Still don’t have the pictures from the Ride Photographer yet, but when I do, I’ll be sure to share them. I did manage to take a few photos of my own on Sunday, though, because that day’s CTR was a much more relaxed and enjoyable ride.
Sunday’s ACTHA trail ride was a complete opposite to the frenetic energy and feeling of intense competition of Saturday’s ride. Along with being able to ride with friends made a huge difference. And the lack of strong wind was a huge improvement over Saturday, too for sure! It was still slightly breezy, but we didn’t have those 50 mph gusts, and the breezes helped us all keep cool. In fact the night and morning temps got down into the 40’s! Brrr! I was glad I packed an extra blanket along with my sleeping bag, denim long sleeve shirt and a fleece jacket, too.
I made sure on Saturday night, to connect with my friends and fellow horse rescue/riding partners to pick a time we could all ride together on Sunday. There were 6 of us, and we all knew each other, had ridden together, and our horses were all familiar with one another, too. What a difference that makes when you ride in a group.
There was my friend Lynette and her Arabian mare, Tango. Greg, my dear friend Renee’s husband, and my friend Kristi and her Thoroughbred gelding, Mr. Bill, along with her daughter, M (who I’ve bragged on before on my blog, from other rides and the CHAMP clinic last month) and her handsome Thoroughbred/Saddlebred gelding, Jackson (all their horses came from the horse rescue).
One of our riders, a 10 year old boy, the nephew of my dear friends Renee and Greg, had only ridden a horse once in his young life. Colleen set him up with a babysitter horse from the horse rescue and they were perfect together. Even though they were riding as buddy riders and didn’t have to try any of the obstacles, all the judges let him try anyway, and he did better on them than many of us adults! He was a joy to ride with and was so cute the way he took on the role of wrangler, checking to make sure everyone was ok and keeping up, or letting us know if there was a hole on the trail or anything we needed to watch out for. I think even Greg was pleasantly surprised to see how naturally his nephew took to horse back riding. He sure looked more relaxed on his gelding, Jessie, later on in the ride.
There were also two other riders who had signed up in our group, but they were both Open Riders who were obviously there for the competition and not so much for the trail experience. They seemed very intense, focused and in a huge hurry. The one gal sat on her horse and chain-smoked while waiting for the rest of our group to show up so she could get started. We were all on time, but we were in no hurry, so we told them to ride along without us. And they did, and seemed relieved about it, too.
Our trail ride started directly across from the stables, where we entered through a gate and rode for about 20 minutes, on the Jalapeno Trail, through a very rocky, but not very steep section that we had to allow our horses to pick their way carefully through. Finally we passed through another gate, eased around the edge of the Eventing Field and back into the trees, where we finally came upon our first obstacle:
Obstacle #1 “The Texas Two Step”
We had 40 seconds to walk over 4 poles that were spaced 3’6” apart, without stumbling or touching the poles.
We did clip a couple of the poles, but Apache went through calmly, willing and focused, so I was pleased.
Scores: Horse-7 Rider-8
We left that obstacle, rode through the trees and then crossed the Eventing Field, rode to the other side and back up through the trees and finally came upon our second obstacle.
Obstacle #2 “Boot Scootin’ Boogie”
We had 30 seconds to walk calmly across a bright silver tarp that was laid down in a shallow ravine/arroyo to simulate a creek/water obstacle.
This was another obstacle I knew Apache and I were prepared for, so I was excited to see if she would be willing and ready to try it. She was!
I asked and she gave that tarp one look and then crossed over it as calmly as if she was sleep-walking. I love that mare of mine!
Here’s a photo of M trying to get her gelding Jackson to cross the tarp, right after Apache and I had completed the obstacle and were standing on the other side. You can see one of the judges, T, on the left and two of the safety riders on the right.
“Hell No, I won’t go!”
“But I will walk around it for you.”
Her Mom, Kristi had much better cooperation from her Thoroughbred gelding, Mr. Bill.
“Oh, how silly. It’s just a tarp, Jackson. They don’t typically eat horses, ya know”
Ok, so how did Apache and I do on this challenge?
Scores: Horse-10 Rider-10 (Woohooo!)
