Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Blur that was Congress

I’m kind of a bad blogger and this will be a wordy post with not enough photos, but I hope you read it anyway as it's kind of huge.  Yesterday happened so very, very quickly.

First, the days leading up to Congress were far more stressful than I anticipated. On the 25th (I've blogged since then but didn't mention it) I had a great reining lesson and then I was careless about my feet and Huck smacked a hoof across the top of my left foot while coming off of the trailer.  100% my fault.  I thought I broke it and that Congress was over.  Luckily it was not broken and only took until the 29th before I could try to ride again.  Then on Saturday October 7, a mere day before move-in, my back self destructed (I have two old disk bulges and weak SI joints) and I spent Sunday in lots of pain while my BF and friend did all of the heavy lifting including bedding my stall, hauling everything into the tack stall, lunging Huck – EVERYTHING.  I still didn’t know if I’d be able to show. 

I admit that the pain and the fear that I wouldn't be able to show really clouded what should have been a fun, exciting celebratory time.  I planned to take pictures of us moving in and really document everything.  Instead I was too worried to do anything but try to get through it all.  

Thankfully Sunday night my back adjusted itself a bit and Monday I was able to go get it adjusted and by the evening I was riding, with a little dose of pain meds.  Huck was very chill as we rode in a big arena with some pros I recognized.  I was intimidated, Huck did not seem to be. 

Tuesday morning came very early.  Our Senior Ranch Riding class started at 8am, and we were draw 29 out of 83.  My plan was to get dressed and have Huck lunged and tacked up so I could go watch a few runs, come back for him, and ride until our go.  I got to the arena (which is the furthest spot from our barn you can imagine) only to realize the pattern was taking only about 45 seconds and they were already on draw 5.  I booked it back to the barn, grabbed my chinks and my hat and my horse and headed out with my friend.  Halfway to the arena I looked down and I was wearing purple tennis shoes.  F*&k.  So I sent the horse with my friend and ran back to change into my boots.  I got to the arena, got on, and had only about 8 rides before mine.  So our warm up time was quite short.  

Also, before I went over to show, I discovered a facebook message from someone who was at the show whose name I recognized because FAMOUS, and who was interested in seeing Huck.  So I knew they’d be watching too.   No pressure.

My friend and our equine Chiro were there with me at the in gate while I tried to breathe and remember the pattern.  There’s a moment when you ride alone into the Coliseum and hear your name announced in the same voice that you’ve heard all the top riders in the country announced, where it all feels like a weird dream and you’re not sure how you got there or what you’re supposed to do.  So I took a deep breath and smiled and trotted right into the pattern.

Huck was as good as I could have ever expected him to be.  He listened and stayed with me and I didn’t forget the pattern.  We were not as soft and finessed as we needed to be to place, but that’s understandable when you’re competing against pros.  There was a whole cheering section of my horse friends so it felt really good to hear them whoop for my lead change and cheer when I finished my pattern.

I let Huck rest in the stall while I watched the rest of the class and a few of the Junior horses go.  Then I went to get Huck ready for our Level 1 Amateur class. 

I kept our schooling quiet and Huck seemed really soft and responsive. The pattern didn’t go as well as the first, but I was really tired by this point and the pattern was much harder for us - there was an extended lope through the middle of the arena.  He didn't try to change leads, but he got amped up and I didn't have accurate steering so our straight lines weren't so much.  I blanked for a second before one of the poles, not remembering if that’s where I needed to come down to the walk.  Huck felt my hesitation and offered the walk before I could process it so that was a break of gait, which is guaranteed to take you out of the placings.  Oh well.  So I headed back to the barn, feeling relieved it was OVER.

I walked him back through the warmup pen and dismounted.  As I was headed back to the barn I ran into a judge/clinician friend of mine and we stopped to chat for a minute about my run.  The prospective buyer came by and looked Huck over and said he’d try him later.  !!!!!!

I put Huck away for the day and went back to watch my friend get 6th place in the class.  He had an AWESOME run and he’s worked so hard to get there.  Last year he was in the bottom 50% of scores in the class and it was such a thrill to see how much he’s improved over the year.  He's doing the Freestyle Reining on Saturday, too.  

After the last Amateur class was done, the prospective buyers asked if I’d bring Huck over to the warmup pen.  As I'm leading him over I hear their name over the loudspeaker getting 2nd, 3rd, and 4th places in the Amateur class...... I watched them both ride him and it was surreal just seeing them RIDE my horse, let alone be interested in buying him. Huck was very Huck during the ride and got a little uppity when she asked him for a couple of lead changes in a row, but she didn’t bat an eye.  I told them all about him and how I got him and what we’ve been doing and about his maintenance.  He made me an offer and I took it and burst into tears.  LOL. 

Test ride...

I was so relieved to know that he was going to people who understood the kind of horse he is and can take him places I could only dream.  It’s not every day that a multiple world and congress champion Mozaun McKibben wants YOUR horse.  Yes, you read that correctly.  You know, just the guy whose demo at Congress years ago introduced me to Ranch Riding, and who holds just a few world titles in the class.  NBD.

Post test-ride, trying to make sure he had a ride back to Texas.

I took Huck back to the stall and untacked him and cleaned him up while Moz and Sarah put their horses away and tried figure out how they were going to get Huck home to Texas. 

They brought me a check and I signed over the papers.  Moz put a rope halter on Huck, tied up the lead and said, “Does he ride bareback?”  I said, “Uh, I’ve been on him bareback” and he jumped right up on him in the barn aisle and rode him away… bareback in a rope halter.  Huck didn’t even look concerned. The horse that scares me just found people who GET him and aren’t afraid to use him in the way he needs to be used. Hucks gonna go work for a living and I think he'll be all the better for it.  And I can't help but feel kinda proud that my horse was good enough for the McKibbens.  I'm not sure what their plans for him are, but I hope it goes well and that I get to see some of it happen.  

Me, Sarah, Mozaun, and Huckleberry

So.  Congress is over for us.  We didn't place, but we had respectable runs.  I believe Huck’s probably in his new home in Texas by now, stabled along with world champions. 

There will be more posts about Congress coming, including a "congress first-timers advice to other first-timers". 

I will eventually go read my scores to see where we ranked in our classes, and I’ll probably get some fancy Shane Rux arena photos if there are any decent ones.

What else do you want me to write about?  

Happy Riding. 

Moz and Huck, riding off bareback in a rope halter, like ya do.


  1. Wow what a story and congratulations on competing and selling your horse to a great show home!

  2. That's a pretty awesome outcome for Huck. I'm sure it feels kinda bittersweet, but I'm glad you found him such a good home.

  3. Congrats on going, making a good show and selling him to a fantastic home! Can't ask for better than that.

  4. I'm a longtime reader/lurker, and I watch the Congress livestream religiously, so I was excited that someone I "knew" was going to be showing. I managed to catch both of your runs and thought you guys looked fantastic! Definitely didn't look like Congress first-timers. Congrats on such a fantastic end to your story together!

  5. You showed at the Congress - that's a huge accomplishment to be proud of! Congratulations on a great show and on Huck going to an incredible home. What a great compliment to not just him, but you!

  6. Holy moley!! What a roller coaster. You should be so proud that you MADE IT to Congress and rode against the best in the country :D

  7. MOZAUN MCKIBBEN.ARE YOU EFFING WITH ME?! When I saw that "test run" pic I thought, that looks just like Mozaun Mckibben. And then when I saw his actual name, my eyes bugged out. Wow. What a story! Huck is definitely in GREAT hands.