Field Trial

My friend and fellow equestrienne Holly is a woman who wears many hats. I think of her as a dog and horse person who volunteers at my workplace. Some of my student workers think of her as their professor, as Holly has a PhD in communications and teaches at a local university. Johnny thinks of her as a fellow fan of 80s and 90s music, as Holly has done extensive research and authored a book on indie music.

Holly is an enthusiastic adult amateur rider who aspires to compete in dressage on her horse Roscoe. She’s also a lifelong owner and breeder of Irish Setters. So when Holly and our mutual friend Anna asked if I’d volunteer my time riding at a recent field trial, I had no trouble saying yes despite a) not knowing what a field trial was, and b) not knowing exactly what I’d be doing.

Basically, a field trial is a test of hunting prowess for dogs. This trial was hosted by the Irish Setter Club of Greater Tulsa, of which Holly and Anna are officers. It was held on a lovely piece of land owned by some friends of the club that breed pointers. All pointing breeds were welcome to compete. Quail were planted, and the dogs went out in braces (sets of two, who competed against one another) to find them. The dogs were expected to point at the bird while their handler flushed it. Once the bird was flying, the handler fired an air pistol, and the competitors moved on to find the next quail.

My job was marshal. I was mounted, riding a horse provided by the host site. I was to ride behind the judges (who were also mounted; competitors were on foot) and keep the gallery, or spectators, at a safe distance from the judges and competitors.

On Saturday, I was given a small palomino Tennessee Walking Horse gelding to ride. His name was Charlie, and he had the smoothest canter of any horse I’ve ever ridden. On Sunday I rode another TWH named Tango. Tango had a lovely running walk. If not for the supremely uncomfortable saddles, I think I could have ridden all day.

Sweet Charlie.

Riding behind the judges and marshal, trying to learn.

We had a beautiful view.

Feisty Tango, my mount for Day 2.

Riding between the judges as a handler looks for his dog.

Charlie was eager to get going!

Flashy Tango.

I had such a wonderful time at the field trial! It was certainly a different kind of riding experience, but everyone was so nice and the riding was so fun that I’m already planning to help again in the fall!

Author: Stephanie

Equestrian, amateur cook, people person.

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