Sunday, February 28, 2010

It's in the mail!

Work has been all-consuming lately. I've been working 8-14 hour days all week and this weekend and will do the same Monday and Tuesday. Ugh. But it pays the pony bills so I am done complaining.

I did run out to the barn for an hour or so this morning. I got a text the other day that he'd broken a bucket strap. I think he may have gotten himself caught on the bucket. I can't say for sure because he's also been known to chew on the straps which weakens them, but it looks like one of the handle loops (where it attaches to the top edge of the bucket) is bent and he has a new-ish owie on his nostril. Not anything major but it's possible that those three things (nostril, bent metal, broken strap) fit together. I'm going to spray them with McNasty once they're fixed.

We practiced showmanship for a bit. We seem to go back and forth with the pivoting. What I tried to work on today was keeping him standing still until I give an actual signal to do something. Because of his tendency to try too hard he will move if I turn towards him and start to back before I give him the signal, or pivot before I give him the signal. Though that would be a good thing, he doesn't wait to find out what I want him to do so I sort of walked around him a bunch today turning towards him and away from him and then giving clear signals for "back" and "pivot" and "jog off", etc. It worked okay. He got annoyed after a while and started waving a foot around but I think he started to figure me out.

I am sore from riding bareback on Wednesday. Last time I rode bareback I was sore for a few days, too. Not sure if it's something I'm doing wrong, or if my back just can't take it. The thought of that makes me feel old. I have never been "athletic" or anything, but the idea that by body has hit an age where some things just aren't possible is quite depressing! I have been dealing with lower back problems for years but when I'm riding consistently I don't have nearly as many painful days as I had while I wasn't riding so I'm a bit confused. I've spent the whole month (yes it was a short month) riding without stirrups and I haven't had any pain so I didn't expect it to be so different without a saddle. I did notice I felt more comfortable this ride than I did the last time I did bareback, so that was good, but four days later I'm still not 100%. I spent Thursday-Saturday with therma-care wraps on and lots of ibuprofen. Chiropractor tomorrow, then work work work until Wednesday.

On a much more exciting note, I got an email that my show halter is on it's way! Thank goodness! Now I can stop hunting for that and move on to a new pad and getting started on the jacket pattern when it comes.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Patches and Showmanship

A friend's mom runs an embroidery business and I just got my first order! She and I designed a monogram for all my tack bags. She prefers not to embroider directly on items that aren't easily replaced, just in case something goes wrong, and I didn't feel like shipping ALL my stuff back to MN, so we decided to to patches instead. Plus, if I ever want to change the monogram or sell the bags, I can remove the patches. Having matching monogrammed tack bags is one of those "things" I wanted so badly as a kid that it makes me giddy to finally have them! Of course, when I was a kid all my stuff was going to be hunter green and purple.... but I'm very happy with my basic black! I got enough to do all of my bags, and a few extra for bags yet-to-be. I might even put one on his blanket, but we'll see. I'll get them all on before we go to our first show, but I couldn't help but put one on the halter bag right away so I could show it off.

And here's a new video of some showmanship practice. I set up a simple pattern and had TJ stand as judge/final cone. For some reason he started pivoting really poorly so I spent some time re-schooling the pivot after the video and he got better. I have a hard time keeping ME equidistant from his pivot foot and that's probably part of the reason he moves that foot. But like everything else, we just need to practice a lot more.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Unfortunate Wardrobe - A History

We have a saying in theatre to remind us that the audience sees our costumes "at 30 feet on a running horse" which is also true for show clothes, literally. Other than halter classes, the judge sees you from a distance, and in rail classes nearly totally from the side view. I like to be creative with my show clothes and making them myself is more cost-effective than buying custom or even off-the-rack.

