Once in the arena, I assessed the obstacle situation. The trail trials course consisted of a barrel with a pole, a makeshift campsite complete with spruce trees and a tent, a three-tier bridge, a sled pull, a tarp walkover, and a mounting block – the riders had to stop, dismount, throw a raincoat over the saddle, and remount.
Riders had to do a bit more in the open, for instance, trot through the tarp and then back through it – but the organizer stressed that horsemanship was important – meaning, if you knew that your horse was going to have a hard time with this sort of thing, to do less – and do it smoothly.
The open class was first. And Vickie was first on Hunar. The pair had a hard time with the pole and the barrel – and Hunar spooked when asked to back, pulling the sled. (I later told Vickie that we had an identical sled here – it was just a few yards away from the tarp. Oh well, that’s luck of the draw, right?)
Our friend Cath went next on Amigo. She stayed on him, and that was a major accomplishment. A few others followed, and then our friend Terri went riding Joe. Terri is a consummate horsewoman, and she and Joe did a nice job on all the obstacles.
Dick and Jokla had signed up for the pleasure class. By this point in time the judges were downright chatty, and giving the competitors an assist. This was a good thing – it made the atmosphere feel less tense. And in addition, took off the competitive edge.
Dick had decided that because Jokla was antsy, that he would walk rather than ride the course. This was a wise decision, as was his next decision, which was to bypass those obstacles that were of concern to his horse. Jokla did well on the obstacles that she was asked to walk over, though the hanging tarp was not to her liking.
Terri, on our old pal Lifre, followed. As she conceded, like Joe, he had not been ridden all winter. Lifre was obviously nervous, and when finally, he got to the tarp, he pawed it, and wadded it into a huge ball. This is not usual for this horse – he was that uptight.
Other horses followed, doing the trail trials course with varying degrees of success. Finally, the results were announced. Terri and Jo took first place in the open division. And Vicki and Hunar took third place in the open division.
I had decided prior to the pleasure rider placement that once the results were announced, that I’d give Dick a pat on the back. Third, then second place were announced. Terri took second on Lifre. Then the organizer said that the blue ribbon in this division went to Dick and Jokla.
Hearing this, I burst into tears, mainly because I was so tired from having woken up early. But at the same time, I was really pleased with how Dick and Jokla had done. As I told him, repeatedly, the ribbon was reflective of the fact that the judges saw something they liked. And it did not matter to them whether or not the rider was mounted. What they wanted to see was good horsemanship.
I also repeatedly told Dick that the blue ribbon was reflective of the bigger picture – meaning that he had not just gotten his horse out of the pasture that day, and on a whim decided to run her over some obstacles in a haphazard fashion. Rather, he had spent time, and worked with his horse – which was what some did not do. In essence, he was fair to the horse and to himself and the judges took note of this.
Afterwards, my Icelandic horse owner friends (and as well, others) returned to the arena, that is Vicki on Hunar, Terri on Joe and then Lifre, and Dick on Jokla. And all worked on various obstacles. The high point of the day was my talking with all three riders as they worked. At one point we all worked together on getting the horses, especially Jokla, more familiar with the hanging tarp obstacle. We had Vickie/Hunar go first, Dick/Jokla go second, and Terri/Joe go third.
What came to my mind as we were doing this was Bill Ritchie’s despooking clinic – he had figured out that horses do well together when they are in a herd. This was so in this particular instance. Of course, the horses all did just fine, and were amply rewarded for their efforts, either with scratches on the withers, treats, or both.
Dick, Jokla, and I should have quit while we were ahead. Jokla had had enough, and perhaps we had asked her to do more than we should have, for after we did the tarp exercise, she was again fractious. At least I now realize this. . . .
Me, I’ve learned a lot auditing clinics and going to shows. I should whenever I get the chance, continue to do this. I do have one very large regret, and this is that I did not enter Raudi, who would have found the course do-able but challenging. Ahh, but our time is coming. Actually, our time is here and now. How lucky I was, to spend this day amongst friends, and amongst their fine Icelandic horses.
Next: 46. 2/16/15: Days are Full