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Monday, January 5, 2009

River Bug Rambler (aka "Colt")

This is the story of my adventure...a challenge to train a horse as a working cow horse. When we moved to Harney County 3 years ago, I learned that the Stock Growers Association holds an annual stock horse futurity during the fair. Well, I might as well join them! I'd never trained a horse for that discipline, but what the heck. I was working for a great trainer (Todd Titus) that trains that discipline and part of my pay was learning new techniques. The only way to really get it is to put it to practical use.

Now, you probably read that my current goal in life is to win a belt buckle showing one of my horses. But, I'm a realist...this cutting and reining is new to me, so my main goal was to get out there and not make a fool of myself or my horse.

So, I bought a little yearling gelding from Todd as my prospect. Todd's kids always help name the foals and this guy was named Ricky...

"Come on...pick me...pick me...I'm cute...see?"
Here he is out with his herd in October 2006. He wouldn't even let me pet him.
He wanted me to, but just couldn't let me get there.

Actually, Ricky was my second choice. My first choice was a sorrel that looks a lot like my old QH Toby. But, the price was a lot higher on him, so I took Ricky...and promptly changed his name to "Colt." There's a lil' story behind that...see the sorrel I wanted was named Winchester and since they are half brothers, I felt that Colt 45 would fit appropriately because of his dark coloring. Yep, it does get confusing having a colt named Colt ;~)

I think Colt's a pretty nicely bred horse. Here is Colt's pedigree on All Breed It's a great site where you can go back 5 generations without a fee for any breed! Give it a try. Anyhow, Todd didn't think he moved as nicely as Winchester so that's why the price difference. But, I'm really happy I chose Colt...he's just turned into my best friend.

Todd got the yearling herd up to the barn and separated them all out. The first day, I stuck him in the round pen and had the halter on him in 10 minutes. He remembered his halter training as a weanling and came right around. I like the fact that Todd just lets them be horses when they're young.

I'd been working with him for a few days and My Man came visit him and take some pics.
You can't tell in this pic, but he doesn't have a mane...he'd rubbed it all off on the wire fence!

I actually started him under saddle as a long yearling for about 45 days in November and December of 2006. Mostly groundwork...round pen 101, saddling, bridling, ground driving and getting on and off of him. Before I took him home, I had him walking, trotting, loping, doing a pretty nice stop, and rollbacks on the fence, but was only riding him for about 15-20 minutes. Then I brought him home and he got the spring off.

Hanging out with Rohan.

In June of 2007, we started riding again. I started just like he'd never been saddled or ridden before, and he picked up right where we left off! Colt is one of the most willing horses I've had the pleasure to work matter what I screw up (and Todd shows me what I should have done) he'll just say "OK...guess we'll do it this way now."

Isn't that the goofiest looking mane you ever saw! OMG...and I plan on showing
him in the 2 year old Stock Horse halter class in September!!!

Well, I rode him lightly all summer and fall...just kept plugging away at trying to get the right feel of a turn around with the shoulder coming around with the feet crossing over in front instead of behind. Todd was teaching me how to move different body parts (shoulder, rib, hips) and the hows and whys of why it's so important...boy, was he came in handy when we got into the tougher stuff like flying lead changes.

Then the fair came the first week of September 2007 and we had our chance to show off our stuff...but only at halter as a 2 year old.

There were 21 horses in the class...My heart just about jumped out of my
chest when we made it to the final 6 line up...but...

I was crying when I made it to the final 3!!!
We took 3rd overall...I was so proud of my lil' guy!!
And we were the only horse out there without a silver show halter...snicker ;~)

I have to tell this lil' story...A friend of mine had bought another colt from Todd that was another half brother to Colt, and she told me that when she first saw my Colt, she laughed at Todd and said, "No that's not what I'm looking for, he's really ugly". She paid me the greatest compliment that day...she said the the ugly ducking had turned into a beautiful swan, and she couldn't believe it was the same horse!! I felt bad for her...she didn't even make the final 6.


So off we go...I had a year to have Colt ready to show. We had to do cutting (standard 2 minutes and 30 seconds) and a reining pattern with spins and flying lead changes...oh boy.

I tell you what, without Todd's help, I'd have never been able to do it. Todd has only ridden Colt 2 or 3 times and that was to figure out how to fix what I'd screwed up. Everything else I did myself...with his coaching. I boarded Colt all winter and spring in 2007-2008 at Todd's. We worked in the only covered area Todd has and that's the round pen. But, he does have a string cow that we set up in there and 2-3 days a week we'd work the string cow. He was riding Winchester so it was interesting to compare how each of them were coming along. Winchester is a lot hotter than Colt...but if I needed to put a lil' emphasis on something and use a lil' spur, it didn't take much. Colt was quick to figure stuff out!

