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. 


Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Reunited with an Old Friend

'Tis December!  No Horse November is over and I have a little news!

Remember dear sweet Kevin from 2015? I'll be riding him again this year!  He's a little older and a little fluffier, but I'm excited to see how he shapes up for the show season. 

I nearly bought Kevin that year but I was convinced I wanted a more competitive horse in the reining and boxing classes so I bought Huck instead, and well, there's lots of blog posts about how that turned out if you want to reminisce...

Kevin's owner started showing him last summer in the walk/trot classes at the ranch shows and wants to improve on her Division Reserve Champion title from last year.  :)  He was originally purchased for her youngest daughter to show but she lost interest so her mom decided to take up riding.  She has made a lot of improvement during the last year.  I'm looking forward to getting Kev tuned up a bit so he's easier for her to show.  He can be kind of a brat and since she's such a green rider that he takes advantage. 

I'll be exercising Kevin once a week through the coldest months then increasing as we get to show season.  I want to ride and I want to show, but I REALLY need a year off from the kind of pressure I put on myself last year.  I have very different goals for my time with Kevin than I had in 2015.  Back then I was trying to make hi a Ranch Versatility horse, cattle work and all.  This year, I'm looking at Ranch Pleasure (his specialty) and Ranch Riding.  His owner will probably do the full slate of classes in either the W/T or Amateur division, but I'll just do my two classes and help her out for the rest.

I've had three rides with Kevin so far and I'm starting to see that easy loping wonder that I once knew.  We're working on all the tune-up basics: self carriage, collection, and extension of the gaits, steering, you know.  All the stuff.  I'm excited for this project! 

But Kevin maybe isn't so much...

Kevin may not be as excited as I am...