Calgary Stampede Futurity
Apparently, I am a loper again.
The Calgary Stampede Cutting Horse Futurity ran this year from October 14-18. Previous to a week before the event, I figured I would head down to watch the futurity, derby, and classic finals. Life works in funny ways. I called a cutting horse trainer I had taken lessons with two years ago to see if he was still around, and could help me with Lady. I went to visit him to chat, and within minutes I found myself with a new part-time job working for him. Tuesday the 13th I headed to his place and he had me ride one of his horses, "Tuxedo", the next day, I was prepping him at the show grounds for the first go of the Open 5/6 classic. As one could assume, it was a pretty busy week. Haha
I've loped in some pretty world-famous arenas, but all of them state-side. It was pretty cool to be back at the loping game, prepping a cutting horse for a major show, in my hometown. Part of me felt like i'd never left, but a bigger part of me (namely, my sore, battered and bruised body) felt like I had. One easily forgets what it feels like to extended trot a hot horse for two to three hours straight. Tuxedo is a pretty hot horse, and wasn't exactly "easy" to get ready. His personal space bubble is about triple most horses, so if a horse came loping past him at a very respectable distance, his ears would pin back and his head would shoot straight up in the air. His adrenaline would get pumping, and I would effectively lose the last twenty minutes of riding I had done.
Futurities require Coffee, always.
For those of you that are new to the blog/the sport of Cutting. "Loping" is the act of getting a horse ready to work, or show. When you come to a cutting, you will see two pens... One will have the cows, and one person showing... The other will have a bunch of riders, walking, trotting and loping, in circles prepping horses to show. Cutting horses can be hot, but they also generally get very excited when they see cows. Loping is pretty much an art form, whilst the trainer/rider is "watching cows" to determine which cows they want to cut from the herd when they show, the loper's job is to read the horse and have it ready to walk into the show pen. It's a balancing act, you want your horse tired and "down" enough so that when they get in the pen they are listening, and calm, but also not too tired because if the cow get's going fast, the horse has to be able to keep the pace to hold the cow away from the herd.
Making sure Tuxedo is ready to show on the first day
I wasn't sure what to expect, having never seen Tux show, nor really have worked with this trainer in the past. In the "Classic", which is for 5 and 6 year old horses, there are 2 "go's" and a final. You need a certain score to get through to the second go, then there is a combined score of the two go's that will get you through to the finals. They breezed through the first go with a very respectable 216 (I know... I know... one of these days I will do a post about how Cutting is scored), the second go Tux scored a 215 which put us through to the finals. Pretty exciting stuff!
Tux heading into the herd his first day
Ultimately, the finals didn't exactly go how we would have liked. We drew first in the finals, which can be a bit of a tricky spot, and the cows didn't seem to want to settle down either. The first cow that they cut was pretty nice, the second was a little wild and another cow "flushed" from the herd (meaning the cow came out of the herd and in front of the horse showing), finally the third cow was pretty wild and ran from wall-to-wall. Impressively, they managed to hold the cow until the buzzer, but it doesn't really effectively show your horse, and so in the end they ended with a score of 211. This placed them 9th out of the 14th horses that were in the finals. If we had scored similarly to the first two go's, Tux would have finished top five, but oh well - that is how it works in cutting. Even the very best horse can get bad cows, or lose a cow, it's the name of the game. Still, very respectable, and means that not only was Tuxedo a Calgary Classic finalist, but a top-ten contender as well.
What makes this story even cooler? Is that Tux has probably only been shown 7 times. He was shown at the Futurity as a three year old, but didn't make it through the run, was barely shown as a four year old, and at small shows his five year old year. Basically, my trainer, who also owns him, pulled him out of the field this early spring, and Tux has only gotten stronger and better. The fact he made the finals against some tough horses that have been consistently showing and winning since they were three, is a pretty big deal. I'm proud of the little weirdo, that's for sure, he tried his heart out!
We both got over our mutual massive personal space bubbles for this photo, he loves me, I'm pretty sure. We spent a lot of time cuddling. <3
Also, honourable mention, BIG props to Marla Gonnet and Dirty Dreamin, who I interviewed last month for my "Centre Arena Series". Marla and her great mare Bean, dominated the 7 UP Finals at the Futurity this year with a 220. This win made them $3,486.00 for their efforts! With only 7 shows under their belt, they are sitting 24th in the world in the non-pro category. To put it into perspective, this is a pretty amazing accomplishment seeing as most of the top 20 in the world right now have hauled to 20-50 or more shows with multiple different horses.