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It Takes Two to Win
Have you ever felt that feeling of exhaustion so badly that you can barely stand it? Have you ever been so frustrated with someone or something that all you can do is cry? On the other hand, have you ever felt like your hard work and dedication has paid off tremendously? Well these were my emotions, thoughts, and feelings during the summer of 2009.
Three years ago I participated in the Two-Year Old Snaffle Bit Project at the State Fair with a paint horse named Magic. This project involves raising and training a two-year old, then showing it at the State Fair in which there are three different rounds of competition that I am judged on. The first is a Western Pleasure class, the second is an interview, and the third is a horsemanship class.
Two summers ago I decided that I wanted to participate in this project again. When looking for a two-year old prospect to buy, Kristi Lehmkuhl, a close friend of ours, offered her paint breeding stock filly to lease. We agreed, so I got her and started the training process. After the first few weeks we thought we should ask to buy her. There were a few reasons for this.
First, Sadie was a very fast learner. One day I would teach her something and the next day she would remember it like she’d been doing it her whole life. She was very natural in her movements and extremely athletic and smart.
Secondly, why should I put so much time, energy, and money into a horse that I didn’t even own?
Third, when Sadie was born there was a major problem, she didn’t have any SPOTS! She was bred for pleasure and also bred to be a Paint.
Since she is only a breeding stock, Kristi was more willing to sell her, especially at a way cheaper price. We talked to her about all of these reasons why she might like to just sell her to us and we all agreed and Sadie was bought and became mine.
Training a horse isn’t an easy task. Just like toddlers learn to speak, by being immersed in the language, a young horse can only be trained by constantly practicing what it has to learn. I woke up in the mornings and rode Sadie. I would have lessons sometimes during the afternoons, to learn new techniques of training. After the first month, training became old really fast. I constantly asked myself, “Why did I decide to do this again?” and what kept me focused and dedicated was telling myself, “Winning this project won’t just be handed to me. I have to work at this!”
Training can be a fun to do though, when a person has a horse that is a quick learner and is good at what it’s being trained to do. However, there were many tears involved in training her. The last 2-3 weeks before State Fair we started back-tracking. She would rear, go fast, put her head up, buck, and flat out not listen. She was a big horse with an even bigger attitude!
Sadie eventually got over her last minute issues and we headed to the State Fair. The entire week she was an angel compared to the little devil she was just a few weeks before.
Going into the Western Pleasure class, I was excited and felt confident. Our ride during the class went perfect and I couldn’t have been more proud of her! At the end of the class, I sat in the middle of the arena with sweat rolling down my face, nervous with the anticipation of the placing. 10th place was called and I was relieved when it wasn’t me. The next 9th, 8th, 7th, and 6th places were called and I became even more excited because I had made it into the top 5. 5th place, 4th place, and then 3rd place were called and my name still hadn’t been. Now it was down to only two of us left. I could barely breathe because I was so nervous, more nervous than I was before the class!
The announcer spoke, “2nd place goes to…” and that’s when I could finally breathe again. When my name wasn’t called for 2nd place, I knew I had won the 2nd part of the Snaffle Bit Project.
I came out of the ring crying tears of joy only to find my mom, Shelly Lake, and Kristi, standing there crying, too, they were so happy. A lot of my friends and other people who supported me were congratulating me.
I went on to place 5th in the interview and 1st in the Horsemanship class, making Sadie and I the 2009 Kansas State Fair Two-Year Old Snaffle Bit Project Champions! The main highlight of the project was our 1st place in the Western Pleasure class, being the last ones standing out in the arena with all eyes on us. The emotions are indescribable when one wins an achievement they have put their time and dedication into. Of course, half of the credit for our win goes to Sadie. It took two to win it all and I couldn’t have done it without her.