Long before I learned anything about costumes I was interested in show clothes. It's honestly one of the reasons I wanted to show western. When I started showing English I didn't have my own tack and every piece of clothing I did have was either used or the "economy" (cheapest) thing of it's kind in the catalogs. I bought a used hunt coat for $25 and just sold it last spring for $25. I saw pictures in magazines and I had a Hobby Horse catalog in the early 90's. I didn't have money and I didn't know anything about sewing, but I wanted to look like the pictures I saw in the catalog. My first Western show outfit was black jeans (chaps were expensive and weren't allowed in 4-H so I just never had them) a white shirt, a red scarf, and a fashion vest that was my sisters.
I tried to make it a fitted vest by just taking in the sideseams and shoulder seams. I had cheap synthetic boots and a cheapo kids cowboy hat. My color (red) was selected because I just happened to have a red/gold vest and the hat came with a red ribbon on it. My saddle pad only matched because it was the trophy I won that morning (Reserve Champion Junior Showmanship) and was selected by my boyfriend who worked at the farm store sponsoring the trophies. He chose that pad because he knew I was using red. True story. Oh, and I did the Showmanship in English tack - but got a western pad as a trophy. I still have that pad. It's flat. I used that outfit in 1994 and 1995. There's no picture from '94 but Banee even looks embarrased that I'm wearing it, even though I "upgraded" to a tux shirt and a discarded prom bow-tie. Class. Pure Class. Note the (borrowed) buckstitched tack.

Somehow in '96 I convinced my mom to make me a vest. We bought a pattern from Suitability and some sparkly purple plaid fabric. Gold lamé piping was all over the catalogs so we did that, and gold buttons. I got a new purple/black blanket that year and a new hat for $25 that I'm STILL using. I got Ariat boots that year too that I'm STILL using. Lark looks just as thrilled with my choice as Banee always had.

The next year there was some BS about not allowing 4-Hers to wear anything but a white shirt so I went for simplicity in '97, my last year in 4-H. Oh the wonderful figure swallowing blousiness of the 90's.

In '98 I got my hat shaped and since I had an Arab thought the taco look was the way to go. I had a year of college under my belt and knew a little about sewing so I ripped the gold piping off and made self-covered buttons and a new tie...and matching showbow/hairnet. HOT.

I didn't show again until 2001 and by then I could sew fine on my own. The style had moved away from vests (we realized how much we looked like waiters?) and blouses were the way to go. I also discovered Show Clean shampoo that year. Look how Banee glows! I bought some chaps off ebay but they did NOT fit well. They were made for a fat kid, so though they fit in the thigh and waist, the rise on them was LOOOOOW, which is not a good look for chaps! I sold them right after that show for the same price I bought them for.

And of course you've seen the 2009 Purple sparkly number which will be sold this year as I move back to a totally neutral color pallette. Here's the design so far: I'm thinking about pairing it with a buckskin/tan hat, but I'm not sure how that's going to look.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Gratuitous Photos

Junior was so mouthy today that during our showmanship practice I let him suck on the leadrope and we kept on practicing shankless (handler not holding the shank/rope). He did pretty good actually!

This is the most snow I've seen since I moved to Ohio and we're not supposed to get a day over freezing for another 10 days or more. Yuck. I had to shovel out the barn door so we could dump manure outside into the honey wagon. (You know, I have no idea why it's called that...) So I will most likely be a hurting unit tomorrow. THOSE muscles are not in shape and I had a short shovel, but it had to be done and I AM the girl from Minnesota after all!

Here are some photos taken by Max's girl from yesterday. I still haven't been able to witness them playing together, but during spring break I'll have days off and will hopefully catch this myself. They sure enjoy their little four-some. Max is back in turnout now and the group dynamic seems to be just fine. Cuteness. Zippy (mare who used to HATE Junior) is the redhead in the blue. Charlie the Welsh is the grey pony, and of course, June-Bug still in his miss-matched attire, but I haven't found any new neck wounds so it's worth it!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Geeez Lady, I know MY leads!

In my lesson on Monday, KAT had me do some loping in arena size figure-8's, not the circle kind, but the kind where you cross the diagonal of the arena. There's probably some fancy name for it, but I'm over it. Anyway, she had us doing this on one continuous lead so we were doing a counter canter, too. ( I think this was an excercise for us to help him collect, reach underneath, stay up right and slow down, but that's not the point of the story.) I have been very lucky that Junior has always picked up correct leads very well, minus the occasional oopsie, which was nearly always something *I* did. For example, watch the video from the September show.
For a very uncoordinated eight-legged moose, my horse just would NOT stay on a counter canter! He kept swapping to the correct lead about three strides before we'd get to a corner. I had to laugh at him.

