Sunday, September 30, 2018

Show Recap of 2018

In June we had our 2nd Ranch show. The first week in September we had our 3rd, and mid September we had our final show of the year.  Clearly I am behind on bloggin!

June Show

We had a pretty great show!
1st Open Horsemanship
2nd Open Showmanship
2nd in Open Trail
3rd in Open Conformation
4th in Open Ranch Pleasure
6th in Ranch Riding - no points for this, but considering how much trouble we've been having with lead changes in those patterns, I was thrilled with how we did.  We actually tied for 5th, but had more penalty points than the other 5th place so we get squat.... BUT it was a good ride for us!

We racked up 23 points, compared to 15 at the May Show, sneaking us up to 1st Place standing for the year end awards.

There was a show August 19th but the Thursday before Kevin came up lame.  We prayed for an abscess rather than something more major. 

Kev got to miss the show, which I'm sure didn't disappoint him.  The vet diagnosed a "deep bruise and blood blister" in his left hind foot, so kind of an abscess, but not yet infected.  Full disclosure: I've been riding for over 25 years and I've never had an abscess.... knock wood. I've had plenty of other crap including multiple contusions, injections, colic, you know..., so don't be too jealous.

Vet opened the sole on a Monday to drain the blood blister, wrapped him up and sent him back outside (our horses live out 24/7 with grass, dry lots, and run-ins) with instructions to take the bandage off after 5 days and as long as he wasn't painful on the drain hole we were good to go.  We suspect he did it when he came down hard on a pole during our practice the previous Tuesday.  :(

By Thursday it became clear that his lameness was not improving and was potentially getting worse, so the Vet came back out.  The bandage came off and we discovered that his "sensitive sole/frog" was protruding out of the drain hole like a little black rubber nub.  I admit I "skipped that class" and am not as knowledgeable about anatomy as I really should be, so I had NO idea what this all meant.  After much explanation I equated it to stepping on a lego with each step.  Ouch Kevin, no wonder you were getting worse.

Vet pushed the nub back into the foot, which Kevin did not appreciate, but is a very patient patient and required no sedation. Then Vet created a 2-part rubber cast of his sole that would become a "plug" of sorts to keep pressure on the hole.  We were to change out an idodine soaked wool pad each day and he got to spend 7 days on stall rest.

On the 7th day we had rear shoes and pads put on so that he could go back to normal horse life in turnout and we began light work with only 4 days until the next show.  We monitored him closely and by Saturday we decided as long as he was still sound Sunday morning we'd go to the show.

Kevin cooperated and we got to show!

September 2nd Show
Imagine sitting in a sauna for 4 hours before you get to show.... now imagine feeling like this was a bloody waste of your time and money because the classes that the Open Division got season points for were also the Open Jackpot classes so all the good open, amateur, and youth riders would also be in the classes.  Dang.

We lightened our show load, and only did the Pleasure, Horsemanship and Conformation.  His owner showed only her W/T Pleasure and W/T Ranch Riding.  Both of her classes were also Open and BIG so we were THRILLED that she placed in both classes: 4th in Pleasure and 2nd in Ranch Riding!!!

Kev and I made it to the finals in a 26 horse Open Ranch Pleasure class but didn't place.  After having two weeks off, half of which was visibly lame, I really am quite happy with the way the class went.  He lacked his usual consistency and cadence, and by the time we were done (we went straight from our split back to the rail for the finals) he was a bit tired, but he was easy to ride and I couldn't have asked for more.

I didn't do the trail since the outdoor pen was a bit too stoney and I didn't think it was fair to him to make him trot over poles on poor footing so soon. 

I went back and forth about whether or not to do the Horsemanship class.  It was a short pattern with almost entirely loping, and it had our bad-way lead change in it.  BUT, he seemed really good after his other classes so I added it.  By the time the class came, however, he gave me the "oh for frack's sake are you really tacking me up AGAIN?!?!" face, so I just did a quick warm up.  Have I ever told you Kevin AIMS for cones?  If you're trying to go past a cone, he will try to aim for it, and that's what he did at the end of the pattern.  I was able to get him next to it, but we needed to do a 180 pivot and he decided to be a boob and turn on the haunches for the first step which placed his rear squarely over the cone while he finished the turn.  Ha Ha.  Ooops.  I am NOT good at fixing those moments while they're happening.  No place.

