Thursday, December 20, 2012

'Tis the Season!

While I am enjoying some much needed family time in Minnesota, Junior is enjoying his brand new NibbleNet!

We'll return to regular posting after the New Year! You can look forward to some useful tutorials and of course, plenty of over anxiousness!

Friday, December 14, 2012

It's Winter. Boo.

The muddy/icy Ohio winter is upon us.  I find it frustrating watching the paddocks go from sticky slick mud to frozen over and back again.  At least in MN we had a good snow-pack for most of the winter.  This freeze-thaw-freeze-thaw is bull cheese.

Aside from the clouds of mud/dust I get to inhale while grooming, it makes for somewhat decreased turnout.  I appreciate not having my horse turned out in unsafe conditions, but I wish things could be perfect... don't we all!

You all know how smart (annoying) my horse is and how boredom has been an issue with him on and off, especially in the winter months.  This time around he's made a habit of dumping both of his water buckets overnight, soaking his bedding and making the morning feeder have to clean his buckets before refilling.  Joy.

In addition to rehanging his old Stall Snack, I was able to get my BO's approval to start using a slow feed hay bag for a while.  For now I've got the one I bought for shows (that he ripped during the first use) and has figured out how to get hay out of the top.  I am surprised it has lasted over 24 hours, but I don't want to push my luck.

So I also broke down and ordered a Nibble Net.  I've been eyeing them a long time.  It will arrive after I leave for the holidays, but you can expect a product review when I feel like it's been thoroughly tested.

The chiropractic adjustment seems to have done a good job and he's feeling looser and smoother than he has in a while.

I was pleasantly surprised that his new joint supplement, Acti-Flex 4000 passed the taste approval and he has been licking his feed pan clean.  I gave him his first dosage with only a pinch of grain and he ate it all up and continued licking for a long while afterwards.

I am hopeful that maybe, just maybe, all this money into supplements and hay bags and lessons will pay off..... fingers crossed.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Tricky Puzzle

In my last post I mentioned having a very enlightening experience during a judging clinic thingy.  I was going to post about it when I got some photos from the event, but photos or not, it's time to tell you what's been goin' on.

My barn hosted a multi-state 4-H judges "test" where folks hoping to be granted their judges cards would be scored on how closely their placings came to those of the advisors, or at least that's what I gathered.  I'm sure there's more to it than that.  But anyway; boarders and students rode in 6 basic classes you'd expect at a 4-H show.  There were 4 riders/handlers in each class. Junior and I did the Showmanship, Western Pleasure, Horsemanship, Hunter Under Saddle and Equitation classes.  For those keeping track, that's FIVE out of the six classes.  I knew this would be a lot of riding for both of us so I wasn't expecting stellar performance from him, especially in the western since we've not been using that tack much aside from the trail ride a few weeks ago.  Even with what I was prepared for, I was surprised by what happened.  Maybe, "enlightened" is the right word.

So here's what we discovered that day:
1. The button for bending to the right must be broken.
2. The button for walking a straight line is also broken.
3. The button for trotting a straight line is sticky.
4. My equitation is abominable.  I was schooled by girls who haven't even been alive for as many years as I've been riding.
5. He was better in the western (earlier in the morning) than the english (later in the morning) so the tack wasn't as important as our lack of stamina.

Number 4 was kind of a blow, but I think it blew me in a positive direction.  I haven't been in regular lessons (and The Bug hasn't been in regular training) in over two years.  We've had maybe three lessons in the last two years.  The show last May had me feeling like we were maintaining well without them.... but maybe not so much.  The Advisors gave oral reasons and they highly praised the equitation of the BO's students.... and not so much mine.  So the BO must be teaching effectively...

Solution?  Lessons!  We'll start doing weekly private lessons with the BO in January with goals of improved Equitation and eventually low jumps. Eeeek!

Numbers 1-3 put all sorts of things into my brain, especially with that left stifle thingy I keep feeling, even though I expected him to have worked out of that by now.  I started thinking that at 12 years young my pony might need a little joint support and maybe it's time to call the chiropractor. PLUS, this last week he was suddenly girthy.  Like dragon face and tail wringing kind of girthy, not just his occasional cranky attitude.

