Monday, September 16, 2013

Ranch Pony

Well, we sucked it up and went to our first ranch versatility competition on Sunday! All week I had been stressing about it. Worrying that we were going to embarrass ourselves or that we wouldn't fit in, something would go wrong, etc.

I'm glad that I decided to go though. It was a perfect first introduction to this new discipline. And it was FUN.


Flyer said it started at 9am so I planned to get there at 8:30. Showed up with perfect timing and there were a few people were warming up but no one had a clue what was happening. So we just chilled for a bit then I warmed up and then took Misty back to the trailer.

She was actually being quite bad (for her, which isn't saying much) in warm up. She was plowing through my aids, not wanting to stop, not picking up her right lead and not giving me clean flying changes. Humph. She had been doing so well at home, I was a little bummed and now more nervous about our "debut".

The show finally got on the road at 10am. They had us all meet and explained the trail course. There were 13 obstacles and you had to pick 8 to 10 to do. They gave us a course map, but then explained that you don't have to follow it. You could make up your own obstacles even if they weren't on the map.

I was third to go and running on a lack of sleep so I did nothing spectacular. After watching everyone after me I thought of all the cool things we could have done to gain more points. Obstacles were scored 0-6 based on how your horse performed it, how you rode it and how difficult the obstacle was. Most people did just fine. It was an easy-peasy course.

Then was the reining/cow part. All movements scored 0-10.

Again we were third. The two people before us had rather... interesting... rides. The cows were really, really dull. I befriended an older couple there that were also first timers and they had been at the clinic the day before so were telling me to cross my fingers for a brown cow since they were a little more exciting.

Our reining pattern actually wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I didn't think she would pick up the right lead but she did. Our circles were a little wonky (circles with corners anyone?) and I wish we had a big arena to practice in at home, but overall not too bad. Flying changes were acceptable, the one from right to left was a stride late behind though. The scoring was kind of weird - we got a 6.5 on the late change, the lateness was also noted, then the next change which was clean, got a 6. Though I guess it wasn't as smooth as it could have been, it's her harder direction so I basically rocked her off balance to make her change, aka not as smooth as it could have been. Our rundowns to roll backs were actually quite good on the stopping front considering how she wasn't stopping well earlier, though we need to work on getting no trot/walk strides after the initial halt. Roll backs could use some work.

Our "sliding stop" was quite good, back up ok. Then the spins. Were awful. I'm just too handsy. We need to work on that a lot. At least we did way better than the two before us, both of which did tight circles/forehand turns instead of haunch pivots.

Then it was time for a cow. We got a brown one! I was pleased. Of course it gets away from me almost immediately, but personally I'd rather have that than one that won't move. Though apparently you score higher with a cow that doesn't move... (according to how placing ended up).

Go Misty Go!

Misty was fantastic. She listened, watched the cow and didn't get too far ahead or behind. I was really worried about circling because it's so hard, but we didn't have much of a problem, even earning a 9!

Here's a video of our run. I apologize to my mom, but she wins the award for worst videographer. I appreciate her effort so much! But it kind of sucks...

So much fun! I thought Misty did super well and was proud of our first outing. We didn't embarrass ourselves. We watched the rest of the riders and I estimated my placing as 2nd or 3rd.

I was super bummed to find we'd placed 5th out of 7 in the Novice category. I can't help being super competitive and wanting to place well. Though really, I went into it just wanting to have a good experience which we were successful at.

At the risk of sounding like a poor loser, my mom and I were chatting after and honestly I think we placed so low because everyone who placed higher had done the clinics the day before with the judge. He knew them and their horses so he probably was able to see the improvement in them, thus scoring them higher. Just my opinion. Because the lady who placed fourth had quite the rough ride - her horse almost ran into the fencing because she couldn't get him to stop, he did simple lead changes instead of flying and didn't do spins (just small circles) and had a dull cow so you didn't get to see how cowy her horse was. But then again, this probably just shows how little I know of ranch versatility scoring...

Pink horse gets a pink ribbon

Despite all of that, I really enjoyed myself. I felt like we fit right in with all of the beginners there, even the "experienced" people weren't that amazing so I felt like we were right on the same level. I was thinking I'd be slightly self conscious about wearing my helmet because I always get "those looks" when riding with the western crowd, but I needn't have feared. Out of 10 riders, 6 were wearing helmets including me, and only one of those was a youth. Way to go helmet people!

I would definitely go back, though this was the last one of the year.


  1. I think you need a tri pod for you mom, lol. Misty is so cute!

    1. Haha, sadly I don't even think a tripod would help...

  2. Ah, so cool! On a side note, if you ever get the chance to ride a finished Reining horse, DO IT! The spins and stops are unlike anything I'd ever done before, and the way you ride them was not my first instinct at all.

    Anyways, Misty looks super happy and it sounds like you had a ton of fun! And 5th is a good placing, especially as your first foray into the discipline!

    1. I would LOVE to ride a finished reining horse. That would be so much fun!

  3. Sounds like she has a lot of potential! That scoring would bother me too, but I'm also super competitive. Next time!

  4. You might be right, but think about it next time that the clinic may be a good way to improve prior to the show and see if you can do it next time :) sounds like a good opportunity.

    1. True. At the very least I'd get an idea of what the judge/clinician is looking for. Some of the other competitors there told me that every judge has a different set of criteria that they're looking at...

  5. Congrats! Sounds like it was a success, you'll get em' next time :)