Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Me and the Big K

“You been following the standings?” The Big K had a dopey grin on his face.
“What standings?” I asked, wary.
I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of trap he was setting. The Big K rarely asked a question and expected a simple answer. Most of his questions were lead-ins to getting me to realize yet another huge failing. It paid to be cautious when he asked innocent sounding questions.
I busied myself with Sonita’s protective boots. She pinned her ears at K’s horse and stomped her hind foot. I reached up and slapped her belly, reminding her I was crouched under her and didn’t appreciate her foot flashing so close to my head.
Sonita settled for swatting her tail and grabbing at the shanks of her bit a few times as I slipped on her bridle. I clipped my romels to the rein chains and swung up into the saddle.
The Big K rode with me to the arena, still smirking.
“C’mon, give. What standings?” I finally broke.
NRCHA. For the World Show.”
“No, I haven’t been paying much attention,” I admitted.
I knew my daughter and another one of my youth riders had qualified, but I had never been one to keep checking on who’s sitting where in the national averages. It was a failing of mine which irritated the Big K to no end. He always knew where everybody in the country stood, in his own events, the events of the other top riders and where all of his clients were sitting. I on the other hand, figured somebody would fill me in if I needed to be caught up. And I could always ask the Big K, he knew everything.
“Maybe you should,” he pursued.
“Should what?”
“Check the standings.”
“Why?” I asked.
“Never mind, let’s get riding, we have a lot to work through.”
I tried to chew on the conversation while we rode. The Big K was feeling a little manic though. He kept barking and picking on every move I made.
“Your hands are too slow! Quit asking her permission! Git in there and tell her what to do!
“Git your leg off her! Give her some room, you’ve got to quit over-riding.
“Are you going to sit there waiting for her to decide to do what she’s told today or tomorrow? Move that mare out!
“Quit letting her draw you into a fight! Stay focused!”
My head was spinning. Sonita was gnashing her bit and wringing her tail with everything she had. Sweat trickled between my shoulder blades and my shirt stuck to my back. I stopped and dropped my reins. The Big K sat his horse, glaring at me from across the arena.
I stared back and unzipped my Carhart. Sonita relaxed and blew. I pulled off my gloves and stuck them in my pocket. I searched my mind for a clue. I knew I had ticked him off somehow. I decided I didn’t care a whole lot. I walked Sonita over to him.
“I think I’ve had enough today. I’m losing Sonita. There’s no point in all of us being pissed off.”
“Why would you be mad?” The Big K widened his eyes in innocent surprise.
The baby blues weren’t going to work on me today though. I didn’t know what he was so gassed up about, but I sure didn’t plan on getting me or my horse beat to death over it.
“I was in a perfectly fine mood when I unloaded my horse,” I replied.
“I don’t think you should go just yet. We have a lot to get done.”
I still didn’t understand. The majority of our season was over. One more small show in November and then nothing until Pre-Denver in January.
“I guess I don’t see the panic,” I said.
“Well, if you’re happy with how that mare of yours works, then so be it.”
“She’s all right. We’ll be better by next year.” I rested a protective hand on Sonita’s neck. Her bright red coat curled like a Hereford 4-H steer when she was hot. The wet curls already felt cold and stiff under my rough red fingers.
“I don’t know about you but I’d want to be better than all right if I was going to the World Show.” The Big K’s grin couldn’t have been bigger.
“What? No way.” I felt my stomach flip.
“Your win in Pueblo did it. You top tenned. Looks like Sonita’s going to the Worlds.”
The National Reined Cowhorse Association is divided into eight regions. Colorado falls into the North Central Region along with Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, Wyoming, Iowa, Minnesota and North Dakota.
The top ten riders in their class for each region are selected to ride in the NRCHA World Show.
It turns out Sonita was sitting eighth in the open limited bridle for our region.
My mind spun out of control. I had envisioned being a World Show qualifier someday. But not today. Not on this horse. Never on this horse.
“What am I going to do?” I stared at the Big K in horror. Sonita felt my rising tension. She shook her head, rattling her bit and began to paw the hard ground.
“I suggest you get back out there and start loping. I told you we had a lot of work to do.”


  1. The Big K sounds like he was a one of a kind trainer, very good and very proud of you.

  2. awesome!

    I just love your blog. I read every word. You and Sonita should be so proud !

  3. How cool is THAT story?! Loved it! Thanks!

  4. fernvalley - i think mugs is gonna have a fit at the "very good" comment, lol.