We ended the day at 9:30pm with a 2nd place in Open Conformation so we grabbed 5 points for the season.

Our final Show was on September 15th.

I wasn't feeling optimistic about the show.  We were 3 points behind the leader in our division.  My workload increased this fall semester and I wasn't able to ride much between shows, and the patterns were kinda tough.  Lots of schooling in the days leading up to the show helped a little, but I just wasn't feeling like it was going to be our day.

We began the day with Trail.  Kevin was a gem.  He did all the things exactly like I asked him to do.  I was thrilled to hear our number called for 1st Place! 

Our next class was Reining.  Wait, what?!  Yes, I decided Kevin needed to revive his reining career.  We'd done reining all through 2015, though it was never good.  The season points were getting really close and I thought that maybe, just maybe if we kept it quiet and clean (and all the other competitors dq'd LOL) we had a slim chance of placing.  I just didn't want to end the season a few points behind and wished I'd taken the chance.  Not surprisingly, we did not place, but we had a respectable (for us) 64.5.  The video made me laugh... pleasure loping our "large fast" circles.  LOL.

The Pleasure class was good sized and I was completely shocked to hear us called for 1st Place! I made it my goal to keep him smoooooth and make nice transitions and have solid extensions, and he felt like his old self again, loping down the rail like he was born for it and reminding me how much I enjoy riding him when he's enjoying his job.

Yet again we failed to place in Ranch Riding.  It's the lead changes.  Biggest thing we need to work on for next year. 

Horsemanship called for a bunch of things we struggle with:
-begin with a walk - he anticipates the next gait and gets wiggly
-extended trot - not a problem, but since we need to sit the trot in horsemanship, it can get ugly if I ask him to abruptly
-180 left, 180 right - sometimes he's awesome at these but mostly he's a turd
-lope on the LEFT lead and make a right turn

I'm not sure what I did right, but he was just so unbelievably "with me" and he did everything right!  I was so relieved and grateful that I started crying when I left the arena.  We got another 1st Place!!!  WHAT!?!?

Next up was a 3rd in Conformation.  The judge later mentioned that I had him set up in a hole so he "looked like a ski slope".  I always forget you can do things like level the ground with your feet before you set up....

We ended the day with a 3rd in Showmanship.  The little turd was doing his auto set-up in the warm up but stopped like drunk octopus and it took way too many adjustments to get him square.  Oh well. 

Overall the last show was so stinkin' good I couldn't even be mad about it.  He gave me so much more than I could have asked for.  Mucho cookies for Kevin.

Oh, and we happened to win Open Champion for the year end awards. 

Thursday, May 24, 2018

First Show(s) of 2018

Oh look, I haven't posted since January!  Luckily, you haven't missed much!

I've been riding Kevin since December.  I admit I've been taking it pretty chill and only riding about once a week December-April.  In May I bumped that up to 2-3 times per week as the show dates loomed closer.

I'm kinda back where we were in 2015: I'm schooling and exercising Kevin and helping his owner out as she navigates her second show season. 

She's showing the walk-trot division at our shows and I decided to go for the Open division rather than the Amateur where Huck and I were Res. Champ for 2017.  I chose this for two reasons: One, because the showbill order goes Jackpot, Youth, Open, Amateur, Walk Trot for each type of class.  Showing Open allows us a lot more time for our tack changes.  Reason two is that last year there were far fewer competing for year-end points in the Open than in the Amateur.   This year looks to be the same so far.

Our first shows were this past weekend, both run by Buckeye Equestrian Events. Western Dressage show on Saturday and Ranch on Sunday.  I grew up with dressage letters and a classical or military seat so I'm a little familiar with Dressage, but I know enough to know I don't know anything, if you know what I mean.

I chose the Basic Test 1 and I ended up with a 66.46% which I'm told is pretty good for our first time out, and that's with a 2-point error because I forgot where I was supposed to start the free-walk.  We also rode in an Equitation on the Rail class and placed 4th. 

