One of my favorite things about our barn is that there always seems to be something going on on the weekend. If Sarah isn’t hosting a Jumper or TOC show, our western riding trainer is hosting a horsemanship clinic, sorting show or stock horse event. And while June may not partake in all these events, it’s great for her to see trailers and horses coming in and activity all around. I want her to be used to chaos.
This past weekend our barn hosted a Stock Horse event. I didn’t really know what this was, other than you do a pattern and basically show good horsemanship and a calm and relaxed ride. I signed June up mainly because it seemed low key and would get her out and about with other horses.
I mean zero disrespect to the western riding discipline, but I was pretty surprised by how warm up went. There were about 15-20 horses in the outdoor arena, everyone was going every which way, and June had horses spinning (like fancy, western, spinning) cantering and sliding to a stop all around her.
All I could think was, dressage warm up is going to be a piece of cake if we keep doing this!
The event itself was lots of fun! It started in the outdoor arena with a pattern. June and I only walked and trotted but baby horse was SO good. We had to stop and turn (other horses spun), and trot out of the arena under some trees to another paddock, and at the end we had to open a gate while on her back. I figured that would go very badly, but actually, we got the gate open fairly simply. I couldn’t close it, but that was ok, I was happy with how it went considering I had never asked that of her.
Next we moved to another arena where there was an obstacle course. I hadn’t done this under saddle with June so just figured I would see how it went. She was resistant to go over some bridges (but not others, others she walked right over) and she wasn’t sure about the teeter totter at all. But at the end she happily walked through the elevated tires with no problem. I’m signing her up for an obstacle/trail course clinic in August so we can work on this. While I don’t think it’s a huge deal, I think it’s a confidence builder and the more slow, mental work we can do, the better.
Lastly, we entered the cow pen. Now, June hasn’t spent any time with cows other than when I turn her out in the paddock next to them. For this challenge we would be moving cows from one pen to another, and then keeping certain cows in certain areas. I figured I would get June in the pen with the cows, see how she reacted and maybe get her as close to them as possible.
Well, June had another idea. She wanted to get in the cow pen and start moving cows! Bossing cows around is right up her alley!
She had absolutely no hesitation around the cows, and pushed them this way and that. I guess if eventing doesn’t work out she can be a ranch horse.
In recapping the event to Sarah I told her that up until now, most of my tests of June have been to see how her brain would handle things. Her brain has handled everything well. Incredibly well. Moving forward I feel like I can stop worrying about how she’ll react to things and start asking more of her physically. Like, work on getting our steering more refined. And trotting a circle at the same pace the entire way around.
So here’s to boring circles and steering. I can’t wait!