Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Rocky Mountain Horse Expo - Friday

The alarm went off very early Friday morning.

3:30 a.m. early.

Early, early.

But we managed to drag ourselves out of bed and get moving. We quickly packed the clothes we needed for the weekend, then packed the vehicle with all of the tack and horse gear, and hooked up the trailer. Everything went according to plan, and we were ready to load up the horses by 4:30 a.m.

We grabbed their halters, went into the pen, and haltered them in the dark without issue.

Skeeter followed nicely to the trailer, stepped her front two hooves in and then came to her senses. It was like she finally woke up and realized we were putting her into the trailer in the dark and she suddenly didn't want to go. We circled and did a little ground work before trying again. This time, she got her front two hooves in, realized there was hay in the manger and put the third hoof in before she came to her senses and bolted back out of the trailer.

We did that several times before I looked at Jay and told him to give Copper a try. Certainly, if we could get one horse in the trailer, the other would be willing to load. And certainly, since Copper had just come from the trainer's twelve hours before, he'd remember his trailer loading lessons and step right on in.

I should have known the morning was going too well.

Jay worked to "drive" Copper into the trailer. Copper got two hooves in, came to his senses, and bolted backward out of the trailer. I was holding Skeeter on the far side of the trailer, when I heard a holler and, "Babe! Copper's loose!"

I looked over to see Copper trotting away (all of twenty yards before he stopped) and Jay on his knees, holding his hand. The first words out of my mouth were, "Do you still have all your fingers?". It's a terrible question to ask, but an important one when dealing with horses.

Jay assured me he did, but I didn't believe him until he turned on his cell phone flashlight and checked. I walked over to Copper and picked up his lead rope, handed my gloves to Jay and they tried again. Jay wanted Copper to know that even if he pulled away, he'd have to get back to work. A few tries to load later, we gave Copper a break and tried again with Skeeter.

The frustrating thing is that both horses have been loaded into our trailer. Not at the same time, but they've both been in the blasted thing!

At 6:00 a.m., we threw in the towel, put the horses back in the pen, unhooked the trailer and headed to Denver without them. When we got into cell phone range, I called Mom and let her know we were headed down, but without the horses. I texted the person in charge of the Pleasure Class we were supposed to compete in and scratched us both from Friday's competition. We figured we'd try again during daylight on Saturday, but we were supposed to be in a meeting at 7:00 a.m. in Denver (we were definitely going to be late), and be ready to help set up the U.S. Wild Horse and Burro Association booth. We were scheduled to volunteer from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., so we really didn't have any time to fart around with the horses.

While talking to Mom, I told her that if they brought their trailer down on Saturday and hauled the horses to the expo for us, we'd pay their gas. They did us one better - a couple of hours after I talked to Mom, I got a text from L.E. that the horses were loaded into the trailer and they were headed our way. Mom texted right after L.E. and let me know they (and the horses) would be there by noon.

I felt pretty bad about it, because I know there were some events that Bill wanted to see in the morning and he missed them to go pick up our two boogerheads. However, I was glad that they were on their way.

"We refused to get in our trailer, and now we're in jail?!"
Mom and Bill made great time and the horses were in their jail cells stalls just a hair before noon. We hung water buckets and hay nets, then headed off to see the Colt Starting Challenge. A couple of hours later, we got back to the barn to check in on the horses and I was told that Skeeter caused a bit of excitement.

In her boredom, she started pawing at her hay net and got her leg caught in it, which then caused her to panic. A passerby saw what was happening and started to go into the stall. Luckily, our "boss" caught her before she got in and told her to stop. Kathy (our boss) grabbed Skeeter's halter and go it on her fairly easily. Once the halter was on, Skeeter calmed down and stood nicely. Kathy had the passerby come in to hold Skeeter while she cut away the hay net.

It was a cheap hay net, and I hung it far too low. I didn't even give it a second thought because she'd eaten out of a similar hay net, hung at a similar height from a trailer, but I didn't think about the boredom factor. I was lucky that Kathy and the other lady reacted so quickly. Skeets was fine, but because of her both horses got to pick their hay out of the shavings instead of eating out of their hay bags.

Copper didn't do anything as drastic as Skeeter, but he still managed to cause some trouble by playing with his water bucket. Jay must have filled it at least five times on Friday. Copper would pick it up with his teeth, pull it away from the wall, then let fly. When he got bored with that, he'd stick his head in the bucket and slosh it back and forth. His stall was one muddy mess. It was impossible to see how much water he was actually drinking because he kept emptying his bucket out in other ways. Jerk.

Despite knowing there was nothing in the stalls they could hurt themselves with (anymore), I was pretty paranoid the rest of the night.

Mom, Bill, Jay, and I had tickets to the Mane Event that night, so we cleaned the stalls, fed, watered, and spend an evening being astonished by the acts in the Mane Event. My favorite was the Fjords - they did "tandem driving"; the riders rode one horse, while driving one in front of them. I had never seen anything like it. I mean, riding correctly is hard enough; and driving correctly is hard enough. Who in their right mind wants to do both at the same time? It was incredible.

Eighteen hours after we left home Friday morning, Jay and I were able to check in to our hotel room and call it a night. Poor Mom and Bill had to drive all the way back up the hill to the lodge. We couldn't be blessed with a better support system than those two.


Linda said...

Well now, that was an exciting first day. It figures they wouldn't go into the trailer--probably knew you were in a hurry and needed them to. Did you ride on Saturday?

Momma Fargo said...

That is a day full of horse firsts and new events. Actually, I think it was very good for your horses to experience and for them to have that new environment to figure out. They will get the hang of it, the more you expose them to things. You and Jay on this journey together warms my heart. I am very happy for both of you.

GunDiva said...

Linda, no, we didn't ride on Saturday, but there was plenty of excitement :)

Momma - even if we'd ended up scratching all of our classes, it was a great experience for all of us. We'll be traveling with the horses more in the future (after some more trailer loading lessons).