My Super Ultimate Trail Horse Experience at Sacramento Expo 2013

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Our weekend at Sacramento Expo was amazing! Cody pendant and I had submitted videos to try out for the Charles Wilhelm Super Ultimate Trail Horse Challenge and were ecstatic to be accepted. My go-to horse is a 9yr old Gypsy Cobb Stallion named Gaelic Dancer, he was my trusted mount for Project Cowgirl last year. I have had several months to ride and train him, so, he is fit and much more collected than before. One of the criteria that we were to be judged on is softness, light contact, easy transitions and good quality gaits while also easily negotiating trail obstacles. I am a huge fan of the tests they put the Lusitano horses through before they can be allowed to Bullfight, called working equitation tests. One of the things I am most impressed with is the equitation and balance required to make it all look so easy. I was delighted to find out that Charles Wilhelm was also a fan and had been inspired by this style of riding and was planning to use these types of equitation patterns combined with trail obstacles to show our skill at Horsemanship and how responsive our horses are. One of the best features was that we would be provided the judges scores, notes and advice to help us out though the weekend!

Friday’s course combined a lot of Counter-canter, simple or flying changes and obstacles such as bridges, lope poles, a gate and pushing a ball, while keeping an eye on the letter markers where we were required to make our transitions. Gaelic likes making public appearances and tends to get fancy for everyone watching. I was a bit worried upon entering, but once we started our left lead I realized that he was there to work and I could just relax and ride him thru the course, taking third place since we missed one counter canter and made a few other small mistakes.

Saturday’s course was not so much the obstacles as it was about accurate equitation using some components of a reining pattern with trot work showing from a jog to an extended trot and finishing with some flag work on the mechanical cow. The mechanical cow was a different set up than I had seen and mimicked a Working Cowhorse pattern by having you “box” the flag on one end then “take it down the fence”. The pattern was almost how I school him at home, so felt confident that he was well prepared to breeze through it. We dropped to a trot in one set of lope poles and had a bit of a sticky moment in our spins left and right. Once again we placed third putting us in the Finals on Sunday.

Sunday’s course was real real mind-bender! Charles really pulled out all the stops for the finals……it was crazy and took quite some time to remember. There were several trail obstacles, such as a “snake-pit” of pool noodles, a giant tarp on the ground to cross, pushing a ball through a shower curtain and jumps, while showing nice transitions and circles in between hand-galloping with the american flag and dismounting to trailer load! Not to mention the finale of mounting a pedestal and doing a 360 turn around it with the horses’ front feet up. I was surprised how strong and fresh Gaelic felt by day three, especially considering how hot it had been the previous two days. He was a bit distracted so required just a bit more help than usual, so I am proud of him for still being able to place Reserve Super Ultimate Trail Horse! The first place run made by Julie Lopez and Pistol Pete was pretty much poetry in motion and well deserving of First place.

It was exciting to hear that Charles Wilhelm is hoping that this was only the first of many, it is so very hard to find places to show our horses the way we train them. Cross training makes for a versatile, safe, sound and reliable mount, but it does limit the kinds of shows they excel at, keeping in mind that we ride all sorts of unique and talented breeds. We train all breeds for our clients, the list includes: Gypsy’s, Lusitanos, Mustangs, Drafts, Gaited breeds and many more. Our clients also like to have great adventures and take their horses to different types of venues than usual, making it even more important that the horse enjoys learning and copes well with new situations presented to him. This competition was all of that and more! I really look forward to the opportunity to enter in this again and see all the possibilities open up for others that are looking to do this type of showing. I want to thank Charles Wilhelm and all of his people and sponsors that made this possible for such an amazing weekend with Gaelic Dancer and friends!

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