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.