We arrived Thursday morning. Jessica and I walked down the aisles of barn 2 looking for our stalls. When I found mine I noticed Oakley would be hip number 30. Just like last time, I was happy with my draw of almost last to go through the auction. There were 31 horses total. We unloaded everything and got the horses their hip numbers branded with paint. Then it was time for a quick walk around the grounds. Oakley and Kat seemed to take everything in stride and not a whole lot bothered them. We had practices scheduled in all 3 arenas so I saddled up and got to riding. I started in the outdoor, but that didn't last long as it started to rain. I made my way to the Nutrena arena and spent some time in there. Oakley was herself. The surroundings didn't bother her, she was just very reactive off of my seat and legs. At least she was consistent I guess. She only had a few run-away moments before she settled into me though. I gave her a break and then headed down to the coliseum to practice with the breed demo mustangs. Oakley was good in the coliseum, we just walked. Next came the arena I was most worried about. The Hutchinson Arena, which was more like a large round pen under a tent. Again, Oakley wasn't bothered by it. She was just annoyed with the fact that I was still on her back. I rode her around for a while, but 20 plus horses in a small arena tends to get a little dangerous. It was getting close to 6 anyway and we had a trainer meeting scheduled.
We all headed to the exhibition hall to the trainer meeting. We got our goody bags with our shirts and our patterns for the classes including the order of go. I was 19th to go for the pattern class and 19th to go for the compulsories. I was draw 11 for the conditioning and draw 11 for the trail course. I was a little disappointed that I wasn't sooner, but it worked out fine. I also found out that I was chosen to receive some grant money towards my adoption of Oakley. I got $250 to go towards her adoption. That made me feel a little more confident about being able to take her home.
After the meeting I made sure Oakley was fed and watered and headed home to try to get some sleep. I think I was in bed by 9:30 and up at 1 am with an upset stomach. I had to take some stomach relief medicine in order to get back to sleep. I slept until about 4:00 and then I got up to get going.
Friday morning I made it up to Madison by 5:45 so that I could ride in the arena at 6:00. Again, it was too many horses in a small arena, but we made it work. I knew Oakley needed to be really warmed up if she was going to do the things that I asked of her. 7:30 came around and we all headed back to the barns. We met with the judges at 8:00 for a walk through of the pattern. They explained some things to us and revised the pattern slightly since the arena was so small.
The pattern called for us to enter at the sitting trot, two track to the left, trot straight, two track back to the right, extend the trot, stop, back a minimum of 5 steps, pivot 90 degrees and lope off to the right. Do 1 large fast circle to the right, change leads, do 1 large fast circle to the left, do 1 small slow circle to the left, change leads, do 1 small slow circle to the right, stop, pivot both ways, exit at the trot.
I watched the first contestants and then went to the barn to get Oakley ready. I had to get on her back to get her at least warmed up at the walk. By the time it was our turn to go I felt pretty good. I knew many of the Mustangs were having trouble with the tent, but that hadn't bothered Oakley this morning. I think the crowds were also getting to the horses. I entered the pen when it was my turn to go and asked Oakley to trot off, she started off in a pretty jarring trot and it wasn't very soft, but we got the job done. Her two tracking wasn't very good and she tossed her head when I asked for the stop, but she backed nice enough. Her pivot was quick. We loped off great and her first circle was probably her best. It had been my intention to break Oakley down and ask for simple lead changes, but as I went to slow her she grabbed the bit from me and powered on through. I just asked her to move her hip over and she did a really bad flying change which was late in the hind. Her transition to the small slow circle was good, but the circle itself was more like an egg shaped mess, again she decided to do a flying change into our last circle. I brought her to a stop and pivoted her both directions. We trotted out, and I felt okay about how things went.
The compulsories went okay, but I had had about enough at that point, and so had Oakley. We rushed through them. I headed back to the barn so I could unsaddle Oakley and put her blanket back on... it was cold out!
This post is getting way too long. I will continue it tomorrow!!