Sometimes when I ask for the right lead he'll want to turn immediately off of the wall, so today I tried to ask him for the right lead when we were tracking left and then keep him on that lead all the way, doing more of the counter canter from Monday. He was NOT having it. Again, about three strides BEFORE a corner he would swap. I'd swap him back. About three strides to the next corner he'd swap again, even though I was careful to keep the same leg on him and stay quiet in the saddle. I did find that if I collected him a lot more he would stay for a corner, but never two in a row. It was exhausting, probably for both of us.

I know it's possible to over-use a counter canter so I didn't do much of it, but I found it interesting that he really KNOWS his leads and was clearly annoyed that I had forgotten.

Right Discipline for your horse?

I honestly wrote this post last night BEFORE I caught up with the Fugly Blog this morning (link above)....

Here's a question for you: Have you ever had a horse that you needed to change disciplines with? Specifically one that you purchased to use for one discipline, then after some time/training/etc. determine the horse was better suited to something else? OR did you stay with the discipline and change the horse?

I'm not in that place right now, but I'm not yet convinced Junior will excel in Western Pleasure, and there was a point in my life I considered doing dressage...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Things I should NOT know.

I know most of you will feel my pain in this.

About 17 months ago I bought a horse.... and a whole bunch of stuff....and paid for 17 months of board, shoeing, vet care, training, lessons, showing fees.... more stuff.... and I did some quick math, which I shouldn't have done. Seriously, I should not have done this. If I had been putting all that money in the bank instead of into the (lifelong dream of having my very own) pony, I would have well over $15,000 in the bank, before interest. I threw up in my mouth a little when I realized that. And really, that calculation is only the horse, board, and a few pieces of equipment. I have all my receipts and could calculate it all, but I think my heart would stop.

I've been annoyed at myself for doing this and I'm a little sick about it.

But then I asked myself, all right then self, what would you (me) do with $15,000+? Honestly? After much though I came to the conclusion that I'd probably put it into my lifelong dream of having my very own pony.

So I guess all is well. :) All things considered, I need him in my world. I need the distraction from a job that isn't ideal, I need the exercise, I need the sanity booster. I know most of you understand that.

Do you watch Lost? I'm a bit of a geek about it. Right now on the show we are seeing what would happen to the main characters if one major event had not happened in their past. We're seeing it, but they are not. We only get one life. We only get to know what happens with the choices we make, not the ones we don't make.

Life is like a coin. You can spend it any way you wish, but you can only spend it once. - Charles Swindoll

Saturday, February 6, 2010

No Clinic & No Electricity.

I found out around 10pm that we were not going to the clinic, which was fine with me. I didn't want to get up and drive in that crap. All would have been well, but we lost power in my house sometime around 1:20am. I was awakened to all 3 of my smoke alarms telling me they had low batteries. I looked towards the clock and there was no numbers....therefore no electricity. I didn't sleep well after that and got up around 8:30 to 60 degrees IN my house. I made coffee by boiling water (thank you gas stove!) and by 10am it was cold enough that I decided I might as well go to the barn and be cold as stay home and be cold. I practiced showmanship in the aisle and bagged grain. I was almost ready to leave but then Max's people came and we shoveled a path to the turnout and put our boys out. They had a GREAT time cantering through the knee-deep snow! These pictures were taken yesterday during the storm. The sun is out now but we have around 10" and more in the drifts. I'm home and glad to find the power was on when I got home. Right now I'm trying to decide what to do about blankets. I bought a neck-cover to go with my blankets but realized after it came that it has specific attachment points that go with my Techno-Fleece, but do not work well with my old heavyweight turnout. You can see in the pictures. So one thought is to buy a heavy stable-blanket with a belly band or blanket liner with holes for leg straps and use the Techno-Fleece as an outer layer during turnout. OR I'll have to buy another heavyweight turnout and neck cover. This horse is starting to have nicer clothes than me. But he's so cute!

Friday, February 5, 2010


Fugly Horse of the Day had a post recently that I am going to borrow. I know most of you read Cathy's blog so this won't be new to you, but if not, you can view the blog entry HERE. Essentially there was a photo taken of this horse at a show who has enough APHA and PtHA points in halter classes (judging the conformation of the horse) to make anyone who knows anything about equine conformation to say "Um, wait, WTF?!?!" Some called it a "roach back" some just said hi had a "big hip" and a short back. Others said it was hunched up because he was about to move. Whatever the heck is going on, he looks like a deformed horse. But that's not the point of my blog...

