January 2011....cold....and this year lots of snow and icy weather! YUK! Unfortunately the weather hit us a couple of days before the event, so not all the clinicians showed up. Thankfully several did and we had a pretty good event all things considered. I really look forward to this....it is a great way to get my horsey fix when the weather is icky out. Back in the day it was a great event! Parade of breeds, several people with short time slots showing different disciplines...etc. Then it fizzled out for a while, and the past few years little by little it is improving again. I really loved this year because I felt there was enough going on in different areas that I was not locked down watching something I really don't care about. In fact I was torn between a couple of things more than once.
The event was held January 21st thru 23rd, and this year is the first for a 3 day event. It is usually 2 days. Not only was this the first year for a 3 day event, it was also the first year for the Extreme Cowboy Race and I do believe it was a huge success! It was a lot of fun to watch the cowboys and cowgirls show us their stuff, not to mention it gave everyone great ideas for obstacles.
The past handful of years the big draw has been the Ultimate Equestrian Challenge, which is the MEC's version of a colt starting challenge. They were having problems finding trainers, so I got a call from a friend who asked if I knew anyone. Hmmmmm.....I just might.......so I shot Jay Miller (he is the one who helped me with Sonic Boom - and still is) a message letting him know about the event and I wondered what his time schedule was like. :-) He jumped at the opportunity! Yay! We were all very excited about it!
Jay hired Brian as his Ring Wrangler and I was the helper/photographer, which worried me because my camera does not take good inside pix. I have to tell ya, it was so exciting being a part of this with Jay and his wife Brenda! The Challenge has always been fun anyways and it is a great way to learn what works for me as a trainer and what doesn't. But knowing someone in the event.....Woo hoo!
The rules changed a bit this year. No noise makers such as shooting guns, cracking whips, etc., WHAT? I still don't see what the big deal is as long as all the trainers are in agreement to use these items, and to be courteous and let each other know when they are going to make loud crazy noises so no accidents happen. Oh well, their event...their rules.
All three horses have worn halters and would half way lead, but they had not had a saddle on, feet handled, etc. Jay picked a 3 yr old filly that has a lot of growing to do to fit into her body. Being up close to the pen while Jay was working with his horse was great because I could see the mares eyes and when she was stressed or relaxed. In the beginning she tolerated Jay but she was bug eyed! Jay could have roped her and started throwing stuff at her like another trainer did, but he chose to introduce himself to her first, let her think about what was happening, and he gave her the time she needed. He waited a while before he put the halter on, then he gently worked with her. I named her Roja. :-)
Brian the Ring Master....HA HA! Just kidding....I have been corrected many times that he is the Ring WRANGLER. :-)
Jay took time to rub all over Roja, talked to her, hugged her, he would lead her around then send her around, and it was almost the end of the first evening when he got up on her. She was not too keen on the idea and skedaddled sideways, but she eventually realized it was not going to hurt and she was not going to be eaten.
Roja experienced the rope around her belly to prepare her for the girth of the saddle.
Saddling was pretty uneventful. She was on alert and kept those bug eyes on Jay and the saddle, but she did not take off. On with the saddle...off with the saddle and pad....do something else, then back on with the saddle. Again, Jay took his time with her.
There is always time to flex....
End of the first evening....Jay gets on and they move around a little bit. He even stood up on her! Yikes! You all know what I was thinking .... "DON'T DO IT....DON'T DO IT!!!!" But he did it and she just stood there like a champ! She trusted Jay...
Jays wife Brenda just shook her head and told me that he was insured....she knows that the horses are his passion and is great support for him.
Here is Jay's Corner! Members of the Midwest Mustang & Burro Saddle Club and friends were in this corner to cheer Jay on. They also were trying to catch a free t-shirt! Hmmmm, who is that big kid in the front? Yep, that is April! :-) Jessi and Madison are behind her. Angela is on the phone and Chris J. and her niece are behind Angela and to her left (our right).
One of the people not in the picture is Beth. She is a member of the Mustang Club and stayed with us a couple of nights. And do you know that in all the fun we had, neither one of us got a picture of her and Batman together?
DAY 2 - The trainers were rotated to different pens, so Jay's wife Brenda, Jessi and Madison moved some chairs over so they could see his pen better.
Here is one of my gripes - where bleachers should have been and have been in the past, they had a big embroidery vendor trailer parked there! Right in the way! I did find out that they stay there for other events too. Okay, that is fine, but if there is going to be an event, people want to be able to see what is going on! Okay, I have spoke my peace. :-)
When Jay walked into the pen, Roja walked around exploring his saddle that was on the fence, and the pad that she had worn the night before. Again, Jay took his time meeting her, then they got to work.
After a little bit of ground work, on went the saddle. Jay had a couple of sticks that he was using as 'steering sticks', and she did FANTASTIC!!!! Jay kept the reins close by if he needed them, but most of the time he guided her with the sticks.
Out came the Hula Hoop! He put them on her back legs and brought it up over her rump.....
.....then he spinned it around her flank area and brought it to the front of the saddle.....
.....then he lifted each front foot and brought it thru the hoop. Okay, that sounds easy, right? But remember, here is a very very green horse getting her leg bent up tight to fit thru the hoop, and she just stands there. Each leg thru and she continued to stand.
