So we are mostly recovered from the trip. We pulled in super late last Monday night. I gave her most of the week off but took her for a trail ride on Saturday. She was super thrilled to be out and about and not an arena.
Here are some pictures I got from the professional photographer Charles Brooks.
Saturday was unbelievable! My morning started early so I could get MissFire warmed up and ready to ride before my "Horse Course" class. MissFire appeared to be on edge from the second I said good morning. After our trainers meeting I waited patiently for our turn. We were 4th out so it didn't take long. MissFire walked in and waited like a champ. She went over the bridge without hesitation and trotted through the serpentine right into the box. Surprisingly her 360's both right and left weren't bad and the back through was rushed but clean. We loped out of the chute on our right lead (yes right we didn't have it before Friday!) and spooked in the center. That was a bummer because she had a solid simple lead change right to left, oh well. We then started our "At Best" part of the course. We did a series of circles, side passing, front hand turns, and some backing. She was great for this. I felt it was a clean ride but not great. I was very pleased with MissFire and her progress. We ended up 14th in the class. The good news is this was high enough to get us a spot in the top 10 (well 11 this time)!
That night I was so nervous. I went out to warm up and had a slight problem/change of plans. MissFire decided she only had one gear and that was stop and back. I wasn't sure how I was to preform my final performance stopping and backing the whole time. While I waited nervously at the gate I was able to have a short conversation with an all time favorite of mine, John Lyons. When I left his side to go in I ran backwards away from the gate. I had to have two horses and a person hand walk me in. Once in she walked hesitantly but quickly and easily picked up the lope. This is the first time I had really loped her with a flag and we still don't really neck rein. All was well then I went into this really weird bucking/kicking thing. I couldn't get it. I tried to lope a couple circles to calm her down but it didn't work. I finally pitched the flag and got two hands on the reins thinking maybe the flag was bothering her. Nope...Went back to the bucking thing. Well now what? I went to the center and did my required maneuvers quickly and loped/trotted some more circles. She didn't seem to be settling. I stopped in the middle and tried to calm her down. No luck... Well I heard one minute remaining over the loud speaker so I nodded for my cow to come out. Yes MissFire loves cows but she has only sorted them never tracked or followed especially in a large arena. Well she forgot about bucking and went right to chasing. I doubt it was very pretty but she sure picked up the speed after him and forgot she was afraid of the crowd and the far end of the arena.
Lets just say this was a very upsetting ride. I had never had MissFire act in such a way. I couldn't get it. Well they announced over the microphone and let me know that my number had come unpinned and was poking her in the flank the entire ride. Well that makes more sense (I didn't think it was all nerves). John Lyons was giving quick interviews with each contestant prior to riding over to the judges to get their feedback and scores. Well by this time I was teary eyed. Mostly embarrassed that I finally was meeting John Lyons and I rode like what? They announced it was my birthday. Then the entire crowed said happy birthday to me and then announced that John Lyons was my all time idol (or something along those lines) all while John is shaking my hand and giving me a hug (Charlie gave MissFire a sniff too)! Thanks Juliane for the great birthday present!! We had a short interview before we walked together to get my scores. On our walk he reached out and grabbed my hand. It was funny MissFire trusted me (or Charlie) and walked straight to the judges side by side with them. It was great. The judges had very positive feedback and my scores could have been way worse.
And so I sit alone in Salem, Or. at a hotel. MissFire is sleeping in the trailer in the parking lot (yes I pulled dividers and bedded it deep) and my truck is sitting down at the GM dealer waiting for the service department to open in the morning. We stopped for our last fill up before getting home and the service attendant (Oregon won't let you pump your own gas) put gas in my diesel truck. I caught it after there were 25.008 gallows of gas in my tank. Out of precaution I decided to play it safe and have a certified GM mechanic work on it as too not void my warranties. So my poor truck is all along, has a tummy ache, and I miss her very much. She is very special to me as we came on in January with only 400 miles and now we are over 13,000 (thanks to the mustang stuff)! I hope she feels better in the morning because I am lonely and want to go home as so does MissFire. Oh did I forget to mention I bought her and she is coming home.... Well someday when we get there....
One more thing as its past 12:30 and I'm exhausted...Would I do it again? Definitely! The people are so nice, the judges are nice, and the people at the expo are nice too. I always felt welcome no matter who I was talking too. They always kept everything positive. Besides these mustangs are way better than my other domestic horses.
What a day...We arrived at the barns really late this morning. I barely had enough time to try to clean MissFire up and get changed to my show clothes before we had to report to a trainers meeting. During our meeting we went through the course with the three judges and were able to ask questions. After the meeting I went straight back and get MissFire since we were third out. As we entered the arena MissFire felt confident. She stood patiently for the judges to acknowledge and walked great into the shoot and we backed around the corner. It wasn't great but alright. She did step out and hit the poles before finishing the obstacle. She immediately started trotting with me and trotted around the cones great. She hopped right into the trailer, stood great, and backed out. We walked over the poles without hitting one (first time ever!) and picked up the bag and carried it to the next barrel. Then came the not so pretty 360 and picking up our feet. MissFire let me pick up the first one just fine but decided it was time to wiggle and would not allow me to pick up any other feet. When she finally decided it was time she was great! We headed over for the body conditioning where she stood great too! It was asking alot of her to allow 3 people walk around her at the same time but she did it. Overall it felt like a good go. I was very happy with her, it was way better than expected!
Our places overall we great. We tied for 4th in Body Conditioning and tied for 10th in the in hand competition. A very good day!
This evening I pulled the poor thing out of her stall and went out to ride. She was pretty good for the most part. She felt pretty fresh but handled herself. We worked on our leads and stretched our legs. She was thrilled to be out.
It was a long drive yesterday. We rolled out of Buckley at 3:01 am on our way to Sacramento. The trip was uneventful and I drove the entire way. We slept in Arbuckle with some friends so we could have a nice stress-free morning.
The day has been busy. Between bathing and working the girls. MissFire is completely attached to Sangria and won't quit screaming for her. There is a ton of commotion and people everywhere! I think MissFire will do alright for the competition. She still doesn't have her right lead but her left lead is great! Sorry for the short update its already 11:30 and I'm heading to bed!
So we had a very productive week. We hit the trails, went to drill practice, sorted cows, ventured down the road alone. We worked hard and played hard. She loved all of it. I think the cows were her favorite. Saturday we went to drill and loped with the team. It was so fun and she was great! That evening we hit the trails again and went for a very low key ride. On the way back in I notice she seemed a bit "off" but I figured she was tired. Sunday I took her for another ride but noticed her leg was sore and very swollen. When I tacked her up for practice Saturday morning it appeared her bell boot had removed the hair and a small sored the skin a little but nothing to worry about so I put some stuff on it and left her boot off. Well Sunday this seemed to be a little infected but her knee seemed to be bothering her. The swelling around her pastern and the swelling above her knee seem to be two separate injuries so I made an appointment for the vet. After leaving the vet it was determined she has scratches. She said by tomorrow night I should see huge improvement so lets cross our fingers she gets better quickly.
MissFire is a 4 year old dark brown Mustang mare, originally captured from the Devil's Garden HMA. She is one of the mustangs being trained for the Western States Extreme Mustang Makeover Challenge held in June 2009 at the Horse Expo in Sacramento, CA.
Jenny is a trainer for Cowgirl Spirit Rescue Drill Team. This is her first attempt at training a wild mustang right off the range and is eager to apply her unique training methods on MissFire. Be sure to watch our progress as we learn together!