I did some research on supplements and then asked the BO and the BM their opinions on Thursday.  While chatting with the BM I mentioned trying to schedule the chiro we both use, and she mentioned B was having one out that very night.  So after a few text messages, we were to see the chiro that night.

I LOVE our new chiropractor!!!!  He was extremely professional and down to earth, fascinating to watch, and he explained EVERYTHING he was doing in both proper terminology and in layman's English. I watched him work on 6 horses and each one was different, though there were some common issues shared by a few.

The diagnosis?  In addition to the sacral issues, shoulder issues, neck issues, and poll issues,  we have our first sign of arthritis in his right knee, which is not surprising on a 12 year old.  He also palpated positive for ulcers.  Hey remember way back in the before time in the long long ago when I talked about his grooming/girthing issues and you all suggested ulcers and I didn't believe you because that was the only thing on the list of symptoms he had?  Well, ooops.  And now I'm a terrible horse-mom. :(  Aside from the girthiness this week I didn't suspect ulcers, but I saw the reaction he had to the palpation and the chiro has nothing to gain by having me treat ulcers that don't exist.

The plan?  We ordered the recommended ulcer treatment and the recommended liquid joint supplement.  Hopefully it works and he's willing to eat it because I ordered a gallon and a quart.... it was a combo deal.  The doc also taught us how to stretch the knees to keep the fluid moving and a new carrot stretch to help with his tight poll and TMJ.  We might start slow-feed bagging his hay to keep him busy longer and I'm going to put his hanging treat toy back in his stall when I can find some lumber.  The problem with this horse and bagged hay is that he is not shy about trying his hardest to rip the bag open that I question the longevity. While most horses are content to pull the hay out, he just grabs the bag and pulls until it rips, then eats out of the larger hole he created. He's a smart one.

As instructed, he got a light workout today of long & low trotting.  He felt straighter than he has in a while and we trotted around on the buckle really easily.  He had two decent sized trips in the first lap (the kind like when you catch your toe on a crack in the sidewalk) but aside from that he felt good.  At the end I let him walk around whatever direction he chose and he chose to walk over a bunch of the very low crossrails that were set up.  I didn't think slow, careful steps would be harmful and he went to them on his own so I let him.  I noticed his right shoulder raises more than his left and now that makes sense that he can't bent his right knee as much so he has to lift that shoulder more.  Hopefully the supplement, the stretches, and our upcoming January get-back-to-training time will fix it all.

The late November grass tastes better in the sunshine.  Ahhhhhhhhh.

Also, check out the For Sale page! New stuff!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Increased Inventory

I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving!  I spent the morning feeding horses at the barn, then made a stuffed turkey and shared it with two of my girlfriends who are also far away from family.

Post in Progress::: We did a judging class thingy a week ago, I'll post on that when I get a hold of some photos.  VERY enlightening experience for me!  Stay tuned for more!

I've been increasing my inventory of show clothes for sale!  I've yet to add them all to the For Sale page, but they'll get there.  Feel free to inquire if something strikes your fancy!

Here are 2 new vests, 3 new shirts,2 used jackets, and 1 new jacket ready to sell. There's also a blank jacket there, it's in Hobby Horse's Midnight (a discontinued color so I don't have the pants to match), size Small-Medium and it is currently undecorated. If you want it, we can design it together, so claim it if you want it!

In between stitching, I've been organizing my studio.  I live in a 2 BR apartment, so the spare bedroom needs to also be a guest room, therefore I'm somewhat limited in how much room I can dedicate to sewing.  Someday when I have more room I will have an amazing studio, you just wait.

In the mean time, I'm working with what I have, including a folding banquet table propped up on bed risers.  This table is my cutting table and painting table.

Above the table is my new pegboard I made from a fugly frame I found at a thrift store and some paint.

Ziplock bags on the right hold 3 more shirts ready to stitch.

I've been exploring some painting techniques using contact paper stencils, trying to decide what to do with the Midnight jacket!

Also a bit of research on pearl snaps for an upcoming project.

