Yesterday was the 6 mile competitve trail ride.  100 horses sent out in groups of 20.   Yep, I was a bit nervous about the crowd and Abo.  We arrived about 15 minutes before our group was scheduled to go out..........they sent us out in smaller groups as we checked in.  Went out with about 7 horses in the last spot.....fantastic! 

The first obstacle was the jump.  Everyone had figured and planned for a back up of horses at the first obstacle...they were right.  However, the scenery and old rustic looking cabin things...and great conversation with all the people from all over this nation had made the back up situation definately a plus.  Time to ease the nerves and all take delight that we all were actually here!  And the amazing and refreshing thing about this type of competition is that everyone is for everyone.  With each rider at each obstacle, the ones waiting...strangers that came together for the love of their horse, all cheered and applauded as each one completed the obstacle challenge.

The film crew  had a bout 2 - 3 cameras at each obstacle.  When it was your time guy yelled your number...then another down the way...thena  third yelled it to someone else.....then he said..."OK.GO!!!"

Abo picked up his canter, centered the pretty good size log....picked his perfect take off spot ...and jumped prettier than I had ever felt him before.  At each obstacle their were the Celebrity Clinicians to give us critique and coach us.  The fist set was Lynn Palm, who has the training facility in Ocala with awesome trail course training...which I had kept trying to get to, but could never mange it...and another clinician.  I stopped him after our jump thrilled with what I had just felt.  The gentleman with Lynn got up out of his chair (I wanted Lynn's crituque!!) and came over to give me the critique.  He was walking over pointing at me (oh no....) and said........"No critique!"  then went on to ask about the breed, praise Abo's was MONTY ROBERTS.  He later gave a talk that afternoon at the hall that brought me to tears.  He is the original Man Who Listens To Horses.  What a life.  His stories reminded me of Sampson.....the feelings that man expressed towards horses and humans....really, totally moving.

The scenery was spectacular and changes with every turn.  The next obstacle was the creek.  By then I had hooked up with 2 other ladies with a TWH spotted gelding - she does search and rescue with him...a super horse.  Also a sweet sensitive pretty QH mare.  Abo was in love....but the TWH kept between us claiming her as his own :)

We had to go down an the creek bed...down another incline into the creek.....walk down the center of the creek over knee high for a good stretch, then climb up the bank to follow the orange flags down the trail.  No back up at the creek.  It really spread us out.  Another clinician (they were all so genuine...friendly ..and very helpful), asking "What breed".  Abo did me so proud this whole ride.  He was really getting into the splashing effect walking down the creek and lowered his head to enjoy the feeling.  We hoped out of the creek and were recieving our positive feedback (with big smile so proud of my horse), when he realized his new heard of 2 were no where in sight.  We boogied up the hill, turned right at the orange flag and had a whole stretch of wide open space in front of us...without any horses in sight.  Abo showed me another one of his talents...cantering sideways, eloquently...but forcefully to catch up with his heard. High elevated pretty show canter, at a side pass for a good strect of the movie cameras to catch this move!!!!!

Finally the orange flags lead us to our next obstacle where we met up with handsome spotted TWH and gorgeous QH.  Abo gave a big sigh of relief, he could protect them again (I'll let him think need to embarras him....).  The obsatacle was a pile of slabs of rock, sorta stepping block like thing.  They yelled our number (2...3..then... GO!), He walked cooley to the formation and walked on, up and over...a couple of clinks and loose rubble.  This clinician was funny....he said Abo is totally confidant and good with his feet - but he looked at the camera left....then right  (such a HAM), that he clinked the rubble.  He gave me good advice to keep him focused while still letting him pick his own way.

I let my new trail buddies know of our impressive side pass canter through the open range......they waited for the boy after the rest of the obstacles.  I truley love this organization and the freindly, sincere atmosphere it promotes!

Obstacles 4, 5, 6 were all fantastic too, with great feedback and advice.  At obstacle 5, I met the music artist, Mary Ann Kennedy,  who is also a FOSH supporter.  She asked is Abo had been advertised within the FOSH assoc...  Sampson... Went on about how little Abo is Sam's baby Uncle.  