After leaving behind that obstacle, we rode through the trees for a few minutes and then behind the hay barn, where there was a water tank for our horses to stop and have a drink.. M’s horse Jackson made us all laugh when he dipped his entire head under the water and then tried to splash water over his back and onto M, just like an elephant. The two of them were soaked. Too funny!
I just had to get a cute Mother/Daughter photo, too.
When it was Apache’s turn to drink, she tried to emulate Jackson with the splashing, too, but even though she made me laugh, she just couldn’t get the water high enough to get me wet. Maybe just getting me to laugh was her goal, though. She’s such a sweetie.
Then it was time to ride through another gate onto Jose Cuervo Trail. We crossed a couple gravel roads, rode through some trees and we arrived at our next obstacle.
Obstacle #3 “Whoa!!! Darnit!!!!!”
Before we got started we were warned not to get close to the wood retaining wall on the other side of this obstacle, because a rattlesnake had just been spotted over there. Ooooo. How exciting.
At this obstacle, we had 60 seconds to start trotting our horse at the first cone and have our horse make a quick stop at the second cone, without letting your horse’s nose move past the cone, sort of like what you’d do if you just saw a rattler in your path.
I kind of doubted that I’d be able to get Apache into a trot, especially since she’d be trotting away from the rest of the horses in our group, but I asked her for a trot at the first cone….and she gave it to me!
And she gave me a nice quick stop at the second cone, too, although I think her nose did move past the finish line just a tad.
I was still so proud of her!
Scores: Horse-9 Rider-9
And we didn’t see any rattle snakes either. I’d give that one a 10! lol!
This part of the trail was another toughie because we had to pass through another gate and walk directly behind all of the horse pens and stables. When we came out on the other side, I’m sure the horses thought we were heading back to the barn and were done for the day.
Alas, sorry equine friends, no way Jose’.
We left Jose’ Cuervo Trail behind and headed through another gate, down the long gravel driveway that leads into and out of Cedar Hill Farm. About halfway down, we turned left, walked through another gate, and entered into a great big field and Margaritaville Trail. We rode up past a large pond, and down a few hills and through some trees and came upon our next obstacle.
Obstacle #4 “The Tennessee Waltz”
This was a clever little challenge that required riders to enter into a 6’ x 6’ box created with poles, and have your horse turn 360 degrees inside of that box, any way they wished without touching the poles. We had 60 seconds to complete the obstacle, and it was something Apache and I had never practiced.
Well, on each corner of the box was a 12” gap, so we decided to enter there instead of trying to step over the poles, which we tend to clip anyway. Entering at the gap also gave us a starting point so I could be sure we turned 360 degrees.
Would Apache give me what I asked for? Would she turn tightly, calmly and smoothly inside that box, the full 360 degrees without touching any poles? Would she be able to exit out of the gap, without clipping a pole?
Gotta love her!
Scores: Horse-10 Rider-10
The next section of the trail was just for fun and aesthetic purposes. We circled around that great big grassy field with gorgeous, breathtaking views in all directions. I think we all enjoyed this section and we took our time just relaxing with our horses in the sunshine and blue skies.
Just before we were to pass through a gate to leave the field, M and her Thoroughbred/Saddlebred gelding Jackson came galloping up behind us, which typically wouldn’t have bothered Apache, but at the last moment, Jackson stumbled and made quite a bit of a commotion, which caused Apache to become alarmed. But unlike my previous horse Baby Doll, who had bolted on me on similar situations, like when some dogs caused a commotion behind us on the road, or a motorcycle revved up it’s engine on the highway beside us, Apache merely wanted to turn around and face whatever it was making all that racket. Baby Doll was more of a ‘Run for your life, don’t ask questions!” type of horse. While Apache is a “Let’s wait and see if it’s worth wasting any energy on it first” type of horse.
Whew! Well now that we had been awakened from our relaxing traipse across the great big field, it was time to pass through the gate, twist tightly around and between two trees and then squeeze between two more trees and then down between a fence and another tree, and then finally, through another gate on the opposite side. That was a clever little challenge and good for the horses to practice taking their time so they didn’t bang up their human’s knees as they maneuvered around.
