Yesterday, we loaded up Jake and made the long drive to Holbrook for the kids' very first 4-H horse competition. Clubs from all over the north-east part of the state came to compete. We have hard winters around here, so our club has only been able to meet a few times in the last few months to start conditioning their horses. They'll practice their riding events throughout the summer, but this was their very first exposure to the events that they'll be competing in at the fair in the fall.
We really just threw them in with no prior experience, and let them learn by doing. They did an incredible job yesterday, and more importantly, they had an absolute ball!! They each placed high in several events, and we came home with a few prizes for being in the top 3 in their age group.
One of their events was goat tying. This was my son's favorite event because it's a precursor to calf roping.
They race down the arena, hop off their horse....
grab their rope and catch the goat...
flank it, tie up three legs and throw their hands up in the air.
If the goat gets untied, then they're disqualified.
Our oldest daughter did great flanking her goat, but then it kicked her in the gut and it quickly became her least favorite event of the day.
Our baby is in the Pee Wee Division, so she just had to race down the arena, get off of her horse by herself, (no small feat when you're small and ride a giant horse) and tie a rope around the goat's neck.
They also had a barrel race. My kids did fantastic on this event! Afterward, they had a race where you grab the flag from the first barrel as you run by, then you run around the outside of the barrels, and put the flag back into a bucket in the last barrel as you fly by on your horse. That was challenging, but fun.
Another one of the events was pole bending, and we were totally surprised when our horse, Jake, knew exactly how to do the pattern. It seems as though he's really done a little of everything in his long life. We knew he was a retired roping horse, but we didn't know how good he was at running poles and barrels. in fact, in the picture below, Jake's taking my girl for a ride and she's just doing her best to keep up with him.
We totally cracked up when our baby, who has NO CLUE how to run the pole bending pattern, just tapped on Jake with her heel and made a kissing noise. Then he loped her down the arena, trotted through the whole pattern, and loped her back....she didn't do a thing but hang on. LOL! So funny. We had no idea he had such mad pole bending skillz.
Here she is just trotting around the flag race pattern like it's a walk in the park. No worries about time, no hurry, just trottin'.
After seeing our trusty steed in action for the first time, countless people came up to us and told us that our horse was "one in a million" because he took such good care of the kids, and really put the petal to the metal with the older ones but geared down with our baby on his back. He has so much experience that he's really teaching the kids what to do. In our minds, he is truly the million dollar horse we got for free.
The kids also participated in a halter class where they practiced their showmanship skills.
We had a full day of activities at the rodeo grounds, and the kids were blitzed... But not so tired that they couldn't check out the dinosaurs on the way out of town. If you've ever driven through Holbrook, then you know that it's a ....unique....town. It's famous for the Petrified Forest, The Wig Wam Motel on Route 66 where you can sleep in a Tee Pee ( which was featured in the movie "Cars" as the Cozy Cone Motel). It also has these crazy dinosaurs everywhere.
We got the kids a cherry Icee to drink on the way out of town, and then they crashed for the long drive home.
Too much excitement for my little cowpokes.
We're so excited for a summer full of riding and fun! I'm looking forward to seeing how much they all improve with regular practice, and some experience.