Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Owyhee Mounted Games

Wednesday October 13 2010

We are going to start a new equine sport here. Thinking back to those Mounted Games I saw in New Zealand,

where everybody, humans and horses were having so much fun, we can start our own Owyhee Mounted Games, a cross between the Mounted Games and American Trail Trials, Owyhee style.

We'll have obstacles and chores that you encounter every day when you ride, and live or work in Owyhee.

Gate Obstacles:
Opening and closing gates are a given - keeping one hand on the gate at all times, with points deducted for letting go at any time. Double gates, both of which move when you don't want them to, are worth extra points, but it will probably take advanced riders and horses to close a gate like this.

Dog and Heron Obstacles:
Horse behavior and riding ability will be awarded points on Spectacularity, as a dog rockets out of the sagebrush chasing a rabbit right in front of you, or a great blue heron flies out of the creek right beside you, and your horse throws in a mighty spook or a mighty buck and you stay on.

Side stepping, backing, pivoting on the front end, pivoting on the hind end. This is for easy points! Every horse should know this anyway! (Extra points awarded for style and ease of movement.)

Balloon Obstacles:
One of those deflated and expired helium balloons that was previously released (thoughtlessly) at some kid's birthday party and has drifted to its almost-final resting place (and which will take 83 years to decay) in the Owyhee desert, will be presented at some point along a wash you are trotting along. Extra points awarded if, when you pass it and it moves in the wind, your horse does not spook. Some points awarded if your horse spooks and you stay on. Points deducted if your horse spooks and you fall off and land spectacularly on your back in the sagebrush. You get a few extra points back if your horse spooks and you fall off and land spectacularly on your back in the sagebrush, and your horse does not run home without you.

Balloon Obstacles II:
You see some of those deflated and expired helium balloons stuck in a sagebrush and flapping in the wind. Points awarded if your horse goes right up to them, you pluck them off the bush and tie them around your horse's neck and ride with them, with the wind making them flap and bang around his head and neck without him caring.

We've worked on various forms of these games before. Today we had a trial run of the main Owyhee Mounted Game - Mounted Ribbon Pulling.

There are two types: Stationary Ribbon Pulling, and Grabbing On The Fly. Both of these games demonstrate not only excellent horse and horsemanship (how well have you trained your horse to stand still? How steady and straight and focused is your horse?) but athletic ability and horse-hand-eye coordination.

The scoring can get complicated... but it's something like this.

In the Stationary Ribbon Pulling, the lower you lean to get a ribbon without falling off your horse and touching the ground, the more points you get. If your horse moves off before you are done, you lose points. If you leave the knot part of the ribbon tied on the bush, you lose points.

In the Grabbing On The Fly Ribbon Pulling, the faster you go, the more points you get. The walk is a good gait to practice, to get your horse used to your grabbing something off to his side, without him swerving or changing pace. If you can gallop by and grab a ribbon, you can score big points.

You lose points in both events if part of a branch breaks off with the ribbon; you lose points if you leave the knot of the ribbon on the branch; you lose points if you drop any ribbons to the ground. You lose points if you can't do it from both sides of your horse.

You get more points the faster you go by and pull ribbons On The Fly. You obviously get more points if you get a lower ribbon in Stationary Pulling, but what about if you have a bigger horse? I thought I should get double points today since I was riding Dudley, and he is one big horse.

You get extra, extra, extra points if your horse picks up a ribbon you dropped on the ground! (You will probably win if your horse can do this.)

We have a few rules and scoring issues to smooth out, and probably some games to add, but start getting your horses ready.

We might run them in conjunction with Steph's Owyhee Endurance Rides.

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