TALES FROM THE TRAIL TRIAL
Earning the Right to Bear a Full Flask
The Beggs herd participated in our second ever California State Horsemen’s Association Trail Trial (http://www.trailtrials.com/), August 25-26, graciously held at the R-Wild Horse Ranch (http://rwildhorseranch.net/) where we board our horses. Is that easy or what? No trailering on our part; the venue is fairly familiar, with a few zinger obstacles thrown in—and isn’t that the point?
Sometimes what happens on the trail should stay on the trail. Bad ju ju pervades when one forgets the valor of discretion, just ask Russ. Vent and ye shall receive. But some things can and MUST be shared.
Although Desejo is only 7 years old, I entered us in the Novice over 50 category. For those who don’t know, the over 50 categories in Novice, Intermediate and Advanced are often the most competitive, and at the end of the day (Hey, this is my story) the lowest point categories—a tough field indeed.
Saturday, my magnificent horse, Desejo, the sensitive, skeptical and frequently sarcastic earned fourth place in the Novice, Over 50 category, with 19 points. Every point we received was for rider error--rushing, over- or miscuing. I couldn’t be prouder of my horse.
Sunday was the day I earned the right to bear a full flask.
Of course, everyone should have a flask in their saddle bags for medicinal purposes, liquid courage, and therapy. It is fair value as currency in the back country. Like VISA it is welcome everywhere. In fact, I believe we need cantle bags that look like the iconic barrels St. Bernard’s carried to fallen skiers. How’s that for a competition trophy? Everyone wins.
Obstacle 6. We were required to drag a scary, noisy blue tarp between two green flags, and then pull said tarp, at a trot, back to the judge. Easy-peasy. I should have analyzed the flags better, giving Desejo more room to stay in the course. I should have left more rope-the banded snake rope-much more rope, so the scary, noisy tarp wasn’t as close. Ears erect and every muscle poised for immediate retreat, Desejo did manage to pull, then drag that horrible tarp, at a side passing trot/gait. I couldn’t help but laugh WITH him. Such a brave boy. We will practice with a tarp until we can wear it, at a canter, like Superman’s cape!
Waiting for Obstacle 7, I watched the next victim, I mean competitor. I advised one of my co-riders to turn her horse around and the face the tarp team. They were already doing the “When Hell Freezes Over Four Step” and it seemed prudent to watch head on, rather than have the tarp duo booger into her from behind. Motherly advice dispensed, I got out my recycled plastic bottle to hydrate with my signature blend of Yogi Egyptian Licorice and Everyday De-Tox teas. Just a kiss of licorice, wet and healthy, I guzzle some down.
Hell didn’t freeze over, it broke loose. Man, horse and the “Blue Duck” (as family lore will forever call the blue tarp) sped towards us. Everyone is screaming “Drop the rope”, but I could see the rope was wrapped around the horse’s neck and was caught on the buckle of his breast collar.
Meanwhile, back in the saddle...those roll backs Desejo and I have been working on. Nailed it! Watch and weep, Shawn Flarida. Those quarter horses have nothing on a motivated Marchador. We spun, skittered and I don’t what all else as Desejo tried to escape that blue tarp-come-to-life, attacking the other horse. Isn’t this a horses’ nightmare, afterall?
I sit deep, crushing the pockets of my Gloria Vanderbilt old-lady jeans. Heroically the rider guides his run-away horse from the crowd, over a steep berm into the wild frontier. Holy friggin’ bejeezus. I veer Desejo from the steep, rocky berm and we dance some more on the hard packed, gravel road. We spin another 360 degrees and I see horses and riders in every manner of incorrect seat and awkward position.
Desejo notices the “Blue Duck” is gone and settles. Before I have time to get scared or worried, the run- aways are returning, following the benign blue tarp being dragged by the Obstacle Judge. Mercifully, no one hit the ground. Can I hear an “Amen”? My heart is pounding. Desejo, in Boy Scout mode is prepared to do it all over again should that tarp resurrect.
Wow. I still have my bottle of tea in my hand, and I hardly spilled a drop. If it were a beer, I’d be a Red Neck Centerfold. I can’t believe we did that one handed. Of course my butt cheeks had a death grip in that treeless saddle. And, no, Desejo’s back was not bruised! No calls to ASPCA necessary.
Post apocalypse analysis: I believe I am worthy to bear a fully loaded flask. And I was in powerful need of some liquid nerves, because Obstacle 7 was a stroll into Valley of the Shadow of Death…