She closed her eyes. She envisioned every stride of her upcoming run: moving through the gate, making the end turn, weaving… A sound near her caught her attention and turned her focus.
She patted the red patched coat of the trusty paint horse she was sitting astide of. He shook his head slightly and blew out a breath.
The announcer’s voice came over the PA system announching she was ‘in the hole.’
“Come on boy,” she said lifting the reins from his neck. The reliable steed flicked his tail before backing off the rail and moving to the center of the warm up area.
She nudged him with her right foot and bent him slightly with her left rein around a circle to the right. A moment later the horse was limbered up and ready for his turn in the arena.
The paint horse walked up toward the arena as the competitor before her took their turn. Her dad slid his fingers between the gelding’s red cheek and nylon tie down. Her horse was alert, ready as they anticipated what was next.
The announcer called her up, and the three moved into the alley together. She choked up on her reins as her nerves and adrenaline overwhelmingly tried to take over. Her paint cowhopped down the alley. Her dad turned hiim loose and into the arena they ran.
She shifted her weight forward over his shoulders and pushed him as far as she dared into the turn. She rated him and looked up the 6 poles to bring him around the turn straight. Her horse moved flawlessly in and out of the striped obstacles changing leads and bending as perfectly as they had the countless times before. That was her favorite thing about this mount, he was predictable.
“Hoe!” she rated him coming into the second end turn and held him stright with her outside leg as he came around the pole. Back up through the obstacles they weaved, in and out clicking, syncing together to complete the course.
Around the final end and back to the gate, she pushed hime, again shifting her weight. She worked her leather over under whip back and forth touching each hip as she sat up in her saddle and drove him hard to cross the time line. She was breathless as her horses’ hooves pounded back in to the chute as she sat down in her saddle and reined him in.
“Good boy!” she exclaimed patting his neck as she glanced back to see all the poles up. No penalties today, even though two were wiggling. “That’s the way it’s done.” She swing down from him in one graceful motion reins in hand. She gently dropped the bit from his mouth before loosening his girth and walking him out while she listened to the rest of the class.