Ride Your Best Horse First

Last weekend some folks that I judge horse shows for gave me a bottle of wine and a western sign as a gift. The sign read, “Ride Your Best Horse First”. They said that after my rides at their horse show the week before they figure I needed it! What can I say? They know me very well!

Because they welcome green riders and horses I love to judge there and haul my own horses there as well. This year I haven’t gotten to ride nearly as much as I should but I figured since my schedule was open and my horses needed hauling I decided to go. I took my seasoned gelding and my green mare that’s only been hauled a few times.

The morning of the show was the first cold morning and first frost that we’ve had so of course the horses were absolutely full of it! Fortunately, we pulled in to the show grounds with an hour to spare and I was able to get both horses in the ring to see all the sights. Aside from a little snorting and upturned tails, it went well. I knew both of their energy levels were up more than usual and expected them to be a handful.

My husband took the green mare into her In Hand Trail class. She’s never even seen a trail obstalce let alone backed through an ‘L’ shape but she handled it all like a pro. She didn’t give the water obstacle a second look either. I was hopeful that the day might go well after all.

Then it was time for the seasoned “been there done that” gelding to go through the same class. When my husband went to trot him between obstacles, my gelding had all four feet up in the air at one point!

I had a two class break before I was supposed to ride the gelding in my Trail class. I figured if he was that bad on the ground, he’d be a lot worse under saddle. I know him well knew I needed to lope a few circles to get the bucks and crow hops over with.

I took him to a nearby paddock  to work him and sure enough after a few strides he gave me his best shot. He bucked, crow hopped and reared and put on a pretty good show as he caught some air. I think some of the pleasure folks were appalled at such a display of outright rankness but over the years I’ve pretty much gotten used to it.

The first Trail class he wouldn’t settle for anything and pretty much obliterated the trail pattern because he was moving around. I’m sure I didn’t help anyhow because I was still jacked up from the bronc ride we’d just had.

The second Trail class he was a little better but still wasn’t really paying attention or settling until the last three obstacles. The very last obstacle we had to rope the dummy calf. He side passed in to pick up the rope beautifully and then stood perfectly still while I threw and then as I coiled my rope up. Where had this horse been all this time?

My husband showed him in Showmanship and Halter and he behaved very well through those.  After that I tied him to the trailer and sure enough a little later he was bucking there too.

I rode the mare in two walk/jog pleasure classes and a horsemanship class. Granted she wasn’t as finished as the other horses in the class but she trafficked well and didn’t look at the all the stuff outside the ring. She managed to keep a good consistent pace in her Horsemanship class too. I don’t think I’ve ever been so proud or happy after working one of my young horses. She redeemed the day for me!

I think I know who my best horse is and it’s not the horse that’s done everything from sort cattle to extreme cowboy racing. It’s a little mare that’s done everything I’ve asked her to do. Yes, I’ve got to put some more training on her but I think she’s earned the title of my best horse!