Sunday, October 16, 2016

September Ranch Show

This post is 6 weeks overdue...
Poor quality photo or "artistic"... maybe both.

Failed at photos from this show. :(

I must frame this post with a bit of a recap:
August 25, 2015- brought Huck home.
Early September - ended lease on Kevin and started working Huck back into shape.
December - stitches for facial laceration.
April 2016 - Staples for leg laceration.
June - SI joint injections
July - injection recovery.
August - A week of coughing, lost shoe.

So the longest we went without a complete restart was 4 months, and during that 4 months I was battling scratches.  Not that scratches are a huge deal, but THERE WAS ALWAYS SOMETHING.  And mixed in that is a string of lost shoes.  The tough part is that Huck tends to factory-reset to feral-pony when he's out of work. He's not awful, but when he's in regular work it's so much easier to keep him focussed on work and less jumpy and reactive.

If the August and September shows hadn't gone so well, and he wasn't the sweetest most affectionate fellow, I would be seriously considering selling this accident prone lemon of a horse. 'Cause guess what?  We've had MORE issues.  More on that later.

Back to the show:
It was a beautiful weekend.  I was very pleased with Huck.  This is our cancer awareness show so we are encouraged to wear pink.

August was a little crazy.  B and her family went on a trip to Africa for 2.5 weeks and left me to farm sit. I am grateful for the experience - just in case I had momentarily forgotten how much work running a farm is, this was a solid reminder.  Nothing major happened and thankfully the only vet call I needed to make was about my own horse.  One night he suddenly starting coughing up a lung while we were riding.  He is not a cougher and this sounded like a horror movie.  The vet said to watch it and he did get better each day and as we got closer to the show he stopped.  Not sure what it was, but probably mold exposure (it was the hottest muggiest month EVER) triggered some asthma.... add that to the list...

So a mere TWO days before the show the coughing was done, I got a shoe put back on, and got the okay from the chiropractor that he was in good shape to show.

On Friday night was the Freestyle Reining.  I threw a costume together for a nod at Gazelle (Shakira) from Zootopia including making gazelle horns and ears to add to a wig, and designing some makeup. I choreographed a routine in my head (it's a long drive to the barn and back and my ipod was set to repeat the song over and over), only being able to work pieces of it a few days before the show. I wasn't ever able to run it in it's entirety.  I used modern technology (videos of us riding/showing) to GUESS if the timing of my routine would actually work.  Thankfully the timing worked pretty well.  We ended up 4th, which was the best I could do considering how good the top 3 are, and we also won Most Creative Freestyle so I was even happier with that.  I'm a little embarrassed to post the video because the stops were awful, like cringe-worthy awful, but the rest is alright considering how little practice we got... and I don't believe in editing your life. ;) There's good things about this experience and I think the song was appropriate for celebrating this year...

Saturday's Show:

We won the Walk/Trot Ranch Riding (rail) class again!  I was very irritated after the class because the judge never called for an extended jog. I don't think you can judge a RANCH class without an extended jog and it also happens to be our best gait.  On the second direction I revved up our jog a little in case our regular jog wasn't enough.  6th in year-end placings with only two shows!

We WON the Green Reiner class!  I failed at getting a video which made me really sad, but such is life. Top 5 for the year with only 2 shows!

We didn't place in the Green Boxing.  I'd like to blame it on the quiet cow we had, but I really must blame it all on myself.  We didn't practice at ALL after the August show, not even on the flag, so I can't expect much better than that and besides, cow work really isn't my favorite thing. 7th for the year.

We were 3rd in the Conformation and ended up 3rd for the year-end as well, so we got one class in the awards!

Even though I practiced loading many many times, on Sunday morning Huck wouldn't load again.  I didn't let him escalate the situation this time, and instead worked his butt for a while and then got one of the big roper guys to help by putting a rope behind him.   I am grateful for knowledgable KIND horsemen who can gently convince a horse that his best option is to just get on the d@mn trailer.  For our next show (whenever that may be) I will ride/work him before I even bring him over to the trailer.