It is break time (horses get mandatory breaks) and Jay and his wife Brenda talk about how it is going.
Getting back to work....Jay rubs on her gums and her tongue.
Head is low, and she is ready for the bridle.
The first night she wore the bit while he worked her in the halter. It gave her time to get used to the bit plus it kept her mind busy if her attention wandered off. I enjoyed watching her because when something would happen outside of the ring, her attention would go that direction, then she would visibly relax and start playing with the bit.
After some riding around time, Jay scoots behind the saddle. He did not slide straight off the back...he did play it safe and came off sideways. When he came down, she was standing in this same spot. What a girl!
Up in the saddle and touching her all over....
Oh...this one is out of order....this is Jay meeting her again on the 2nd evening. :-)
Other than her lifting her head in surprise, the flag was not a big deal.
Roja looks at Jay like he lost his mind....you want me to do what?
YIKES! What is he doing back there?
Ropes around her legs were never an issue. Again....trust....
Roja taking her time to explore the tarp with arena dirt kicked on it....
This is the 2nd time Jay stood up on Roja. She was much more relaxed and stood there like the winner she is!
RESULTS OF THE COMPETITION: Well, in the Indian world Jay would have the name "He who has no sense of time", and he did come in 3rd, but it was because he took his time, and he set out to do the obstacle that he chose, the way he chose to do it - with the 'steering sticks'. He could have did it like the others and pushed her, and honestly, she would have done just fine because she trusted Jay to guide her. He got so many compliments about how he handled Roja, how he rode her with the sticks, and how he took his time with her. Jay took time for her to trust him. Out of the three horses many people said that Roja had the better start and is ready for the next chapter of her life. Jay showed what a great trainer can do in a short amount of time. He and Roja did a lot, and he did not get in her mouth.
The winner is the same guy as last year. Now this is my opinion...he might have won the competition, but he did not win the trust of his horse, and he did not win as many fans as he could/should have. He spurred and whipped on his horse, and yes, he got results, but that horse was TOLD what to do and was not given time to think about anything. From the minute this horse was put in the pen, she was trying to escape. When back in the stalls she was rearing up over the wall. She never knew that it was okay and she would be fine. I will always wonder what that horse would have done with Jay or Tim, the other trainer I really liked.
It also reminds me that part of learning to be a trainer is also learning what NOT to do. I am not saying the winners technique is wrong - I am saying it is wrong for ME. Jay and Tim are both winners in my book.
Umm, yeah, I was getting a picture of Jay's shirt.....hmmm hmmm.....
A funny sign....I think I need to make one of these. Hee hee!
Jay got a vendor table since he was a trainer, and he offered to let the Mustang Club put stuff on there. Jay and Brenda brought a big banner of Levi (formerly blind) and his journey. It was on the table and got covered up by Mustang Adoption flyers, crayons and color sheets, brochures, photo albums, etc. I am now wishing I would have got some string so we could have hung up the banner so people could see that, then the other stuff would be left on the table. Learning experience for all of us...either way, it was still a good table that drew a lot of people. I am still amazed at how many people don't know that there are horses running wild out west, and yes, they can be trained. :-)
I snuck in a self portrait with Jay and Brenda.
There was a Miniature Horse clinic and I sat in on part of it. It was about how to stand up your horse and it really isn't my thing, but I watched a while anyways. This was like a big 3 day long classroom and I was going to learn as much as I could! Look at the little buckskin butt...he reminds me of a younger Batman. The little black horse on the far right was a hoot! She was a pushy little thing and had a learning session with the clinician. Hee hee! It sure did not take long for that little blue eyed black horse to realize that standing still was much easier than moving her handler around all over the place. The buckskin and paint stood still the whole time. It was fun....
Brian's daughter Madison made her own rope....
While the judges were tallying their scores, Jessi and Madison were playing with the Hula Hoop.
Then they talked me into playing....Jessi says "Can you spin it on your neck?" Ummm, don't know, I don't Hula Hoop. I did alright...but need lots of practice. :-)
I want to end this with a small blurb about the main clinician who was there. Steve Lantvit was a trainer in the Challenge last year. They brought him back this year as a clinician. I took Friday off work so I could watch his day long clinic, and I had such a great time! For someone like me who did not grow up taking lessons or close to someone to help teach me, it was awesome! I don't normally ask questions in a huge group of people, but he made me feel comfortable enough to ask questions, and if he was explaining something, and I was not getting it, he would have an example non-horse related to help it click. He did that with everyone's questions. He also put together the Extreme Cowboy Race. In my opinion he was very easy to listen to, he was funny but also educational. He also did some shorter sessions on Saturday and Sunday with the riders from his first day clinic, and they worked on things that the riders wanted to work on. I would love to ride in a clinic of his. He just got his own training show on the DISH Network, channel 9411. It is called "Sure in the Saddle". His web site is: www.SteveLantvit.com.
I was there all 3 days and was very excited to learn as much as I did. Great job Missouri Equine Council!
Until later....Karen and Tripp who is very relieved I did not sign up for Steve's clinic. :-)