    OT - what happened to your link to many misadventures blog? Just being nosey :)

  5. equus-No fits. Everybody translates the Big K in their own way... I took Many Misadventures down because she never posts anymore. Nothing major.

  6. EEK...that's all I can say. I'd be scared sh...you know what. And as for the Big K being nice, well, he reminds me a lot of a trainer I used to work for, and nice wasn't quite the right word for this guy. Talented, yes. Nice, no.

  7. All I can say is... YES! another Sonita/Big K story!

  8. awesome achievement, looking forward to reading about the preparation and event.

  9. I have this problem with some trainers. They tend to make me nervous and then I fall apart when I'm riding. I don't think it will be as bad now as when I was a kid. I just just so darn sensitive and every critism felt like being yelled at. The Big K probably would have made me want to cry on a regular basis.

    Fortunately, I made friends with one of the good H/J trainers in my area and I've never felt uncomfortable around her. Then again, she never made me feel bad about my horse because he didn't cost six figures and try to get me to buy another. I hate that. If I like my horse you'd better be happy to work with what I've got or you aren't the trainer for me.

    Good story, Mugs and congrats on qualifying. About how long ago was that?

  10. I was kinda trying to be funny, I didn't really think you would have a fit...

  11. equus-I know. I didn't mean to put you on the spot.....

  12. Ha ha, not at all, no worries. tomAto-tomAHto ;)

  13. Ahaha! It would be nice if somebody had snapped a picture when the big K told you. I bet the look on your face was priceless.

    Can't wait to read the rest of the story.

  14. I love the Sonita stories, and this really made me laugh "not this horse"!

  15. Yay, another Sonita story! I love the way you would stick up for her when the big K would 'help' too much.

  16. Guess I missed something along the way, I had perceived the "Big K" to be a somewhat abrasive individual that did some good work with you and your horse, or maybe you accomplished good things in spite of him? either way it appears that you and Sonita achieved great things together. No intention of offence

  17. Whoo-hoo!

    Hope you aren't going to make us wait too long for the next installment!

  18. fernvalley01-Don't worry about me taking offence. We were joking and somehow it turned on us!
    My horse life with the Big K was very complicated. I love seeing the different takes you guys get on him. Writing in my "as it happened" way really helps me get perspective on him. The Big K is definitely a one of a kind trainer. He was and is extremely talented. I think I can safely say he had a few proud moments when it came to me.

  19. Bwahaha!

    Oh what an anecdote. I love how your very different perspectives shine through so clearly there.
    He's all so laissez-faire on the surface, and yet this shows clearly the subterranean drive. And you so capable, and yet, not dedicated to the obvious. Made me giggle at how much you must have baffled and frustrated him at times as the flip side to how he must've pissed you off.

    I've met people like that, you learn a lot because they make you work everything out yourself, but lord, sometimes it would be nice if they'd just spit it out already.

  20. FD- You've got that right. What made it even tougher was I could read him so well. So as the years went by he quit trying to explain ANYTHING. He expected me to pick up all of it through osmosis.

  21. Not only did you learn a lot about horse training, but now you are a finely tuned empath to boot!

    It's a bonus skill, should come in handy...

  22. I have to say I saw that punchline coming. Doesn't take away from the story a bit though.

    To me big K seems like his main goal was to have fun. He had fun pushing your buttons, he had fun being pissed. (People really do, I'd swear to it.) Presumably he had fun training, and showing, and winning.

  23. Reading your Sonita story today made me think about my good horse I had in my younger days...it even got me inspired enought I typed out a little something.

  24. >>To me big K seems like his main goal was to have fun. He had fun pushing your buttons, he had fun being pissed. (People really do, I'd swear to it.)<<

    LOL, I dated that guy for 14 years! They sure do.

    See, nobody would ever have to tell me I was qualified. I'm obsessive about stats and stuff like that! I'd be online after every show trying to figure out how I was doing. Your laissez-faire outlook was probably healthier...LOL.

  25. Trust me- it never occurred to me in a million years I would get qualified. There was one show where the moon was in the right spot and my biggest competition zeroed her dry work, I won and bam. But Sonita and I were not ready for the Worlds. Of course I still don't watch the stats.It's an ADD thing.

  26. Heh, talk about to-may-to, to-mah-to, I just had to google dry work.

  27. A well-deserved qualification! Can’t wait to read more!

    Happy New Year!

  28. lol I check all the time and count points in my head after every class!! I'm still waiting to hear if I got top in the nation for ApHCC... Although compared to the last five years.... lol you see?!?!

    So did you end up going to the worlds?