Stay tuned!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Fall Trail Ride

We were very lucky to have sunny 70 degree weather yesterday, for today it is rainy and getting colder by the second.  Booooo.

So let's focus on YESTERDAY!  We got to go on a trail ride!  Zip and his partner, B, invited us to go to our nearby park to enjoy the 5 miles of easy trails.  Junior, as you may remember, is not a seasoned trail horse...YET... but he gets more confident each time we go out.  I was expecting a challenge as we were experiencing 10-20 mph winds!  But we were brave and it paid off.  The park was busy and we encountered countless strollers, bikes, loud kids, dogs, joggers, and frisbee golfers. The bridle trail skirts the boundary of the park but comes near the other trails a few times.

Junior loaded/unloaded like a grown-up horse with zero issues. He was on high alert as usual and had a moment of panic when Zip was led to the other side of the trailer so we tied them both to the back.  Zip isn't super fond of Junior, but they seemed to be enjoying each other and were gently lipping each other's faces....remember that image for later...

The trail was pretty uneventful - YAY! Junior and I still doesn't agree on a safe following distance so I let him lead sometimes rather than continuously pulling him off of Zip's tail. He seems to want to get through the scary stuff faster. We had a few quick rideable spooks, once to figure out what a group of teenage frisbee golfers was up to, and once when we came around a corner and there was a light grey patch of fine crushed rock and we found ourselves facing the wrong direction... so Junior let Zip go first.

There were lovely long moments when Junior dropped his head and plodded along at a safe distance like he might have actually been enjoying it.  He remained very watchful the whole time but I was able to keep him on a very loose rein and it was a great way to end the outdoor riding season.

When we finished the ride, the boys were licking eachother's faces again.  B took a phone call and we hand grazing the boys.  Before I could intervene, Junior took a big step towards Zip and got too close, Zip responded with a wild stallion moment and Junior came away with a scrape around his eye, but no real damage.  Oh yeah, that's whey they aren't turned out together.... Zip does not have the patience for Junior's cuddliness.  Ah well.  Boys.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Third Place!

A very big THANK YOU to everyone who took the time to vote for my jacket in the Hobby Horse contest on facebook.  I received third place with 202 votes.  The 2nd place had 341 and the winner had 476.

So what did I win?  It looks like $100 Hobby Horse Gift Certificate....


1. More Elements to build MORE show clothes? (BTW, there's a new blouse on my For Sale page!)

2. A plain black blouse to wear in Horsemanship and with a vest for Pleasure?

3. A personalized Black/Grey nylon halter for turnout? Since I'm not using my pretty new brown and pink one for turnout...

What to choose!?!?!?!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Congress Masters Western Pleasure 2012

According to the AAQHC website: "The Equine Chronicle Congress Masters Western Pleasure class is open to two-year-old horses that have not previously shown (maiden horses) and is approved by NSBA. "

These are two-year-old horses.  Most, if not all of the riders are pros. I recognized some names but I didn't bother to google thme all. Most ride client's horses, the winner this year was the horse's owner as well as exhibitor and they received a check for $75,000.   The video includes the whole class and the placings so you get a nice look at some of the body angles as the winners lope up to receive their awards.

Monday, October 29, 2012

AAQHCongress Report 2012

Wednesday is the LAST DAY to vote in the Hobby Horse Designer Contest!!!!  A HUGE Thank You to everyone who has already taken the time to vote!  It's been so fun reading all the positive comments from strangers!

And now, the Congress Report!

The 2012 All American Quarter Horse Congress has ended.  This year I was able to attend Congress on 4 separate days.  Usually I only get one day, but my work schedule allowed for more fun this year.  I splurged on the $70 Whole-show parking pass instead of the $25 per day passes.  The pass saved me a little cash, but the best part was that it allowed me to park IN the grounds rather than in the far-away parking lots.  I'll admit it made me feel cool getting through the Pass Gate amongst all the giant hauling trucks, and parking above the barns, right next to the shopping areas.

So here's what I have to say about this year....

