Punks Kid Rock is the registered name of my American Quarter horse gelding, Rocky. This blog chronicles our adventures together,
as well as stories from my horse past and, occasionally, a tidbit from my non horse life.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

ACTHA Ride, Day 1

I'm baaaaaaack! And super excited to share my weekend with you all!  This last weekend I did my first ACTHA (American Competitive Trail Horse Association) rides, and I am really proud of how it went.

My mom and I drove out to the ride location on Friday night, arriving around 6:30 pm. We put our horses out in their paddocks, unpacked the horse stuff in a tie stall and then found our lodging. We stayed in a bunk house with showers, toilets, and electricity!  Gotta love "roughing" it!
Here is Rocky in his paddock on Friday, he handled unloading with aplomb.  He backed out of the trailer, alertly checked out his surroundings, then walked calmly with me to his pen.  The horse directly behind him in the picture (in the green blanket) is a 30 year old Arabian gelding named Ace- more on him later!

After unpacking all of our stuff, we tacked up and rode around the arenas for a bit.  I did some ground work first to help him adjust to the new location.  His attention was constantly being pulled to other things with all of the other horses plus the new surroundings, and he was a bit edgier than normal. He snorted at a picnic table, for example, but decided it was not a horse-eating picnic table after getting to smell it.

After the height of his nerves was dissipated, we rode around the outdoor arenas for a bit. We went into the one with less people at first, until I discovered why there were so few people using it. The footing on the property as a whole was generally sandy, but the arena had a lot of deep sand.  I could feel how much harder Rocky had to work to even walk through it, and it was deep enough that I started to worry about someone pulling a tendon.

The other, larger outdoor arena wasn't quite as deep as the smaller one.  The outside rail was the best place to be, but the middle was bogged down with sand.  We worked in a lot of circles, doing figure 8's at a trot and then cantering a few 30 meter circles.  Rocky was still more excited than usual but in a manageable way, so we ended there for the night.

Saturday morning was cold, about 50 degrees with 40 mph winds.  I hadn't brought long johns so I only had jeans on the bottom, on top I wore a T-shirt, sweatshirt, and my winter jacket. The wind was the worst part, blowing up the dirt and sand while making everyone squinty and cold. At the end of the day I was picking sand out of my eyes and ears- not pleasant!

My barn owner, Silver, came to the ride with her Quarter horse stallion, Tucker, and her Arabian gelding, Walker. Silver's mom, Jane, rode Walker while Silver rode Tucker. My mom came with her Norwegian Fjord gelding, Tapper, and another barn member came with her Friesian sport horse  Haley. Together with a friend of Silver's who was riding her GORGEOUS Friesian mare, we made up the 2nd group to leave at 10:15 am.
Haley, Friesian Mare, Walker, Rocky, and Tapper.
Here is our group photo at the end of the ride on day 1. This is everyone except for Silver, who took the picture. I captioned it with the important information, mainly, the horses' names. :)

Before getting into the ride specifics, I'd like to note how the scoring system works. Horse and rider are scored separately for each obstacle.  These scores are then added up into one final score that determines what your placing is for that ride. You or your horse can earn "pluses" which means that you did something extra in a good way.  If two people's numerical score ties, the tie is broken based on the number of pluses that were earned. A score of 1-4 is considered below average, 5-7 is average, and 8-10 is very good.

Now onto the actual ride! Our first obstacle was a green tarp we were supposed to go over. For those of you who read my blog regularly, you'll know that Rocky does NOT like to walk over things he hasn't seen before.  He refused to go over it within the time allotted, which was 30 seconds. He earned a 4/10 for his refusal, and I got a 7/10.

Obstacle 2 was cantering from one cone to another. We were to trot to the cone, canter, then drop back to a trot after the second cone.  We picked up the canter a little late- my fault for a late cue- but we still both earned 8 points!

The third obstacle was a turn on the forehand.  This obstacle was located in a terrible place at the top of a hill, in the middle of a four way intersection of trail. There was a length of hose in a circle you were supposed to put the horse's front feet in and then pivot around, but it was too big of a circle and messily placed.  The whole thing was not very well set up.  Rocky stepped into the hose without an issue, which had been worrying me. I think I rushed asking him for the turn, wanting to finish in time.  I should have relaxed, paused after his halt, and then taken my time tilting his nose before asking for him to move.  He went in a general circle, but I think it's fair to say we just botched that one.  Rocky earned a 4, I got a 6.

The fourth obstacle was a campsite!  There was a tent set up that we were to walk around in a circle.  At one point you walk within four feet of the tent between it and a tree.  Rocky was alert, and as I asked him to walk toward the tent he started to shy a little away from it.  Once he saw the path between the tent and tree, he marched through with confidence and completed the obstacle without a problem.  We both earned 8's for it, and I got a plus.  I believe my plus was for guiding him gently when he started to shy.

Campsite obstacle!
Our second-to-last obstacle was called Frog in the Pond. You walk up to a puddle and halt next to it. The rider then tosses a stick into the puddle, causing a splash. Your horse is to stand quietly for this, then walk on without issue. I was the one who messed this one up.  I was concerned that Rocky would try to shy away from the puddle, so I kept looking down to make sure we weren't getting too close. The judge had said to keep your eyes up except for when you toss the stick- my bad! Rocky got a 10 for his calm stop, he waited patiently without caring that I threw something, and walked off nicely. I got a 7, most likely for my eyes. Oops!

Final and sixth obstacle!  This one was on the far side of their sandy arena.  The wind howled across it directly at us, so I closed my eyes against the whipping sand and let Rocky take me where we needed to go.  I am so glad I spent the time I did working on opening and shutting the gate at Silver's!  For this obstacle we didn't have to shut it at all.  You open it, hold it open for 5 seconds, then ride through it leaving the gate open. The judge commented after we finished that it was very nice- very nice indeed, for we both scored 9's!

At the end of the day, Rocky and I got an overall score of 88 out of 120 points. The top score for our division, which was Pleasure, earned a 100 that day. I got 13th place out of 19 riders.  Silver got 8th, and her mom got 5th. My mom got 2nd in her division of Scout out of 6 riders, and our barn member got 4th in Scout.

I was happy to complete the ride and earn some good scores!  Next time I will not rush through the obstacles, trust Rocky more, and work on the few things that need some fixing.

Coming soon, Day 2 of our ACTHA ride!

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