Saturday, June 21, 2008


The trip down to Sacramento would be too much to make in one day hauling a horse. Also, we were to pick up Shelley Simmons mustang in Redmond OR. Carla and I left Tuesday the 3rd, mid morning. We met Tim, Carla's son and Ali, granddaughter in Biggs, Or. Ali had her first ice cream cone.... she's a natural! When the ice cream would start dripping, she'd say "My better lick!" I told her she needed to do more licking and less yacking, gift of gab you know! When she wanted to eat some of the cone she'd flip it upside down and work on the bottom. She made it through a good portion of it. Then is was hit the road again.
I think we pulled into the training/boarding stables in Redmond around 6:30 that evening. The next morning I rode Tina Turner around the facilities to see new things and ride in a different arena. Shelley also rode before we loaded them up and headed South again. We made it to the Expo Wednesday evening after getting detoured around a wreck.
After a long trailer ride, I let Tina get settled in her stall, not doing anything else with her that evening. Thursday morning I just lead her around a foot, seeing the sights and working on in hand maneuvers, then later in the evening I put a ride on her. Didn't want her getting tired and not being able to perform.
12 Noon that day we had a trainers meeting with those heading up the event from the Mustang Makeover giving us the low down on what to expect. They fed us pizza.
In the afternoon Thurs. they put the hip # brands on the horses. Everyone had their mustangs looking very good and did a great job of getting their horses gentle, good ground manners, and respectful. All the mustangs were lined up in a strange place, all kinds of commotion and they all acted like old broke ponies.
Friday June 6, 8:00 am we had a walk through for the in hand course. The Judges for the competition were Al Dunning and Guy Woods. The Condition Judge explained what he was looking for... overall physical conditioning, hair, muscling, manners and handle ability. The condition and in hand challenge started at 9:00 am. I think I was the 23rd to go. In condition I scored highest. I gave Tina " Dynamite" supplements, which we sell here at Hooper Crossing, and give all our own horses.
The in hand course consisted of stepping across 4 poles, backing straight between the poles and making a turn to right and left, then trotting out of the poles to a horse trailer, loading and unloading. An extended trot in both directions over the corner of some poles that were set in a square was next, and then stopping and standing, picking up all 4 feet and turn around the the right pivoting on the haunches. They posted the scores and I was tied for 2nd with Joe Misner, Jamie Thomas in the lead, then they must have re figured, cuz they put up a new score sheet and I was #1! So the first day was a good one for Tina and I.
Saturday 8:00 am we had a walk through of the riding course. I'm thinking I had the 25th run that day. The first to go was Matt Eric Zimerman from Adrian Or. he was our stall neighbor. Matt, his wife Kelsey and young kids were a pleasure to get to know. He had his mustang very broke and desensitized to lass rope, stock whip, flag, standing on him and changing leads nicely. Matt made it to finals and ended up placing 5th. He also won the favorite professional trainer which was voted on by all us Mustang Challenge trainers.
Jenna Nelson won the favorite amateur trainer and finished 9th in the finals. They both have a humble, fun and competitive attitude.
In the riding course, we each had 90 seconds to show off the handle we put on our ponies. Then we had to dismount and mount again, walk across poles, trot around 3 barrels and walk across a so called plywood bridge. We then stepped across poles and through them, then back through an L of poles, walk out, then pick up left lead, lope in circle, change leads ( simple or flying ) lope circle to the right, walk into a square made up of poles and do 2 turns around to the right. After the dust settled, I was tied with Mr. consistent, Joe Misner for 2nd. Joe was also 2nd in Condition, and at the end of the day Joe was Reserve Champion..... nice job! He is also going to the Extreme Challenge held in Texas with the big $50,000 purse. Corrine Elser placed 1st in the riding course. Tina decided to be a little concerned with walking across the plywood bridge, other than that, we had a good run. So the stage was set and Tina and Keith were leading going into the finals to be held at 7:00 that evening.
I must say.... Jamie Thomas, another WA State Challenger , had a really nice run going, but her stang felt he needed to head back to the entry gate as she was loping her circles. Other than that, she definitely was going to be in the finals.
Before the finals, which were the top ten, we had about 15 minutes to warm up in the arena with the crowd filing in, which filled the grand stands all around the sunken arena. That's when, as our friend Gay Coates would say, "Things came from together!" As I was walking Tina near the rail, it was like she all of a sudden noticed the huge crowd and noises and she was instantly frightened. It was to such an extreme that I couldn't not calm her and when we went back out of the the arena to start the show, she was getting herself all worked up, nervous, could not stand still and she was beginning to get mad because she couldn't get out of the situation I knew there was no way I was gonna be able to have any type of control to perform my finals routine ( 4 minutes to music.... Tina Turners "Simply the Best" ) I was 2nd to go after Corrine and she did a great job and deservedly won the Challenge.
I just couldn't believe this was happening, but I had to give it a try. I did a lot of praying, but it wasn't what He wanted for me.
I started out by pulling a pole.... was gonna circle both directions with it, but didn't have any dandle. We kinda, sorta did what I had in mind. Tried to lope an easy circle... NOPE!
Tina's brain was too worried. I was frustrated, mad, embarrassed, all I could do was just walk her, try to ease her mind and half heartily tip my hat to the crowd and walk out.
Chris Cox was M.C. for the event a horseback and was asking each finalist how they thought they did. Obviously, I couldn't do a thing and I told him I was sorry I couldn't demonstrate what Tina and I were able to do.
All the mustangs sold right there in the arena immediately following the finals. Tina went to a gal down there in California who was very excited to have her, and will give her a great home.
All in all, I enjoyed very much working with my Mustang. We got a lot of good things happening, and a nice handle started. Carla and I had a great time down in Sacramento, met some good people/trainers, and got to listen to John Lyons talk Sunday morning and meet him. He also was one of the judges of the finals.
Matt Sheridon ended up third, great job, good to get to know ya.
Congratulations to each finalist and all you Mustang Challenge trainers. Everyone did a fine job. Will I do another Challenge? I ain't saying NO.
A big thank you to those who sponsored me on this adventure.
Alex McGregor
Columbia Knot Company
Greater South Ralston Devon
Wysup Motors
and of course my wife, Carla for her help, encouragement, and prodding.
Thanks also to you gaggle of gals who flew down to Sacramento to cheer me on!
Also a thank you to Shelley and Dan Simmons for bringing my mustang to Dorris CA and the extended visit. You did a nice job with your mustang "Samson" Shelley.


Kathy M said...

Keith, Tina was certainly awesome, you did a fabulous job with her! She's such a flashy mover! Very easy to see how she got her name!

It was obvious that she was just not feeling as confident in the finals as she had in the prelims. How do you prepare a horse for a crowd like that in 90 days???

Thank you for choosing what was best for her, and ending while she could feel good about herself.

Angi, Jamie, and Jenna are all thinking about Texas next year.. maybe we'll see you there?

Tracey said...

Keith, you did a fabulous job with Tina!!! She was an incredible little horse to watch perform.

I, too, was impressed with how well these horses stood around all weekend and how unflappable they were with all the commotion. Strollers and golf carts whizzing by...enough to send a well bred horse into orbit, but they just hung out like good little cowponies.