His refusal antics included his famous pony yoga...

Upcoming posts include Huck's latest non-life-threatening injury and my thoughts on how to move forward and improve our riding, working to understand his weirdness, and see what we might make of ourselves in the future.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

A Post About Pads

Allie over at Rocking E Cowgirl is on the hunt for a new pad, and on my last show post, she asked about what pad I'm using.

When I was pad shopping in the fall of 2014  I read a few research articles and I decided that wool was the way to go.  Note, it's pretty tough to find research that isn't presented by a manufacturer of pads, but I do recall reading one University study that pointed towards wool. Honestly I can't remember all the reasons why, though wool didn't appear to hold as much heat, and being a natural product seemed the right choice.  Formerly I had used a felt/neoprene pad (a cheapie from Rod's) for years with Junior, and I had been using a well-used second-hand Impact Gel pad with Kevin.

My equine chiropractor recommended Diamond Wool as they are very economically priced and are high quality.  Sometimes I don't mind buying things online without seeing them first, but I wanted to feel the pad so it needed to be a local purchase. Rod's didn't have a great selection of Diamond Wool pads, but I found a Mayatex pad there that I liked well enough. I was riding Kevin at the time so I knew I didn't want a black pad.

Two years later and I'm still pretty happy with it.  I use it to school and when I show I throw a blanket over it.  I really like the convenience of just using the pad when I'm schooling and saving wear/tear on a blanket only for showing or maybe clinics.  The pad feels the same to the horse and I've never had an issue with the blanket slipping out of place.  I can even keep my show number on my blanket between shows.

I admit it's dirty, but I've been using it for almost 2 years, and well, yours probably looks like this, too, right? I always like knowing how things hold up to use, so I'm showing you my dirty laundry, so to speak.

I've never washed it, but I've brushed hair off of it with my rubber curry.  It does wick sweat from the horse, so while it's been SOOOO humid here I've been turning it upside down in the sun to dry whenever possible.

My most-used show blanket is one I purchased around the same time as the pad, but I got this one down at QH Congress.... yet also from Rod's.   Rod's store at Congress is actually BIGGER than their Columbus location!   I have a friend who makes chaps and for $20 she added chap-leather wear leathers to the blanket to make it look nice longer. This is the blanket you've seen in oh ALL my show photos for two years.

I also have a solid black show blanket and a multi-pink blanket (both Mayatex).  I'll use the pink one at my September show because it's a cancer fundraiser show and we are all encouraged to wear pink.  I haven't used the black since I had Junior, but it might make an appearance if I decide to do a freestyle reining class at the next show.... don't hold your breath.

My friend/BO Brenda has a lovely 5-Star pad with fancy wear-leathers.  It is a much higher quality wool than the Mayatex, but it is also a much higher price.  She sometimes shows at our ranch shows in just the pad, and sometimes adds a blanket like I do. She picked it up at Congress last fall, but I can't remember which vendor.   5-Star pads have come highly recommended to me by several people and I can see why, they just aren't in my budget at the moment.

Now for MY "window shopping" for pads!

If I had a few hundred extra dollars to spend (lol) I would add a custom Mayatex blanket/pad to my collection.  You can go online and pick your weave and colors and actually see a preview of your blanket.  You can purchase just the blanket, or have it made into a blanket/pad combo.  I think I would like to have a blanket/pad combo for things like clinics, or when I want to look a little nicer without having to deal with the blanket and pad separately.  I would get all neutral colors to match Huck's coat, so no matter what I was wearing it would look good.   I've also played around with adding some teal or turquoise in, you know, if I had another few hundred extra dollars to spend.

Lastly, I'd add a fleece-bottom pad to my arsenal.  When I had Huck body-clipped in the spring, I had some issues with skin sensitivity.  I kludged it with a western baby-pad because I didn't think I could find a fleece pad with the combination of affordability and support I wanted.  Budgets are real. 

