I spent this past weekend at a barrel race in Ponoka, Alberta. I hauled there last year with one of my good friends, M. The Calnash Centre is just such a great facility and that race was so well run (and affordable) that we decided to do it again this year. This arena can fit a full standard pattern indoors as well as holding pens and an alley for the next five up, AND an indoor warm up area. There is a barn right next to it that has stalls to rent and is clean and modern. We really have nothing of this calibre in Saskatchewan.
This year I decided to bring both Lefta and Frosty. Frosty runs about .5-1 second off Lefta, I was pretty sure he wouldn't be fast enough to be competitive but I thought it would be a good experience for me to have him there and would also be a good race to keep him sharp for district finals.
We arrived Friday for time onlies and a warm up race, which was a fundraiser for cancer. M and her mare won the 4D (cash and a blanket). Lefta placed out of the money in the 4D and Frosty... well he just wasn't quite himself.
You see, when we arrived Ponoka was in the middle of a ridiculous heatwave. I swear stepping out of the truck was like walking into an oven. Frosty's IR makes it hard for him when it's that hot and the ground is hard (which is why he's shod). He was fine loading at my house, he was fine transferring to M's trailer for the trip, and he was fine when we unloaded in Ponoka. We walked the horses, offered water, tied them to the trailer while we went to sort our stalls out and pay for them, signed waivers, then came back to the trailer to saddle for time onlies. As I ponied him to the arena there it was, the limp he gets from heat and hard ground. This was the first time this year that it's happened and once we were in the arena where the ground was softer it wasn't as bad but he still was NQR :(
M and I managed to squeak into the last few time onlies. She worked her mare then bridled Frosty while I worked Lefta, I swapped out horses and Frosty wanted to work but he just felt a bit wonky strided so we cruised through very slowly.
When the race started I was still iffy on running Frosty, but I figured it was a good chance to see if I should run him in the weekend race or scratch him. M and her mare ran a 19.0, putting them into the bottom of 3D. Lefta ran a 19.5, putting her out of the money in 4D (and reaching a secret goal I've had this season, which was to be within a half second of M and her mare), and Frosty... he tried. He was fired up and wanting to go but still felt a bit weird in his stride... and clocked a 21.5.
Frosty got a muscle rub and a bit of bute. It cooled off a LOT into the evening... from something like 35C to 21C. Later both horses were put to bed with their BOT blankets on. In the morning the temps were pretty much normal and when I pulled Frosty from his stall he seemed back to his old self.
Saturday was day one of the event we'd come for. Lefta usually hits a slump and goes downhill performance-wise at these multi day things. Instead she pretty much maintained, running a 19.6. Frosty sped up a full second running a 20.5. M knocked which put her out of the average :(
Sunday was cool and damp. It had rained overnight and the forecast called for it to rain all day. We lucked out and were able to saddle in just a light mist. M ran a 19.2, Frosty sped up again and ran a 20.3 however while we were in the indoor warmup I looked out and it was POURING. Dang... I was thinking I'd have to saddle Lefta and warm up in the rain, plus the indoor warm up was likely to be crowded as heck. Instead it tapered off to a mist, talk about luck!
M took Frosty to the trailer with her mare, I grabbed Lefta and after M untacked her horse she untacked Frosty and took him to his stall. In the meantime I saddled Lefta and headed to the indoor warm up, which was surprisingly uncrowded. We had a nice run even with a few mistakes on my part, it was actually our best time of the weekend (take that slump!) and ran a 19.0!! I was super happy... watching the video I can see where I made a the mistakes and I'm confident we could have been an 18.9 :)
In the average from Saturday and Sunday Frosty ended up 10th in the 4D
and Lefta ended up 13th in the 3D. I'm pretty happy with both of them. Also Lefta ended up picking up some day money on the Saturday, so M and I both went home with some money in our pockets - theoretically at least ;)
Thanks to Facebook memories I was able to see that Lefta's best run last year was a 19.6, which was her worst run this year!