And I have searched all of my pics and have absolutely NOTHING until our first cutting competition. I had to get out and do some real life showing in preparation for the Futurity. When you show, your head is in another place and it takes practice to keep your mind, body, and horse on the same wave length!

So in June, we loaded up for Roaring Springs Ranch to compete with the local cutting club. I don't have a lot of access to live cattle to practice on. Todd had 3 head of feeder steers that were sour as can be, but it was enough to get Colt started on the idea that the live cow was the same as the string cow. Colt had just enough fear in him from the cows, so we knew he would be pretty cowy.

So here we are...with some pretty fresh calves...straight off the
range the day before and hadn't seen humans for 6 months!!!
It wasn't the prettiest, but we survived.
Lost a couple...they were just too fast for Colt, but he really tried.
We found lots of holes (bracing, rooting his nose out, not following through
with his shoulder) that needed work.

But, it wasn't all work and sweat for Colt. We always took trail rides, gathered cattle when we could, took rides around the fields...just stuff to get him broker. I want a well rounded horse, and he needed to experience lots of stuff. We even went to the barrel club meet once and he did pretty good for trotting through everything...he really liked the poles! He was loping them, and I wasn't asking him...he was just doing it!

"Howdy Mom.
I'm just hanging at the trailer after gathering
cows and calves for branding.
I'm learning patience."

Things were actually feeling like they were coming together. The spins were pretty good, the stop was OK...balanced, but we had to figure out the flying lead changes. We went to Roaring Springs again for a Stock Horse show...sort of a schooling show, and I did my reining pattern with simple changes. I showed Todd the video, and he said that I had to move on and get the lead changes and so we worked in the arena for a lil' bit on getting body parts going the right way. I took Colt back home and practiced for a couple more days at the trot with the preparation moves. Todd said to just ask for the change while I was loping...I tell chin hit the ground!!! He did it the first time I asked him!!! I was elated!!! Then it was hit and miss for a few problem, not Colt's. But in a week we were pretty consistent and it was feeling good!

Boxing a cow at the Stock Horse schooling show.

In August, we went up to the Grant County Fair Stock Horse Show and did really well. I took 2nd in the cutting, 2nd in the reining, and 3rd in boxing. The gal that took home the 1st places was on a well-seasoned horse that had been doing it for I felt great!!! Another proud moment!

Doing the reining pattern at Grant County Fair.

Then I really went out on a limb and decided to go to a pretty big show at the Lake County Fair. It was my last chance to show before the Futurity. They get some pretty tough competition down there, and I couldn't find anyone to go with me. My Man had to work, but I wasn't going to let that stop me. They had a two-handed colt cutting class we entered in and the 3 year old stock horse class. They don't let their 3 year olds to do the herd cutting, instead they do fence work (which Harney County doesn't do). I'd never done fence work before, but had seen other people do it. I would just take it slow and give it a shot.

I loaded up Colt in the big trailer and headed for Lakeview for an and my lil' man...and Cindy Sue too of course!! A girl, her horse and her dog~~

I didn't know a soul when we got there, but knew lots of people by the time we left on Friday! I had more herd help than I was a very welcome gesture from the folks in Lake County. But, talk about fast cattle...we totally bombed in the colt cutting class on Thursday night. It was still fun and a great learning experience.

Then after a nice sleep in the trailer and a big breakfast, Friday morning rolls around and the 3 year old class is first up with 9 horses in the class. I got Colt all ready and warmed up, they held the riders meeting and we're set. I'm about the 5th to go. We did our reining pattern nicely...I was pleased with it (flying lead changes were perfect!) and then I called for my cow...praying for a slow one. I was told these were the same cattle that we cut on the night before...oh dear!!!

My cow comes out and it was a slow one...I could hardly get it to move on the short end of the arena for the boxing, so I go ahead and start it down the long end for the fence work and the judge blows the whistle...I stop...the judge yells to me that I need a better cow...I yelled back at him that I liked this one (everyone laughed)...the announcer said that I'd like my score better if I had a better cow...OK...they must know best.

Here comes my 2nd cow...yep, this one's a lot more lively. I get a fairly decent boxing work done and take it up the long side of the remember neither my horse nor myself have ever done this part...I missed turning the cow by the 1st penalty marker...I missed turning the cow by the 2nd penalty marker and said something outloud like "dang it cow" and gave Colt all he was worth and got it turned...yeah!!! Up the long way the opposite direction we go and I get it turned just right...the cow heads for the middle of the arena, so I circle it to the left first and then had a lil' bit of a problem getting it circled to the right...almost thought it wasn't going to come together...but it did and the whistle blew. We did it!!!! YaaaaaaHoooooo!!!!!