Holy Hideous Pleasure Jackets, Batman!  I know that everyone is entitled to their own taste and opinions and I really do respect and appreciate the work of the artists and artisans, especially when I know the kind of creativity, time, and patience it takes to work with these materials, but DEAR HEAVENS some of the show jackets I saw were HIDEOUS.  And yet there were many I drooled over. It's a strange thing, western show clothing is an acquired taste, and it morphs from year to year with trends coming in and out.  Right now it seems the IT thing is to have a pleasure jacket absolutely COVERED in appliques of everything from leather to lace, plus airbrushing and hand painting, then cover everything with hardware ranging from crystals to nail heads to chain to brooches, to metal spots, to gigantic crystals, to feathers and fringe made from leather or chain or..... and that's all on one jacket.  And they are HEAVY! I guess "less is less" right now! Each booth had rack after rack of unique jackets.  It's hard to tell what the original jacket color was.  Many of the booths had "jewelry store lighting": multiple points of light so anything sparkly is REALLY sparkly.  Most displays featured a jacket or two on rotating forms so the jackets acted like mirror balls.  The booths don't allow photographs so I don't have any, sorry.  :(   I'll toss some links below of some of the companies that were there.
Had to use crappy digital zoom. :(

The weirdest thing I saw was a gal in the Novice Amateur Showmanship class whose hat brim was completely covered in crystals on the underside.  I think I prefer a more workmanlike appearance when showing; but it was pretty!

Speaking of Pleasure - I was completely grossed out by the 2-year-old Western Pleasure Futurity we watched.  Again, I respect that everyone is entitled to their own opinions and preferences, but if I saw a horse moving like that in the field I would call a vet immediately.  "Natural" my ass. Those poor babies. It's not natural and it's not pretty and it doesn't even look comfortable.  The jog is apparently now acceptable as some weird perverted walk where the leg pairs aren't in sync, and yes, horses doing this advanced to the finals.  At the lope, horses have so little forward motion that the momentum their bodies need to go in a 3-beat turns into VERTICAL motion.  Heads were bobbing along so much I could count the number of rails between the upswing and the down.  And can you say over-canted?  If your horse has to be at a 45 degree angle from the rail to lope, you're doin' it wrong.  Yes, I know it's a hip strengthening and under-reaching exercise to bring the hip in, but if your nose is on the rail and your butt is a horse-length from the rail...  Once I got used to watching it and my gag reflex lessened I actually fell asleep for a minute, lulled by the ridiculous organ music like a carousel on downers.

Hunter Under Saddle. I saw something I've never noticed before and I wonder what on earth is going on.  In the WP classes I watched, the exhibitors hugged the rail, really hugged it.  In the HUS classes, the horses were 6, 8, 15 feet off the rail ALL THE TIME.  I even watched groups of exhibitors cut off the entire short end of the arena over and over again even when the rail was clear. They'd stay 4-6 deep in a tighter revolution rather than spread out and hug the rail like in WP.  It was the same number of horses in the classes but the HUS looked chaotic as if the closer you got to the judge, the better your score would be.... Maybe I'm doin' it wrong?

I was amused that the vast majority of the horses in the HUS classes were all humongous, DARK bay, DARK brown, or black, and very few had any markings at all.  Of the 20 finalists in one class, only three were non-dark.  One was roan, one buckskin, and one grey.  I heard a LOT of variations of "Invitation" in the names of the placed horses.  Let's all hope in 20 years we can't trace some yet-undiscovered genetic mutation back to Invitation Only.  We'll have another HYPP/Impressive fiasco.

Speaking of Breeds.  This is a Quarter Horse show.  It's called "the world's largest single breed horse show" and boasted 19,861 entries with 5,000 horses, but if you line up the champions from Halter, Western Pleasure, Hunter Under Saddle, and Barrels, and Reining, you will see what looks and moves like 5 different breeds. The "Versatile Quarter Horse" had become multiple specialized sub-breeds.  I wonder if the AQHA will ever consider typing the horses (beyond the Appendix) similar to the way Pinto and Welsh do.  And yeah, this from the girl who has a Paint that's half TB.  FYI, When we register with Pinto we'll be in the Hunter Type.

