Not From Around These Parts, Schooling Report, Southern Sunday Barrel Association, March 2020
If you’re riding a horse, you’ve already won.
Why not barrels? The idea was to soak up the show environment. Might as well do slow barrels instead of bad dressage [Finishing The Season].
We didn’t actually make it to the competition phase. We did warm-up on the open arena and then one untimed schooling round. Mission accomplished; we went home. Although it would have been fun to ride in a class, just to say we did, that would have meant waiting several hours and finishing last.
Going in, I knew Rodney was not an undiscovered barrel-racing star. I realized how much after watching the other schooling rounds. Rodney does not have the 0 to 60 acceleration those horses display between barrels. Fun to watch. So not us.
Rodney was a star.
We did all three in gaits in warm-up and during our schooling round. He dealt with other horses in the ring with him. He was fine when they were on the other side of the huge ring. He got excited? anxious? competitive? when we trailed – at a polite distance – another rider. He was good about a horse coming at him, better than I was. I still suffer from Previous Horse flashbacks [Group Therapy]. He didn’t like it when the other horse kicked up dust that hit the side of the arena. The dirt noise has bothered Rodney before [Words]. Adjusting to all of this is a function of getting out and about.
The barrel folks like their footing deeeeeeeep. Even deeper than last time we were in that arena. It was up to his coronet band in places. The trot had almost a passage-y element as he hoisted himself out of the dirt. The canter felt as if he was giving little hops. My lizard brain was not thrilled, but on the other hand, if he had run off to parts unknown, the footing would have sucked off most of the energy in the first 10 feet. He never came close to running off. That was just what I was telling myself. Not the ideal footing for a ground-covering daisy-cutter. No wonder those QHs all have big butts.
We had been practicing our barrel patterns with cones at SSF, with barrels at D&D [New Arena]. Yeah, I deliberately hid the barrels in those photos. I wanted to surprise you. And be sure we had done it before I said anything. In a moment of inter-disciplinary learning, the barrel racing run into the ring is what gave us the idea to use the entry to the round pen as part of a jumping exercise [(Re)Starting Small].
Rodney also gets a star for handling. Usually, we load up and go home immediately after riding. When it became clear this was not happening, he was philosophical about standing next to the trailer eating hay. We have practiced standing around under saddle [Hurry Up & Wait] but not multiple rides. He showed enough in his previous life that I think he knew a second ride was coming. He was fine with it. I made sure to heat his back while we waited.
How many ways can we stand out? An 17-hand Thoroughbred wearing English tack in a crowd of stocky Quarter Horses in western saddles. A rider in boots, britches, and a helmet among riders in jeans with hair blowing in the breeze. I’ve never understood that. Last time I rode in jeans, I had saddle sores in unfortunate places.
Yeah, another group that doesn’t wear helmets. A handful on the young kids. None at all on older kids or adults. I don’t say anything. Nagging is not productive. All I can do is represent [7 Answers]. And make blog posts [Get A Free Helmet Poster]. And give props to Fallon Taylor for spreading the word within the barrel racing community, Taylor & Troxel, #whatthehelmet.
Whither now? We will probably return a few more times for schooling purposes. I am trying to balance getting sidetracked by intriguing activities with keeping my eyes on the prize, i.e. jump! all! the! things!
Hurry up & wait. A universal truth of horse showing.
Thank you for reading,