Posts Tagged ‘horse world expo’

While at the Horse World Expo, competing in the Extreme Cowboy Race wasn’t the only thing I did. There were lots of things to see and do, and even more to learn. I wish I had seen EVERYTHING, but it just wasn’t possible. Here are a few things I got to experience that you might find interesting.

Cowboy Mounted Shooting was a pretty popular demo to see. And don’t worry, they said that all the horses had their ears plugged and they don’t use LIVE ammunition.

I also got to watch the spectacular night show, Theatre Equus. My favorite part by far was Guy McLean, who flew his horses here all the way from Australia. I didn’t get to learn much about his training methods, but none-the-less his demonstrations with his horses were AMAZING.

He had a horse that could canter backwards. Seriously.

USDF Young Rider Championships - Super Hero Pas De Deux - Kyley & Megan

We also got to hang out with our friends from El Brio Vanner, home to Odd Job Bob, the star of the movie – The Greening of Whitney Brown. El Brio Vanner is actually right down the street from our farm in PA, and I grew up taking riding lessons with one of their trainers. We always have fun reminiscing about pony camp days and playing with Breyer Horses. 🙂

We also spent some time at the Dr. Cook’s Bitless Bridle booth, as they were excited to learn about Boomerang competing in the Extreme Cowboy Race in one of their bridles.

Our Horse Trailer

Surprisingly I bought nothing at the expo, as much as I wanted to. I think my biggest temptation would have been one of the horse trailers. Swoon. Any horse trailer dealers want to sponsor a couple of trick ponies? We’ll take it all over the country! haha. Our little old rusty maroon trailer has seen better days. And man wouldn’t I give anything to have a tackroom! At least it’s still a step up from my childhood horse trailer……

My Childhood Horse Trailer

Yes, that’s my first pony, Oreo Cookie, in the back of our “Horse Trailer”. We were on our way to a show. It’s a wonder I have any friends! haha

Well we had a great time at the Expo, and hopefully we’ll be back again next year! 🙂 I hope you enjoyed sharing in on the adventure with me!

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I’m constantly learning something new. There will ALWAYS be something I don’t know, so why not try to learn EVERYTHING I can? It’s sort of a sickness I have, I want to try everything.

So while competing in the Extreme Cowboy Race was something totally new and different for me, I couldn’t leave it at just that. While at the expo I jumped at the chance to learn how to throw a lariat. After all, I could have been asked to rope a “cow” during the competition for all I knew.

I was sort of relieved we didn’t have to rope something, because I think I could use a little more practice.

I’ve added a Lariat to my Birthday wish list (which is tomorrow!) because it was so much fun I can’t wait to give it a try while riding a horse!

After trying my hand at tossing the lariat I made sure Boomerang was ready for roping too. During one of our schooling sessions in the indoor I practiced throwing a lead rope around his head, ears, and sides. Just to make sure that should I NEED to throw the rope in the race, he would be fully comfortable with it. You can never be too prepared!

Anyone else out there know how to throw a rope? Any secret pointers so I can look super cool throwing my lariat off an english saddle?

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The winner of the 2011 Extreme Cowboy Race at the Horse World Expo was Wayne Yoder. He was actually the only rider to be undefeated the entire weekend too!

After the preliminary rides he was in first place, with me tailing right behind him by about 10 points. But after his amazing ride in the finals he jumped to a huge lead on his Stallion, Ornery.

Boomerang was fortunate enough to be stabled next to the winner in the barns, which meant I got to learn all about his “story”.

Wayne is a horse trainer from Ohio, where he trains between 12-14 horses a day with his business partner at Lonesome Hollow Stables. He works with problem horses, as well as starting young horses under saddle. When he’s not training horses his favorite thing to do is compete in Extreme Cowboy Races. Wayne said that at the Horse World Expo he was going on his 9th competition.

Wayne actually had his own rescue Stallion that he used to compete in the races, but a few months ago he died unexpectedly. He later discovered the horse had an abscess in his stomach, something that probably developed when he was malnourished years earlier.

Wayne’s friend Morgan, a horse chiropractor and masseuse, decided to offer him use of her Stallion, Ornery. The palomino stallion’s registered name was something like TC’s Golden Mist – but I can’t remember for sure, Morgan calls him Ornery or “Orn” for short. Orn’s story is also a rescue story as well. He was in a situation where his owner’s were not caring for or feeding him, the owner was forced to surrender their horses, and Morgan rescued the now 15 year old Stallion.

6 weeks ago Wayne started working with Orn, who’s previous experiences were mostly in trail riding. And this would be the stallion’s very first Extreme Cowboy Race.

I was immediately impressed with how quiet Orn was. He had never been around the applause and cheering (like most of the extreme cowboy race participants), yet when I saw the horse experience it for the first time – he was nearly unfazed.