I did come across this article about a two-year-old stallion, Heza Ivy Invitation, by Invitation Only, who made the finals and placed in both HUS and WP this year.  Even his owners recognize how rare it is nowadays to have a horse, especially this young, excel in more than one discipline.  I wish I could have seen him go in both classes to compare.

So what did I buy at the Congress' SEVEN ACRE shopping mall?  Not much, really.

I replaced our too-big, multi-times-repaired, no-longer-waterproof Tekno Fleece Turnout blanket with a new one.  I bought a new neck cover too, but returned it after I realized it was not re-designed with velcro rather than clips like some of the other styles were, so I'll just repair the old one rather than buying a new one.

I finally broke down after years and years and years of wanting an embroidered halter.  Instead of getting one of the company's halters I picked up a pretty Weaver Sedona halter and lead from Rod's and took it to the embroiderers booth to match the pink in the lead rope. It won't become his every-day-hang-on-the-stall-turnout halter, but I'll use it for events or whenever I want to. I think it's adorable.  His opinion? Oh well.  He can man up and wear pink.

Junior is man enough to wear pink... AND not to freak out when he steps on his lead rope.

I also got myself some of my favorite boot socks and a new sparkly cell phone holster that matches my boots, my belt, and my spur straps.  Uh oh, do I really have that much bling?  Ooops!

Just a few of the show clothing companies I saw at Congress:
Show Clothes Unlimited - has supplies and instructional DVD's on how to make your own!
La Collezione di Anna
Carolina Beverly Hills
Show Girls Apparel
Show Me Again

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Overanxious Horse Owner Gets Overanxious About Social Media

I've entered a phase of social media usage that I didn't anticipate entering.  I don't know quite how I feel about it.... so I'll just talk about it.

I started this blog on a whim.  The lady I bought Junior from asked me, during my first test ride, if I read "Fugly Horse of the Day".  I didn't know what she was talking about, but I checked it out and started following the blog.  I don't think I even knew what a blog was.  Fugly was already a popular blog back in August of 2008, but it hadn't hit the crazy troll-infested weirdness that happened towards the end of Fugly's authorship. If you don't know what I'm talking about just consider blissfully unaware.  I still can't get it off my reading list, no matter how many times I unfollow it... but that's another store.

Anyway, discovered that many of the commenters had blogs, too and before long I had figured out to create a reading list of my favorite blogs.  When I finally decided to buy Junior, it was a few days before we were able to pick him up and bring him back to his waiting stall.  I was out of my mind and I needed to vent.  So without any idea what I was doing, I started a blog.  I didn't have a goal, I didn't have a style in mind, I just wanted to write down what I was thinking/feeling and hoped it would help me process the very anxiety-producing act of buying my first horse.

For some strange reason I began receiving "followers".  I admit being kind of excited but also confused why anyone would actually make a point to read what I was writing.  I admit, when I felt compelled to comment on other blogs, I'd plunk my URL into the end of the comment.  I saw lots of other people doing it so I didn't think it was bad etiquette.  I DO think it's bad etiquette if you comment on somebody's blog ONLY to promote your own blog.  I've had people do that on my blog and I deleted them.  But I never really saw myself TRYING to get more readers.

Then I was contacted by a sign company (link on right hand side) who offered me free product in exchange for a tiny link on my blog.  I had no idea why I would want blog promotion products, so I had my monogram done.  I ended up not liking how they came out so they sent me better ones AND I used their software to design bumper stickers after they sent me a sample design and offered those as well.  There's one on my car and one on my parents car and I gave the rest to readers.

Then I was contacted by a marketing company offering MONEY in exchange for a storefront to be placed on my blog.  MONEY?!?!  Um, okay! Yay!!!! The blog begins to pay me!  And they came to ME!

I have a Pinterest account.  I started the account to keep track of images I was using for theatre shows I was designing.  Then I started putting show clothes on there... Then I started searching for show clothes in there and I found things from my blog Pinned by other people! They will, of course, link back to my blog if the reader clicks on the picture enough times.  So I started pinning my own things on my own Boards, well, heck, if people like them, I'd like them to have a direct line to me.  There are pins of my show clothes and my Tack Box.  So I pinned them too.  I always try, when I pin, to list the designer or the website on the note.  So many people will look at a pin, and maybe even like it or repin it, but very few will ever go back to the original source.