What a ride.  Wild deer bolted out in front of us.....nothing like Saddle Creek Deer.  Theese things were big and fast.  Abo puffed up just about as big as Sam when they went by....then tucked his head and gave me the best flat-foot-I-wasn't-scared-type of cover up.  Love him....

We had a cow, a calf.....cactus....every imaginable type of terrain.  Texas changes with every turn.  Long uphills and long downhills with unfamiliar footing to us.  The breifing before the ride warned of ratlesnakes and prickly things.  I had Kowboy's jumping Pegasus sport boots on the trailer still.....Thank Goodness...Abo wore them proudly in the ride.

4 hours (the last hour felt like 3 to me....Texas trails whoped this Florida gir)l.  We checked in with the line up of ACTHA volunteers and the group of people waiting for their freinds and family to finish.  While I was walking away....I was getting hollard at.  Some of them noticed a "rock" in one of Abo's hooves.  By now the two new love of his life's had gone on and he was ready to go too.  I asked front (shod) or back (unshod) hoping for would come loose by the time we got back to our lower camping ground.  The said front and started towards us.  I hopped off, and a Gentleman from Paris, KY who had 2 horse and rders out on the trail asked to pick up his foot.  He not only had a "rock" in his foot....I was a small boulder that was lodged within his shoe!  The man was great assesing the situation.  The boulder was so tight, if pryed out, the shoe would spring.  Then, another ACTHA volunteer had a hammer.  They went to wark hammering the boulder out of his foot!!!!!!!  My jaw was still hanging when it popped loose and rolled away from us.  The casually kicked it aside.  I said ....Oh no, let me have that!  A souvinier.  They said, Don't you have rocks in Florida.................seriously, this was a boulder.  I have it in my saddle bags to show you all.  Great...great...people.  Thank You!!

Made it back to our lower camping area where our portable corrals were set up.  Julie and JW were in later groups and still out on the trail.  I untacked Abo, gave him delicious hay, apple and topped off his water.  Went back to the trailer...spread out our bagged shavings in the first two stalls to resenble a cot, puy my sweat shirt under my head and went to sleep for over an hour.  Woke up to the sound of Julie and Manny untacking and going over theri exciting, wonderful ride.  

By the time I got back to the hotel I was seriously beat.  Felt like I had been out on the trail with John Wayne for about a week.  

So today I am telling you about yesterday....tommorrow I will tell you about today..............oh my.............another exciting, emotional day.

Wish you all were here!!!!!!!!!!!
5/10/2011 01:11:12 pm

i was hanging on every word! Man o man!! Awesome ride!!

5/10/2011 01:33:50 pm

I love that sideways half pass canter, but for how long? Sounds like a wonderful group of people to be riding with and enjoying the fun. Keep on impressing them. BB

5/10/2011 03:12:42 pm

Tori--great reporting and it sounds like a long enjoyable competition. Great experience for 'Abo'....You will be a winner, i just know he is so beautiful and so are you. Lots of luck--

5/10/2011 09:54:38 pm

Great blog, Tori. We appreciate your updates. Very encouraging!

5/10/2011 10:17:16 pm

Sounds like you have been on the trail with John Wayne and he has been sharing his thoughts with you..."Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway". His quote came to mind several times while reading about your day!

Kaitlyn hayes
5/10/2011 10:58:07 pm

I love reading this everyday!!! This sounds so exciting! So jealous

5/10/2011 11:10:17 pm

Wow, what a day. Memories to last a lifetime!

Marian Finco
5/10/2011 11:48:57 pm

Sounds like the most exciting day..I cant wait to hear about what happened today..I csant imagine anything more exciting or challenging..

Lisa and Caesar
5/11/2011 03:26:49 am

Great update Tori!
Thank you! Sounds like you guys are doing a fantastic job. The CTC sounded like a lot of fun, and a challenge too. I'm dying to hear how Julie is doing...I'm sure she and Manny are handling everything like champs. Yay for the Missouri Foxtrotter contingent! Keep on rocking (no pun on the boulder from Abo's shoe) and we will all look forward to your next blog entry! Thanks for taking the time for us! Tell Julie we said "HI"!

Kylie sattler
5/11/2011 11:45:47 am

Hii tori!!,
Thats sounds like alot of fun and yes we do have rocks in florida!! Your trip just keeps getting better and better!! have fun and good luck!! Kylie


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