Sunday, April 24, 2011

Bette has my vote for America's Favorite Trail Horse

Saturday I hopped in the truck and headed over to the auditions for America's Favorite Trail Horse, a new reality tv series in the making, sponsored by the American Competitive Trail Horse Association. Petra Christensen, a regular reader and commenter on this blog, mentioned she would be coming down from Colorado for the event, and since I love putting names with faces, I jumped at the chance to meet her in person. As an added bonus, the event was being held at a facility where Lucy and I will be heading in May for a mule and donkey training clinic. I'd never been there and have been wanting to check it out.

The auditions took place in an indoor arena – not exactly home turf for a lot of these trail horses. Each horse and rider team was expected to trot over a set of six poles, trot to another pole, come to a stop, then sidepass over it to the right, then back a figure eight around two cones. The rider then had the option to showcase their horse for 45 seconds in a freestyle exhibition. Then came an interview with the judge, where the rider was given a few minutes to talk about why their horse was special.

As I watched the riders audition, of course I imagined how Lucy and I might do in such a competition. She would have sailed over the six poles in her pretty little gait, aced the stop and sidepass, and flunked the back-up figure eight (but we're working on that). The worst part for me would be the interview - I would be a blubbering mess trying to tell the judges why and how Lucy came into my life and what a one-of-a-kind donkey she is.

Anyway, I watched about half the riders, then headed outside to see if there were any interesting pictures to be taken there...

...whereupon I met Ashley (the rider), Bette (the Paint), and Milli Vanilli, aka Little Dude (the five-week-old colt whose daddy is a Friesian).


What's not to love about a five-week-old, well-mannered colt who can be ponied and stay out of trouble and not flip out over all the new stuff going on around him? Little Dude is who he is because Ashley is an amazing horsewoman and Bette is the most level-headed horse I have ever been around.

I asked Ashley if she had someone to babysit Little Dude while she auditioned on Bette (of course I was planning to raise my hand and volunteer). Ashley replied that she was planning to either pony the colt through the obstacles or just let him follow along, depending on what the judges would allow. Alrighty then! How cool would this be!

The trio lined up at the starting cones, and Ashley secured Little Dude's little lead line around his belly so it would stay out of his way.

Off they went, trotting over the six poles. Little Dude may have missed a few, but Bette aced them.


Little Dude was very impressed with Bette's sidepassing ability.


As Bette was backing her figure eight, Little Dude was getting thirsty and hoping his mom 
would stop long enough for him to get a drink. No such luck.


He took a pee break, then realized his mom was now at the other end of the arena and he was all by his lonesome. 
I would show you the picture of him running to catch up but it's a total blur...the little guy is fast!


So now it's time for Ashley to do her freestyle. We've all seen riders stand up on their horses' backs 
to demonstrate how calm and steady their horses are...

...but how many times have you seen a rider stand on her head on her horse's back...with the horse wearing the rider's hat on its butt and nursing her colt at the same time? As one of the judges said, "Now there's a mare that can multitask."


Bette has definitely got my vote for America's Favorite Trail Horse. I'm certain she'll move on to the next round of the competition, and I wouldn't be a bit surprised if she wins the whole thing.

39 comments:

  1. WOW ... I am really speechless over your series of pictures of Ashley, Betty and Little Dude! Amazing!

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  2. Oh, my gosh! What a cutie pie! Just imagine what the little guy will be like when he grows up! AWESOME!!!

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  3. What a good idea to keep mom and baby together! Milli Vanilli is, of course, absolutely precious . . . and he's being exposed to all kinds of stuff . . . with his mom right there to make it feel safe!
    I hope Ashley wins the competition. Never mind her and Betty's excellence at the obstacles; she's just horse smart, it seems to me!

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  4. How absolutely awesome. You must've had a great day yesterday. :)

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  5. That's one amazing horse! Of course she's a paint too and the little guy is just too adorable.

