I did find time to squeeze in a weekend doing something I haven't done for years, watching my aunt compete at a horse show. It brought back so many great memories.
As kids, we all rode. A bunch of hooligans on our ponies playing tag in the "sallies", trail rides, playing cowboys and Indians, the whole thing. As we got older, many of us were carted around the country side to various county fairs to show our horses usually with my grandfather. Bedrooms, tackrooms, kitchens and sunporches were decorated wth our trophies and ribbons.
My aunt Deb is the only one of us competing these days and it was her I went to watch at the North American Police Equestrian Championships, NAPEC for short. She is the mounted unit in Kingston so her and Donovan were in the city, her husband Brad, my mother, aunt Susan, cousin Wendy and I all in tow. It was a blast.
Deb, the police look
Geared up and looking very serious
There's the smile
The first day was the equestrian part, all the technical bits of horse and rider. Unless your a fan, not the most interesting thing to watch, figure eights, lead changes that sort of thing. I was a little in awe to see what an accomplished rider my aunt has become. Not that I had my doubts, I just remember us as kids raising hell and having fun.
I missed the pairs competition the first night but the obstacle course the second day was amazing. These are working animals, not show or trick horses and it was incredible to see them put through their paces.
The long shot of the arena
The ball drop
There were a bunch of different things set up; a gate, water, a ramp that shifted, a jump, a transfer of object but the best to watch were the ball drop and the push.
The ball drop was exactly that. A huge red ball that rolled down onto the horse as it stood in the little rectangle in front. The object was to have the horse not move or shy away.
As you can see, not all the horses were great with that but many didn't flinch even as it hit them on the nose. Some even pushed it back. That's complete trust between horse and rider.
The push was a heavy obstacle that rolled. The horse had to push it back about 15 feet, then walk over a mattress (terrain change) at the end. It was amazing to see the power of these animals and the control of the riders. Horses aren't ususally great with pushing things, they pull really well but...
I couldn't believe the number of times the horses just walked up and literally shouldered the obstacle along and out of the way. It's easy to forget just how big and strong they are. My aunt's horse stands 5 and a half feet at the shoulder and he wasn't the largest one I saw that weekend.
There were people and horses from all over North America and what a friendly bunch they were. Posing for pictures and chatting, they were great. So many beautiful animals and amazing riders. Here are some randon shots.
The hanging "bodies" to go through
The water obstacle and my favourite little paint
Random shot of horse and rider
That little paint again
A massive well muscled horse
Deb's boosters, Wendy(in the pink) and Sue
Wendy, Me, Mom, Deb and Susan
Deb's buggy, previously my grandfather's
One parting shot, you know you're in horse territory when...
Even though I was a little in awe (and more than a little envious, I was never that good) of the horses and riders, it was a great way to spend a weekend. Deb, next time you're here if you need a groom, give me a call. I just might have to pick up the phone LOL