At 20 years old, Elderton, Penn.’s Loren Altman has already had her share of great horses and won her share of titles in the arena. With a Congress Top 10 and an International Barrel Racing Association Pennsylvania Youth 1D Championship under her belt, Altman has now taken a step into the futurity pen, stepping aboard her filly, Smart Plan For Her (Cutes), where she finished 2nd in the average at the Speed Horse Bonanza Futurity in Herndon, Va. April 9, 10 and 11.
“This show was only her second one actually running. I took her to a few shows last year to exhibition but have only ran her at one other show. She is still pretty small at about 14.2, so I like to take it easy on her,” Altman said. “I had a feeling she was going to be pretty good, she placed in the second division at the first show I had her to, but I had no idea she would be beating my seasoned horses so soon.”
Altman bought Cutes at a 2-year-old from Rick Garvin in DuBois, Penn., and she started to work trail riding the green filly until the summer of her 3-year-old year, when she started her on the barrels.
“When I started her on the pattern she picked it up pretty quick so I kept to trail riding a lot,” Altman said. “We had a few battles when she was younger but all in all she has a pretty good head on her shoulders.”
From there on, Altman enlisted the help of friend Kim Buchleitner, whose barn Altman used over the winter to keep riding. The time with Buchleitner helped Altman improve her riding and frame of mind, and when Cutes came back to Altman’s in February, the pair spent most of their time on the trails keeping each other calm.
“I really have to work on myself staying calm and keeping my adrenaline down because she is a very sensitive mare and if I let myself get frazzled she does too,” Altman admitted. “I also have to put my mom on her sometimes through the week because she’s better at keeping them calm than I am. I like to trail ride my horses more than school them especially once they figure everything out. I feel like I am just making them mentally bored when I ask them to do the pattern when they already know it.”
When it came time to run at Herndon, all Altman did to warm-up Cutes was jog and lope circles. Cutes didn’t need the tuning that some other futurity horses did, Altman said.
“I found that I have to treat them like they are seasoned horses so that I don’t get to picking at them too much,” she said.
The first go of the futurity put Cutes and Altman third with a 15.5. A hang-up around the second barrel cost the pair, as at Adam Roper rode to win it with a 15.4. Knowing all she needed to do was have a decent, clean run to get a check in the average, Altman ran Cutes cautiously to the first barrel and clocked a 15.8 to be second to a faster 15.8 run by Adam Roper. That put her second in the futurity’s average, collecting $288 and allowing her mom to pick up $50 in the calcutta.
When she’s not riding Cutes, Altman can be seen aboard her 12-year-old gelding and 7-year-old mare, both of which can clock her in the 1D. She’s also a horse shoer, so with three horses to ride and plenty more to shoe, Altman doesn’t get much free time.