into the square, turn around and out the other side. As you exited the square, there were 2 poles set up, fanned out so you had to step over the two poles to get to the other "tunnel". The horses were having a hard time and were tripping over the fanned poles, stepping on the poles that made up the square and getting all worked up. After about 5 mins everyone had finished and I had my turn, the TWH walked in, turned around, stepped over the poles and walked out. No biggie, he has had worse thrown at him in the steering lessons I give lol. For his efforts he got 10 points!
Next was a gate, a clackity aluminum thing that was quite noisy. The group of 5 let us go ahead first and while the TWH was very concerned about the noisy gate, he stood while I opened it, walked through and then sidepassed as I closed it. 10 points! We were able to make good time to the 3rd obstacle, horseshoes, where we ended up meeting RB3. You walked to a line, threw 3 horse shoes and demonstrated the horse would stand. Everyone did great but I was the only one who threw a ringer. Lol. 10 points! The 4th obstacle fairly simple, it was a calf carry. You walk to a sawhorse, pickup a brown, fuzzy body pillow, carry it around a circle and put it back on the sawhorse. No spooking or dropping the pillow. Easy 10 points.
The 5th obstacle was walking under a long pole that was at a slant against a tree, picking it up as you walk under it and set it back down when you get to the other side. The TWH did beautifully except when he got under the tree he didn't fully listen to the half halt from my seat so my helmet tapped the pole. I lifted the pole, walked under, put it down and walked away, unfortunately the tap gave me 9 points. At that point RB4 and I rode away from RB3 as those two don't always get along and we had a great time gaiting the rest of the ride. The 6th obstacle was opening a mailbox that had a flag pop up. 10 points. The 7th was the "snake pit", where we had to walk on a tarp covered with hoses. He didn't even act like it was there, 10 points. The 8th obstacle was walking through a row of open umbrellas and then onto a sheet painted with black spots. The TWH looked at the sheet pretty hard but walked on after a quick pause. 10 points.
The 9th obstacle was pretty cool, there was a knapsack tied with a long rope. The rope went over a tree branch and hung back to the ground. You took the free end of the rope, pulled the knapsack in the air and tied the rope around another tree to simulate tying food off of the ground at night. A lot of horses had trouble with this one and I was concerned as well, having the knapsack lift off of the ground as you walk away was spooking horses. When it was our turn I waited until I had the very end of the rope before pulling the knapsack into the air so the TWH would be as far from the knapsack as possible and then walked him around the tie-tree and tied it off. No spook, no looking, 10 points!
The 10th obstacle was another I was concerned with as we haven't ever practiced it, walking over a wooden "bridge". As we approached it I just used a lot of leg "just in case" and the TWH didn't show a speck of concern. We went over it a couple of times for good measure though, 10 points! The final obstacle was back at the trailers, throwing a mini basketball at a mini hoop. You had to hit the hoop/stand/rim or make a basket while your horse stood still. I came quite close to making a basket but missed, at least I hit the rim each time. 10 points.
Overall we missed only a single point out of 120, I was very impressed
with my boy! He handled all the new stuff without any concern and was
super quiet and relaxed the entire ride. He had never been to that park
before either, so the fact he did the obstacles in a brand new spot was
even better. Then the next day I found out I had won first place in the
19-45 age division!!! To go from the goal being to survive to finding
out you won is an amazing feeling. I am very excited about future
rides, there is another in October we will go to. Go Sinatra!