Saturday started so well, and then kind of disintegrated so both of us were on the fence as to whether or not we were going to scratch from the Extreme Mustang Race (EMR). I had planned on riding it, with my back-up being doing it in hand, but the closer the race got, the more concerned I got about riding Skeeter.
We talked it over Saturday night and decided that we were just going to tack up the horses and do it in-hand, but with their gear on for practice. Sunday morning dawned nice and early (earlier than usual with the damn time change), and we headed to the barn. On the way, we talked it over again and decided that we weren't going to tack up after all - we didn't want to give the horses even more to stress over. Skeeter probably would have been fine, but Copper's still really new to grown-up clothes.
Once again, we were among the first at the barn, so it was nice and peaceful. We grabbed the horses and went to the arena just one aisle over from the stalls to warm up.
|Really, really early in the morning.|
Copper, of course, was perfect. Jerk.
We groomed them a bit, and then headed to the arena. First, we had to go through another building. The building where they housed the drafts, carts, and minis. Remember how much Copper loves minis? I'm sure that was on Jay's mind. He marched Copper through the building, eyes straight forward, one step after the next, just like he was marching to his death.
|Light at the end of the tunnel.|
|We made it!|
|Someone dropped hay on the ground. It was an excellent reward for making it through.|
|Look at the relief on Jay's face. Look at how red mine is (that's not relief).|
Jay thought Copper would be afraid of them, and I thought Skeeter was going to try to kill them. We took the horses one by one over to the pen where the cows were and introduced them. Skeets snorted at them and backed up and then went, "Oh, is that hay they're eating? Don't mind if I do!" and helped herself to the hay.
|Concerned, but not afraid.|
|If they share their hay, they're okay in Skeeter's book.|
Bill's a good horse-sitter, even when things got pretty exciting. Where they are standing is oh, 150 feet from a highway on-ramp. When the first firetruck went by with lights and sirens, it was okay. When the third went by, apparently things got interesting. From in the building, where we were doing the walk-through, we didn't hear a thing and Bill had to wrangle two unhappy horses by himself.
Following the walk-through we had a lot of hurry-up-and-wait again. We waited in the tunnel with the other horses for most of it, but my damn ADHD horse kept needing to move her feet, so back out to the tarmac we'd go. Every time we left, Copper got anxious. We were the last two in the class, so we had a lot of time to sit and wait. As our turn got closer, we moved Copper and Skeeter up closer to the gate.
Copper handled it like a rock star. Skeeter lost her ever-loving mind. Luckily, there was no rearing and bucking like on Saturday, but she definitely was having some confinement anxiety (a lot like her human). She could not stand still and at one point stomped my foot pretty good, and bad words spewed from my mouth. I had a moment of, "let's just fucking quit" before I came to my senses. We could do the vast majority of the obstacles laid out and I knew once she had something to focus on, instead of lots of somethings, she'd do fine.
I didn't get to see any of Jay's go because I was busy trying to keep Skeeter under control, but the video shows what an amazing job they both did.
We went immediately after Jay, and I was right, as soon as we stepped out of the claustrophobic alleyway into the big arena, she calmed down. There were things to look at and sniff and investigate. Jay and I went into the EMR with the intention of using it for experience, neither of us expected to place (it's a good thing, because we didn't).
You could almost see her relax once she had a job to do. She was still interested in what was going on, but was finally more interested in seeing what Mom was asking her to do. She really, really needs a job.
As soon as we finished, we went back out to the tarmac to wait for the awards ceremony. I thought that Skeets and I were last, but they had the youth division (only two riders) immediately after me, so it was hurry-up-and-wait again.
Skeeter was wound up (again) and the happiness I experienced from her doing mostly well in the arena evaporated. By the time we lined up in the arena for the awards, I was well on my way to hating my horse, but I tried to plaster on a smile anyway.
We both earned a participant ribbon, and I mean earned when I say that. The actual EMR was the easiest part of the morning and we both felt a huge sense of accomplishment when we were done.
It was a very long morning, and Skeeter was Hulk Smashing my last nerve. By the time we got back to the stalls, I had hate in my heart for her. Pure hate. I might or might not have threatened to haul her across the street to the Purina factory. She's a smart horse, I know that. She has manners, I know that too. Unfortunately, she's also a busy body and cannot focus when there's too much going on. I hate being impatient with my horse, but I hate having an ill-mannered horse even more. I got her back into her stall before we both said and did things that we'd regret (like the Purina factory).
Copper, of course, was perfect. Jerk.
We got them settled and I stomped off, demanding food. Jay mentioned that I could be hangry, or Skeeter could be hangry, but we both cannot be hangry at the same time, because it is ugly.
An hour or so later, will a full belly, and my blood sugar back up in the normal range, I reflected on our performance. We did pretty good. Not as good as Jay and Copper, but pretty good. We had nothing to be embarrassed about (in the arena). When I mentioned it to Jay, he looked at me and - hand to God - said, "You just needed time to lick and chew".