Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Spring is Here!

Spring is officially here.  It may even be time to send the winter blankets for cleaning, but that seems like asking for an April snowstorm.

Practicing Bridges

The last few months were a little busy on the non-horse side of things, so I'm just now getting back into riding on a consistent schedule.  Huck is getting his sliders on this afternoon while I'm at work, so I look forward to trying him out tomorrow.  He's also getting a massage tomorrow and seeing the chiropractor next week.  He's so spoiled.

Yesterday we played on all the bridges and the ditch that will become the water obstacle.  He was SOOOOO good about everything.  He's now mastered the teeter-totter bridge from BOTH directions.

Showing!  We are hoping to attend several shows this summer.

We are taking a break from the ranch show series we've gone for the past two years.  I liked those shows, but they're two hours away and the shows are getting so big they last forever into the night.  Part of our decision not to show there this year is that the Ranch classes are getting so popular there are TWO series right in our back yard!

Circuit #1: brand new Ranch Horse 3-show series. Our first is May 26th and they're just 30 minutes north of Columbus.  Our entire barn is going so it should be a lot of fun.  There are no cattle classes at at these, which doesn't bother me at all, but there are some people complaining that "you can't call it ranch if you don't have cattle" and I want to point out that HUNTER shows don't have foxes.

There are 3 shows in the series and they're doing year-end high point awards for each division.  So I'll show seven classes in the Amateur division:
Ranch Pleasure
Ranch Riding (pattern like AQHA)

There will also be a Freestyle Reining at the August show.... already thinking of ideas for that... and there are Jackpot classes for each of the riding classes so I may show some of those.

Circuit #2:  Just 10 minutes from the barn.  We're hoping to show up to five of those shows.  They're under a new name and new management and they added more ranch type classes this year. It's your typical open show with classes in western and english that caters to the 4-H and amateur crowd, plus some trainers schooling prospects.  The first time we showed there in the Ranch Pleasure there were only two of us.  It's grown each show since!
At those we can show:
Halter (if I feel like it)
Adult Showmanship (mixed seat Adult and a $200 Open)
W/T Adult Ranch Pleasure  (and a $200 Open W/T mixed seat class)
WTC Adult Ranch Pleasure (Adult and a $200 Open class)
Adult Ranch Riding
Open Reining
Open W/T Trail

Monday, January 2, 2017

Equilutions 2017

Equilutions 2017

Happy New Year!

For background on  Equilutions, start with Equilutions #1 - 2009You can also use the search bar to find all Equilutions entries.   

2016 was the first year since losing Junior that I'd felt like making goals.  I made four goals and was able to accomplish 3, but I have a plan to get the third one accomplished soon.

I spent New Years Day at the barn.  I cleaned stalls and rode out in the field with Luke. Then we went on the trails and even into the creek.  It was a lovely day with plenty of sunshine and I think it was about 45 degrees!

Late 2015 and all of 2016 was full of unexpected injuries. Here's your recap:
December '15 - Facial Laceration - Stitches
April '16 - Leg Laceration RF - Staples, Infection
April - Nasty Leg scrape RH - Sore
June - SI injections
June-August - Rehab
September - Cuts and scrapes on all 4 legs after an apparent tangle with a fence panel. - I still need to blog about that one....

At this moment Huck is not bleeding or lame.  (I shouldn't even say that out loud)  He is soft and responsive and not stupid - though we still have some issues with the sound of ropes and whips moving through the air.  We are continuing to work with a Chiropractor and I will be getting a consultation with the vet in a few months to see if more injections are prescribed.  I don't want to do them if I don't need to, but I also don't want to lose half a show season again.

We ended the show season on a very high note, but because of all the injuries (especially the SI stuff) we only made it to one year-end Top 3 in our club - 3rd in Ranch Conformation.

Needless to say I have some goals for next year.  Let's first review the 2016 Goals:

2016 #1: Solve my noisy saddle dee's.  ACHIEVED!  Not only did I achieve the goal with my training saddle, I found the exact saddle I was looking for at a reasonable price so I upgraded to a whole new saddle! - Should probably post about that...

2016 #2: Get rid of the clutter.  ACHIEVED! I sold a bunch of stuff at a tack swap in February, and when my mom visited in August we purged a bunch of domestic clutter. My tack area at the barn, and my tack storage at home is much easier to manage now. There is breathing room.

