By Patty Wilber
Christy Miller Harding’s Virtual Competitive Trail (VCT) Fall series just concluded! The competitions have been engaging, not stressful, and have generated an interactive and positive Facebook community of nearly 500 people!
NOTE: There is a December mini ride (I will be judging) and a Winter Buckle Series (Jan., Feb., Mar.) coming up. (More information at the end.)
The first VCT ride started in the summer and I entered LT. We were camping with good friends in the Cruces Basin Wilderness Area in June and it seemed like the perfect place to film!
This was not our highest scoring video, but I felt a great sense of joy riding this one!
LT and I ended up second in this competition in the Open category. Our videos showed LT being a rather solid trail citizen, which was fun, because as you many of you know, she is my spazziest horse. But, while we did some pretty things, I decided that we probably did not have a high enough degree of difficulty.
Christy then decided to institute a buckle series, but LT was headed to college with my summer intern, Jordyn, to do ranch horse stuff at Colorado State University, and I could not use her in the subsequent events. I decided to forego trying to compete for the buckle, and enter a different horse every month, instead. Truthfully, this also allowed me to focus on having fun and avoid getting too wound around the competitive axle.
For September, I entered Sombra, the three year old Placitas Mustang, owned by Mary Ann Shinnick. He had just four months under saddle, so we entered the Green division. But, I still tried to do some things that would earn us bonus points for difficulty.
We ended up squeaking out an overall win, only outscoring Rainy and her horse Jack, because of the three point helmet bonus I got!
I also convinced Mary Ann S. to enter on our horse, Cometa. She placed 11th in September and third in Oct., and as of this writing we still waiting for the Nov. results for the intermediate group.
For October, Penny was up, and we were back in the Open division. We were also back in the Cruces Basin for an elk hunt, so I squeezed in videos as we hauled gear in and out of camp. I did not have time to go as difficult as would have liked, but Penny really is a fantastic trail horse, and it must have showed. We side passed over a big log and stopped square, we did a walk-trot transition through a creek and stopped square, we did a walk through camp while Richard was packing his mules, and stopped square. We did dismounting in a gale, while Penny stood square. I actually was not aware that she was so good at stopping so squarely! Our most interesting video was the creek with the log, and she almost stops square, but takes a little extra step.
Jim filmed this for me while riding Cometa and dealing with Lucy, who was packing gear. I do not know if it was all that square stopping, the large amount of gear we were toting, or Penny’s good attitude, but the judge gave us huge scores and Penny won the Open, got top horse and I got the equitation award! I was very pleased!
That just left Lucy, and she got to be the November go to girl. Lucy is four and she has shown in cow and ranch classes, packed gear, and even given lessons. Clearly she had to go into the Open division.
We filmed all of Lucy’s videos on trails right out from the house, so were not loaded with gear! Lucy’s best scoring (and my personal favorite) is Tricky Downhill. I just love how carefully she places her feet and her nice expression!
We eked out (by one point) the Open win over Randi G. and her horse Tucker, and Lucy got best horse (trail master) by winning the tie breaker. I got the equitation award (by one point).
What a blast!
These competitions are fun and challenging! You can enter from ANYWHERE! You get to choose six obstacles from a long list, and go do them out on real trails, so you have to scout and plan a little. You do not have to dress up, and the videos are short, so you do not have to spend as much time filming as some of the virtual arena classes. I was doing some virtual shows with H and Lucy in the Spring and I swear to you, I would get to the LAST 10 SECONDS of a two minute video and some video ruining disaster would occur, like a rabbit would run across the arena (for real). Ugh. It got very tiresome.
Also, the prizes are fun! I have received stunning full sized rosette ribbons, gift cards, seasonal goodies, a halter, gloves, candy, granola (the granola was a bonus prize and I am telling you, the stuff was outstanding.)
Coming up in December: The December Mini Ride. Just four obstacles. And yours truly will be the judge! Both the Nov. and Dec. rides are benefitting the NM Appaloosa club (Penny, Lucy and LT are all Appaloosas, and I am the board of the NM club). Sign up here!
THEN, there will be the Winter Buckle Series with series-end Molly’s buckles, Kelly Herd jewelry, and maybe bridles for third. Three competitions, one horse, one rider. The entry form and deadlines for that have not yet been posted, but just join the FB group and check out the webpage (linked above)!
So, saddle up, grab a phone (for the video camera) and go forth and conquer!