Unfortunately I don’t have any videos of Wayne competing, but through most of his rides Orn was just as steady as ever. But what I was most impressed with was Wayne’s initiative to better himself and his horse through this competition. After the preliminary rounds, Wayne realized that there were some areas he could improve in with his horse while at the Expo. He set out and found a riding instructor that agreed to give him a jumping lesson after the expo closed for the day. So the night before the finals this cowboy attempted to learn the proper way to release his arms over the jump so as not to catch his horse in the mouth. And when I saw him take the big jump on Orn in his western saddle the day of the finals I was so happy for him.

Wayne, if you ever read this, I think you deserved this win! I know you were just as nervous as all of us, as we all huddled in the arena entrance breathing deeply. I wish you much success in your Extreme Cowboy Race endeavors, and I hope we meet up again soon!

Here’s an article I found on Wayne and his efforts to organize an Extreme Cowboy Race in his area.

Photos curtsy of Black Rock Photography.

Find out on monday what I did to better my horse and myself at the expo! I’ll give you a hint, it involved a lariat! 🙂

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Yesterday’s post was about the Preliminary Round in Craig Cameron’s Extreme Cowboy Race at the Harrisburg, PA Horse World Expo. Today it’s onto the Finals!

On Sunday the Expo opened with a drill from the Canadian Cowgirls, then Craig Cameron’s team began setting up the Race in the main arena. Not only did we have to learn a new course in a matter of minutes, but we had changed locations too. In my early morning and late night rides I had been schooling in both arenas, so luckily Boomer had at least been able to see both indoors.

I walked the course and set about committing it to memory. I’m fortunate to have a photographic memory of sorts – but under pressure – you never know if you’ll suddenly draw a blank. Being in the #2 spot meant that I got to ride 10th, which allowed me to watch several riders before me.

The finals course was definitely a lot harder, and going in to day #4 at the expo my energy was beginning to fade. And poor Boomerang had been in a stall for 4 days as well (aside from riding and hand walking time) – something that was starting to weigh on his patience a little.

As I watched the riders go before me, I noticed that many of them were attempting the flying dismount I had used in my run the day before (it had earned me major points with the judges). And then tragedy struck for the rider right before me. Seconds before she crossed the finish line she attempted to do the flying dismount. Unfortunately she got stuck in the saddle and landed wrong – ultimately fracturing her ankle. Paramedics came, and she was taken out of the arena in a stretcher. (I believe she is doing fine now). Definitely didn’t help my nerves right before I was set to ride.

But we braved on. Here is a video of our finals run:

It wasn’t one of my better rides. Afterward I sort of beat myself up about my spill – ironically this was the very first time I have ever fallen off Boomerang. I sort of dwelled on the fact that I ate dirt for several hours afterward – but then I watched the video. After watching the video I realized that, yes, I had made some mistakes – but there were also some very good points in my run.

My beginning free ride was fought with a little lead swapping on Boomer’s part. But I opted to ignore his need to switch his leads, because I could tell immediately that he was going to be a little spooky on this run (not sure why), so I needed to concentrate on sitting back and making sure I didn’t fall off this time. I was happy though that he seemed almost unfazed by the cheering this time around.

Our log drag started off perfectly, then I decided to ask too much – and attempted to get Boomer to back with the log, something we had practiced many times. He met me with a little resistance so I quickly abandoned that avenue.

The tarp walk should have been a cake walk, but something must have caught Boomer’s eye and made him jump. But he quickly composed himself and walked calmly across it.

Then came the log gate, my enemy. In all honesty, I didn’t expect it to be that heavy. Once I had it lifted, and realized Boomer was in a less than willing attitude, it was already too late. After I went under it I knew I had to drop it, or it was going to drag me off the saddle, but when I looked back all I could see was Boomer’s rump. Dropping it would mean throwing the log onto my pony – and I definitely didn’t want to do that. So instead I hung onto it until it was clear of my pony, at which point it just toppled me off my pony. I think Boomer could have saved me, but instead he ducked his head and I went over the front. I don’t really blame him, I did lift a log over top of him, but at least he was kind enough to wait for me so I could remount. Thanks Boomer.

After my fall I was a little discombobulated. My brain switched from “do the obstacles properly” to “don’t fall off again you dummy”. So when I rounded the corner to start my pole bending I attempted to ask Boomer to start weaving on the right. But Boomer was too smart, he knew when we do bending poles we always start on the left so that our spin can be a right turn. One little hop on his part and he had me set right again.