What's your favorite pad?  

Monday, August 8, 2016

Two More Ranch Shows!

Last Sunday I took Huck to a Ranch Schooling show, and this Saturday was our August club show.

I just love that the Ranch type events are increasing in my area.  I know I've said this before, but I really found a home in the ranch riding world.  No, I'm not really interested in running a cow down a fence, but I love the ground-covering and finessed world of the Ranch Horse.  I love the variety of classes between rail, patterns, trail, and a little cow work, but I don't have to change clothes/tack for each one like I did in the pleasure all-around world.

The schooling show on the 31st was about an hour's drive and at a place we'd never been to before.  The place does a lot of barrel racing events, but are looking at doing more ranch type shows.  It was a nice indoor venue, with a lot more room than I envisioned.  Footing wasn't ideal; really packed down rail along the rail and REALLY deep middle.  BUT one of the things I like about the ranch horse is that they can't be arena babies and only be able to work on smooth, even ground.  They have to have enough self carriage to cover all types of ground.

B and Ledger showed in the Open division, and Huck and I entered the Amateur division in Conformation, Showmanship, Ranch Pleasure (rail), Ranch Riding (pattern), and Horsemanship (pattern).  I think there were around 7 in the halter classes and around 11 in the riding classes.

We both won our Conformation classes!

1st in Conformation
2nd in Showmanship - Huck's first time!
6th in Ranch Pleasure
3rd in Ranch Riding
2nd in Horsemanship

I was very happy with him considering where we are post injections. We've been doing a ton of walk/trot and extended trot so all of that was great.  Our lope work felt a bit out of control, or at least it felt rough.  I sadly didn't get video so I don't feel like I know how it really went.  I was surprised we placed at all in the Riding and Horsemanship patterns, but since it was a schooling show, lots of riders had problems, too, and several of them chose to go 2-handed to school so they weren't placed.

I was especially proud of the Showmanship class.  As far as I could tell, he'd never been asked to set up or pivot or trot with a handler before I got him. He did really well and set up really quickly. Our two flaws were that he trotted off with his hip out and backed crooked.

This past weekend was our August Ranch Horse Show.  Huck's been holding steady since the schooling show so I was trying to stay positive and not let my anxiety about all the "what if's".  Will he get sore?  Am I doing to much?  I've been working mostly in walk/trot but we've been loping more and trying a few stops and lead changes.

We hauled in on Friday and I decided to school in the arena when it was warmer because there were fewer people than would be later when it was cooler.  He.  Was. So.  Good.  Very unlike the May show when I felt like every time we loped he was trying to do a rundown.  He was a little concerned about the tarps and cows, but didn't do anything big, just some twitches.

Friday night it poured down rain so Saturday started with a VERY wet arena.  They'd added new footing since the last show and now every hoof print was full of water.  I took Huck in to school during the cutting class just so I would know what he'd think of the arena.  When I took Junior to this show in 2013 we had wet footing and that arena baby just couldn't deal.  Huck was a trooper.  He didn't seem to mind the splashing at all.

My first class was Walk/Trot Ranch Riding.  It's really Ranch Pleasure 'cause it's just rail work, but since American Ranch Horse Association (ARHA) is still calling it Ranch Riding we do too.  I opted for the Walk/Trot since we've been doing mostly that for a while.  There were 17 in the class.  Huck worked really well.  His transitions were smooth and he help a nice frame.  We were faster than a lot of other horses so I stuck a bit to the inside.  His extended trot felt awesome.  When they called the placings (we place to 10) and got to 4th place I thought I hadn't placed, but I was still happy with the ride, so it was okay.  We ended up getting called for 1st place!

