The first day of the show was the gymkhana and packing day. There were several different classes, including a donkey class. There were various different events, including pole bending, single stake(the horse and rider go to the pole, turning around and heading back the starting line), speed ball(they go to a gone, drop a golf ball in it, and run back), speed barrels(similar to pole bending except three barrels set further apart than pole bending poles), and keyhole(riders have to enter a small circle marked by flour, turn around without crossing the line, and head back). All these events are timed, and the fastest pair wins. I was one of the timers for these events.
They are really exciting to watch! There were two sisters that were really good, winning or placing in most of the gymkhanas. They literally galloped their mules through each event, finishing most in around ten seconds, at least five seconds faster than most, depending on the event. During the speed ball event, they didn't even to stop to drop the golf in the cone. They just slowed down enough to drop it in and not next to the cone. The donkey classes were hilarious! Donkeys are often stubborn and a little lazy, not wanting to work so hard. Many of them didn't go faster than the walk or a slow jog. It was funny!
|None of the pictures turned out too well. Here are a couple dressage pictures.|
The jumping one didn't turn out.
In the late afternoon was the packing competition. Mules are often used for packing because they are smart and surefooted. In fact, the nearby Yosemite National Park has a pack station, which is where Laura worked and first became interested in mules. The object of the packing competition is to correctly tie the packs on the mule faster than anyone else. It was really interesting because I have never seen this before. In another of the packing competitions, the each competitors had to actually load their mule, tie the packs one, and mount their horse, leading the mule to then end of the arena and back. I timed these events too, and really enjoyed watching them.
The next day was all the English events. There was dressage, followed by hunters and jumpers, ending with the flat classes(English pleasure and equitation). Some of the rides from the clinic were riding in the dressage classes. One of the mules I really like was Señor Grande, a 17 hand mule. He was really consistent in the contact, not once coming off the bit, and he had big movements because of his size.
The final classes were hunter hack, English pleasure, and equitation. Even the donkeys has their own flat class. Sunday was all the western classes, but I did not get to watch those. It was a very busy yet exciting weekend!