Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Show Shirt Update

My 2011 Show Shirt - - -

For some unexplainable reason, this post has remained in draft form for almost 18 months.  So here it is.  No idea why I didn't post it!

I'm sure you have all been waiting for a progress report on that show shirt. If you couldn't tell from the peek at the crystals, I moved in a slightly different direction than I had been going with the diagonal designs. I moved on with the same combination of colors, still mostly black, but with color up towards the face. It will be symmetrical so that I can use the shirt for horsemanship, too. I also decided to be a little brave and try some Ultrasuede appliques. I had attempted this with the purple shirt and found it was a lot harder to double-layer them than I thought so they ended up as just simple straight V pieces on that one. Last year I discovered how easily they will cut and position themselves if you first use Steam-a-Seam Lite2. I was still not brave enough for anything but straight lines.

It wasn't until I started playing around with different brushes on photoshop that I started to really want a curlier applique and think it might be worth it to try again. I tried to use stencils and paint and that looked.... like total crap. I have been paying a lot of attention any time I get close to a high-end show outfit with appliques trying to see how they're done. So I got out the Ultrasuede, made stencils from the same photoshop brushes using a trusty laminator, and went to town. This is where I'm at:

I first tried a bunch of combinations on photoshop and then I cut a bunch of Ultrasuede pieces and played with them on the fabric, starting with the center front piece, which is in the photo. It's going to have a back zipper, rather than the front. I may regret this at a summer show when I miss being able to just unzip my jacket to catch a breeze, but it'll look cleaner. I don't know how many different combinations I went through before committing.

The crystals aren't attached yet. I'm having a slight technical difficulty and I may need to do some woodging (yes, that IS a technical term) to fix it... not sure how yet: the black fabric I'm using for the base doesn't seem to like the iron... which becomes a problem when you are IRONING FUSIBLE SH*T TO IT!!! Ooops. It's probably not going to affect the fit, only the fact that the brocade and the black are stitched together and the brocade is not shrinking with the black, hence the wrinkles in the photo. If I don't have the iron hot enough the appliques/crystals won't adhere. If the iron is too hot the fabric shrinks up badly. So I have to be very very careful, which will require me to have to use my little crystal setting tool instead of the whole iron so I have to apply the crystals one by one by one instead of in large iron-sized areas. That's going to be a day where I work in front of the TV.

Here's what I think it'll look like when I'm done, just slightly different appliques.

Friday, August 24, 2012

WTFriday - The Wonkey Donkey

That settles it.  If I ever own a Donkey, his name will be Wonkey.  Not really the most shocking WTFriday, but oh well.

Full article from Time

Friday, August 17, 2012

So We're Tryin' This

After a discussion with my BM/former tack store diva about a plateau in our training, I tried a piece of training equipment and then went and bought my own.  I am hesitant to use "gadgets" I don't understand.  The only thing we've used has been a training fork back in the way long ago time.  Where I'm having difficulty - okay ONE of the places - is getting The Junebug to keep round during downward transitions and at the canter.  I had considered draw reins but I've seen too many horses in draw reins with their chins on their knees and that didn't seem like something I wanted to be doing.  FuglyBlog posted about that today in fact.

So this thing.  It's pretty basic. It's a big bungee cord on plastic clips.   The bungee goes over the poll, through the bit, and clips to either the saddle dees or to the girth dees.  Being of the stock horse persuasion we use the girth.  It's very forgiving, I can stretch it myself, unlike my elastic girth ends.  What it does is makes a posture for the horse that puts zero pressure on the poll/bit.  If the horse moves too far out of this posture the elastic tightens.

I found a nice article about the pros and cons of this gadget.  Read it here.

The first day was very amusing watching him try to figure it out.  He walked super slow on our way out to the arena and kept stopping every time he lifted his head and wanted to do a shuffle-jog instead of a real trot so I was having a hard time getting him to extend. I didn't want to push him too much on the first day. I lunged him for about 10 minutes in it and just let him figure out what was going on.  I could tell it was difficult for him to canter because he's not been using the right muscles.  This should help build those muscles without my weight on his back and without me having to think about correcting and releasing.  The elastic rewards automatically.

We did about 15 minutes today.  He was "getting it"more but was still doing a bit of a shuffle-jog.  He was better after the canter and seemed to trot as freely as he ever does on the lunge without leg aids from me.  The canter was better today but I can see it's much harder for him to go left than right.

I don't want to over do it, but he seems to accept it, even though it's making him work harder.  The article I linked to cautioned against horses learning to balance against it so I want to watch for that.

