My Journey to Road to the Horse 2012 - Day 3
By Jonathan Field
Photos by Caitlin Taylor
Now we're onto the obstacle course. When practicing I followed the same timeline as in the real event, so the colt had a rest overnight. This overnight rest before the obstacle competition makes the event quite different from others because the horses get a full day's rest before going into the obstacle course.
In the obstacle course, competitors will be required to go through a series of exercises, such as picking up the feet, mounting and saddling quietly, walking, trotting, and cantering, swinging a rope off the horses' backs, and doing obstacles such as going over logs. Each competitor has 30 minutes to complete the course.
#1 Getting started
The colt saddled very well and I picked up all four feet before putting him on a 22-foot line to get him out moving in the new environment. Remember, this is the first time we are out of the round pen, so it was key to get him moving freely and for him to have some time to see the new area.
#2 Riding in the arena
With more space, he trotted out like he had been a riding horse for a long time. Believe me, this is one nice horse to ride for the miles that need to be covered on a ranch!
#3 Swinging the lariat
Swinging a lariat rope is required as part of the obstacle course, plus it's great preparation for him for his future as a ranch horse. He wasn't sure about the rope at first, but because of all the desensitization exercises I had done on the ground, he overcame it quickly. I loved how he just confidently took it all in.
When we proceeded to the obstacles, it was a bit challenging because he wasn't sure about being directed in between the bales of hay or up the little hill. I let him have a second or two to look at each obstacle, and encouraged him forward one step at a time. Each time he would take a step forward, I would release. After a few steps, he decided it was okay to go through.
#5 It's over!
We made it! He's a riding horse, I feel more confident going in to the competition, and I had a lot of fun in the process. I'm still struck looking back at how much a horse can learn in only three days. Horses are so amazing!
I'm happy to report that the colt is doing great at the Quilchena Ranch. Miles told me the colt went to work the next day as a ranch horse and did fantastic. He is in the main string of horses the cowboys use, called the caavy.
I hope you enjoyed this article. I can't wait to travel down to Tennessee to compete at Road to the Horse with my partner, Glenn Stewart. Win or lose, it's sure to be a lot of fun!
For more information about Road to the Horse, visit RoadtotheHorse.com.
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