This year, we came home with 6 ribbons; each of our kids won 2. I'm beaming with pride about this because the show was HUGE with very stiff competition in all categories. I'm doubly excited because my kids are always the underdogs. It's only their 2nd year in 4-H and they are still learning the exhausting amount of rules and technique for all of the events...hand placement, pattern memorization, lead changes at the proper time, bit rules, tack rules, etiquette, judge acknowledgement, and on and on.
You know I'm always rooting for the under-dog at these things, and we were definitely the underdogs with old, unregistered horses, rolling in with the stock trailer and working ranch saddles. Meanwhile, people drove in with their 5 horse slant with living quarters, expensive sparkly outfits with matching saddle pads for every event, high dollar well bred horses, and tack covered in silver.
In the end, the glitz doesn't matter. It's all about the horsemanship.
Our son has been a real sport about these horse shows this year. To put it mildly, they are not his favorite things to do, but he plays the game because they are necessary if he wants to be in the running for the "all-around" in points. Plus, all of these events are making him a much better rider. His favorite things will come later this week when we compete in the ranch events, and timed events.
I was up until midnight the night before the show, sewing him a scarf for the next morning when I realized he had nothing to match his shirt.
While our kids were waiting for the trail class to begin, the weather changed, and it was a perfect storm for a wreck. The wind was blowing dirt sideways. Lawn chairs were flying through the air to spook horses, the boards with the patterns on them were flying through the air, lightning was around, trains were passing while blowing their whistles... a great recipe for disaster.
Our Cade used to be a barrel racing horse before we got him, and although he's a fabulous horse, he gets worked up going through arena gates. He calms down once he's in the arena, but he always thinks he's going to be running barrels when he enters the gate. We've been working on this issue with him, but with all of the weather craziness, he was pretty worked up and reared several times before entering the arena. My son schooled him and calmed him down, but it was a nail-biter for me to watch. Once he started the trail pattern, he was fine.
My son couldn't hide his excitement when he completed the course and successfully opened and closed the rope gate. At this age, completion of the gate obstacle makes the difference between winning and losing. Although Cade touched a few logs, they still managed to bring home a 5th place ribbon. He also brought home a ribbon in western riding.
The night before, our littlest daughter had her pee-wee horse show. She did fabulous, and placed in 2 out of three classes. She got second place in showmanship, and fourth in trail. I somehow managed to forget to sign her up for horsemanship, and I was kicking myself because she would have done really well in that class, too.
My husband and I can't help but wonder how the kids would do if they had some younger horses. Let's face it, there are some things that our old Jake just can't do anymore, nor would we ask it of him. He hates the right lead, and can't do sliding stops anymore. That hurts the kids' scores in certain events. Cade can do it all, but he's only one horse, and we have three kids. Jake is still a perfect fit for our baby, but she only has one more year as a pee-wee before she has to do sliding stops, too.
Ah, decisions, decisions.
Now we have two days of rest, and then we load the horses and hogs up for five more days of competition in ranch events, barrel racing, goat tying, pole bending, livestock showing, pig judging, auction, livestock judging, and heptathlon. I'm exhausted just thinking about it.
Prepping for the next long haul,