Saturday, November 13, 2010

With Gratitude to a Mule Named Rhonda

I won it. And am thanking the mule for it. Here's the play-by-play:

Barrels: smokin' hot run. 1st place.
Poles: knocked one down, which I have never done before. Damn! 3rd place. 
Keyhole: another smokin' run. 2nd place.
Birangle: a close one, but I won 1st place by a tenth of a second.

By this time the mule lady and I are back to being tied for the buckle, with just two events to go. 

Goats: I noticed with other riders that the goat kept diving to the right. I go to do my run-down and park right at the stake. The goat dove to the right, his rope touching my horse's front feet. The flaggers announce that I'm disqualified. A feeling of despair rushed over me as I left the arena. I had no idea the rope couldn't touch the horse, but yes, the rule makes sense. Why didn't I know this?

I told myself I had five minutes to sulk and then I would get over it. After all, I was still winning all-around in the different events, which was huge. As I was walking my horse (and sulking) Peaches says that they are allowing a re-run for me and Patty (who I guess also had the same thing happen to her) with a ten-second penalty. So, after a grueling tackle and tie on the world's most ornery goat, I scored fourth. And a rope burn. 

Now I am two points below her, the mule lady. 

Cattle sorting: Nailed it. I got the cow to cross the line in twenty seconds, 1st place. The mule lady was 6th place with 50 seconds. Tears streamed down my cheeks as I left the arena. Some spectators cried, too. I thought of all the hard work Ally has done for me… from Colorado this summer.. to the California Rodeo.. to this. What a joy she has been and I have learned so much from her. 

But the biggest thing I have learned, by far… is learn the rules so I don't DQ again!! What an idiot I was!

And to make me feel a little better, James (a friend who was in charge of holding the goats) told me that he held on to the goat for a looooong time for the mule lady, practically holding it for her. After that run, the "referees" told him to let go of the goat when the rider's boot touches the ground. So, mule lady had the advantage and we all had, well.. a goat that dove right under our horse's feet.

Am I happy? Yes. Am I exhausted? Yes. Am I proud of Ally? Indeed. We shed a lot of blood, sweat and tears for this. (I also shelled out a lot of dough for goat-tying DVD's, beeswax, and goat strings!) But I am not a jumping-out-of-my-skin-and-shouting-yeehaw kind of happy. I guess I wish the goat tying event would have gone differently, for all the contestants. Maybe if Noah had been in charge of holding the goat. Or Matt. Or if I hadn't parked Ally right at the stake but instead off to the right. Or if the other goat were out there (the one who doesn't duck to the right). 

There were a lot of "coulda shouldas" today.

The mule lady congratulated me. She asked if this was my first buckle, and when I told her yes, she said she was happy for me. She told me she had won numerous buckles in her day. 

And so, I did not kick the mule lady's ass, as I had posted on Facebook so childishly. Instead, we were neck-and-neck. All day. And if it weren't for the re-run, the buckle would be hers. For that re-run I am forever grateful. And for the strenuous competition against a mule named Rhonda, I am also extremely grateful.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Refuse to Lose

Refuse to Lose

I’m sorry to say, but you cannot win.
Because I refuse to lose.
I’ve trained too hard to be defeated.
I’ve been cut and hurt and bruised.

I made up my mind long ago
That this was mine to take.
My head and spirit are far too strong
To weaken or to break.

I hope you brought your “A” game,
Your best horse and best saddle.
I’m ready for the competition.
I came here to battle.

I’m sorry you won’t be the Champ
Whenever you leave here.
And I have some more bad news for you,
I’ll be back again next year!

Author: Anonymous

Mia took this picture of my piece of junk buckle, one that I bought at the tack store several years ago. There was once a little gold horse on it that has since broken off. Tomorrow afternoon I hope to have a brand new shiny "4M Ranch Rodeo" buckle.. one that I earned.. not bought!!!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

None of your beeswax!

"I'm sorry I have to leave the party early. I have to go shopping for beeswax for my goat rope."

The looks I got were hilarious. Jaws dropped. Heads cocked. Eyebrows furrowed. The ladies gathered closer. "Did you say… goat rope?"

That's right. Beeswax makes your goat rope sticky. And sticky means that that damn horned farm beast will be less likely to kick it off at Saturday's big rodeo! I need the win. Badly.