Notice the splashiness of the footing?
Reining was next.  I was trying so hard not to be nervous, but our last reining run was such a disaster.  Our lope circles were poorly cadenced, partially because of the footing, and partially because we are still working on loping more in our schooling rides.  But we got our two lead changes, three stops, two roll-backs, and our back-up and our single spins. (Ranch does fewer spins than usual in reining).  He stayed with me and didn't rush around or try to decide what we were doing, and best of all, he didn't flip out like the May show!  It was a huge change from our run in May so I was thrilled.  I couldn't believe we ended up with 2nd place with a 71.5! There are so many things we still have to work on, but I finally feel like we're somewhat on the right track to get there... probably shouldn't say that out loud...

Next class was the Green Boxing.  We hadn't been on a cow or even the practice flag since May.  I did stand in the line during the cutting for a bit so I could watch some friends do their runs and so Huck could watch the cows a bit and remember what they were.  Some of the cows were just so dead and some were total runners.  I ended up with a great little bald-face and Huck worked really well, especially for not having done so much as work a flag since May!  We ended up winning the class with a 74!  We even beat the people from the big cowhorse barn!  I'm sure there's a million things wrong with my ride, but for our 2nd time out I'm really happy with him.  He's very "cowy". ;)

Last class was Conformation at about 11:30pm.  We won!  I could not believe we won THREE classes and were 2nd in our fourth class!

Recap for those of you who are scrolling:
1st Ranch Riding Walk/Trot
2nd Green Reiner
1st Green Boxing
1st Conformation

Now the bad stuff, 'cause with this horse there seems to always be a bit of bad with the good.  Three times on Friday while I had Huck tied to the trailer, he jumped backwards.  He's jumpy anyway so I didn't think too much of it. He didn't pull away or freak out, just jumped back like he got stung or something. I check over everything but I didn't see anything that looked sharp or weird. But on Saturday, one of our friends was leaning on the trailer and realized he was getting an electrical shock from the fender!  We're still not sure what was causing it, but the trailer was hooked up to the RV which was plugged in to the RV elec. hookups, so there might be a faulty ground wire somewhere.    I accidentally let him get shocked one more time (though you think he'd stop touching it after the second time) while I was tacking up for my boxing class so we stopped tying to the trailer after that.  It's nice to be able to keep all of our tack in the trailer and tie there to tack-up rather than hauling all the tack into the barn. The door to the barn is just behind the trailer and our usual stalls are right there by the door.

Before we realized there was an issue... he stood quietly like a pro. :)

So Sunday morning he refused to load.  He's not been a good loader yet, so we'd spent the week before the schooling show going in and out of the trailer multiple times every day. Ledger was already in the trailer but Huck would NOT go in and got more and more agitated about going near the trailer.  I tried all the same quiet methods we'd worked on but he got more and more upset and eventually started kicking out.  I took him into the arena to lunge him and he was bucking and kicking on the line.  I made him work until he was asking to stop.  I didn't sweat him all up, but just got the edge off so he stopped offering to buck when I asked for the lope.  We ended up having to get two guys with a rope behind him to help encourage him and he finally jumped in and then was fine.  I HATE when that happens with a bunch of people watching.  Guess we'll be doing a lot more trailer loading  practice before the September show!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

June 2016 Ranch Horse Show

Since Huck was benched for the June show, I was granted the privilege of showing B's Barbie Horse, "Heath Ledger". Swoon.

Stephanie Moon Photography

I rode Ledger only one day at home.  Easy peasy lead changes and stops. Friggin Unicorn.

We took Ledger to a local open show and I won the Adult Horsemanship and was 2nd in the Adult Ranch Pleasure (rail).  The judge came over and said we really should have won but she saw two breaks of gait and just had to lower my score.  She was pretty much apologizing.

The Ranch show was pretty awesome.  Ledger was a Unicorn and placed high in every class with B. I rode him in the Green Reiner (with no warmup) and we scored a 73.5!  WHAT!?!?!

So now I get to show him at the last two shows, too.  It may actually be possible for us to be in the Top 3 for year end, but I'm not counting on that with only 3 shows under our belt, and the fact that I'm lousy with math.  It will be interesting for me to show two horses in the same class, though.  We'll see how that goes...