Saturday morning came way too soon and I headed up to Madison to get going. The scores for the pattern class and the handling and conditioning were up and I was sitting in 10th place by 1/2 a point. I knew our trail class had to be good if I wanted to hang on to our position.
I warmed Oakley up the best I could in the Nutrena arena. She seemed tired. Again, there were lots of horses and not much room to get a good warm up in.
I took her back to her stall and got ready to do the walk through with the judges. The crowd was bigger in the Nutrena arena... probably because there was more seating, but it seemed like there were many people standing to watch as well. We walked through the course together and then I headed back to the barn to get Oakley out. I knew I would have issues because her back wouldn't be warmed up from the morning and the first portion of the course was in hand. I was at least going to hand walk her a lot before going in.
I still had planned to shoot off of Oakley. I had never had the chance to actually shoot off of her, I had only shot next to her, but I was confident she would be okay. I had popped balloons off of her back and she never flinched. My uncle showed up with the gun I was going to borrow and we talked for a bit. The plan was to hand me the gun just before I went in.
The trail course seemed to be taking a long time. Finally I was next up to go. My uncle made the hand off with the gun and I headed into the arena. Oakley was great for the in hand portion. She was calm and quiet except for one bobble with a hind leg when I went to pick it up. She stood perfectly for me as I mounted from the block, but as soon as my legs made contact with her sides it was over for her. She didn't have the chance to warm up that she needed in order to get accustomed to my legs so she was HOT. She trotted when she was supposed to walk and she cantered when she was supposed to trot... she took off at a blind gallop when she was supposed to canter... I was a little upset with the way they had the course set up. The last obstacle was a canter, straight toward the gate where the Mustangs entered. Not fair if you ask me. The horses were all hoping to get out of there and to ask them to canter and then stop before the gate was just not a good way to showcase the abilities of these horses. By the time the course was over and the 90 seconds had begun Oakley was still trying to get out from under me. I tried some lateral work and spins to calm her down, but I knew the only thing she wanted was for me to take my legs off, so I did, and she stopped. Oakley stood stock still as I pulled the gun out of my holster, cocked the hammer, and shot not once, but twice. She stood like a rock when the audience erupted with applause too, it was pretty cool. My 90 seconds was up so I hopped off and headed out. I was proud of my little Mustang. I had a feeling our out of control pattern wasn't good enough for top 10, but I was so happy that I was able to accomplish my goal of shooting off of her.
To Be Continued...