On Sunday I was more in my element with a full day of Ranch classes.   My division gets points for Reining, Pleasure, Ranch Riding, Trail, Horsemanship, Conformation, and Showmanship.  I showed all but reining.

3rd in Pleasure out of 20 - He was really good.  Little bobbles but otherwise super smooth and easy.
4th in Horsemanship - Pattern felt like crap but the video looked like I knew what I was doing.
4th in Showmanship out of 5
2nd in Conformation out of 9 - even for a 14 year old fattie, he's quite balanced.

My trail pattern was good but I got killed on a side-pass over an "L" with 4 penalty points for ticking the logs, which took me out of the placings.  Trail and Horsemanship are at shown "at will" in another arena and I forgot to look at how many were in my classes. 

My ranch riding pattern started fine, but I knew I was going to have trouble with the extended lope to a lead change.  Kev is still muscling back up and doesn't quite have the fitness he needs to go all day so he gave me some trouble.  He didn't want to slow his lope so I asked for a simple change and he started to fight me.  I got him to pick up the other lead but it was late and then he did that thing where he says "Eff You!" and threw his head up (and himself totally out of balance) and didn't want to slow to the extended jog - broke back to the lope a few times - didn't want to stop.... well, you get the picture; it was ugly.

It got uglier after we left the arena.  I took him into the warmup pen and we had a bit of a conversation about keeping your balance (and your brain) intact while loping and bending and doing a simple lead change.  It took a good while of this exercise for him to stop fighting me and just say "Yes, Ma'am."  I was pretty firm with him and I'm sure it was ugly to watch, but I think I was fair.  I kept my emotions in check but kept my boss face on until he offered what I asked.  Then praised him and let him rest.  I couldn't let him just be a jerk like that since his owner still had to go in and do the same pattern (without the loping).  She ended up having a very nice pattern.

We ended the day with Showmanship and even though Kevin is getting really good at setting up and turning, I'm still trash at the inspection.  I suppose it's because I never get to have a person play judge for us so I get easily flustered if the judge changes directions or stops.  This time, the judge was just about to cross the near-side shoulder and Kev moved a front foot out.  The judge and I both looked at it and I became dumb not knowing if I should change my position and then fix the foot, or fix the foot.  The judge stopped so I tried to fix the foot but Kev wasn't making it easy and the judge just said "he's kinda done for the day, huh?"  Well, it's our 11th class, so yeah.  I couldn't blame him and at least we didn't DFL.  He got some nice grass before loading up and then got to go home to his field.

We are currently tied for Reserve in the Open division for the year-end award - our BO/Friend, B is in the lead.  There are 4 more shows to go, two more of the shows just like this, and then we can get points for ranch classes at two other open shows, one at the same facility and one at a big facility that I've never shown at before. 

It's not a bad start to the year. 

Friday, December 29, 2017

Equilutions 2018

Hello Dear Readers!

I hope you had a lovely holiday season, no matter what you celebrate.

As I reflect upon my 2017 goals and the year with Huck flashes by, I am grateful that I'm taking a break!!!  I put SOOOO much pressure on myself to have a good show season and my body, brain, and bank account suffered for it.  This year will be better...

So how did we do on our 2017 goals?

1: Congress - ACCOMPLISHED!  I'm sure you are caught up on that saga.  I am glad I did it and proud I took such a big risk, but I don't plan to ever do it again, at least not without a trainer! And of course, on our best days I had delusions of grandeur that we might have placed, but as soon as we got there I knew that there wasn't a chance.  Even if we'd had our very best ride ever we wouldn't have had a chance and I'm okay with that.  My goal was to show there, not to win there and we certainly did that.

