Sorry for the delay on this post! I meant to write it earlier than this, but life got in the way. Anyway, here is your synopsis of my second ACTHA ride:
When I got the obstacle sheet, I was excited- these were obstacles I was overall confident we could do well on! Our first one was was "Perfect Picture." We were to ride between two cones, stop, and pretend to take a picture off to our left. The horse was to stand quietly. I used my real camera and took an actual picture, you can judge its perfection:
The second obstacle was Wagon Wheel. Four log type cavalettis were in a circle on the ground, each slightly raised in the center of the circle. Ribbons were tied in the middle of the cavalettis, and we needed to step over the outside (lower) part of the cavalettis. Rocky was not sure why there were cavalettis in the middle of the woods, so he gave the obstacle the stink eye for a minute before agreeing to go over them. We lightly tapped the last one, otherwise we were clear. We both got 8's from the judge.
Third we did an uphill challenge, which was judged on how well horse and rider walked up a decently steep hill. The judge for this one was very picky, she didn't score anyone above an 8 all day. Rocky and I both got 7's, which I was pleased with when looking over the scores and seeing how everyone else did.
Trot Weave was next, where we trotted through four poles set in a straight line. I felt a bit uncoordinated for this as Rocky's trot was more forward than I anticipated. He also was surprised to see the judge's sweatshirts in a pile to the side of the poles, but he went through pretty well anyway. He got a 9, and I got a 8.
Number five was an L-Back. This obstacle was poles laid on the ground in the shape of an L. You ride through it, stop, then back through the straight part of the L. I felt like Rocky was a little crooked in front of the L when we stopped, so I kept trying to edge him one way, then correct that to edge the other way. He listened to me until we were almost to the turn in the L, where he moved too far to the right and didn't stop at the poles. He stepped over them, which I blame on myself for asking him to back at different angles every other step. The judge marked him down a bit for it though, giving Rocky a 7 and me a 9.
Last, we had to walk through a puddle. Originally this was going to be stepping into Lake Shamineau, but with the ice on the lake they decided to use the Frog Jump puddle from the day before. This was the obstacle I was most concerned about, as Rocky does not like to walk over/into things that are new to him. We went last, and I used the time waiting for my mom to finish by backing Rocky up and then moving him forward to the cone. My plan was to walk Rocky around the puddle for 30 seconds so he could look at it, and then use the last 15 seconds of the obstacle to ask him to step into it.
I asked Rocky to move toward it, and he did with his ears pricked. He seemed confident, so I abandoned my plan and let him walk to the puddle. He paused briefly, then walked easily through it. I was so proud of him! Walking down the trail away from that last obstacle, I tried not to cry thinking about how well he had done for me that day. I rubbed his neck a lot and told him he was a good boy. We both got 8's for that one, but I think the judge heard me when I exclaimed that usually he struggles with stuff like that, because Rocky earned a plus, too.
At the end of the day, we earned 99 points out of 120- just four points shy of first place! Unfortunately, the scores were very close again, so we earned 8th place and didn't get a ribbon.