The sun is shining, the horses are finally shedded out and summer is quickly approaching. Summer has always been an extremely busy time of year for my family with hundreds of acres of hay to be baled and 4-H practices twice a week, not to mention, the family reunions, vacations and horse shows to prepare for. With all that on our plate, I decided to to go ahead and schedule the AQHA Professional Horsemen Evaluation early before the summer chaos. Deciding on an AQHA professional was pretty easy since Alaska’s dam, Cue Bars Cue Tee, is owned by AQHA Pro Allison Trimble. After contacting Mrs. Trimble, we set a date for May 10th.
I spent most of April and early May preparing for the evaluation. I spent an extensive amount of time perfecting showmanship maneuvers, loading her into a trailer and my most challenging struggle…Lunging! Lunging had always been a struggle for Alaska and I. We worked day after day, all through April, practicing, and even though I saw some progress, I was worried we wouldn’t be ready for the evaluation. With only a little over a week left before the evaluation, I decided to enlisted the help of my mother. She showed me how to use my body language to control Alaska’s speed and to have her reverse directions. She also showed me how to correct Alaska when she didn’t slow down. Alaska improved drastically over the next several days and by the evaluation I was feeling confident that we were ready. I also worked on spraying Alaska off with the hose and being trimmed with the terrifying clippers so she could look her best. I was expecting to spend hours working with the clippers but no. Alaska keeps on surprising me how calm she is and I was almost immediately able to trim her nose whiskers! She wasn’t too sure about the loud buzzing near her ears, but after using the approach and retreat technique a couple of times, I was able to get close to her ears without her flinching!
In addition to getting Alaska ready, I also had a few things to work on to get ready for the evaluation. I spent many evenings researching Alaska’s lineage and memorizing the parts of the horse. I am extremely thankful to my little sister for taking the time to sit out in the barn and help me with the memorization!
My family and I live out on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State and Mrs. Trimble lives quite a road trip north almost to Canada with a ferry ride across the Puget sound. We decided to split the trip between three days with a campout at a tree orchard.
On the departure day, I woke up early and headed straight out to the barn. After a light work out, I gave Alaska her first full bath with a mega amount of bubbles! After she was rinsed and dried, I painted her hooves with hoof black and clipped her nose, bridle path and ears. That evening after our 24ft motorhome was packed and hooked up to the trailer, I loaded Alaska, who was sporting a purple sleezy, sheet and tail bag, and we hit the road in time to make the 6 pm ferry! This being Alaska’s 3rd trailer ride ever and her first ferry ride, she was a little nervous. But, I hung out in the trailer with her and she quickly calmed down and enjoyed a carrot.
Once off the ferry, we headed down to the tree orchard and set up camp for the night. After the corral was built, my whole family, including Alaska and the dogs, headed out for an evening walk around the orchard. Alaska enjoyed running over wood chip piles and sneaking mouthfuls of grass!
The next morning, I woke up at 5:30am and there was no way I was getting back to sleep from excitement and nerves. I went out and sat with Alaska as she ate her hay and then lunged Alaska one last time. She did phenomenal! Excited, I did a few last-minute touch ups to Alaska and added another coat of paint to her hooves. Four hours later, we arrived at Allison Trimble’s and I unloaded Alaska! The Evaluation went by quickly and Alaska performed beautifully! She lunged, trotted, set, and tied wonderfully and I was able to remember the parts of the horse and Alaska’s lineage. I was also able to see Alaska’s grandfather, Cue Bars Laddie, which was super cool! Before I knew it, we were headed back to the tree farm and the next morning we were on the ferry headed for home! It was an amazing experience camping with Alaska and meeting with Mrs. Trimble. I can’t wait to go camping with Alaska again!