Monday, October 12, 2009

The Accidental Team Roper

The girls were off to Tehachapi for a lesson Saturday afternoon and Jessie and I would be riding alone. I had marked my calendar with a schooling show that was happening in an arena about 6 miles away. I'm not on the computer on the weekends but I sometimes keep track of things by putting them into google calendar. I had plugged this show in more than a month ago. I had not planned on competing so I really did look at the details very closely.

It was a beautiful, cool morning and after breakfast I leisurely tacked up and gathered my cell phone, canteen, ipod, digital camera and gps for the trip ahead. I had some money if there were anything thing there I needed. No spurs for this ride. I knew it would be a long one and my thinking ws the less poking I could do the better she would take it.

We winded our way through our neighborhood and did a little warm up in the fallow alfalfa field. From there we trotted over to the city farm and we either loped or trotted the whole way across hoping no one would catch us and tell us to leave. Once out of the city farm it was surface streets to the arena. We had about a 3/4 mile walk down a pretty heavily traveled road. Jessie was, for the most part, great through all this. There was a couple of things she shied at and we did our back-and-forth exercise in front of them and moved on. We worked on transitions and bending through some of the areas where the roads were wide enough to accommodate us.

We got to the arena in an hour and 15 minutes averaging a little over 5 miles per hour, a good pace for us. The parking lot was full of horse trailers and Jessie whinnied at the horses in the arena. As we walked around I could see that it wasn't the schooling show I thought it was, but a roping. The riders were warming up in a good-sized arena and the cows were getting staged.

We hung around for a few minutes at the arena gate, then walked around the horse trailers. Our ferrier is a team roper and I thought he might be here. We wound our way back to the arena opening and I tried to spot him among the thirty or more horse and riders walking quietly in the arena. A fella walked past me ponying a horse into the arena and here's where I thought (always a dangerous proposition), "Well, if he can take a pony horse in there I should be able to go in there and walk around looking for my friend."

Then, without giving it much more thought, I steered Jessie into the arena. We were walking along quite nicely and were about halfway down one side and I'm looking around at faces for someone I would recognize when a couple of riders lope past us on the outside. Jessie, who had been an angel up to this point, lunges forward and bolts! I pick up one rein and yield her hindquarters, she slows down, I let her go and boom!, she's off again. I do a couple of more yielding hindquarters and we are doing circles at the far end of the arena. It's not getting much better and I'm not sure if she will break in half on me or not, so I head her for the gate and let her out and bring her back. Finally we get an open shot to a fence and I let her go and she stops at the fence near the gate and we walk out. The whole event was maybe 45-60 seconds, but it felt much longer. I'm glad I hadn't worn my spurs I would have probably overused them. As it was, I was getting the feeling that everyone was looking at me wondering who the hell was this guy with the canteen, mecate, no tie-down, no boots, no rope, yielding hindquarters in our arena? (Though in reality, no one really gave a thought to it).

Out in the parking lot, she was still full of beans and we did some exercises out there until she started to calm down a bit and I dismounted. I walked her around for a while and the roping was getting ready to start. There wasn't a good spectator location from the ground so I remounted and we sat at the gate and watched part of the roping from right behind the chute. Our ferrier was competing but he never came out of the arena. He had 4 tough cows and his heelers missed a leg or two.

After about 30 minutes, we turned and headed for home. We made it home in about the same time although the gps registered an extra half mile. That was probably due a little extra "work" one of us decided to do on the way home. It was a pretty good ride all-in-all. We had ridden almost 13 miles, we had got some exercises in, we loped for a solid mile, and I still had half a day to get my Saturday chores done.

Sunday's ride was an 8 miler out to the development and Jessie seemed a little more responsive and supple. I'm not really sure if that was because of the distance of Saturday's ride or all the bending circles on the way home. Since the days are short now, I restarted the early morning rides. We are working on the first few exercises of RWC II. I think we've missed a couple of details on suppling that I need to go back and figure out.
Post a Comment