I went to Beverly's at 8 o'clock last night to shop for beeswax. The first two people weren't very successful in helping me find it; they said they didn't carry it anymore. Luckily, I asked the cashier about it on my way out and he steered me in the right direction. He got a kick out of it too when he found out I wasn't using it for sewing or candlemaking. "No sir, it's for goat tying!"

I came home and stretched my goat ropes back and forth over the beeswax, forming a small groove in the block of wax. Roland just chuckled as he watched tv. "My wife has lost it," he muttered.

"Oh yeah? That's none of your beeswax!"

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Down the Home Stretch

The rodeo is a week away. My heart beats faster just thinking about it. The hours are ticking by.

I rode yesterday, though I could tell Ally was not happy about it. It was almost her dinnertime, so I kept the workout light and fun, mostly working on transitions rather than making any tight turns or anything. She had a pretty good run at the poles, so I galloped her down the home stretch and called it a night.

I came home and watched my goat tying video again, pausing and rewinding and slow-mo-ing the good and bad runs, analyzing each step. Ughhhh.

And I strategized. I emailed Peaches asking her if I can go last in the lineup. That way I can analyze the mule lady's every run and gauge my runs as needed after she goes.

And then I went to bed. But I stayed wide awake for four hours, the anxiety of the "home stretch" winding in and out of my brain like a can of worms.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Momma's sick, but she still means business!

Another sick day. I spent it like any coughing cowgirl would: in the middle of a circle, my horse trotting and cantering around me.

Ally's favorite game has never been the circling game. As an LBI, she is lazier than lazy. I first discovered the yo-yo game had become increasingly crooked and sticky. I moved away from the circle and placed two barrels horse-width apart, then placed a cookie piece on each barrel. I yo-yo'd her back and forth through the barrels, but she still was so crooked at times, moving her hip out toward me. I finally gave a phase 4 (or maybe a phase 3, since I'm ill and weak) on her zone 4 and that straightened her out completely. Voi-la!

Next, I discovered that that little lesson was such a HUGE part of getting our circling game going well. When we moved back over to the circle, Ally cantered off from the send. Yahoo! She knew I meant business. And she stayed cantering most of the time! There was just one little spot when she was tracking right where she would break to trot. I had visions of Jarno and Kathy, and their two very different (yet very effective) approaches to fixing the problem. I tried smacking the ground with my carrot stick at the place where she would break to trot. After a few rotations, she went past that place at a canter (a speedy one, mind you!) and that was it. Reward and rest. Lick and chew.

She was in a sweat after the workout and I was, too. It was 82 degrees up there. The poor girl has already grown her winter coat. She must be so confused. A cool hose-off and a roll in the dirt ended the day on yet another good note.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

undemanding time

I have been sick. I've had a really bad cold. ugh. What a way to force me to slow things down. I spent some undemanding time with Ally today. I sat in her pen, giggling at her as she'd swing her butt to me for a scratch. After awhile I took her down to the arena and brushed her and put some hoofmaker on, then turned her loose. She came back to the gate after awhile, bored and wanting more attention from me. I could only give so much. After this little of an activity, I was exhausted. Time for a nap. (achoo!)

Monday, November 1, 2010

tie a stronger knot!

The last rodeo was October 23rd. And I'm just now mustering up the courage to write about it.

That's because the worst thing ever happened. Well, not the worst thing ever. I guess that would entail someone getting hurt or something. It wasn't that bad. It's just that I got… DQ'd.

That's right-- disqualified. The day was going quite swimmingly. Ally and I were kicking major mule ass (if you don't know about the mule, read previous posts) in every class: barrels, poles, keyhole, speed barrels. Then it came time for the goats. DAMNED GOATS!

I did everything I had practiced. My run down was flawless. My dismount at full-speed was graceful. I ran down the rope and flanked the goat at the speed of light, tying it in a flash. I raised my arms to signal I was done. "11 seconds!" the announcer shouted. WOW. I had shaved my time immensely. The crowd roared. I ginned from cheek to cheek.

And then, after four seconds, that damn goat kicked off the rope.

In order for a tie to be legal, it must stay on for six seconds. Ahhhhhh! I was devastated. At first I thought this only put me in second place for goat tying. Then, a few minutes later I realized a DQ means no time.. no score.. no points!

At the end of the day, mule lady had won the daily high point with 55 points, even though she had placed second in every event and first at goat tying. I, with five first place ribbons, only came away with 50 points.

And so, this makes my overall points for the buckle at 153. And the mule lady? Ugh. 153 as well.

Stay tuned!