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Ah, it’s that time of year again! September is always a highlight for our family because it means taking a trip to the gorgeous Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, KY, for the annual Rocky Mountain Horse International Show! Sometimes our whole family goes, but this year only my dad, sister Katelyn, and I went, accompanied by two of our mares, Mocha and Destiny. Mocha has been Katelyn’s special project for the past year. She was the first foal born on our farm after we bought her mom, Windy Gail, 6 months pregnant in 2010, and ever since she was born she’s seen herself as part human. Rockies are often described as “in your pocket” horses, and Mocha takes that legacy very literally. Katelyn has been the one to really put time on her and train her under saddle in the past few years, and over the past few months we saw the consistent work paying off as Mocha developed a beautiful four-beat gait and a willing attitude.
We were all so excited to see how Mocha would do in the show ring this year, but unfortunately she pulled a muscle the day after we arrived and Katelyn wasn’t able to show her. It’s not a serious injury – just enough to throw her gait out of whack. Rockies are known for their super-smooth 4-beat gait, but if they’re stiff they can resort to a pace (a rougher 2-beat gait) instead, which is what Mocha was doing. Daddy and I both felt so bad for Katelyn – especially because we knew how much work she’d put into Mocha preparing her for the show – but she handled the disappointment with a lot of maturity.
In these pictures, we were gently exercising Mocha to see if her gait would get any better as time progressed and her muscles loosened up. Unfortunately it didn’t.
You win some, you lose some. Horses teach a lot of important life lessons, which is why my dad has always supported us in our equine pursuits.
Even if Katelyn couldn’t show Mocha, we figured that we should at least take advantage of the beautiful scenery at the Kentucky Horse Park to take some portraits!
Mocha wanted to go back to the barn, so we got some nice shots…
…and some impatient shots!
CLICK HERE to see horse pictures from the past, including previous years at the RMHA Internationals as well as baby pictures of the foals that have been born on our farm!
Destiny, the other horse we took to the show, was a last-minute decision. My little sister Nicole usually rides her and had contemplated showing her but wasn’t comfortable doing so this year since Destiny has never had any experience in a show atmosphere. It didn’t work out for Nicole to come along with us anyway, so Daddy decided to pull Destiny out of the pasture and take her along just to expose her to the sights, sounds, and smells of a campus full of horses. To a mare that has rarely been off our little farm, barn after barn of new horses with none of her old herd members in sight plus loud organ music and unpredictable spectators can make for an unnerving experience! The hardest part for Destiny was being away from Mocha, the only trace of familiarity, so whenever we tried to take her away from the barn, she got jittery. Daddy showed her in one class for the experience and I thought she actually did quite well considering that it was her first time.
Since the only food available at the horse park itself is concession stand specials, we took a lot of our own snacks along for lunches. Plain Greek yogurt cups that I found at our local discount grocery store, apples, celery and cucumbers with peanut butter and hummus (also a Deal Mart find!), brown rice cakes, that kind of thing. We also took some breakfast stuff along (a double batch of this Blueberry Baked Oatmeal made with apples instead of blueberries and a batch of my new Pumpkin Chip Baked Oatmeal), which was a good thing because our hotel actually didn’t offer as much as we were expecting. For supper we usually went somewhere to grab something; one night at about 9 pm we went to Steak and Shake where I had an amazing burger on lettuce instead of a bun and coleslaw on the side. I did not get a shake – oh, the miracle.
Daddy practicing on Destiny…
Despite the disappointments, we had a good time watching the show and reconnecting with some good friends – and making new friends! The horses got more experience too, which is always a good thing.
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