I don't know who was breathing harder, Colt or me! I don't think I breathed the whole time. It was the most fun I had ever had on a about an adrenalin rush!!! Our scores seemed decent, and all we could do then was wait to see what everyone else did.

Well, it came out that the top 2 riders tied at 131 & 1/2 and the next 2 riders tied at 131. I was one of the 2nd two. They broke ties with the horse that got the highest cow put me in 4th...I was ecstatic!!!

But, here's the really exciting part (for me anyhow)...driving home I'm going over all this in my head and realized that if I had turned that cow before that 2nd penalty marker and had lost just 1 point...I'd have won! I started crying...not out of sadness, but of joy!!! I was so close to winning that buckle with my lil' guy with tough riders!!! It was a highlight of my year.

So, where are the pictures? Well...I don't have a one...My Man, aka photographer, couldn't come and, I didn't find anyone who had taken any of me...why would they...they didn't know me...oh well.


That left me with 1 week to get ready for the Harney County Futurity. Todd had gotten some cattle to work, and we were just putting some finishing touches on what I had. Things weren't perfect, but it was too late to change them...I just had to get out there and show my horse the best I could.

The Futurity is a two day affair. The first day is the cutting held at the Bell A Ranch. Again, the 3 year old class is first. We have the riders meeting with the judge and we're ready to begin. The cattle get settled and I'm 10th to go. I've got my herd help lined up and feel pretty calm...considering I've been working for this moment for the past year and a half!

Here's the the cutting go...

After everyone else had gone, I was in second place out of 11 horses!!! I succeeded in not making a fool out of myself or my horse (so far)...we done good! I was so proud of Colt! He got lots of kisses and carrots!

Day two is at the fairgrounds. The 2 year old halter class is first, so we get warmed up in the practice arena. Things always take longer than expected, and we were warmed up long before the class was over. We hung around talking with friends and waited. Nerves always build on me in that situation. But, finally we have the riders meeting with the judge and we're ready. I'm 7th up this time.

Warming up in the big arena...pardon the chaps...I've still got the bottoms tied up.

I won't bore you with the video. The whole pattern went nicely for had my hat fly off and that really miffed me!!! I switched hats so match my, no, no!!!!!...I should have worn my trusty hat. But, it really only hurt my pride. I was kicking myself in the butt for worrying more about my hat than my lead changes...I could have really screwed up, but Colt knew what he needed to do and he came through for me!

We came in 4th in the reining...and after the scores were totaled...we came in 3rd over all~~was I betcha!!!

Colt is modeling his 3rd place halter.
And I'm wearing the right hat!

So there you have it. Whew...that is a lot longer than I thought it would be!

If you're still reading this, I applauded you, and you deserve a blogger's reading award!!!

May I present you with your very own T-Shirt Award.

Thanks for coming along with me on my adventure! I've got 3 more years to show him in the then I hope to have a finished bridle horse...something I never ever dreamed I'd do.

PS...Lisa at Laughing Orca Ranch, is that wordy enough for ya girlfriend?!? ;~)


Reddunappy said...

Oh my I am so jealous LOL I always wanted to do that. Emma would just eat the cows for lunch, "I'm susposed to do what with them, oh ya right" there is a little attitude there LOL
Colt looks like he likes his job, in almost every pic his pretty little ears are up and he has such a soft expresion on his face. Sounds like you have had a lot of fun this last year, and I sure would say meeting some goals, youll get that buckle I bet.

Ed said...

I'm exhausted!!! It's like reading war and peace but more interesting. With Colt I'll bet you get that buckle this year, I just hope I'm there to photograph it... :-)

Heart of a Cowgirl said...

He's beautiful and congrats to you for being so patient and training him so well! I can only hope I'll do half as well with my little filly... And I did look at his pedigree...very nice cow horse breeding.

the7msn said...

The whole journey is just too cool. The total satisfaction that comes with training a horse start to finish...well, there's nothing like it, but you know that. My hat is off to you. Well done!

Latigo Liz said...

Sounds like a lot of work, but even more fun! :)

Celeste said...

What a great account, you must be so proud of Colt. I bet you will get that belt buckle very soon! I am very impressed that you managed to get his mane to grow back so well. Does he still rub it?

gtyyup said...

Celeste, no he doesn't rub it any more...when Todd had him, Colt would stick his head and neck through the fence to eat hay and the barbed wire rubbed it all out...I'm just glad he didn't cut his head off on the wire!

Thanks everyone else for such nice comments!

Kathleen Coy said...

