Author: Katie Miller
We are closing in on the end of the first go round of the 2018 NCHA Championship Futurity. Many great horses have gone and many are still yet to go! The trainers have worked all year getting these babies ready, but there is another integral part of the story.
Behind the scenes there are women and men who groom, saddle, lope, cool down, unsadddle, doctor and/or spa, and of course give treats to these special athletes. These special people have long days, and take great pride in their horses; how they work, how they look, and how they feel. They spend hours with each of the horses in their care. Long after the trainers have left for the day, these folks make sure that these babies get the very best care and attention.
These good people bundle up in layers to lope in the outdoor pen in order to warm horses up for a practice work. They make certain that the exact saddle, pad, bridle and boots make it to the practice pen; all while anticipating every expectation of the trainer. The hours spent loping and just moving around in Will Rogers to calm the nerves of these young horses all build up to THE day!
It’s finally time to shine! Making sure that the horse looks his/her best, they pack the boots or wraps, brushes, show sheen, grand champion, checking to see that there are extra rubber bands, and all of the right bits to hang on the bridle rack. And then THE GATE!!!! They have to make THE gate!!! They know that once the gate is closed if they’re not in the arena there will be hell to pay. As they slowly walk in leading their horse like all is cool and normal, underneath they are just as anxious as everyone else. They mount up and start the circles. Some walk, some trot, some lope some more, but whatever the case, these folks know exactly what each horse needs to feel like to be the best it can be for those 2.5 minutes.
They pay attention to the working order, change bridles at just the right time, wrap legs, one last brush off and hand the reins over to the trainer for one last tune up. Then as the anticipation builds, they stand at the fence waiting for just the right time to take that tail down. They are the ones standing at the fence clapping, cheering and praying their horse does great! The buzzer sounds, the trainer rides to the special person, dismounts and hands off his steed to guess who? Yep, the loper!
Win, lose, or draw, that horse is going to be treated like a champion! You see, that loper doesn’t judge that horse on the last 2.5 minutes, but rather on the relationship that has been built over the months building up to the Futurity! These horses are great due to their breeding and hugely to their training, but everyone knows it can’t be done without the lopers!! So to the wives, the husbands, the women and the men who are charged with being a loper...my hats off to you!! Know that you are appreciated by not only your boss, but also your horses!!! Enjoy the fruits of your labor this month, and know that you can sleep in late December ;)