After crossing through the gate and going up a short hill, it was time to begin the next obstacle.
Obstacle #5 “The Argentine Tango”
This obstacle required the Open Rider to back up through an L-Shape created by poles, without permitting their horse to touch the poles going through. The Pleasure and Jr. Riders only had to pass through the straight section of the poles. We had just 60 seconds to complete the obstacle.
And the flies and biting bugs were out in full force.
They were driving Apache nuts. She was swishing her tail, kicking her belly, stomping and fidgeting. When I asked her to back up, I think she might have thought I was backing her up into a flock of flies, because she really didn’t want to do this one. She tried. She really did. But the flies were just too distracting. Poor girl. I just couldn’t force her.
Scores: Horse-5 Rider-4
The next section of the trail was another of my favorites because of the technical side of it. I just love going up and down those steep, rocky hills, maneuvering through the trees, boulders, and slabs of granite all while assisting my horse by balancing in the saddle, and avoiding branches across the trail that threaten to smack me in the face or tear my clothes. It’s kind of like a challenging game. Yeehaw!
We finally reached the ridgeline, rode for another 20 minutes or so and then worked our way back down the other side and to our last and final obstacle.
Obstacle #6 The Macarena
We had 60 seconds to move our horse’s front feet into a 2’ x 2’ square box, and then have them turn on the haunches, tightly, smoothly, calmly in a 180 degree turn, all while not clipping the poles. The object is for the horse to demonstrate it’s ability to yield it’s hind quarters.
Which is obviously not something Apache has ever been taught by me nor anyone else. Or maybe she’s rusty? I did manage to get her to take maybe two steps in the direction I wanted her to without clipping the poles, but then after that it was a disaster. We mangled the poles and I could tell she was confused with what I was asking her, so we moved on. Good try, though. She still got a cookie. It had been a long day….and an even longer weekend. She deserved a treat for taking good care of me and giving me all that she knew how to.
Scores: Horse-0 Rider-0
The last section of trail was kind of fun because we rode through the trees for a while and then we came down onto an old jeep trail and then finally into the horse paddock area, where the 20-30 horse trailers were all parked, with horses tied beside them, munching their post-ride hay as they watched us ride past.
It was sort of like being in a parade. If I would have had a bag full of horse cookies (and a strong arm) I would have tossed them all some treats from my “horse float”.
Apache just walked along, nickering at a few of them as we motored towards the indoor arena where we were to complete our final test, the Lameness Test.
Again I wasn’t sure if I could get Apache to trot around those cones in the figure eight pattern. I can easily get her to trot and canter if we are following other horses, but running away from other horses, or if she sees no reason to run is slightly more challenging.
But I asked with as much energy as I could, squeezing with my legs and she finally gave it to me. We trotted around the cones and then came back around and stopped in front of the judge. Yay!
Which is where we got this ribbon from.
It was a fun day with some beautiful trails, challenging obstacles, and wonderful friends. Speaking of friends, I met a blogger friend in person that weekend, too. Anna of Dun Appaloosa Farm was there to compete riding her mare, Lady Bug. I’m glad I thought to get my camera out and take a photo of her and Lady Bug together. So nice to meet you, Anna!
Oh! And several of you had asked how the ACHA CTR scoring works. Basically, each horse and each rider start off with 10 points. Then during each obstacle, the horse and rider have points deducted (or not) by the judges for their performance in each obstacle. A 10 is perfect. Bonus points can be awarded for the exceptional way a rider and/or a horse handles an obstacle. You don’t get extra points for doing anything extra, like standing still in the water obstacle, or side passing to an obstacle.
Although if you sign up to be an Open Rider, as opposed to a Pleasure Rider, who does the basic challenges, you are given additional challenges for each obstacle, such as side passing to a mailbox or backing up through the water, and points are deducted or maintained for the completion of each obstacle.
Six Miles, Six Obstacles
Our Score: 82 Total Points
Highest Score: 105 Points
Lowest Score: 0 followed by 30
One Horse/Rider Disqualified
We placed 19th out of 43 Pleasure Riders
Not too shabby.