Sunday, March 29, 2015

What Have I Done?

I went to a NRCHA horse show last weekend, just to watch mind you, I wanted a dose of horses I understand.

I saw old friends, got some hugs, and was so happy to be back in my comfort zone, I pretended they were welcome.

I watched a bunch of fence runs and began to feel a twitch in my hands and a funny feeling in my gut. For once it wasn't the PD. It was longing. It was a sharp reminder that my fat hairy mare is actually a finished bridle horse who loves those cows as much as I do.

I was standing at the rail, watching runs with an old friend and asking about new stuff I was seeing. The horses are running their circles with a low head and loose reins --very reinerly.  I don't like it.

A straight up bridle horse needs contact and support from the riders hand. In order to find a neutral position with the spoon off the roof of their mouth, they need to travel with their face on the vertical - get it? Straight up in the bridle? Those dang cowboys with their tricky terminology.

Every movement is supposed to be directed between the leg and the hand. Signals should take little more than a squeeze of the reins and are limited to about a four inch square centered above the saddle horn. Every movement is supposed to mean something.

Low head, loose rein on a reiner. Hand gives direction with dramatic cues to communicate through the reins to the horse. A good reining horse carries himself correctly and follows the hand itself, with the touch of the reins coming in as a secondary cue.

Straight up in the bridle - Light contact, rein hand directs with a squeeze.

No, I don't know what's up with the rider's leg. I do see from the bend in his wrist he's tweaking his rein hand down, instead of lifting up. This tells me he's trying to compensate for his forward, useless leg by bringing the horse's nose

Trust me, I know from experience, all that's going to happen is the very nice horse will tip his nose toward his chest, fall onto his forehand, string out behind, and the Big K will yell, "What ARE you doing? Last time I checked you're missing an arm, not a leg!" Oops. I digress.

While I was expounding to my friend on my theories about how screwed up this new style of dry work looked to me, a loud, bright voice was directed at me from the bleachers.

"I know you!"

I turned and saw a woman I vaguely remembered, maybe, kinda sorta. I couldn't put her face to a horse, so I couldn't place her. I smiled and gave her a half wave.

"You used to ride cow horses, years and years ago," she said. 

She beamed at me with the indulgent smile of a great, great grand-niece visiting Granny in the old folks home. It was clear her  mama had told her to shut up and listen to my old windies--but she wasn't having it.

"It hasn't been that many years," I stammered. 

"Sure it has," my new best friend said. "Do you even ride anymore?"

I felt old. I thought about how out of shape I am, how slow and lazy Madonna has become. I thought about my fat, fat self, at least until a sudden burning fire filled me from stem to stern.

"Of, course I still ride. I'm going to show this year."

I remembered that fire well from my younger years, the fire of brash stupidity.

"Really? How exciting, when?" This bitch was relentless.

"Um, well, uh..." I found myself wishing I'd skimmed a show schedule at least once in the last year or two.

"Psssst," my friend hissed, "Estes Park."

"I'm showing at Estes," I said.

So there it is, Madonna and I are legging up to show at the NRCHA qualifier, the CRCHA Mountain High, in Estes Park, June 1st.

May I have an Oh Shit?


  1. Oh Shit!
    Followed quickly by a
    'Way to go!!'
    Looking forward to being able to follow along on the journey!

  2. Awesome! You guys will be great - and even if your not perfect, fricken' good on ya!

  3. Good for you! Please post updates....lots of them!

  4. Oh SHIT!! So glad we get to be on the receiving end of the preparation. How long do y'all have to get ready? You've been dreaming of this!

  5. No worries redhorse. I ride a straight up bridle horse in reined cow horse competition.

  6. Nicely done! But a big Oh Shit to go with it!

  7. How about a Holy Shit!!!!

    I watched one of my best friends compete in an extreme cowboy event this weekend. I was shaking and wanted to lie down but I went and cheered my ass off. She came in fifth which was pretty damn good considering I've never seen her mare so wound up. (Can't blame the girl - she's used to living outside 24-7 with free access to hay and water and here she was cooped up in a stall in the agriplex building, right?) It was so inspiring. And discouraging. I haven't been on a horse in 5 months and we are all out of shape. I don't know how long before I'll feel safe on a horse again. WHATEVER. I'll get there. AND SO WILL YOU!

  8. No "Oh Shit" here. Just a firm conviction that you will "Rock that Shit!" Go show 'em how the old ladies roll! :-)

  9. If we're in the NorCo area, can we come watch and cheer you on? :D

  10. It's fine if you show up, but fair warning...I am not social or fun at shows. I'm serious, sunk in thought, preoccupied.

  11. ^^^ What she's secretly saying is that she wants a hug. She gets nervous before shows, and she needs comfort.

    So if you show up to cheer her on, make sure you go up and give her a warm, loving hug. Lots of them. She'll protest, but secretly she'll thank you.

  12. Oh shit!

    Way to go, and good luck. Having goals is important. Or something.

    I might need a day off by then, and could make the quick hike up the hill to cheer you on.

    No hugs, I promise.

    -the redhead-
    ...who's mouth may still occasionally write checks her ass has to work very hard to cash... ;)

    ...we will not speak of the double dog dares...

  13. No hugs, won't distract you... but might have to buy you a big Margarita afterwards!

  14. I would LOVE to sit in the bleachers with everyone here and just listen to all the crap talking, the love, the respect, and absorb the happy.

    Sounds like a hell of a good time.

    Has anyone asked Madonna what she thinks of these shenanigans?


  15. You may have on "Oh Shit"……
    But I am jealous……

    Have fun!!!

  16. Yeah! I've been off my riding for a year...just putzing around...and now you are inspiring me to get my butt back in the saddle again!

    Congrats on the kick...

  17. haha that's awesome - go get 'em!

  18. Hell yeah! Keep us updated!

    Amy in Ohio