My Missouri Fox Trotter horse Louie is the best, but sometimes things happen beyond my control and you end up with the worst.  It was Tuesday at the MFTHBA Fall Show & Celebration…known as Ranch Horse Day in the Versatility Arena.  It’s one of my favorite days of the show.  I love Ranch Horse Day.  I love watching the horses work and trying to connect with Louie and perform at our best.

I was a little off when I got up that day…over tired but having a great time! Louie was his usual willing self; ready to go, ears forward.  We were mediocre in the first two cattle classes, the third class, Working Cow Horse went much better…our cow somewhat cooperated and Louie and I had a good time showing that cow what for!

The next class was one of my favorites—Ranch Horse Versatility.  This class is like a combination of my two favorite classes, trail and reining.  It’s a pattern class and Louie and I really love pattern classes!  In this class you open the gate and enter the arena, pick up a foxtrot and trot over poles, round the corner and pick up a left lead lope over a low jump, continue loping into a small reining pattern, finish up by dragging a tire on a rope at a foxtrot.  I love everything about this class…precision, jumping, foxtrotting, showing that your horse can work, do it all in one class!

I had not been riding Louie very much leading up to this show.  I had been focusing on learning to ride Bravo in performance classes this summer, plus Erin Patterson was going to be showing Louie in most of the Open Versatility Classes and Elyssa was showing him in the Youth classes.  Not riding Louie myself gave Elyssa time to practice and Erin time to polish.

Back to the class.  We opened and passed through the gate like a pro, pivoted around with precision and picked up Louie’s beautiful foxtrot in one step.  I’m feeling great!  Thirty feet later we get to the poles and I want to cry!  I swear, my perfect Fox Trotter completely fell apart, right there on top of those ground poles.  I think all four of Louie’s feet were on top of all four of the poles!  We almost fell down!  Good grief!  How the heck did that go so badly!  Aw well, get it together I think to myself.  We pick up a lovely lope/canter, even on the correct lead and approach the baby jump.  The speakers start crackling and Louie hesitates and walks over the jump before we pick up the canter again.  I start laughing out loud, literally! What more could go wrong in this class? I settle down inside my head just a bit and notice that Louie’s cantering is just beautiful!  It’s balanced and slow and smooth.  By now we are to the roll-back along the fence where the audience sits.  We roll-back and then we have a great stop (I’m pretty sure we slid a few feet) and roll-back again. 

I’m feeling really good at this point.  That’s when I notice the wind is catching my scarf, the scarf I’ve had on for hours, chased cows around, you name it, this scarf is now billowing out beside me!  I stuck a finger under it and pulled it on away from my neck—letting her fly out into the audience as Louie came to his last sliding stop on the rail.  I’m full on laughing now!  If anyone could hear me, they probably thought I was crazy! I was thinking, what next?! Now I’m like Elvis, tossing scarves!  Ha!

You’re probably wondering what made any part of this good? Well, those sliding stops were pretty awesome!  And my darling Lou—his canter is beautiful to ride!  We got all our lead changes and transitions like a champ.  We both were a little rattled but we stuck together and finished strong!

At the end you trot over to the judge.  Aside from almost falling on the poles, nearly tripping over the jump and losing some of my clothing, it was the best class of the day!

– Chastity Young –