Monday, May 2, 2011

Mouthy Mondays

Here's a story from Barrelracer20x.I don't think I've posted this one yet....if I have let me know.Sometimes life works out just the way it's supposed too, even with our horses.

It had been five years since I'd been on a real barrel horse.

Sure, I'd ridden my ranch horse through the pattern a few times, trying to get him started but he was far from a finished barrel horse. He was coming along, loping the pattern when a friend of mine called.

"Lex, I have a horse you need." And so it just so happened, I had a horse she needed! We agreed to meet up one day that week and take a look at each other's horses, just to get a feel for them.

The horse I had for her was one of the most athletic horses I'd ever had a leg across. He stood just over 15 hands, a stout palomino, weighed 1250 when he was in good shape. You might say he was a strapping lad! My dad bought him with the intentions of molding him into a tie down calf roping horse, mainly because of his sheer athleticism, he could run faster backwards than most horses could forwards. He was a tight twisted character, he needed to be rode everyday and at that point in my life I was lucky to ride twice a week. I knew I couldn't do him justice, and he'd been bouncing back and forth between trainers just so that he wouldn't sit in the pasture unridden. He wasn't the type that was the better for a little time off.

The horse she had for me sounded too good to be true--he was 8, a solid, finished 2D barrel horse. I had to admit that I may have drooled a little as she described him to me, I couldn't believe that I was going to have the chance at a sure enough barrel pony. I was nervous just thinking about it, and I hadn't ever been nervous by nature. I did feel good that I had been riding alot lately, that my timing and balance seemed to be like they should.

It was one of those hot, muggy June mornings, I could feel the sweat bonding my shirt to the back of my neck. My dad had gone and picked the yellow horse from his latest trainer, he'd done exceptionally well there. He'd been headed and heeled on, run calves and had some tied down off of him, and also started the barrel pattern. He was a natural at the roping end, and had really shown an interest in the barrels. I was already having trader's remorse and hadn't even seen the other horse yet--this yellow horse seemed to be just what I wanted, but in the back of my mind I knew better. He was too much horse for me, I simply didn't have the time to devote to him.

My stomach was knotted up, my palms felt like they were gushing. I watched my friend as she unloaded a handsome light blue horse out of her trailer, and I knew without even riding him that he was supposed to be mine. I walked over to him after she tied him to the trailer, and he appraised me with a big soft eye. He didn't seem too impressed, but continued to watch me as I brought my saddle over and threw a blanket across his back. I'd brought the only barrel racing bit that I still had; all of my others had been destroyed in a house fire four years before. He dropped his head as I slipped the bit in his mouth and eased the headstall over his ears, he mouthed the bit and licked his lips as I adjusted the headstall. He seemed so quiet and relaxed, I wondered to myself if he'd wake up enough to run!

I tightened my cinches, slipped bell boots and splint boots on, then stepped on him. He was night and day different from my cowboying horse, shorter strided but just as powerful. He walked calmly into the arena, head low and laid back. We lapped the arena at an easy walk to loosen up, then I asked him to pick up a trot and he happily obliged, stretching out as we circled the pen again. I slowed him to a walk, letting him catch his breath again. I bumped him with my feet, asking for a little more speed and a right lead. He didn't miss a beat, and stepped off easily into a big circle. He didn't have a reining horse stop, and didn't have the best reverse gear either, but the lack of both didn't bother me too much.

My heart had started to beat a little faster as we made our way to the bottom of the barrel pattern. His step quickened, he tossed his head a little. He knew the warm up was over, that I was about to let him loose on the pattern. He ran to the left barrel first, so I squeezed him into a trot as we veered left. My heart was throbbing in my chest, and I could feel his heart pounding between my knees as he extended from a trot to a quick canter. Keeping my hands as light as I could, I settled into my saddle and aimed for our first barrel. In two strides he went from a ground eating lope to a run. I'd had a crash course pep talk before hand, keep your hands light and drop your hand before you get to the barrel. Big pockets and sit DEEP.

I was scared to death. He wasn't running full out, but it was waaaaay faster than what I had in mind for my first trip through with him. I'd had 2 horses in my high school days that would duck the first barrel and run up the fence, so it took all the faith and courage I could muster to give him his head and then drop my hands. He buried up like a reiner, dragging his back end then pushing off so hard that I was behind the saddle as we lined out for the second barrel. Thank goodness I had a saddle horn, apparently my timing was not quite as acute as I had estimated it to be! Knowing what was coming, I gave him a little more pocket and was treated to the thrill of an amazing turn, that I managed to make my way out of IN the seat of my saddle, rather than behind it. The third was the same, a little choppy but not bad at all. I was hooked. He breezed back for home, my eyes watering from the speed. He slowed on his own as we approached the fence, and stopped easily when I asked him to.

My horse had worked well when he was put through his paces, we decided to trade straight across.
That was three years ago. The addition of the light blue horse to our little herd brought a change to the herd dynamic, and also brought in a personality like I'd never expected. To call him a clown was an understatement, just as calling him a fish out of water was. He'd been used on a few trail rides in the past, but never expected to be an out and out ranch horse as he was once he lived at our place. He's so laid back I let my kids ride him, but he's all business when it's his turn to go in the arena. A girl I watched grow up has been his jockey lately; we're expecting our 3rd baby this fall, so I'm literally letting someone else take his reins.
He loves his job, and I love him. There's a little part of me that balks each time I pour feed out in the evenings, a part of me that makes me a little teary eyed wishing that I was pouring his feed out. Then I get on FaceBook and watch the latest video of him and his 110 pound jockey tearing it up at a college rodeo, and I smile. Watching him run is almost as fun as running him myself......almost.



nagonmom said...

Nice read. It is tough to watch someone else ride "your" horse. My husband describes the female relationship with our horses as like a fiance or spouse. "Here, take him out for a spin." Not likely! But it sounds like you are mature enough to do what is best for the horse. Good luck with your baby.

Breathe said...

You are making the best choice for him, but it's a tough one. Hope you are back on him in time, feeling those runs again!

Anonymous said...

That made me go "naaawww"

barrelracer20x said...

Thanks yall. It's harder than I expected it to be, but she treats him like a king, lol so that helps. I don't mistreat any of my horses, but they have to be pretty tough. We don't blanket during the winter, they're turned out 24/7 with access to shelter.
Since he's gone to his "for awile home", he's had blankets, hoods, and been in a nice cushy he may not wanna come home!

Susan said...

More proof that the perfect horse is out there for everyone.

equineobsessed said...

Congrats on the baby - babies are always a good thing. Letting a friend or daughter take over your horse is hard but good for all. And sharing a good horse is paying it forward.

I will write you a story sometime but meanwhile, its

barrelracer20x said...

Thanks for all the well wishes (=

Tansy said...

Lovely story!
And to nagonmom: Your husband is so right! I'm about to head over seas for 6 months and am leasing my beloved horse out to a wonderful girl who rides him beautifully and I know will take excellent care of him...
but he's my horse and it's so, so hard to watch...

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