Sunday morning and Kat was ready for action. He knew what was up when I harnessed him up, putting him to the cart without lunging him first. I could tell he wouldn't need it and he would likely need to save his energy for the course. It was a bit long and there was rolling hills in between the hazards. Yay we would be getting some hill work in! lol
We headed over to the warm up/holding area and checked in. I was to go after the last of the training level horses that followed the minis and they would actually be putting in a little longer break between us, so that we wouldn't be right on the tail of the horse before us. That was what happened in Coolidge, and although it gave Kat some short breaks of resting between hazards, I would rather keep an even pace throughout. As it was- there would be plenty of time and space between us and no hopes of me running up on the heels of the horse before us.
Kat was amped and when we got over to the warm up area, he knew what was up. I trotted him around a little and after a lap or two he settled down to a comfortable walk. There was another entry, two girls on a cart with a cute red pony and as they circled around us, I could hear the one girl (gator) on the phone telling someone about Kat. "He is the cutest pony ev-ar and his color is a.m.a.z.i.n.g..." Turns out, they are a new competitor and a youth driver. Yay, new people in the sport!
Soon it would be our turn to go. Kat didn't want to stand and wait so we continued to circle around at a walk. I had bend to the left again today so that was good and I was happy with it. We got the signal to start once the horse ahead of us reached hazard #2. Kat was ready and we headed out down to Hazard #1.
We went in and circled around thru A, out of the gate and around to B, thru C and on to D, Kat breaking down to a trot here and there thru the sharper turns. Once we were thru D it was a straighter shot out of the hazard and around to the out gate. Once out, Kat wanted to keep running, but that isn't necessary so we settled on a pretty fast trot and got to Hazard #2 without issue. Hazard #2 has water and for Prelim, Gate D was IN the water. I had an idea of how to get Kat into the water pretty quick and easy, but we all know things don't go according to plan all of the time.
We headed into the hazard and zipped thru A, B and C with no problems. There was a way to go into the water straight ahead thru a narrow opening and I was going to try it. I would let Kat skim along the edge of the water to the left, and then pull him around to the right and pretty much throw him off balance and into the water. Didn't happen. He went all Tinkerbell on me, didn't want to get his feet wet and wasn't going thru the opening at all, let alone along the edge of the water. No way, no how! Okay fine then- Plan B...
I turned him off to the left and went out where we would have a nice big wide open area to work in. I aimed him straight at the water, we got to the edge, he planted his feet and was not going to budge. Well he did eventually budge but then it was exit stage right! "Not a chance buster!" I hauled him in with the left rein and pulled him back around to face the water. Then he decided to try bolting to the left. "I don't think so!" Hauled him around right to face the water again. I cracked him one on the butt with the whip and told him to "Walk on".
Kat- "No freakin way! That's W.A.T.E.R. and I'm NOT going in it!"
Me- Squinting at him in a threatening way, "You wanna BET?"
A few more tries and I turned to the timer and said- "This might take a while." A few more tries, keeping Kat lined up facing the water, a crack on the butt here and there, coaxing, pushing, encouraging and then all of a sudden it's like a light went on. He dropped his head, snorted at the water and cautiously stepped towards it. A few more ever so cautious steps and he was IN the water. I reached forward and patted his butt where I had previously spanked it and praised him so much. We may have walked thru the water, thru gate D, but we weren't going to be eliminated. He may have wussed out on me, but at least he went in the water. WIN!
Our time in Hazard 2? Worst for the day! Everyone else was under 100 seconds, as in times of 70-90 seconds or so. One entry had a time of 130 seconds or so.... Ours? 222.?? ROFL! Once out of the water, he picked up a trot and I was happy to let him roll with it. We headed off to Hazard #3 and I wasn't pushing him for any more. He did trot a lot in #3, but picked up the canter on the way out.
By the time we got to Hazard #4, my plans had changed. So what if he was trotting or running thru them, as long as he was going forward and we were not only under control, but he was trusting me and not fighting it. We zipped along thru gates A, B and C, looped back around to go thru B to get to D and Kat did fight it a little on the turn. We dang near smacked into a pole in the hazard. A quick "Whoa", he stopped dead, backed up a couple steps, moved over to the right and we took off again, thru D and out...
Hazard #5 wasn't too far away and as we approached it, All of my plans for speed went right out the window. If all we did was trot thru it- fine by me and I could care less. There were a lot of logs set up in triangles in this one, a lot of semi-sharp edges out there and I planned to just take it easy. Kat seemed to be wearing down a bit and I didn't want to overdo it. We trotted the whole way thru the hazard and out the gate. No crazy speed there.
Kat was happy to just jog on the way to Hazard #6. He wasn't sure what was next and wasn't sure even what was going on. We did pass one of the training horses coming up out of H#6 and they had gone in and thru the water. The driver was beaming with pride in her horse. She's not sure if she was going to keep up with competing, but if they didn't they would be going out on a high note. We approached the gate and Kat was on alert. He could see the water and knew we would be running, but he wasn't sure about what was about to happen. Gate A you entered the water and Gate B was IN the water. He balked, hesitated and then walked on in. We did manage to pick up a trot as we rounded the corner for B and headed out of the water. Once on dry ground again, he picked up a canter as we came around to C, going back into the water to go thru D. Again at the waters edge, he hesitated and eased his way in to pick up a trot heading thru D and out of the water again.
As we cantered up the hill and thru the 'Out' gate, I leaned forward again to pat his butt. Once we were up the hill, he eased down to a trot and eventually a walk. We were able to see his girlfriend Diva going thru H#5 as we headed back to the barn. I let him walk, we watched them as they wove their way thru the turns and on to the next one. We were content to be plodding along at a relaxed pace. Kat had done a lot and I was happy with his efforts. We were done and there was no need to hurry back other than to unhitch, give him a drink and let him unwind while I packed things up. It had been fun, at least the wind had slowed down to a nice breeze and life was good. Best part about it? He had gone into the water twice and we didn't E out.