After Cheri was so kind to help recharge my battery in the camper with her generator before we turned in last night, I was able to fire up the heater and have things warm in the camper as I crawled out of bed. Hard to see what the sky holds for us when it is dark! Morning light showed us a grey sky, cold, but not REALLY cold, and it did not look like any rain (or snow) would fall.
We trotted out a couple circles to check for soundness, and Hank was moving freely, sound, and eager to go. I timed out towards the back of our group again, which still felt strange after riding towards the front of the group at most of the rides. But he was going along so relaxed, at an easy pace, and liked the big horse Mary Anna was riding. We cruised along taking in the lovely fall colors, with their hooves trotting through the fallen leaves. We were very lucky to have dodged the nasty weather, and the trails over all had pretty great footing. After a bit, we had our first obstacle. A muddy spot to ride the horse in to, back up, then as we backed, sort of turn a U turn around a log. Hank walked in perfect, but when I asked him to back, he thought it was a speed event, and rushed out, bumped the log, and his U turn was very wide. We would have survived had it been a real situation, but he was not super pretty or perfect. Then we had a P&R right after that, and we passed with flying colors.
Hank marches up and down the hills without slowing down much. He has a nice walk, and uses it well, even on the hills. We end up passing a few horses who were a tad slower on the hills, and kept a steady pace of walking the hills, trotting the flat, and slight "slopes". A couple areas along the grassy mowed fields, and we loped a bit. His ears were always up, and he seemed in a pretty good mood. I gage if my horses are getting tired my the willingness to move out with little encouragement. When we are walking, I give a quiet cluck, or kiss, and if they move out without any leg aid, I know they have lots of energy left. If it takes my pressing my leg, or heel in to them, I let them walk a bit more, and rest a tad. I have always done this, on both competitive, and endurance rides.
After the second P&R, and the best one all weekend, we had a metabolic check, and an obstacle. Oh, real quick, I had the vet look at Hanks gums before we rode out this AM, and they were still slightly injected, and at the first obstacle, still the same. At this metabolic check, still had slight injection.The rest of the metabolics were fine. This just might indeed be his normal, and I need to start checking his gums at random at home, to see how they are when he is in pasture. Anyway, this obstacle was the horsemanship judges telling us to "impress them", show us what you can do, and mount your horse. We were near the slope we backed down yesterday, so I side passed him in hand, part of the way down the slop, then stopped him, and mounted, using the slope as my mounting block. He was perfect.
Now we were on the home stretch, riding the last 10 or so miles back to camp. We were a tad behind what time I had wanted to be, so we mov ed out a bit quicker on the flats. Since we were heading in on a trail we had already ridden, Hank knew we were heading in, and was more than happy to move out. As we trotted along, I kept thinking about all the rides we had down this year, and that I could not believe this was the 15th ride of the season. We had been to so many different places, and I thought about all the trails we saw, people we met. This really was a lovely trail, and had enough hills for a challenge of fitness, and footing that was easy to move along on. Before we knew it, we were two miles from camp, right on time, and then crossing the meadow in to camp to the timer. The weather had been very kind. Although in the upper 30's to lower 40's, no wind, and nothing fell from the sky today.
I got him un tacked, his blanket on him, and let him eat his mash, some hay, brush off the dirt and minimal sweat marks, and then head over for the final check out. He had checked in and had gotten the high mark of a 5 MAW, and knew that he might not be as enthusiastic at the end, but he proved me wrong, and kept his 5. I always get comments after he checks out on what a nice mover he is, and how pretty he is. His metabolics were fine, with those gums still slightly injected, but not as much as he was yesterday. This is indeed odd, and in his case, I do not think a sign of stress, as everything else is usually close to normal. Over all, I was feeling good about the ride, with the exception of the less than pretty back up out of the mud. But one never knows how the other horses did. I was happy with him, which is the first priority. He can be so much fun to ride, even when he does naughty things once and awhile. I guess I'd be bored if he was always perfect. Can't get mad at him. If I did not like horses who thought for themselves, had opinions, and were often a bit unpredictable with what they decide to do, I'd not ride Arabians. lol
I packed up, so I could head out after awards. Wanted to get some place a little further south, and hopefully a tad warmer. So, I was ready to go when they called for awards.
By now, many know we are chasing points, and going in to this ride, we were 12 points, and 1 ride behind the other horse. "The other horse" is a very cute MO Foxtrotter gelding named Prime Sensation. He and his owner, Cheri Jeffcoat are a super team, and we have been to many of the same rides this year, all over the country. He guy is a steady, more business like personality. He is VERY fit, and Cheri has done an excellent job building that partnership with him, and he can really shine in obstacles. Prime and Hank can be like night and day, but each of us agrees we have found the horse that suits our own personality. And I'm pretty sure she would agree we would not get along with each others horse anywhere close to the relationships we have with our own. We have both found the right partner to share the trails with. Anyway, the first 16 rides in competition count towards the "Presidents Cup". I have not verbalized the name of the award often, and this is the first time I have actually typed it out here. lol Cheri rode for mileage only this weekend, and her last competitive ride of the season with be in 2 weeks. Same weekend as my last ride, but we will be in different states, different regions. I needed to place 1st this weekend to tie her in points. And, Hank did, indeed, win first in his class. But he also got Sweepstakes again, which gave him extra points, and now I am actually 4 points ahead as we go in to the last ride(s) of the year. Anything can happen, and we joked about how it would be pretty funny in a sense if we tied out points after the last ride too. Such different horses, yet after 15 rides this season, all across the nation, we are only 4 points apart.
So tonight I have stopped in Topeka again for the night, and will hit send, and go catch some sleep. My mind is actually a bit numb, as I really don't know where my emotions should be. Back in December, when we headed to the first ride, I had no idea we would be where we are today in points for the organizations highest award. And what ever the out come, I will sure not forget this year f competing, and am honored to be competing against Prime and Cheri.