Sunday was a shorter day. They had originally planned the rides distance, and speed, assuming it was going to be typical July weather of HOT and HUMID. So, today we were only doing about 18 miles, and slower than Saturday, at a pace of 4.5mph. I personally would have loved to have had them change the pre-planned speed, and moved us out a tad more when the weather turned cooler than expected. I want to test my horses condition against the trail, and other horses, and when the rides are easier, then their condition is not always tested. We were riding the same trails as Saturday, but shortened. And, we did not go to the side of the park with the more boggy / muddy conditions.
So, out through the meadows, along the tree line, past cows etc.
After an open field we had our first P&R, and afterwards, we had a gate obstacle. Open and close the gate (full size, not just a horse gate) while mounted. We could choose the manner / direction. The gate had a small "horse" gate next to it, that I knew Hank would be suspicious of if he was facing it, and looking at it in front of him, so I opened the gate facing him away from the opening, and the other gate, and backed through and turned and closed it. He was a very good boy. We open and close gates constantly on our home trails and we rarely get to do one at a ride. Speaking of gates, this area has a very interesting gate design out on some of the trails. We actually had to go through one (not judged) each day. They are set at a diagonal angle, and lift kind of like a gull wing door like those found on some sports cars.
Hank was still rejecting the stream water for the most part today, but drinking a bit better than the day before. Some rides, he loves the water, others he is fussy. He did love the water they hauled into camp, which I could smell was chlorinated. Kind of weird, since our home water is not chlorinated. But, I am never really suprised by Hank having yet another opinion. ;-)
MO has a LOT of caves and caverns. We had one creek section that we rode down into the creek, past a cave, and then back out of the creek.
I ended up out on front for awhile through some woods. If you ride out front, be prepared to be the one to remove the spider webs and spiders from across the trail. After I had about 3 spiders hit me in the face, I got a small branch, and rode with it in front of my face to grab the webs and spiders before I ran into them.
So, more woods, power line trails etc. we came to one of the gravel roads.
We ran into one of the ride volunteers, who said we were to have an obstacle down the road a bit, but the judges were not there yet. The Open riders who got there first decided to just wait on the judges to get there, so we would have another judging opportunity. We could have ridden on, as we were not super early, but I feel that since we paid to be judged, we might as well wait a little bit. If they had not shown up within 5 to 10 min., I think we would have headed on down the trail. But, they were there about 4 min. after we arived.
They placed a 6" round log, that was about 6' long in the road. Told us to face the horse towards the log at one end, and pivot/side pass around the end 180 degrees, until we were facing the other way. No stepping over the log etc. Pretty basic, and Hank thankfully did not get his own ideas to start sidepassing etc. Did it pretty well I thought, and off towards the end of the ride we went. Back on the same trail we came out on, and Hank of course was in a hurry, as he knew we were heading towards camp. Finally got him ahead of some horses, and he took the time to drink much better.
The final stretch of the days ride was on the gravel road into camp. We commented on what a beautiful day it was, and who would have thought we could have had such perfect weather in July for a ride. Bright blue sky, some fluffy clouds floating around.
Those who missed this ride from that region, really missed a lovely weekend.
Check out went fine. Hanks metabolic scores seemed to stay the same, although the horses metabolics were not checked on trail this weekend, just at camp each day, after each days ride. He did not lose any pulse points, but I knew that a couple of the SIX obstacles the vet watched over the weekend, Hank was less than perfect. Much of it I get complacent, and don't start thinking about how to keep him on track, and not let him come up with the "Hank way" of doing something. The horse is very well schooled, and can do about anything needed on the trail for me, but sometimes we are not on the same page with how to get that done. My fault for not being in charge of the situation all the times. And as I said before, to ride an Arab, you need to keep a sense of humor at times.
So, awards time, and Hank placed 3rd, and I placed 4th. I got my score cards, and started glancing at them quickly for any errors in math etc. I saw that for Hanks little decision of stepping into the ditch and turning, instead of crossing it, he lost 1 1/2 points. And he rushed up out of Saturdays creek, which was another point. Those two were preventable on my part, and good reminders for ME on the fact that I need to work on us working together. The back through the trees, where he was resistant, but we got it done, he lost a point. I'm not upset by that, as I know that once he bumped his butt against one of the trees, he had lost some confidence in my keeping him safe. A different approach to the trees next time might help. Happy he got an excellent on the gate!
I glanced at the horsemanship card, and saw that I had a -2 for "did not complete" on the log we had to turn around the end of it. Hank had a 'good" on his card. So, I am thinking that they transposed a rider number or something, and I got someone elses score. I hope who ever got my "good" appreciates it. lol Did have an interesting comment of "lack of rein control" in the creek crossing. I remember Hank dropping his head to drink, and my letting the reins go long for him to do so, then gathering back up when he decided the water still tasted bad to him. Would not change a thing,as Hank wanting a possible drink is more important to me that my score, and we pay for judges opinions at the rides. But that one, I'd love to see a video, to see if I did something my mind is missing as far as keeping "control" of him.
I learn something at every ride. My big thing this weekend is to concentrate a bit more, while staying relaxed at any obstacle, and to try to stay a few steps ahead of my opinionated Arab who thinks too much. I am not one who worries about preforming for a judge, as I have been competing horses for about 40 years. But I worry more about "what" Hank might try to do. He is just not a horse that waits for me to tell him what we are going to do. His mind is always going, and second guessing what I am going to ask. We do a lot of just stopping and standing in front of potintial obstacles and situations at home, to let him relax, and find that sometimes, we don't do anything.