Training the Mind of the Horse and Rider

Training the Mind of the Horse and Rider
Click on Logo (Original artwork by Lanie Frick for Messick Quarter Horses. Not permitted to be copied)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Smithville Lake CTR

Smithville, MO
May 16-17, 2009

This CTR, we wanted to get to the campground early enough on Friday to settle in, then ride for a couple of hours before check-in. We wanted our horses to relax, get used to the new environment, and to know the trail and terrain. Mother Nature didn’t cooperate. Less than and hour after arriving at Smithville Lake, clouds moved in and skies got dark. Rain and hail soon after. Later we heard that a tornado was spotted at the area airport, less than 30 minutes away. Close enough for me!

After 5 ½ “ of rain and hail over the next 3 hours, the trails were too wet to ride! So, once again, the horses stood tied at the trailer and didn’t get any excess energy and anxiousness out of their system! The lightening and thunder stopped, so we were able to check in. We were to bring the horses to the vet and horsemanship judge clean, stand still for vet check, and trot a relaxed circle. Right! They are standing in mud and they just stood through 3 hours of a storm. But amazingly, if the horses are allowed to eat grass while they are standing in line, and waiting their turn, they are relaxed! No rain during check in, but there was still some lightening in the sky.

Finny does a great job at check in and check out, standing still for the judge, and trotting in hand well. Since it was very wet out, we only had to trot in a straight line for a short distance out to a cone and trot back, and not trot the circles in both directions. The judge checked for swelling in the legs, a sound back, and for gut sounds.

Check in went well. Potluck was next. We had more friends come and ride this CTR, so we had a potluck together before the pre-fair briefing. We enjoyed a taco bar, with everything including brownies with a “special ingredient” by Virginia,. Do you want to guess what that was? Some of the brownies had jalenpo peppers! I didn’t have any of those!

Pre-fair briefing went well. The ride committee told us that they would wake us up if the trails were ok to ride, otherwise sleep in! Someone would check trails at 7, and if the trails were ok, be ready to ride soon after! Trails were good and we rode out about 8:30. We rode out an hour later than we should have, so after we rode 22 miles, and had an hour lunch break, we got back to camp about 3:30, in time to clean up the horses, and present them to the judges for a soundness check.

With the wet conditions on Saturday, we had muddy and slick hills, and boggy areas. Our first obstacle was within the first ½ hour. We were to wait until the horse in front of us had moved out of our sight and had done the obstacle. Then we were to go up and down a slick hill. The judge was checking to see how much contact and control we had and if we were out of the saddle. Our next obstacle was to trot to the judge, stop, and back 3 steps. That evening, the judge reminded riders to settle their horses before and after the obstacles. We had a trot by for soundness. The horsemanship judge surprised us and told us that evening that she was watching how we handled our horses at the P&R’s!

We were to ride a 3.75 mph. That is pretty slow as most horse walk a 4 mph or faster, especially the gaited horses. But this day seemed really fast. We trotted and even loped on the meadows. The boggy areas really slowed us down. A lot. Some of the areas were 20-30’ feet long, and more than ankle deep. We had slop ½ ways up the horse’s leg. The muck was deep enough to pull shoes off and to make a horse’s stifle sore. Amazingly, the water crossings weren’t deep. I think the rain came quick enough to just run off, but then settled in the low spots. And on Sunday, the boggy areas seemed longer and deeper and stickier. My horse did well, taking the areas slowly, finding the shallower areas.

Once back to camp, we had to clean up the horses and present them to the judge. We literally power washed the mud off the legs! Saturday’s metabolic check and trotting went well, and we had no leg issues or back soreness, and we had good gut sounds.

Sunday morning, we had to trot by for the judge to check for lameness. One of Sunday’s obstacle was to walk down a hill to the judge and stop. As we were waiting in line, we were told not to watch the obstacle. Once we stopped at the judge, she told us to turn facing west, and side pass to the north 3 steps. Ok, now think. It is morning, so the sun is to my east. Turn and face away from it. Now, what is that saying they taught us in school. East is to our right, west to the left, then we face north and south is to our back. So as I sat there facing east, I knew I had to turn completely around. I visualized east at my right, and then I knew which direction was north, which would have me side passing up hill. I figured this was correct, as it would be safer to side pass up hill and not down. Later, we found out that the judge told different people different directions. I assumed this was so everyone has a fair chance at this obstacle. At another obstacle, we stopped at the judge, dismount on the off side onto a log, and remount. While waiting for that obstacle, Finny was anxious and would not settle and stand still. But amazingly, he was perfect at the log. I mounted and remounted as quickly as I could. Then as we walked off, we were to wait for the next rider to perform the obstacle. Finny was still anxious as we waited. We need to work on getting him to settle and to stand still.

P&R’s went well both days. Finny had some of the slowest respirations, scoring a 3 and 4’s. I loosen the girth, wet his neck down with a sponge, and stand back to let him relax. At one spot on the trail, we were to stop as the vet judge checked metabolics. Once again, Finny did not stand still well and wanted to move as the judge placed the stethoscope on his back rib area to check for gut sounds. I have worked on him to move as soon as I touch him with my legs, but now I have to teach him the difference between my leg and the judge’s stethoscope. Next time, I will dismount and stand on the off side of the judge to have my horse stand still.

We left Sunday as soon as we finished checking out, so I don’t have my cards and I can’t remember the other obstacles that we did. I will report later on those and where I lost points. I lost gut sound points at my first ride, so I made sure to stop and let my horse eat grass along the way. And at the water crossings, we allowed them to drink whenever they wanted to. I also dropped my sponge and got it wet, so to wash down my horse‘s neck and to cool him off. I actually did drop it the sponge into the water and my friend Virginia got off and retrieved it for me!

Check out went well. We did our trotting circles as well as trotting in line. Finny does this well and check out was uneventful. I think he was ready to load and come home! After 3 days of rest, we were back to trotting and conditioning for the next clinic or CTR!

Come along on the next ride with me!


Tammy said...

It was a GREAT ride, despite all the "nature" challenges!

Brenda said...

Yes, the mud and muck were terrible. I'm glad there were not many steep hills!


Messick Quarter Horses

Check out my website at:

Lessons, Training and Horse Sales
E-mail me at

Messick Tack & Feed

Messick Tack & Feed
website will be up soon! Click on logo to see current specials!