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  6. Saw this team on Lisa's blog too. I can't imagine picking a single winner, but I do tend to favor working moms. :)

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  7. If you learn where and when this competition is on TV, please let us know. Thanks for capturing such a wonderful event.

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  8. WOW!!! you are so right about the multitasking!!

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  9. What a team! I bet it was fun to watch.

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  10. What a cutie patootie!

    I just hope that Ashley stays in the competition--I'd read that the freestyle was supposed to encompass "normal" trail riding feats--and that "dangerous stunts" such as standing on one's horse's back (a NH favorite) would be grounds for disqualification.

    I think each site took a little leeway with the rules, however--another one was "no props other than one would normally carry on the trail"--but folks were using big tarps (maybe) and umbrellas (?!?) to showcase their horses' abilities.

    @Rebecca2--I suspect it will be on RFD--Rick Lamb's "Horse Show" is really hooked up with both ACTHA and RFD.

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  11. Thats the first time I have seen someone stand on their head on a horses back. What a team!

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  12. They've got my vote!!! What a great team and what great experience for the youngster. I hope they win the whole thing!

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  13. The only time my feet have been in the air when I've been on top of a horse has been when I've really lost it....
    Great shots and what a darling colt!

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  14. Wow! thanks for this .. I hope you talked Betty into blogging .. I would love to follow her and LD (little dude), too.

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  15. Ashley Tippetts4/24/11, 9:32 AM

    Hey Linda, thank you so much for the wonderful pictures and great blog about me and my horses. Loved it!

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  16. They're a great team. Little Dude is darling. I wish them all the best.

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  17. She gets my vote!!!!

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  18. What a great story in pictures!

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  19. How adorable! That colt is definitely getting off on the right foot.

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  20. Man. I griped about being a Room Mother.

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  21. There's a reason why Ashley is one of my favorite people in all the world, and as usual, she continues to amaze and inspire me. Well done sassy pants!

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  22. Talk about a great example of superb horsemanship! What a team!

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  23. Now that is the most amazing thing I have seen in a long time. It brought tears to my eyes..... What a fun trip you had. Betty and company have my vote for best trail horse! Can I hear an AMEN?

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  24. That's my friend Ashley! I love her!

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  25. What a wonderful horse and precious foal. Lucky woman and horse.

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  26. The three of them have my vote, as well! Awesome coverage of the event, Linda.

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  27. Wow! Sure glad I checked your site before I headed to bed. What a great post! Would love to have been there myself. Yes, I would say Betty is a great horse and what a cutie pie for a baby!

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  28. Ashley must be Level 4 already (Parelli). She's amazing. As a Parelli Level Two student, I'm excited to see a fellow Parelli person excelling in this competition. Beautiful horses. A good horse comes in any color, but I love Paints most of all!

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  29. Oooo, I'd vote for them! Beautiful little family.

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  30. seriously, there is nothing to say but "OMG". (what did we do without that in our vocabularly??)

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  31. That's pretty amazing to pony a 5 week old colt. That mare is an amazing, patient, trusting mother and competitor.

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  32. Wow! That is amazing! That little colt is going to grow up to be an amazing horse too!

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  33. Oh, my. What an adorable Trio!! I may be in love with that little guy.

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  34. I'm a pretty big fan of Bette, too. :) I just posted a blog with some pictures of Ashley, Bette and Little Dude that I took here in Pagosa, if you want to check it out:

    http://redroanchronicles.wordpress.com/2011/04/25/because-seriously-who-doesnt-like-photos-of-ponies/

    I'm bummed out that I missed all the action in NM... if I'd known you were going to be there it might've occurred to me to hitch a ride with Ashley or Petra so I could stalk you. Er, meet you. :D

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  35. So much fun--thank you for sharing!!!

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  36. Bette is a great role model for what a good mama should be! She and Ashley would definitely get my vote.

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  37. What fun! What does it mean to "pony a colt"? Since I don't know if you have a way to see comments on old posts, I'm going to send you an email with the same question. Thanks!

    Julia

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