2: Huck Injury-free - LOL NO.  The year was nowhere near as injury-filled as 2016 was.  Right away in March he went through four fences in the middle of the night and was found in the wrong field in the morning.  The fencing at the time was mesh panels stapled to wood posts so they were pretty easy for a horse to pop through.  My guess is that he was spooked by a coyote (they were very bold that spring) and he bolted.  All the horses were mixed up in the wrong fields, but Huck was the only on injured.  The incident solidified my decision to sell him after Congress.  I was just DONE with his crap.  All the horses had to be stalled for a few days while the fences were fixed and when we put him back out in his field he acted like he was terrified of something out there.  I didn't post the photos when it happened because I was too angry.  He eventually healed, though with some scars, and one spot on his white foot was still looking like Scratches when I sold him.  The only other incident was that he came up a little lame on his LF after our long trail ride (see #4) but the chiro said his ankle was just out and the farrier had me put front shoes on in case we went back to that trail.  And then I babied his front legs with ice after each ride and all was well.  I did have his SI joints injected but instead of waiting until he was really sore and in need of rehab, we did it early and didn't miss much work.  In the end we cut the number of injuries by half.  I on the other hand enjoyed the year with a broken finger and a banged-up foot but we don't need to count those....

3: Win Year-End Championship - KIND OF ACCOMPLISHED!  We ended up Reserve Champion for the year in the Amateur division of our Ranch Horse Show series so technically that counts as a championship, right?  I failed at saving the year-end results sheet or I'd check to see if we would have one a year-end champion in any of the classes.  They didn't do awards for each class, but I may have been up there for the Reining class, and we won the Conformation every time so those kind-of count too, just no awards to show for it.  But it looks like next year they are doing awards for each class so who knows!

4: Be Brave - ACCOMPLISHED!  This is admittedly a non-measurable goal.  BUT I did ride alone in the big field a few times and I did go out on the trails alone a few times and we didn't die or have any major issues.  I also went on the biggest and scariest trail I've ever been on up at Mohican State Park.  I don't think it would be considered scary to most trail riders, but it was steep and muddy and there were scrambly places and drop-offs and I was nervous the whole time, even though Huck was a champ.  I would also add showing at Congress to this goal, because it was WAY out of my comfort zone!

And for 2018:

1: REMEMBER WHY I LOVE HORSES.  This year kind of broke me.  People are still asking me "do you miss Huck?" and "are you shopping for a new horse?" and they are surprised when I answer NO to both questions.  I mean, I know he wasn't the right horse for me.  Our good days were few and far between and the majority of our days were frustration or tears or pain or all three!  I just hope he's doing alright wherever he is.

So in 2018 I want to put very little pressure on myself to accomplish big things.  I want to get to a place where showing is more FUN than aggravation, and riding feels like a privilege instead of a chore.  I'll see how this year goes to see if it'll be time for a new horse next fall.

So what are your goals for 2018?

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Today Sucks

Today marks four years since I lost my heart horse.

I don't know how I'm "supposed" to feel after this much time, but what I do feel is still a deep sense of loss and longing.  I still think of him all the time and at every new equestrian milestone or setback I wish he was still here with me.

I wish HE had won me a buckle.  I wish HE had taken me on the trail ride with Stacy Westfall.  I wish HE was still out in the field in his December fuzzies with what would have been an incredible mane had I been given the chance to let it grow.  I wish I had been able to make HIM into a Ranch Horse.  Oh, but if wishes were horses...

But I'm not a child or an idiot and I know he's gone forever. And that still stings.

I re-read some of my posts following his loss.  I cried through so many lessons on Lillypony, and to be honest, I'm crying today, too. 

I wish I could say that I'm "fine" and that I'm "over it" but that just isn't the case.  That horse meant the world to me and it's incredibly unfair that I only got to have him for five years, three months, and five days.  He'd be 17 right now and I can only imagine what kind of partnership we'd have by now with four more years under our belts.

I didn't plan to finish this project today but after I started writing this post I just had to DO something.  So I finally put his last horseshoe and his nameplate in a shadowbox.  I only used five of the six horseshoe nails, to symbolize our 5 years together and that there was so much left unfinished.

I spent too long deciding on a frame and too long deciding on the fabric background (a grey silk noil) and I came to the conclusion that I don't really like it.  I'm not sure if it's because finishing it didn't really make me feel any better, or if I just need to do it differently. Maybe I will someday.