We started to improve a little more after the pole bending and next it was onto the ground tieing. I taught Boomer to ground tie (or stay) just a few weeks earlier, but it had never been proven to this extent. Boomer proved that my training had worked though, because after I gave him the stay command he stood like a statue until I returned. He actually stood for quite some time, because I dropped my crop inside the chute and had to crawl backwards to get it. For my remount I had planned to vault on, but by the time I got back to Boomer I was quite tired. I contemplated it for a second, then decided to use my stirrup. I worried if I vaulted I wouldn’t have the strength to get in the saddle, causing me to miss or make Boomer move – which would of gotten us less points. I think the stirrup was the better choice, because Boomer stood like a stone as I mounted – which I’m sure earned us extra points.

The sidepassing was a non-issue for Boomer, and he did exactly as I asked.

The tarp carry was a non-issue for Boomer as well. I tried to get more of it over his back – but it was awkwardly large and started to get tangled in my reins. But Boomer was fine with it, so relaxed in fact that when I asked him to trot he said “no, I think I’m tired now, and we can just walk”. haha. But I was happy he was perfectly calm in this situation.

Boomer showed me once again he knows exactly what to do when it comes to jumps. Me on the other hand – this picture just proves I have no idea how to look pretty over a jump. haha. I think it’s funny – the only reason I carried a crop in this competition is because I thought I “might” need it to convince Boomer to jump scary things (just a little tap on his shoulder usually does the trick). Obviously it’s more of a “security blanket” for me, and I didn’t use it once in the entire competition. In fact, it more just hindered me by getting caught in my reins, and causing me to have to find a place to stash it when I lifted things. Oh well, live and learn.

Next up was the trash chute, and again, Boomer was a star.

The bucket carry was another non-issue for Boomer. Well other than the fact that he saw a bucket and his “pony” kicked in. “Omg is there food in there for me?” He kept trying to turn his head so he could reach inside, making carrying the extremely heavy bucket difficult for me. Finally I let him have a look see, and once he realized it was just water we were back in business.

For our last free ride I was a bit more cautious than the day before. I knew he had been spooky the first time around – so I opted to take a more controlled approach. It worked out fine and Boomer quietly galloped around the arena.

I decided to go for the flying dismount at the end. And thankfully I landed properly and we safely crossed the finish line.

So it may not have been as “polished” ride as the first day – but overall it was actually pretty decent. I really can’t complain, because Boomerang really tried for me. The whole weekend was a lot to ask for a young pony.

In the end we took home 6th place. 4th, 5th and 6th all had a one point difference – so we were all very close. Afterward Craig Cameron gave me a hug and told me he thought I had a lot of heart and he was impressed with what I had done with my pony.

I’m glad I did it. It was one of the most stressful, challenging, and rewarding things I have ever done.

Tomorrow I’ll tell you all about the Winner of the Extreme Cowboy Race. He’s a real cowboy with a palomino Stallion!

See more pictures from the event on our facebook page.

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6 weeks ago I decided to do something I’ve never done before. I knew it would be hard, I knew it would be stressful, I knew it would make me stronger.

Last weekend I competed in Craig Cameron’s Extreme Cowboy Race.

In the 6 weeks leading up to the competition Boomerang and I trained intensely. We took western lessons, I transported him to every arena in our area that I could so that he got used to new surroundings, we practiced new obstacles, and tested our abilities to focus in stressful situations. But I knew going into this that there would be elements we couldn’t prepare for. The unknown was scary.

We arrived at the Horse World Expo in Harrisburg PA on Thursday. I had never been there before as a “participant”, and let me tell you, it’s a scary scary place for a horse.

Winding halls lined with stalls, electric “garage” doors, echos, loud noises, carts, dogs, and people – everywhere.

Boomerang handled everything pretty well. Immediately I began schooling him in the indoor arenas every chance I got. I wanted him to be comfortable with his surroundings before the preliminary race on Saturday. The indoor arenas at “schooling time” were an obstacle in and of itself. Not only did LOTS of horses and riders attempt to use them at the same time, but there were teams hooked to carts, horses being lunged, as well as the horses that freaked out as soon as they entered the arenas. Navigating around in them was an obstacle in and of itself. The only thing that I couldn’t prepare for was the noise of a cheering crowd. As the days went on I saw many horses freeze in fear or bolt in any direction possible after hearing their first round of applause. I’m not gonna lie, it made me nervous. I had no idea what Boomer would do when we had to walk into that arena on Saturday. Would he bolt, would he buck, would he refuse to listen to my commands, would I be able to regain control?

