First ranch sorting competition EVER and it was a blast. Well worth the nerves and the fact that I spent the whole entire day waiting around for my divisions which were the very last to go.
It was supposed to start at 9am so I got there at 8:30. I think that I need to learn to show up later than I *think* that I should... JF and DC (who I've practiced with/invited me) were already there luckily so I went to talk to them and they helped get me entered because I had absolutely no clue how things like this worked. I was feeling so intimidated too when I got there. Everyone knew everyone else, plus half the people there had trophy saddles and obviously were quite good at what they did. Plus, the office person was having a hard time explaining to me what the classes were like and I was having a hard time understanding... Pretty much I spent the whole morning wondering why I decided to come. But, you've got to start somewhere, right?
|Pretty sunrise on the way out to the competition|
Everything got started at around 10am. They began with a Round Robin class which took forever. It was basically a higher stakes class with a huge jackpot. Each rider rode with every other rider in the class so with 13 entries there were 78 pairs. FOREVER I tell you. They didn't get done with that class until after 2pm. But, it was really fun to watch all the experienced people because they were really good.
Then came the "8" class. Everyone's ranked on their experience/how much money they've won. So me, being absolutely brand new, am a "1". The numbered classes mean that the pairs' ranking cannot add up to more than the class number. So if you have a "5" and a "2" rider, they can enter the "8" class, but not the "4" class. Same with a "3" and a "4" ranked rider, they could also be in the "8" class. So basically, they're the more experienced riders.
|Warm up time|
I entered the "4" class with 2 rides and the "11" Ranch Hand class with three rides. Finally, it was my turn to go. Besides a minor mishap of Misty untying herself at the trailer and wandering off to graze, she'd been standing most of the day. She warmed up BEAUTIFULLY. Everything was just spot on. But when it came to my turn, I was super nervous. Plus, I was tired. I had been worried about getting Misty to wake up, but it turns out I should have been more concerned with myself!
My first run was a draw, so I had a random partner. We got three cows in clean, then two dirty cows made a break for the hole (which I was supposed to be guarding) and I just simply didn't run them off fast enough, even though I had plenty of time to. Embarrassing. So no time on that run.
My next run I was with DC so I at least knew her which gave me a lot more confidence. We were able to get 5 cows in clean which I was super happy with. I no longer felt like a failure! Since we had 5 cows, we got to come back again for the next round. We got 5 cows again, placing us in second! Only the top two placings got paid out in this class since there were 20 pairs. Cue awesome feeling - I was thinking, Hey, maybe we can actually do this.
|Everyone just waiting around - did I mention how many gorgeous horses were there?|
The next class, the Ranch Hand one, was for an experienced rider and a less experienced rider. The more experienced rider would stay in the hole while the less experienced rider got all the cows. This was the one for us. First time in I was with JF and I got 5 cows in clean. Not too shabby. My next run was a draw and I got a lady that I'd ridden with before at practice, KP. I really admire her. She's 78 years old and still riding. She used to be a barrel racer and now does sorting. She's had both hips replaced. I really hope I'm still riding and as competitive as she is when I reach that age!
Anyways, we decided to trade off guarding the hole since neither of us were that experienced and I was told not to run more than one or two cows at her at a time because she wouldn't be able to split off more than that. We got three cows in and then I brought two to her, I was having a really hard time with the number we were supposed to get and the cow just wouldn't separate from it's buddy and KP wasn't able to split it off so they both went through, so no time on that run. But oh well.
Next run I was with an experienced guy and he told me to just be really aggressive and go for it. "If you feel like you should be walking, trot." I got five cows again clean this time. Since I got 5 cows on two runs, I got to come back again twice.
I figured I might as well go all out since both the people I was riding with were really good, so I should just go for it! Boy, did it work out. With JF I got 8 cows in, almost 9 and was heading for the 10th cow when the buzzer rang. Awesome! Then with the guy, I got 9 cows in clean!
It was so amazing. Misty listened really well. We still have a lot to work on, but it was SO MUCH FUN. Seriously, the feeling after doing a run was pretty dang close to the feeling you get after doing cross country. Dare I say it was even equitable??? We placed first in that class, so with the money I won, basically I didn't have to pay any entry fees. Pretty sweet. I think that I am definitely hooked now. Can't wait for the next one!
|Sunset back at the barn. What a good day!|