Sunday, December 16, 2012

Ponys First Gymkhana!

We went to our first gymkhana!

After our wild ride on Thursday, I went to ride her on Friday hoping shed give me some confidence for the next day.

She was perfect. She was slow and calm and gave me a beautiful lope. It was wonderful.

I took all my tack over to my friends ranch that night and loaded the trailer. We also hitched up the trailer and left her truck there overnight for ease of loading in the morning. I took her home and picked her up in the morning, it was so nice to be able to just throw the horses in the trailer and go.

Pony tried on her pretty saddle blanket the night before :)

Especially since it was SO FREAKING COLD. It stayed cold, all day long. And then it started raining. All in all, it was a miserable day. The place we have it at is a covered arena so we were still able to continue the gymkhana.

However, we are able to split the arena and run two patterns at once (it's a rodeo sized arena. It's HUGE.) But, once it started raining they opened the arena for the riders to have cover, and we were only able to run one pattern at a time. Which made the day last SOOO much longer, and it was cold and wet and miserable.

However, if I was on a calm horse it would have been a lot easier.

Pony was a handful, all day long. It was so difficult though, because she was confused, stressed and scared. And when your horse is scared, punishing them is not a solution. That would simply add to her anxiety. And when pony blows up (she never has with me, but the people I was with have seen it) she BLOWS up.

She wasn't doing anything dangerous, she was just freaking out all day long. Which is totally understandable!
Pony and Liam (haflinger) were totally flirting all day, look at how cute they are sharing a hay bag! They're like the same size too, its a match made in heaven!

She's a hot little nervous thing in the first place, and she was somewhere she doesn't know with a rider she's only known for two months with a CRAPLOAD of other horses who were not minding her space. Since she doesn't like horses in her space, this caused problems.

She had a troubled past, she was at auction bound for slaughter multiple times, she was bound for slaughter while pregnant at one point. So I have no idea what she may have thought was going on that day!

When her friends would walk away she got sooo freaked out, I think she was afraid they would leave and go home without her. In the ring, I couldn't get her to stop after our 'runs', she just really wanted to trot back to her friends. We circled a lot and she got a lot of rubs when she was standing still. She was antsy outside the gate and really just wanted to get into the arena.

I braided her mane and finished it with a teal zebra bow :) It helped show off her being a mustang :)

Once inside, I couldn't get a walk from her, I could only get a trot. I did lope a few of them, but the lope that she gave me was quick, but calm. So that was completely ok with me. Her body was relaxed in her lope, and her trot. So I was really fine with the gaits she gave me.

I need to work with her on the pacing and freaking out by the gate and her not stopping after our runs. Also I wish I had been able to get her to walk some of the patterns, but no amount of rein was working, she was going right through the bit. And it was weird, because it wasn't like she wanted to run, she just didn't want to walk. She was happy with a 'slower than walk trot'.

Most horses would have been berated from me for going through a bit, but pony needed her riders approval and support, not her rider to punish her. I'm going to be awesome at reading horses by the time I've been riding her for a while hahaha.

She also got a teal zebra bow in her tail! No she doesn't kick, its just a pretty decoration :)
That's also not me, by the way.

So overall, she did good. She didn't do anything dangerous, she was just stressed and scared. She didn't understand why we were there and why she kept having to leave her friends to run around somewhere else then go back to them.

My friend that brought me told me later that she had been nervous about the entire day, because she has seen pony blow up out of fear, and she didn't know if it was going to go over well, but she said I handled her great.

When we went to do the birangle (two of the same direction turns) she took the first pole like a finished barrel horse. She then headed straight for the other pole instead of home like most horses, and my only explanation is that she had been watching the horses before her and she knew what was going on. She moved beautifully into that first pole. She isn't the most athletic horse and it was so surprising and beautiful.

I think we make a pretty cute pair! You can see her bow in her main :) This was however, after she shook most of her braid loose haha it was muuuch neater before!

She came out of the second turn (we loped this event) and headed home and I was a second away from completely losing her. I felt it. My friends saw it. I had a nano second when I thought 'oh crap should I bail off the horse?'. Instead, I gave her a quick check with the reins and sat back in the saddle, and she slowed down her lope and relaxed her body and I felt a comfortable gait.

I was so proud of her and myself for handling that situation well. I didn't tense up, I didn't scare her, I just relaxed and showed her that she could also relax. I knew that I wasn't ready for the speed she was about to give me, since it would have been the ugliest gait you could imagine, and mentality she wasn't ready for it either.

I was proud of myself for not being a hot head about winning and times and ruin her experience by putting her in a situation where she was reacting out of fear and crazy rather than direction.

So while it was a rough day, we both ended on a positive experience I think.

The best part? We got 1st in birangle, 2nd in hurry scurry (which we walked), 2nd in single stake, and 2nd in poles 2. But the awesome doesn't stop there! I also won 2nd overall for my class and got a 25 dollar gas card!
Boyfriend showed up for support, and stayed the entire day (10-3:30) in the miserable weather! Hes a keeper.  I like to think we're pretty cute too :)

I was so happy that we were able to win some places with her being slow and we never lost control.

She was honestly just so stressed, and it will take a while for her to understand what she was being asked for and why!

This is my friend that took us to the gymkhana, and this is us with our ribbons!


  1. Can I just say how proud I am of you and Pony! Wonderful job. The ribbons are great, and the gas card even better, but the big win here was you and her working through her fear with positive reinforcement instead of punishment. One thing I wonder, you say she has been to auction a few times. So think about her frame of mind in relation to her experiences. At the barn where she lives, and eats and knows all the other horses, she is for the most part very comfortable. But how many times in her life was she loaded up in a trailer and taken to a place where there were a lot of strange horses which ended up being a life changing experience for her. (Auctions)
    What you did was huge for her. You showed her that you understand her fears, that you, as her leader will keep her safe, and you as her leader, will make sure she makes it home safe and sound. I guarantee that she walked away from this experience with a new level of confidence. If you keep going to these sort of events, soon she will learn what is expected of her, and will settle into an easy routine.
    Well done!
    Oh and yes you do look cute together, the horse and the guy!

    1. Thank you so much! You clearly know horses well, and I love that you can see that it was more important to let her know she was okay, safe, and doing a good job than berating her for trotting through the bit and pacing and running around etc. I can't imagine how scared she must have been at so many other times in her life, pregnant at an auction! Im sure that mother instinct kicked in and she was probably stressing out about keeping her unborn baby safe! Im surprised she didn't lose her foal!

      Thank you so much for the kind words :)

  2. Its always hard the first time out anywhere with a horse. And they never want to leave thier friends (even if they are just made friends, lol) But I think you did a fantastic job with her and even won some ribbons!!!

    1. I think its so funny how horses automatically act like they've been best friends for years, even if they've never seen them before!

  3. Oh, I also wanted to tell you that the pic of you and your boyfriend....I love the lighting and coloring of the pic. I swear it sort of makes it look a little on the vintage side. Like 1970's vintage.

    1. I think it turned out really awesome!!! Thanks!! I edited it using this app for my iphone called camera+. Its 99 cents but awesome!


I love comments!