With Tucker’s summer adventures with Reggie and Papa over until next year, Grady and I felt it very important to keep his skills sharp and the learning on task. We only had one slight dilemma… Reggie is an hour away and hauling him back and forth to local events could/would get quite pricey.
Papa and I, both, had said that Grady’s trusty steed, Wimpy, might work for the kid. We just needed to give a try. Grady has never been too keen on this idea, because Wimpy is an interesting character. He’s kind of a big turd. While he’s gentle and sweet and a great horse, he has one small flaw.
He likes to buck on occasion. If he’s feeling his oats and in a certain frame of mind and thinks he can “take you” he’s going to give it a shot. Wimpy has been in the family for quite a long time. There’s been a long standing rule with him. Said rule is that he has to be warmed up for about 10 minutes before getting down to business.
This small flaw is the reason behind Grady’s reservations for putting his son on him.
But…. it is also known in the horse world that these large gentle giants that can sometimes cause heartburn for their adult riders can and will protect a child at any cost. ….and Wimpy falls into this category.
He passed the test one afternoon a little over a month ago. Grady warmed him up in the arena and cautiously gave Tucker his turn. Around and around they went in the small round pen. All was well. Then it was out to the big arena.
Those two were peas in a pod. Not an ounce of buck in his system. Gentle, sweet and smooth. You would have thought they had been partners all summer. Tucker was full of smiles and confidence. We knew we had a good horse for Tucker to compete on. His riding skills and learning could continue on the home front.
Now, it was time to get down to business. Our local rodeo association would be hosting two separate ranch horse competitions on back to back weekends. These are competitions in which cowboys showcase their horse’s agility and their training techniques, involving reining patterns, cattle work and roping. Each show offers a Pee-Wee class for the youngsters. This class is a reining pattern only, meaning they aren’t required to work a steer in the arena or rope. It’s a great start for the youngest of cowboys/cowgirls to get their feet wet and to help with their horse handling skills. Tucker showed interest in learning and we knew this would be a great opportunity for him to work on those skills.
In the weeks to come we practiced the pattern and how to ride properly keeping his body “quiet” and in his seat.
(I will throw myself under the bus and admit that on THIS particular day Wimpy got the best of this momma and tossed me as I tried to work with him myself. This was even AFTER Grady had warmed him up. No worries. I didn’t let him get the best of me. We worked out our differences with me IN the saddle.)
My misfortune is the perfect example of what I was telling you. These two have always been in harmony regardless of the steed’s occasional ill-manner with grown-ups.
Tuck worked hard over those weeks and his first competition came last weekend. It was a small turn out of competitors, overall, with him being the only kid to show that day. As much as I would have loved to have our friends there competing with him it was good for him to do it all alone. He had 100% focus that day.
His turn came to enter the arena. His daddy gave him a few words of encouragement and then it was time for him to show his stuff.
It wasn’t perfect. He had flaws. He has much to improve and work on.
…but, he completed his pattern. He carried himself well. He had great control. As he finished his ride and exited the arena he was shown incredible encouragement by all the cowboys and spectators with a round of applause. It was an amazing confidence booster and motivator for this guy to keep working and give it another try at the next show.
…and give it another try was EXACTLY what he did.
Yesterday he competed again. This time he had competition in his class. His closest friends, Pax and Piper, were there to ride as well.
Having known each of these turkeys since their days in diapers and to see them grow up together in the saddle is a heartwarming feeling. It’s exactly what we’ve hoped and dreamed for them.
Tuck and Piper had the job of working through the cattle before the show to calm them and get them acquainted with the arena and commotion. It brought a smile to my face watching him walk through them, moving them around using knowledge and techniques that I was all too familiar with, knowing he learned them from his Papa this summer.
Then it was time for the show to start. When it was time for his class to show he waited quietly, watching the competitor before him. He took it all in.
…and then it was his turn.
…and like that, he was done.
Yesterday’s run wasn’t as good as the week before. He knew he made mistakes. He knew it wasn’t as good. He knew what he needed to work on. With all of that said, he placed third in his class, right where he should have been.
Now, to prepare for a whole new type of competition next weekend, an open youth rodeo. Calf riding. Goat flanking. Pole bending. Barrels.
This one should definitely result in some interesting pictures.
Peace, love and broncs!!!