I just love to watch you and Colt in action! :-)

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

K, Be careful what I wish for, eh? lol!
That must be a record for ya! hehe
I truly loved it, though. You can be wordy anytime and I'll eat it right up, girlfriend.

Colt's got royalty in his breeding. Wow! My mare's got one of 'em in her bloodline "Joe Reed"
She inherited his butt. lol!

You've done good by Colt and he's been your diamond in the rough. I think he's a real looker. Truly gorgeous, not just in coloring, but he's got a great shoulder and lovely hip. His mane reminded me of a zebra for a little bit there, though. :D

Way to go you two. I just know this is gonna be the year you sport a big 'ol fancy belt buckle with the likeness of your equine best friend right in the center.

New Mexico

(Now go take a nap. You must be exhausted after all that typing. lol!)

The Wades said...

That was an incredible post--it must have taken four hours!!! :) I totally appreciate the work other Bloggers put in their posts after doing this myself.

Just wanted to thank you for your well wishes for Max. He's doing really well. What a difference a week makes!

Enjoy that beautiful swan.

Julie said...

Finally I figured out how to comment....I LOVE all your Blogs, In another life I would start on a ranch and never leave!....I know.I see it as a little more romantic than it probably is but... I love your videos, I really can't get enough.

Andrea said...

Colt did awesome!! And I would have loved to have seen the reining pattern! I love reining. Colt really is a handsome boy. You did a fantastic job with him. A lot of hard work paid off!!

C-ingspots said...

Oh my gosh!! Are you kidding me!!?? I am so dadgummed proud of you two that I could just about spit right now!! My hat is definitely off to you girlfriend!! That is (excuse the words) ballsy for sure. That took guts and grit and and, I don't know. I'm just very proud of you and Colt!! Yippee!! That picture of you two with the wrong hat, Colt looks AMAZING in that shot - drop dead gorgeous in my book!!! I would love to do something like that!! I want to do that!!! So much fun, and you are very fortunate to be working with a trainer that you respect and will help you out!! Awesome, just freaking awesome - you go girl!! Oh, I just stopped by to wish you a Happy New Year...

froglander said...

It was fun to read your post, glad there were lots of pics. Colt has turned into quite the handsome fellow. His name makes much more sense now that you mentioned Winchester, lol. You'll get that belt buckle for sure!

Anonymous said...

That was alot of fun to read - great story, nicely told. Hats off to you and Colt!

Latigo Liz said...

Hey, read the comment over on the FHotD that YOUR Harney County Fair mentioned???
Surprise, surprise!
spottheblogger said...
Bill Cope and Shirley Cope are the breeders of Champagne Til Dawn's sole winner, (winning maiden claiming race at HARNEY COUNTY FAIR - September 6, 2008) a bay gelding named Hewinksachu, Foaled Mar 09, 2005 in Washington. For details of his win, see:
Since they were the breeder of this gelding, and CTD only had 2 foals that I can find (Hewinksachew and a filly named Champagneformisty), odds are good they owned CTD at the time of the breeding, or were close with his owner. Since he has no other foals listed, they probably sold him some years ago, shortly after the breedings that produced these foals. They (or owners who train with them) might be willing to chip in a bit to help with his rescue. If they didn't own him when they bred these two offspring, they should be able to help determine who did own him, and help find people willing to chip in for his rescue.
January 7, 2009 1:15 AM

Latigo Liz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Latigo Liz said...

BTW, I’d love to come visit you and “do” the fair some year. Maybe not 2009, but sometime in the next few years! I am not the “show” type, but I did win a buckle at a Kiger show a few years back...with my grade/rescue GREEN Arab. Heheheheh!

kdwhorses said...

YOu go girl! You and Colt both! So glad you shared his story with us! You all are going to win that buckle! He is such a nice looking colt. Wish we lived closer, i'd be there to cheer you on and take pics! Keep up the great work!

A girl, her horse and her dog! AMEN!!!!!!!

Have a great day!

Vaquerogirl said...

Teriffic! And Colt is BIG! Especially for a reining horse! You've done an exceptional job with him fer sure! I bought my horse for a reiner, but he hated it! So now we show in something way slower (but equally as challenging)- the trail classes.We still go to reining clinics and do some slow cow-work, but I'd love to actually show in an event.
Loved reading about your trials and your wins!

gtyyup said...

Liz...I'm assuming yes, the date is correct and we have a race meet along with our's probably true! And, yes! We'd love to have you out...when you get the chance, let us know!

Thanks again to everyone for all your wonderful're all great!

Ruth Andre said...

Loved every word and even read most of the post out loud to my husband and then he came over to see the video of you and Colt. Yeah!! Great job and you and Colt look great too.

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