Here's our first 5 or so minutes today.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Oh, Hello Gravity

I fell off my horse today.  It happened.  Totally my fault, really.  Junior has been a spectacularly good boy as of late and today was no exception.  I decided, since his canter was feeling really good, to go into two-point and canter over a ground pole. Not even a big deal. The ground pole was 1st in a line of 3 sets of jump standards down the center line and there were two poles lying at the 3rd set.  I didn't want to go over those so I gently angled him out, but what I didn't think ahead about was the fact that I was  crossing the diagonal and would need to change leads before the corner into his not-as-good lead.  I didn't have much room or time so I asked for the change and he did some sort of half change followed by a stumble and he went down to a knee (or something - hard to say really) and off I went over his left shoulder, somehow ending up on my back with my legs underneath him, looking up at his chin.  My guess is I could have stuck it if I was in better riding shape and had more control over my balance. since  I don't believe he was moving forward anymore.  I really don't like that moment you know you're going off and you've lost control of where your body is going.

He stood over me and kept reaching down and kept nuzzling my face while I caught my breath, which was kind of adorable except that he must have hit his muzzle on the ground and he kept raining footing down on my face and smearing dirty arena slobber all over me.  I tried to tell him to back up since my left leg was between his legs and his left foot was much closer to my ... crotch (sorry, was there a better choice of words there?) that I thought appropriate or safe.  But he wouldn't back up and actually tried to step closer with his right foot but listened when I told him to stand.  I'd like to anthropomorphize that he wanted to be over me to protect me from the other horse in the arena.  Either that or he was trying to dig a hole to bury me in.

I felt my head hit but I'm pretty sure it was the last thing to hit.  Now I'm trying to decide if it was enough to replace my helmet. You can see the actual impact spot about equidistant between the Ovation logo and the silver vent on the right.  Ovation has a discounted accident replacement policy and of course says "Helmets involved in accidents should be replaced and not worn again!"  But was that little bump enough to qualify as an accident?  Probably.  Darn it.

My lower sacrum seemed to take the brunt of the impact and it felt like I hit pretty evenly but the dirt on my helmet is on the right side and my right shoulder is ouchie so I'm not really sure how it all went down... pun. I wish it were on film. I lay there long enough to make sure I could breath and my limbs all worked.  Then I got up and got back on and walked him around.  Then I untacked him, took some ibuprofin and sat with an ice pack for a while before heading home for a shower and another ice pack.

I've no idea what this is going to do to my back.  I'm ouchie already so it can't be good.  The plan for the rest of today and tomorrow is to do absolutely nothing but drugs and ice packs and maybe some stretching.  Then we'll see.

Hopefully my back is hurt less than my pride.  My confidence seems fine, I got back on after all, but it'll be a good long time before I ask for a flying lead change.  I'm more mad than anything and fearful of how much this might set me back.  Swearwords.

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Organized Show Girl

Somehow over the years I've been developing a system.  It's a work in progress.  I adjust and tweak after each show and until I have my own trailer with a tack room I will never be "done".  But here's a look at where my system is right now.

I've also created this handy-dandy show packing list divided by classes.  It's a guide at least.  View it Here.

I have two mottos when it comes to show organization:

1. A place for everything and every thing in it's place.

2. You need the right tools for the job.

I don't show all that much.  It's only been one or two a year. So why put this much cash and energy into keeping myself organized?  Because when I do get to do that rare show I want to be able to ENJOY it. You have read the title of this blog, right?  You know I can get frazzled WAY to easily.  I try very hard to avoid that.

I also have a very important commitment to getting ready for a show as soon as the show is over. What I mean is, as soon as I get home from a show (and eat a huge fast-food meal and sleep 10 hours) everything gets restored to show-ready condition.  Pads get washed, clothes get washed and pressed (yes, I said PRESSED), tack is cleaned, and everything is put back in the right bags, ready for the next show.  This way I don't end up realizing I can't find some little thing or that my shirt isn't washed or that my breeches split a seam as I'm dressing for my first class.  Also, with having to bum rides to shows it helps to be ready.  I was offered a spot to go to a show... tomorrow, and in fact and I am totally ready to go, but I'm trying not to over-do it with my back and all. And my shirt isn't ironed which means I broke my rule so I guess I can't go. :(
All laid out, ready to pack up.  
You've seen my luggage set before.  If you want your own, check them out at Tackwholesale.com.

1. Hanging Bridle Bag: English Halter, Eng. Bridle, Western Bridle, Screwdriver, Double-Sided Velcro stripes to hold the tack on the hooks during transport.

2. Garment Bag: I actually hate the design of this bag.  The zipper should be placed like #1. The center zipper makes it difficult to get items in/out, but it does have two huge pockets in front for accessories and I can separate the English stuff from the Western.  All pants, shirts, jackets, belts, gloves, socks, lint roller. Dry cleaning bags help keep stuff dust free when hanging in a dirty tack stall.  I also add a spare hanger to keep my show ribbons from ending up in a wrinkled ball in the bottom of a damp water bucket. ;)

3.  English Boot Bag: Boots ALWAYS with plastic shaper inserts, Spurs, Boot Hooks, Boot Jack, Spare pairs of black nylon trouser socks (not as fun but cheaper that Zocks and not obnoxious if they peek out over the boot tops.)

