Connie invited me to go visit her daughter and granddaughter with her and participate in a horse play days. Essentially, a play days is Western style events without the highly competitive atmosphere. It’s a great time for people to introduce their horses to events, let their kids ride and for amateurs (like me!) to try stuff out. It’s all for fun and, although there are winners, most people don’t care who had the best time as long as they did it.
I rode one of Jacki’s horses, Buckie. He’s an extremely sweet, lazy, buckskin quarter horse. When Connie was telling me about him, she was quick to point out that he is “named for his color, not a reputation for bucking!” Buckie likes kids and beginning riders because they are less likely to ask him to do much. He prefers to plod along and do nothing over working, in spite of his very expensive breeding as a stock horse (horses bred for working cattle).
I rode 2 events while I was there. I did pole bending and the keyhole. The events are both timed speed events that Buckie and I took at a quick, very bouncy, trot. For pole bending, there are 5 posts lined up that you’re supposed to weave your horse through at very high speeds. Even at a trot, Buckie skipped a pole in his weaving. The keyhole is a fairly simple event (unless you’re trying to do the entire thing in a full gallop). All you have to do is go straight forward, when you reach the end, turn around and come back. When you see experienced horses do it, they practically sit while they turn because they’re changing directions so fast.
The keyhole was my last event because Buckie decided that, although he wasn’t named for bucking, maybe he should try it. There were white lines painted in the arena for other events and they made him nervous. I knew he’d seen them because on our way to the end of the arena, he’d turned his head almost completely sideways trying to look at them. On the way back, he got another glimpse of them and panicked. First, he acted like he was going to bolt, but then changed to collecting himself to buck. I instinctively pulled him into a circle and grabbed the saddle horn at the same time. He didn’t actually buck. Connie looked pretty concerned when we got out of the arena, though! She’d promised my family that I was riding a nearly bomb-proof horse.
Once I was out of the ring, we decided that Buckie really didn’t like being in the ring so we just hung out and watched the other riders compete. We also opted for a change of bridles. He has a thing about his mouth and I tend to be too heavy on the mouth so we put him in a hackamore (bitless) bridle. His entire outlook on life was greatly improved once the bit was out of his mouth!
We walked around outside the ring with the other horses in our group to help cool Cinnie, Jacki’s mare, out after each of her events. Jacki is very competitive and Cinnie goes in the ring and gives it her all. They ran hard and fast in every event. They didn’t win anything because Cinnie is fairly new to gaming. She certainly seemed to love it!
I am now very stiff and very sunburned. It was so completely worth it! I would do it again in a heartbeat! I love the feeling of a horse underneath me. So much power. It amazes me that, while he could, should he so choose, take off and do his own thing, horses like Buckie will plod along patiently while I sit on their backs and tell them what to do.