Hot And Dusty But Fun! And Photos Of Diggs!

Dear friends,

We had a great weekend at our Versatility Ranch Horse clinic and competition this weekend in Longmont CO. The clinicians were Jim and Jill Cook, who are reined cowhorse specialists.

Rich and Tucker (his old horse–but I attached some photos here of his new horse, Diggs!), Diana (who exercises and grooms horses for me) and Tequlo—an awesome little buckskin cutting horse we have for sale, and Dually and I all headed up to Longmont on Thursday evening. We settled the horses in to their weekend accommodations then headed to town for dinner and hotel.

Our good friend Tonya (aka, Big T Cody) was with us, visiting from FL and as a trainer/instructor, she enjoyed soaking up all the info through the weekend. T ended up scribing for the judge on Sunday—a really fun learning experiencing. If you ever get a chance to scribe for any judge for any show, jump on it.

Friday we were up bright and early to get the horses fed, saddled and warmed up by 8:30. We started with cutting since it was so hot that they didn’t want to work the cattle in the afternoon. Apparently horses and humans handle the heat better than cattle. The cows were big and wild and a challenge to work.

In the afternoon, we did “dry work”, working on lead changes, stops, rollbacks, etc.– all the skills you need for working cattle. This is the origin of reining.

Saturday was pretty much a repeat of Friday. We all learned some great exercises and made big improvements with our horses. We had 100 plus degree temps and with typical desert dryness, it was probably less than 5% humidity (the only thing that makes it bearable). It was hard on poor Dually—who is basically black (actually a black liver chestnut—but very black) and by the end of Saturday, he looked like he was returning from the mines.

Sunday was the competition, starting with Ranch Conformation. They judge each division then place the horses overall. Dually was first in both placings. Sadly, since I was the only pro rider there, our placings didn’t count so it was merely for practice. But it was still nice to win! Rich and Tucker were 3rd place in the advanced division (he actually won second once they took my placing out) and Diana and Tequlo got third in the novice division.

Next, we did Ranch Cutting. Even though the cattle were very sticky, we all did pretty well. I think I would’ve probably won it—we had a pretty clean run. Diana made a fatal mistake in the end of her otherwise very good run and allowed Tequlo to “turn tail” to the cow. She looked at another cow for a split second and it was enough to make Tequlo switch cows and start cutting the wrong cow, causing him to turn his tail to the cow he was supposed to be penning.

Ranch Riding, where you ride a pattern that has almost every upward and downward transition in it, went well for all of us. Unfortunately Diana went off pattern, but in spite of these two big mistakes, she still managed to win the reserve championship in the novice division! Pretty good for your first show! If she had just not made one of these mistakes, she would’ve easily won the championship. Oh well, we all make these kind of mistakes at some point. It’s good to get them over with early.

Ranch Trail went fine. Tequlo won his class and I think Rich was up in the top three in his division. Dually would’ve been too if they’d placed us.

The end of the day and the class everyone dreads is Working Ranch Horse. For this, you ride a reining pattern (this one was pretty hard—four lead changes) then call for a cow, “box” the cow on the end of the arena, showing you have control over the cow; then drive the cow down the fence, past the center marker, turn him back at high speed, pass the center marker again and make another high-speed turn. After all that, you get your rope out, build a loop (all while tracking the cow) then rope him and stop him. It’s a VERY challenging class. In the novice division, you only rein and box and Tequlo stole the class again.

Rich and Tucker had a horrible cow that just ran at high-speed from one end of the arena to the other. Luck of the draw. Dually did awesome cow work but got really hot for the reining, as he tends to do when he knows the cow work is coming. I’m gonna have to figure out a way to fix that little display of emotion before we start competing for real.

All in all it was a fun and fulfilling weekend. There was nothing better at the end of the day than an ice cold Corona and a cool shower to wash off the pounds of dust, followed by a nice relaxing dinner.

I am glad to be home again and to have a few weeks before I have to go anywhere. It’s even hot and dry here in the mountains so we are all hoping for some afternoon thunderstorms!

All the best,


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