4.  Portable Blanket Bar.  The chains make it possible to hang pretty much anywhere. I like it on the front of my stall door with my show pads on show day and my work pads during schooling days, with hooks at each end for halters, towels, etc. I use a hair binder to keep the chains in check during storage/transportation.

5.  Tail Bag.  The tail really should be in a nylon tube, it's on my sewing list.  Also tucked in the bottom of the bag is black electrical tape and braid binders.

6.  Ring-side Shoulder Tote.  Baby wipes, finishing brush, Touch-up Spray, Rubber Gloves to wear while applying the Touch-up Spray, Hoof Polish Enhancer, A hoof pick, a hand towel, and Saddle Stick Spray - yes it does work.  

7.  Large Shoulder Tote: Grooming Tools, Braiding kit (if I actually braided my own horse), Spot Remover yeah, it works too, Hoof Polish, In Case of Emergency Contact #'s tag for my stall, large zip ties (I use one to create a place to hook our in-stall tie rope) vetrap, extra hanging hooks/snaps, tie rope, bucket straps, hand wipes, Hose nozzle, Ring-Side Shoulder Tote goes in here for transport, too.   

8.  Halter Bag: Like the garment bag, this zipper is not awesome.  Supposedly fits "multiple bridles" but it really only fits one western show halter comfortably.

 9.  Duffel Bag.  This holds a TON of stuff.  Rain gear (for hats, helmets, body), Tagging gun, Western Boots, Hunt Cap, Helmet, Accessory Folder (#11), under-chaps stretchie pants, Checkbook, and whatever else I throw in during the day like my purse and the clothes I wore to the show that morning.  Next show there will be a clipboard to hold the showbill and pattern sheets!

10.  Western Hat Can.  Hat, cleaning sponge, and fake hair bun - which I've not used yet.

11.  Accessory Folder.  Back numbers, number magnets, shoelaces, safety pins, Chicago screws, waterloop ends, bandaids, earrings, makeup, hair needs, sharpie, pen, etc. This has proved really helpful when asking show helpers/strangers to grab last minute things.  Folds up flat and fits in the duffel.

A note about numbers.  So far, every show I've been to allows you to choose your own number rather than having to take the ones they provide.  They keep a master sheet with all numbers and you just claim your spot.  June 15th is my birthday so my number is 615.  I have two kinds of numbers.  I have two sets of laminated numbers that are attached to my pads with a tagging gun - simple and secure. I also have a shaped number that is not laminated but backed with contact paper.  This number has holes for tying around the waist.  I also stitched magnets into the back of my western jacket that are spaced the same as the holes so all my helper has to do pick up the outer magnets, and put them back down with the number underneath.  I should really get some sort of award for that one.

There's empty space! It should be filled with something!  But what?

Yeah, it's all in there.
Saddles, show bridles, and English Show Halter are kept at the barn and I have padded matching bags for the two saddles as well as two folding racks.  When I'm ready for a show, I pack this all in my car along with the empty saddle bags, take the saddle bags and the hanging bridle bag into the barn and pack saddles, bridles, schooling pad, my western spurs, lunge line, lunge whip, half chaps, etc. And yes, to answer that puzzled look on your face, this stuff fills my ENTIRE civic, leaving only my driver's seat.  I can only take a passenger if my western saddle stays home. :)

Here it all is when it's just arrived at a show.

Next on the list to add:
Show Blanket Case, Post show kit with seam ripper and comb for taking out braids.

Someday I want this: a PROFESSIONAL Tack Dolly from Schneiders.  Doing only 1 or 2 shows a year does not justify the expense but someday I want to roll that out of my trailer and make ONE TRIP into the show barn... Sigh...

Any questions?
So what are your tried and true Show Organization tips?

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Carrot Stretches

Carrot stretches are the only (well, okay maybe I cheat on my own rules sometimes) way Junior gets fed treats by hand.  When I first acquired him, he was extremely impolite and would not keep his mouth out of my personal space.  Remember this video?  He's a LOT better now after a long period without ANY treats by hand.  Showmanship training was also helpful in teaching him to keep his nose to himself.  But even though he's better about his manners, I still only give him treats as incentive to do his stretching, or I'll toss one in his feed tub or if he's been particularly wonderful he'll get a treat by hand, but only if he obeys a verbal "Back up!" and steps back from me rather than mauling me.

Stretching is good for him as he, like most horses I suppose, tends to be stiff and resistant to bending.

It's also amusing for anyone watching, and you know how he likes to be the center of attention!

Friday, August 3, 2012

A New Friend

I thought I would introduce my new friend to the blogosphere.  She's not a pony, but she's quite cute.
Here she is! Her name is Button.

"I found dis spot here.  Dis my spot now.  Also, I haz LAZUR vizin."

Also, I have some Breyer horses I'd like to rehome.  Prices range from $10 to $65, but feel free to make an offer.  You pay shipping. Boxed ones are re-boxed but none have been played with.  Let me know if you're interested.