Show Horses Hit the Trail
In most years, Autumn in
my horse world has meant a rush to prepare for
futurities, hit an extra show to get that much
needed point, or running out of work early on
Fridays to get to the show grounds before it's
dark (finding the electrical hook-ups is much
easier with at least a small amount of
sunlight). Autumn meant worrying if the
2-Year-Old would be ready to compete with the
"big boys", wondering if that yearling was going
to let you clip her ears this year, or if your
late halter colt would bloom at just the right
time to be the most balanced in his class.
In short, Autumn meant a mountain of added
This year, my
plan was to take my 3 year old futurity horse
out in Western Pleasure. She is after all
a yearling longe line futurity money earner out
of an own daughter of Zippos Mr Goodbar with
47.5 AQHA Points. However, I determined
that her 2 year old should be spent growing-up
in the pasture which placed Taffy a long
ways behind her 3 year old competitors.
Even though the trainer that put 90 days on her
had accomplished much, we weren't sure she would
be ready to compete with the more advanced
horses. We decided to set our sites on
AQHA shows next year.
With the trip to
the futurity canceled, what was an experienced
exhibitor to do with her almost ready show
prospect and a free three-day weekend?
Upon the suggestion of my husband-(I
suppose he should have some say in the events
seeing that the weekend was also our wedding
anniversary), we planned to go trail riding. My
husband was ecstatic. I was petrified.
He had a 5 year old red dun gelding that hadn't
spooked once in the 60 days that I had put on
him. I had an in-experienced 3 year old
mare that was in heat and thought that trees
would surely eat her alive.
With helmet on my
head, and wishing that saddles came with seat
belts, we began our first trail ride through the
Iowa corn field. I was prepared for
anything from my horse. My husband's
horse, Dash, took to the trail like a pro.
Taffy, to my surprise, followed Dash's lead.
We walked on the grassy trail beside the
rattling rows of yellow corn. The farther
we went, the calmer Taffy became. The only
big event happened when a deer jumped out of the
corn field only a few feet away- and that was
only a little jump. Trail riding with a
fairly green show horse wasn't so bad!
The second day on
the trail was much more fun. Being a 14.1
well-bred pleasure horse such as herself, Taffy
found her lazy walk and had to nearly lope to
keep up with Dash's 16 hand stride. As my
husband and I rode the grassy trail between the
corn, we purposely brushed our stirrups on the
stalks to create a "scary" noise. It
wasn't long before this was no big deal as well.
By the end of the ride, Taffy was feeling brave
enough to investigate objects on her own- such
as the small round hay bale that she suddenly
attempted to jump over from a stand still.
This Autumn was
truly a different kind of Autumn. The
stress of preparing for a show was gone and I
remembered what it was like to enjoy a riding
just for the sake of riding. Remembering
the joy that would come when I would take
Wonder, my first horse, for a brisk ride across
a frosted hay field. Remembering the pride
that I felt when I discovered the utility of my
horse as we checked the herd of cattle for my
grandpa. Taking in a sunset in the middle
of a hay field from the back of a horse is a
thing that many people in the world will never
do. And in that moment enjoying the colors
that the sun cast across the sky, I found myself
to be happier than I would have been had I first
place in the futurity.