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Judging the Extreme Cowboy Race

On top of my regular presentations, appearances in sponsors booths and visiting with people in my booth, I also judged the Extreme Cowboy Race. I was pleasantly surprised that there were overall higher quality entries in this race, compared to the one I judged in CA, but the best horses were not as good as the winner in CA.

As always, there were several entries that left me wondering, “what the heck were they thinking when they entered this race?” A few riders couldn’t even get their horses to go around the arena, let alone over the obstacles. But I have to say, about half of the 36 competitors were pretty impressive. There were some that didn’t make the finals that I thought were pretty darn good. On Sunday, there was an exciting finish, with a tie for first place and a subsequent run-off. The horse I thought would win sort of had a melt-down in the run-off, leaving a grade gelding with a 57 y/o amateur female rider to win. He was a steady-Eddie horse and she rode the race methodically—no showing off (as the other top riders did—which ended up getting them in trouble), just finishing the course correctly and working incredibly consistently. There’s a lesson to be learned there: correct and consistent will usually beat style and flash.

I was really fortunate this weekend to be able to ride a couple really cool horses—both of whom competed in the ECR. The first horse was a 17 hh Friesian stallion from Texas, named Valour. He was a surreal horse—absolutely gorgeous and a blast to ride. He was WAY bigger than any Friesian I’ve worked with before at 1700+ pounds. In spite of that, he was fairly light and responsive and moved quite well off my legs. But after an hour of sitting on that wide horse, my hips were killing me! I guess I am getting old. The presentation was on “Control & Authority with Your Horse,” and it was a really fun clinic. I had one horse that was too fast, two that were too slow and one young horse that just needed more training. We worked through specific issues on each horse and also just talked about some general principles regarding leadership, authority and disciplining horses.

Yesterday, in my last presentation for the weekend on “Mastering Flying Lead Changes,” I got to ride the QH stallion that tied for first place in the ECR. He was a gorgeous hunk of horse flesh; a big bull-doggie horse that was very athletic and really well trained by a guy from MI named Kelly LeBlanc. He was a little on-the-muscle after all the excitement of the race, but he still worked well for me. He was late arriving because of the run-off and I was well into my 90 minute presentation when I got on him. Having never ridden him before (in fact, Kelly told me I am only the 3rd person to ever ride him), I told the audience if he missed my cue for the lead change it was probably my fault since we hadn’t had time to get to know each other. But remarkably, he picked up the lead change perfectly every time. I love a horse that makes me look good!

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