2016 #3: Learn to tool leather.  Honestly I had forgotten I made this one, but this fall I started to ponder my upcoming sabbatical and I included learning leather working as professional development. So I've got a plan to accomplish that one in 2017.

And for 2017?

1. CONGRESS. I am planning to show in the Ranch Riding class at the All American Quarter Horse Congress in October.  I debated putting this here in writing.  Posting it here means I'm committing to it publicly.  Yikes. It's a Bucket List thing to go "play with the big kids" at the largest single-breed horse show in the world - over 21,000 entries in the month-long show.  When I moved to Columbus, Ohio I was thrilled I was moving to the city where The Congress is held.  I've gone every year to watch/shop and for the past four years I've bought the Exhibitors pass so I could go as much as I wanted to watch classes or demos or shop or eat Bourbon Chicken and ribbon fries.  The fairgrounds is so big and there are SO many people/horses that I was very intimidated and thought I'd never be able to show there. But being there this year helping a friend show in Ranch Riding and the Freestyle Reining was really helpful.  I have a grasp of what it takes to show there and it's totally doable.  With my hopefully upcoming fall sabbatical, I aim to take advantage of not having to halt summer training for the insanely busy first half of the fall semester.  I'll be able to show all summer, assess at the end of August (entries are due August 25th) and continue training all through our class at the Congress in mid October.    It'll be seven years before I get another chance at a sabbatical so I've decided this is the year to aim for Congress.  I don't expect to place, I think there was over 60 in the Amateur class last year, but we aren't terrible and will try our best, and you can watch it live online! 😬

Watching Luke show Ranch Riding at the 2016 Congress.

2. Keep Huck injury-free.  If I could actually control this I would have, but it's a true goal for us anyway.  All I can really do is cross my fingers and hope there aren't any more mystery injuries.  He's in a safe environment, none of the other horses have this many injuries.  I'm pretty tired of getting a phone call saying my horse is bleeding and I'm REALLY tired of the vet bills!  I did the math and 2016 was a horse-savings-account train wreck.  If we have another year of injuries like last year there will be no Congress.

3. Win a Year-end championship.  In 2016 we managed in the top 10 in every class we showed, even with only showing three of five shows (and one of them was a wreck), but I know we can do better if we have a full season without setbacks.  I admit winning my first buckle in 2015 with Kevin was like first blood.  I want another buckle, and I want to win it on my own horse.

Heading out to join Luke in the field.
4. BE BRAVE: Ride alone on the trails. The barn has the indoor arena, an outdoor obstacle course (just outside the arena), then down the hill is a large grass riding area, a big hay field, and trails.  I want to overcome my fear of taking a horse out alone.  I will reach that goal by riding outside more and more while we're alone.  We have ridden in the obstacle course and the area just outside the arena and the lower grass area alone, but we've not tried the trails alone yet.  I'll ride outside alone more and more and start taking little trail rides, like just off the riding area and back, then progressing to taking more and more of the trails.  It makes ME nervous because I anticipate a spook at any second, especially while we're alone.   So far I've ridden every one of his spooks because they're really not that big, but because I've come off on the trail twice with Junior and had so many Arabs spook/teleport to the other side of the world, I get a bit anxious.  I just need to be more confident and take baby step after baby step until we can go out alone without worry.  This is partially a goal because I want it, and partially because I show RANCH horse and a RANCH horse and rider need to ride out alone.

I wish you all a lovely and successful New Year!!!

Do you have Equilutions for 2017?

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas 2016!

Wishing you and yours a safe and Merry Christmas!!!

Each year we have a fun little barn party for Christmas.  We play silly horse games and exchange ornaments. We've had a costume contest the past two years so I've had an excuse to use my skilz.

This year I decided we were going to be Gingerbread!

I made a little skirt and vest for myself with glittery peppermint appliques.  For Huck I made a saddle blanket, breast collar cover, and "hair".  I also covered my headstall and reins in white. Huck was very patient while I decorated him. and didn't seem to mind the "hair" extensions at all!

I spend actual Christmas in Minnesconsin with my family (and I have a cat) so I don't get a tree or do a lot of home decorating, but this year I hung a wreath, lights, and pulled out some 2nd and 5th place ribbons for a little festive color!

Did you dress up your horse or home in horse-Christmas fashion?

Coming up, Equilutions 2017: A look back, and a look forward.

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.