|Mojo braced against Jonathan Field's touch.|
For the second year RTTH was held at the Kentucky Horse Park's Alltech Arena. The park is a working horse farm of more than 1000 acres and is a museum and historical research facility as well. Fabled horses such as the incomparable Cigar can be seen there. The park is also home to the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF).
This year's remuda was once more provided by the fabled Sixes Ranch (6666) of Guthrie, Texas. The horses had all been halter broke, gelded, had their hooves trimmed and received necessary inoculations as yearlings and were then turned out for the next two years into a 5000 acre paddock. Until they were shipped to Lexington, these three year old geldings had had contact with humans no more than 2 or 3 times.
Canadian Jonathan Field, who was competing in his second RTTH competition, is one of my favorite clinicians. This year he chose a sensitive, skeptical and challenging horse, a chestnut that he named Mojo, " because he has a lot of it." Field said he found Mojo to be "intelligent and a quick learner looking for leadership." Mojo was more than a little sensitive about his flanks being touched, and that sensitivity would play a major role in Jonathan's third day performance.
Each clinician would spend about 90 minutes working with their colt on each of the contests first two days. On day three after a one hour morning session each horse and rider team had a 40 minute segment in which they were required to complete a number of tests such as walk, trot and canter on both leads, back, mount and dismount as well as showing that all four feet could be picked up. All of the clinicians used at least part of their 40 minutes to continue their mount's training and Field was no exception.
Jonathan and Mojo were on top of their game. Cheers greeted them as they completed the required maneuvers and entered the obstacle course. Twists, turns, rubs, squeezes, jumps and gates were all features of a course decorated like the Flintstone's Jellystone Park! At the drag, Field was able to twirl a lasso over Mojo's head without problem. But as he began to pull the drag his rope touched Mojo's flank, and when it did, we were treated to an impromptu rodeo of twists, kicks, and views of Mojo's belly as he bucked across the arena. Field was thrown near the arena's concrete wall and for a moment it looked as though he would be drug. Being drug is the one thing a rider fears above all else and nothing good ever comes of it. Unhurt he jumped to his feet with the front of his white shirt now a deep red matching the arena's dirt floor. Field remounted Mojo and finished the course, including the optional teeter-totter, to the roaring approval of the 8000 in attendance.
Oddly enough, during the selection process I mentioned to my wife that I thought #10, Mojo's hip number, might do well for Field. Mojo showed a lack of fear, curiosity and even followed one of the other clinicians around as he made his selection. Sorry about that, Jonathan.
Over the course of the three days each clinician gave a clinic and performed a mounted demonstration. Field's Spanish Pole Dance astride his half-Arab horse, Quincy, to Metallica's, Nothing Else Matters, brought most to tears with its beauty and grace. The power of this demonstration leaves you speechless and in awe of the trust and devotion Quincy and Field have for one another. Quincy was given to Field after having six owners in the first seven years of his life. He would bolt, rear and sometimes flip over backwards. It took someone like Jonathan Field to save Quincy's life and to give him a new one. You can see them together on YouTube. The video is Amazing Performance by Jonathan and his horse Quincy 2012.
You will love it.
Though he did not win the competition Jonathan was awarded the prestigious Jack Brainard Horsemanship Award. The award is given to the competitor who best demonstrates the qualities of horsemanship and the horse and man relationship. Brainard, who is more than 90 years old, provided a bit of levity when he introduced Field as, "Jonathan Winters," the famed comedian and actor.
Are your tired of Jonathan Field yet? Last but not least, "Loren's Best Tee Shirt Award," also goes to Jonathan Field. As a proud Canadian Johnathan's red tee shirts read, "The "eh" Team." You gotta love it.
Next years purse has been increased to $100,000.00 and better yet, three members of the audience will be chosen to participate with the clinicians on the floor of the arena. You can imagine how much I'd like to be one of those selected.
Text and photos: Copyright, March 27, 2014 by Loren R. Schumacher