“A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination, and hard work.” 🌟
“I’m so excited to share with you all that my little mustang Indie and I were the Overall Champion’s for the Youth at the Las Vegas TIP Challenge!!! I am so proud of this mustang! The past 100 days have been a rollercoaster for sure, but she really turned around and has become an amazing little horse. I’m blessed to have had the opportunity to gentle and train this wild mustang! ❤️✨
The first Las Vegas TIP Challenge was absolutely amazing and run wonderfully — I’d say it was the perfect event to drive across the country for!!” ~ Cat Zimmerman, Instagram (November 2nd)
In early November, we loaded up the truck and trailer and pointed my good old Dodge Ram west. Las Vegas! When Cat first told me about this competition, my first reaction was “LET’S GO” while she took a little longer to think about it. Las Vegas is a long way from Archer, Florida.
After 100 days of training, it’s safe to say that Cat was just as excited as I was about the trip. This was the longest journey we had ever undertaken and, to think that we would cross the entire country, the most exciting. To say that the scenery was gorgeous is an understatement. Because we had three drivers along for the journey, I actually managed to spend some time enjoying the different terrain and sights. A first for this traveling mom.
From Florida to Nevada took us two days of travel with frequent refueling stops along the way. We did a layover in Texas at a horse hotel–yes, those places exist! I never knew that. Cat, of course, didn’t hesitate a moment to make good on the idea of a “horse hotel” being a hotel for people AND horses:
Perhaps because we traveled so far or maybe because this was Cat’s second to last competition as a youth, I felt very apprehensive. Preparing to leave and the actual trip took longer than other competitions, plus Cat has been doing so many other things–traveling, training, performing. With thirty horses on property, all but five wild mustangs, her time was managed much differently than when she prepared for other competition. Additionally, Cat hasn’t hid the fact that her relationship with Indie did not start out on the greatest of footing. While Indie is extremely sweet, she didn’t bond with Cat (or anyone) for a while. And I know she presented some new challenges for Cat.
We did not travel to Las Vegas thinking that Cat would win the competition. In fact, on the drive out there, we talked about our hopes that she’d make top five. When the results from the first two classes were posted, her total score made us worried that she might not even make the top five.
The competitors at the Las Vegas TIP Challenge were really great. Strong trainers. Their hard work really showed in the trail, handling and conditioning, and freestyle classes. That made the waiting for Cat’s last class, the freestyle, even harder as she went last of all the competitors. We sat through great freestyle after great freestyle, watching the trainers and their mustangs demonstrate the culmination of their 100 days of hard work. It was very intimidating, to say the least. Let’s just say that I’m glad I’m the mother (which is nerve-wracking enough) and not the trainer.
Overall, I would say that it was a great trip with great company along the way. Having a strong and good support system is extremely important for all of these trainers. No matter how calm they look on the outside, they are a bundle of nerves on the inside. I’m glad that Cat has found that a really stellar travel, support team.
When it came time for her freestyle, I could hardly sit on the bleachers. For the first time, I hadn’t spent a lot of time watching and critiquing her practices. She had performed a few practice runs for me, but that never is the same as when you see it during the competition. Between the beauty of the horse and the striking blue of the feathers and Cat’s dress, it was definitely one of the most elegant and pretty freestyles that she’s performed at an EMM or TIP Challenge.
Still, we were not expecting that she would make up the twelve points she would have needed to win the competition. And we were okay with that. Cat felt proud of Indie’s performances and we all felt that the other competitors were strong. It was a well matched competition with good competitors.
We are very proud of Cat (and Indie) for have made up the point difference and winning the competition. I know firsthand how hard she works, day in and day out, sometimes fourteen hours a day, with her horses. And she’s always willing to help others, too. I think it is safe to say that we will cherish our memories of Las Vegas for many, many years to come.
On a side note, Marc and I made a side trip to the Red Rock Canyon. A beautiful place to drive through.
We stopped, walked around, and even saw a wild burro. Not too long ago, there were close to 300 wild horses and burros roaming the National Park. But there was a recent round-up due to over-population so we felt fortunate to have seen this fellow.