Monday, September 9, 2013

County Fair Horse Show

 I'm slowly recovering from this weekend's grueling 2 day horse show.  Our Saturday morning started at 5:00am and we got home at 11:30pm.  The kids always have a ton of fun, but it's absolutely exhausting for the parents.

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.

 Our girl did fabulous in showmanship, taking 4th place, and also won a ribbon in bareback.  Bareback was the last event of the night, and it was pouring down rain, sideways.  Having kids on horses in the driving rain with nothing to hang on to is crazy nerve-wracking for moms.  But the kids and horses did great.  I don't have any pictures of it because I didn't want to ruin my camera.

 The class sizes were HUGE. My lens couldn't capture the fact that the entire arena was filled with horses from one end to the other. I think the judges had their work cut out for them.

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,



  1. Wow! Great job! Looks like HUGE classes! Keep up the good work! Love you kiddos smiles!...just beautiful!

  2. The girls look like little pros in their showmanship classes. And way to go in trail class. I always liked the classes that were more on the rider's skill (Showmanship, horsemanship, trail...) than on just the horse (like pleasure). It's hard to tell from just the pictures but you may want to check on how they are holding the reins. That may be an illegal hold with the grey horses depending on the class and rules. Good luck with the rest of the fair, wish ours was that big.

    1. Alright, I double checked the rules and although I'm certainly not an expert, I think they were legal. Those are Romel reins and according to our local judges, you hold the tail of romel reins in your hand on your thigh. If they rode using split reins, they would have their fist in "candlestick" position with elbows at their side. That's what our judges stated, but I really have no clue about this stuff, so you probably know better than I would. There are sooooo many rules. HA!

  3. I loved 4-h. I didn't like the showmanship classes. I liked the speed events. We didn't have fancy clothes, horses or a trailer. But we did just fine. I am amazed at what people drive to rodeos. Theres gotta be 50k in just the trailers! Or more. Your kids look awesome. You must be one proud mama! Congrats!

  4. Congrats to your kiddos!!! Isn't it ridiculous the amount of money spent on these events? We never could compete with our ranch horses, the girls with their fancy clothes and saddles always won. But, this area is pretty political, sadly. It was always so discouraging though, because we grew up riding.. we did it But we didn't have the clothes, or the saddles, or the fancy horses. Oh well, we had fun anyway!

  5. Yay - Congrat's! We have so many ribbons from my 4H days back in the day that I always though it would be cool to make a blanket out of them or something fun! We saved -
    It was cool to see you guys that morning - I tried to get ahead and honk before y'all had turned but the darn cars in front of me were in my way :) Hehe!
    I am hoping to take the kids to the fair Saturday afternoon/evening and hopefully Sunday for the ranch rodeo. Hopefully we will see y'all! Good Luck this week kiddos!!!