If you follow along with the Painting Ponies on our Facebook Page, then you already know what happened. But for everyone else, here is the video of our preliminary round in the Extreme Cowboy Race:

If you look closely in the beginning of the video, you will notice what did happen when the crowd applauded for the first time – Boomer had a little “fear reaction”. But at about 0.34 seconds you can see what I did to refocus him. I asked him to halt, and when he listened and stopped moving his feet I clicked and rewarded him. And that’s all it took to remind him that listening to me was much more worth it than worrying about what the crowd did. 🙂

Our preliminary ride actually put us in 2nd place out of 23 riders and earned us a spot in the Finals on Sunday (where only 11 were chosen).

I was so proud of Boomer. Our ride was far from perfect. I almost fell off when he spooked at something in the beginning of our lap around the arena, my roll backs were a little disappointing – considering Boomer can do them soooo much better, I could have cantered the barrel pattern, my sidepassing started a little sticky, and my keyhole pattern could have been done WAY faster. But it doesn’t matter. I accomplished something. I rode against (and beat) several professional horse trainers, I did western reining patterns in english tack, I rode in a Dr. Cook’s Bitless Bridle (we were the only pair to ride bitless), and I competed in my very first Extreme Cowboy Race.

Craig Cameron (the announcer and organizer of these events) and his crew were impressed to say the least. I don’t think expected what they saw, heck I didn’t even expect it.

But it really didn’t matter what anyone else thought. It mattered that in a mere 7 minutes I had managed to challenge the relationship I shared with my pony, and we came out the other end victorious. I felt like if we could accomplish this, there’s not limit to what we can do. Not only did I teach Boomer some of these western maneuvers in a mere 6 weeks – but I did it without spurs and without a bit. yeah!

You can see more photos from our first round on the Painting Pony Facebook Page, and check back tomorrow to hear all about the Finals!



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Is it just me or does this winter feel like it’s dragging on forever? The snowfall we’ve gotten in Pennsylvania seems to just have stuck around FOREVER, making it nearly impossible for me to do any sort of training with the boys in the arena at our farm. Needless to say I have been trailering Boomerang out every weekend to get in some much needed training before the Extreme Cowboy Race.

We’re narrowing down on crunch time and I’ve been taking him to every possible place I can think of to get him better accustomed to new arenas, new surroundings, and strange things. Last weekend we went to an indoor filled with jumps, and a fair amount of snow falling off the roof. It was a scary place – if you’re a horse. Boomer was a little nervous at first, and we dealt with some “young pony” bucking. But in the end I was able to refocus him, and he did some really nice flying lead changes and much improved sidepassing.

Boomer still has a lot to learn, and for a 6 year old Chincoteague Pony (who’s breed notoriously matures late) he still has a lot of growing up to do. But when I look back to 2 years ago when he came to live with me at 4 years of age – I know he’s come a long way. Coming from a Hunter background, living with me was a complete change for Boomer.

Suddenly he was being asked to run – and run fast, perform tricks, and encounter strange equipment on a daily basis. Trail riding was even a challenge for him, as he had difficulty learning how to balance down a hill with a rider on his back. But Boomer has taken everything I ask of him in stride.

This winter has been no exception. I plucked him from a month long break over Christmas, carted him all over the county, and proceeded to speed train him to do flying lead changes, sidepassing, leg yielding, gate opening, rollbacks, and more – all in a time frame that most would say is pretty impossible. But Boomerang did it, and has managed to master pretty much everything I’ve thrown at him so far. I hope that we can continue the momentum and show everyone at the Expo just how amazing these Chincoteague Ponies are. Most people watching will probably have no idea the amount of effort I’ve put into working with Boomerang.

It almost makes me wish I could play a little before video – like how they do on reality tv shows – a sort of “this is where we came from” tribute. Regardless, I know where we’ve come from and how much work it’s taken to get here. And when this competition is all over…..I can finally sleep at night! I’m so exhausted! 🙂

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If you follow our blog, then you probably already read my post on the Extreme Cowboy Race.

I had this crazy idea that it would be something fun for Boomerang and I to try. Nevermind the fact that I ride English, or that I had no idea how to do a roll back, or even rope a cow.

I clipped my pony and ventured off to start some western lessons in the dead of winter with him. All with the idea in the back of my mind that “maybe” we might be ready to give the Extreme Cowboy race a try.

In the past month Boomerang has learned soooo much! I knew he was smart, but I had no idea in a matter of weeks he’d be doing roll backs like a pro, swapping flying lead changes with ease, ground-tieing, sidepassing logs, dragging trash cans, and opening gates. So last week I looked back over everything he had learned, and I knew that he was ready.

We prepared our entry for the Extreme Cowboy Race, and made this video to send in.

And after a week of waiting, Boomerang was accepted to compete!

I’m really excited to go, but also really nervous to venture into the “unknown”. Whatever happens though, I’m sure Boomer and I will have a blast. And at least now I can cross “Push myself past my comfort zone and compete in something I’ve never done before” off my 2011 Goals list!

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