Kickin' Off the New Year with Cuttings: January 2nd
Even though we're learning, we're obvi still pretty bad ass.
An arena close to me holds a winter series for cutting from January until March, and so far Lady and I have hit up the January 2nd, and 16th show. I was pretty timid about even thinking to show Lady, although we flagged quite a bit in the fall, I've only worked cows on her once. I've worked buffalo three times, and really (really, really, really) didn't like it. For those of you that are all (did she just say she worked buffalo?) yes, sometimes, especially up here in Canada, cows can be so expensive, and so trainers/riders turn to buffalo to "work". Buffalo last a lot longer, and don't tire or burn out as quickly as cows, and so they are much more cost effective option than cows. However, due to this, it opens a different can of worms when it comes to knowing when to stop working your horse, etc. I also find they prefer to run circles and really push up against your horse, whereas cows run (more or less) straight lines and will respect your horse to an extent. So buffalo can really get your horse leaning, or throwing itself out of a line, when your working. Cutting, in it's purest form, is really about angles and lines, and mastering them. So, when you're learning about these angles and lines (like myself!) it's pretty hard to gauge buffalo, plus they get going really, really fast, which is a (
bit) lot intimidating. I think the experience of working buffalo had me in a of a negative mind space where I thought, "if the cows get going fast, Lady will get worked up, and we won't be able to hold them" which brings us to the January 2nd show...
Lady hates photo shoots, and probably me, but who cares - because I LOVE BOTH THOSE THINGS MAREFACE
I was a nervous wreck before the show, which is pretty on-par for my previously limited showing experiences. We worked the flag early on in the day, and she actually felt pretty good, but I could tell from my Boss' comments to me that my timing was a little off and clustered. Then I probably loped Lady a little longer than I should have, or she needed, to quell my own nervousness. The cows were pretty wild throughout the day, and a few times a single cow would run into the warm-up pen. When it was my herd's turn to be settled, the entire herd flushed into the warm-up pen, not really a great sign.
I wish I had video from the first run but unfortunately I don't, it also wasn't so great and so my memory is failing me a little bit, must have blacked it out! My boss and I picked two cows we thought would be decent, and because I was right near the bottom of the herd, I kind of just had to go out there and get something cut. Then, the girl showing before me cut both cows we had planned on (isn't that the way it always goes?!) Before I went into the herd I had this little nagging voice telling me, "if the cows get going fast, you're going to lose one." Not good. Shut up nagging voice. The first cow I cut ran straight from wall to wall, Lady held him pretty well, but I know I was nervous and tense, and he deeked us out at one of the corners. The second cow was also pretty wild, and I'm pretty sure that one ran us over too. Finally, with only a couple seconds left, I chipped one off the top and worked it a little before the buzzer went. We ended up with a 60, which is a zero. haha
It was a pretty dismal experience haha, and realistically it was 100% my own fault. I should have just gone out there and trusted my horse (and myself!) but instead tensed up and acted like i'd never cut a cow before. I clearly have some insecurities involving fast cattle, but also getting a cut out of the herd. Like my boss said afterwards though, "that's why ya gotta get out there - you just gotta learn to show, and show ya horse." There were pluses to the first show though - firstly, I showed MY OWN HORSE, which I've never done before and that was a pretty dang cool feeling. After the fact I was beaming like a stupid fool because I was so happy about that. When I was loping for trainers, if you had told me a year later i'd be showing my own horse, I wouldn't have believed you. Secondly, I got the first show over, and the first zero over, and that's always a good feeling too.
Big Stupid Grin, this is MY pony everyone.
Now it get's a little woo-woo, so bare with me. On my birthday, a week later, January 11th, I decided I wanted to go try to ride Lady brideless, something i've never done on any horse before. So I got out there and rode her, and when it was time to drop the bridle, I got so nervous and tense. Then I got up on her and the nervousness got even worse. I kept thinking I should just jump off, this is dumb, why am I even doing this, I'm not some instagram famous horse trainer haha. Then this little voice inside of me got really, really loud and I heard it say to me, sharply, "TRUST your horse." So I straightened up, sat down, and thought to myself, "okay, just trust your horse." Then when I kicked her off, she was being a little silly, throwing her head around and not totally moving off my leg, and the same voice, ever so sharply said, "now, RIDE your horse." So, again, I thought, "okay, just ride your horse" and I booted her forward and queued her into a lope and away we went. We loped big circles each way and even had some really nice stops, and I quit. I just rode her like I'd always ride her, I just trusted her like I always trust her. Lady and I have spent A LOT of time covering ground, long trotting and breezing out in the fields and hills this winter, and i've never even worried about her packing me for a second. So why in the show ring, or brideless, am I all of a sudden worried about her?!
I jumped off of her and looked at her and realized, my horse is trained, she's wicked cool, and she's quiet, and she minds herself and she minds me and she knows what she's doing... that's why I bought her. SO, who gives a damn if I don't know what i'm doing, because she'll pack me anyway.
So, I went into the next show with that mindset, and the show went a heck of a lot better.