At the left you will find the picture of the horse in question, and then a quick photoshop fix I did in about 5 minutes. All it takes is a few clicks in the Liquify Filter and you've got a fixed horse. I still think he has a small hip, but that was more mouse clicks than I wanted to do. The horse I almost bought before buying Junior was over at the knee and had long toes/low heel. I Photoshopped a picture of him and "fixed" his front legs. If only it was really that easy in real life!!!! I first learned about this back in 1994 when I toured the offices of Arabian Horse Times on a Minnesota 4-H field trip. An employee showed us how she could remove things (handlers, lead ropes, flag poles, fences, etc) from the background. She then showed us how she could actually change the conformation of a horse with the same techniques. I was not very computer literate at the time, it was long before I had a use for Photoshop myself. The woman was careful to mention that they would NEVER to that to a horse in their magazine and ONLY would touch the backgrounds of pictures. If only that was actually true.

I am waiting to hear whether or not we'll go to the clinic tomorrow. We're having the worst storm of the year. Weather is very relative, of course, and for Minnesota this would just be a normal snowfall, but for central Ohio (where we do not get the Lake-Effect snow) it's a big ol' mess. We really don't have the plow arsenal to handle 6"-9" of snow in one day. And watching the news cracks me up. They were explaining on the news what an ice scraper was....cracks me up! So I haven't gotten the cancellation call yet, so I'm preparing to get up at the butt-crack-of-pre-dawn, get some coffee and head to the barn. The bag is packed and the clothes are washed. I didn't get to the barn tonight so he's not clipped (he just needs a bridle path and his beard trimmed so he looks less wintery) or clean. Hopefully we'll have time to do that before we have to be seen by a judge...and audience! With all the prep I'm trying to do there's NO way we'll end up going. This is how my life works. Oh, and my halter hasn't come into the store yet and they aren't sure it will. Grrrrr.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Neat Stuff About Our Week.

Following a challenge from one of my fellow bloggers: Eventer79 I am attempting a month with no stirrups. I am perfectly aware that riding with no stirrups in a western saddle is MUCH easier than in an English. But regardless of how "hard" it is or isn't, it is still excellent for building better balance. I wasn't going to do it at first, but then I reminded myself that I need to not be such a pussy. It's also good for JR to feel the stirrups jangling around. I do want to keep his sensitivity, but he is known to over react a bit. It's not quite as easy to remove stirrups from a western saddle, so they'll just dangle. I rode my Monday lesson with no stirrups and I rode tonight after my showmanship lesson sans stirrups, too. My core can feel it, and so can my legs and rear. I look forward to seeing how much easier it is at the end of the month!

I do have to cheat, though. KAT has asked me to ride in a clinic on Saturday, and I should probably use stirrups. We're not going for sure, but probably. The clinic organizers called and said they didn't have anyone signed up to ride in the western pleasure/horsemanship portion of the clinic and asked if she could bring some horses/riders. She asked me and two others in the barn. There are so few of us who ride western! I'm looking forward to free advice and a chance to get Junior out and about without the pressures or prep-work of showing. We haven't been off the farm since September 20th so it'll also be good to see if his trailering issues are still absent. He's not bad, but his PO said he was not easy to load. The first time we loaded him to bring him home he was tough to get on and then he did it again to the first show, but KAT schooled him for a minute and he's loaded quietly and calmly ever since. I'm looking forward to Saturday! Plus it's our first outing after stopping the SmartCalm and I am anxious to have proof that he didn't need the SmartCalm!

Showmanship is going very well! He's consistently improving and improving his consistency. We did several 360's tonight with his pivot foot firmly planted, worked on backing straight, timing how to stop with his hip at a marker, and using 4 cones to check 90's 180's 270's and 360's. He has really ceased with the biting and is learning to keep his head down. He's such a social pony that he likes to watch other horses and he got distracted several times but overall he was very good and I'm getting better at making the cues more exact.

Oh, and the halter is ordered, :D and the lead arrived yesterday. Squeee!