It's been a minute since I've hashtagged a favourite since 2018, the #HorseShowHangoverRecap, and I wasn't sure if I was going to bring it back this year. I thought maybe to reincarnate it as something else, but then I thought, heck, I have a brain.. and I spend a lot of time pondering while loping... which is where the recap's sprouted from last year, so I might as well keep the tradition alive this year. So, here's my recap for the recent ACHA Claresholm April Showers show - the first of Alberta's 2019 show season! - The lope pen. My rule of thumb is.. next time you bitch about it (or more so... who is in it), just think about how many times people have bitched about you in the lope pen. Look, nobody is perfect, we've all been bitched about. Hell, I know I can be a hazard at times, and although I try to maintain some semblance of order and rules, there's times when the horse I'm on can't hold a circle to save it's life, or tries to bite a horse next to it, or is a zoomy little thing that must zoom.. whether inside or outside or wherever the heck an open space appears to pass. - The fact is that THERE IS semblance of order and rules for a reason, namely wrecks should not occur in the lope pen and lopers should not have to duck and dive and fry their nervous system just to get a horse loped down: 1. If you are dry working your horse, try to keep it out of the general path of the outside circle. You have precedence... but no one wants their horse slammed into right before they walk to the herd. If you are dry working right in the middle of a small lope pen with people frantically trying to avoid you like a bad car wreck... you should find somewhere else. Don't tell me there is nowhere else. I know there is. Ask the people bunched up chatting behind the judges stand to move. (politely, ask them politely, but ask them all the same.. they don't get precedence.) 2. Slow on the inside, fast on the outside. Now, I'm a big proponent of using the outside to my advance to get a horse to really stretch out... and I've been known to employ this technique when cooling out... BUT, I try to be smart and I do not do it in small ass lope pens with people dodging me. Be smart. Don't be above the rules. Don't cause unavoidable wrecks. 3. The dreaded dam. Similar to a beaver dam, when you and your six best friends pinwheel around the lope pen as if you are one of those choreographed drill teams at work, all chatting together in a straight line that goes from the inside to the outside, you will cause a massive blockage in the flow. Don't be those friends. 4. Another "be smart" moment.. "REVERSE" should be called out loudly and with purpose. DO NOT slam your horse into a stop the moment you hear reverse, take account of your surroundings make sure everyone is aware of the call. BUT, through all of this, remember my first point... we've all been bitched about before in the lope pen, and we all deserve a bite of two of humble pie from time to time. - I was thinking about that a lot this weekend. Sometimes it can be really hard to politely and friendly tell someone "please don't dry work right in the middle of the lope pen" without coming off as super harsh. Usually it comes because you are gasping from air, and the fresh horse beneath you is getting worse and worse because you just about slammed into the person unexpectedly turning their horse around. So, I mean, let's all just try to be nice and to convey rules appropriately and politely and if we are doing something wrong or hazardous, let's just admit it, accept we deserved the calling out, and move on from it. - I'm not going to lie, it was unexpectedly... different... being back at a show since last year. I can't quite put an exact word to it, but I felt rather out of place for a variety of reasons and that made me feel rather melancholy on Saturday. By Sunday, I had gotten over it - and also myself - and decided to just let it all shake out of my head as I jogged around, and around, and around. It's really better to leave those feelings in the arena dirt anyway, no sense in allowing them to be carried around. - & to answer the question.. No. No, I am not showing this year, nor do I have any plans too, nor do I think the universe is going to step in and alter my sails as it did last year. Why am I so resolute? Well, for two reasons: money being the most limiting factor of all - it is very hard to show, whilst still paying off one's accumulated debt from show season the previous year. #NowThatsRealTalk - The second reason is, I simply don't want to rush into anything. After last year, my goals in cutting really shifted into a realm I didn't expect and so for now, I'm just going to take it all slow. I've rushed into so many situations in my short lived career, I've also jumped onto and into opportunities provided for me... and if we're being honest, some of them were great, and others turned around to bite me in the ankles like a bad dog. I'm sick of getting bit in the ankles, to be completely honest.
- The fact is I've never completely had the full package at any given time - enough money, the right horse, and the ability to say yes and no to opportunities and people because of likely lacking the first two. So, in my next chapter, I plan to have all three before embarking down any new path that arises. It seems to me, that's a lot clearer, more decisive path. - Through it all, I always have loved loping and it's fun to be back at shows loping for familiar barns, and new barns too. I'm grateful to have good friends and good people around that believe I'll do a good job getting their horses figured out and ready and provide me an outlet for still being at the shows and enjoying cutting from the arena floor, as opposed to the stands. - Do you want to know the hardest part of coming back to cutting? The sheer pain and exhaustion even two days inflicted in my out-of-shape and out-of-cutting body. I am crippled. Someone give me some IRAP and previcox, I am a hurting unit. - PS. The 2,000 was by far the biggest non-pro/amateur class this weekend and that just makes me smile. Congrats to any of you reading this that may have cracked out for the first time this year - or ever! - this weekend. A fellow cutter asked me if I had any advice for them before they walked to the herd, and my advice is this: I spent a lot of time nit picking myself and my horse last year and losing points and money because of it. The more you show through it, the more confident you are, and the cleaner you can make your herd work, they will mark you. Nerves are to be expected AND accepted, but don't let them get in the way of the moment. In the 2,000.. you just never know what's going to happen, one day a 70 might win it, the next a 75, the following a 65. Cutting, it's wild, and if you check out halfway through a run because it doesn't feel "perfect" or "right", you might be checking out of a cheque. Finally, don't compare yourself to anyone else, if hearing big scores effects you - don't listen to them - the only person you should be competing with out there is you. Just go show your pony and have fun with it while you're at it. That's it, that's all I got for today. I'll see ya'll down the road.