I do sell clothing from time to time (see the new tab For Sale at the top of the blog) so I do want SOME traffic coming through.  If traffic can help me sell clothes and increase my clientele, that would be great!

Then comes this Hobby Horse Facebook contest. (Thanks for the votes!  We were in the lead for a few hours but have been greatly overtaken.  Hopefully there's still a chance the Hobby Horse employees will vote for me!  Last year's winner didn't receive the most votes, either.)  I found myself Pinning the jacket from my blog (couldn't pin from Facebook) and adding the URL to the facebook page of the contest.... WHAT!?!?!  I'm using Pinterest to drive traffic to my blog AND this facebook contest.  Whoa.  Slow down.  Check yourself before you wreck yourself, Cowgirl.

Those of you who read Mugwump Chronicles have surely read her latest post on dealing with internet bullies.  It's a good read. I found Mugs' blog right after the Fugly blog. She was kind enough to answer one of my behavior questions about Mouthy McMouthypants and it really helped.  I admire her very much.  Mugs took over the Fugly blog when Cathy (the original Fugly) left.  She didn't stay long and I don't blame her.  Why is the internet so full of bullying?  What kind of culture are we incubating that thinks cyber-assholeness is somehow more okay that in-person assholeness.  I remember learning the lesson not to say anything ABOUT a person that you wouldn't say to their face.  It's a good policy to have and I think it could definitely apply to the shield the internet seems to give us.

So here I am.  Have I opened myself up to the kind of traffic I don't want?  I've been pretty lucky that you all seem to humor my mistakes and are quick to offer praise and congratulations when things go well.  Will I start to get nasty anonymous comments about my grammar?  My riding posture?  My horse care philosophies?  Will somebody come tell me I'm a horrible person because I relented and use a fake tail?  Yes I KNOW it probably came from a slaughtered horse.  But I do believe USING all parts of an animal is better than not... it does still make me sad.  But as I say about the vintage furs in our stock: if it had lived a long natural life it'd be dust by now, but instead we get to honor it for a very long time. But I digress...  If the trolls come, will I be able to fend them off? Will it change the blog into something I don't want?

I don't know what is next for us here at the Diary of the Overanxious Horse Owner.  I know that anything I put on the internet, yes even my "private" facebook profile, is fair game and I've known that from the beginning.  As far as my designs are concerned, there is no Intellectual Property Law, it's too much of a grey area and we're a long way from usable guidelines. This is why I shouldn't publish my designs, only finished products. This is also why I didn't show you the whole jacket until it was posted by Hobby Horse.  So I just hope that I can imagine the ooohs and wows that caused someone to pin something from my blog.  I feel honored to be pinned, after all, even when I don't know it.

Friday, October 12, 2012

My Show Jacket is in a Contest!

Remember that show jacket I mentioned?  Well, it's finished, and it's a finalist in the 2012 Hobby Horse Elements Designer Contest!!!

You can visit Hobby Horse's Facebook page to view the other 5 finalists and to vote for us by "like"ing our photo!  The winners are selected by Facebook votes and by Hobby Horse employees.  Details on their page.

I'm very honored just to be a finalist, but it would be so cool if I were to win!  CLICK HERE to vote before October 31st!  

The jacket will soon be in the hands of Becca from R Lil Bit of Cash!  Becca wanted a new showmanship jacket, and I wanted an excuse to enter Hobby Horse's Elements Designer Contest, so after a bit of collaboration on color and style and several versions of the design emailed back and forth, I created this jacket for her. 

The Hobby Horse Elements we used were the Chocolate Pants Fabricand the Silver Shimmer Sheets.  The entries needed to include but were not limited to the Elements.  The fushia is ultrasuede and we used a few hundred genuine Swarovski crystals in 5 different colors and 3 sizes.  Becca will be able to get the Chocolate pants from Hobby Horse and they will match perfectly.  They're also having a sale right now on all of their Basics if you want your own! :)

I communicated the design ideas with Becca with (several) photoshop drawings.

The appliques were double-layered and each had to be ironed on and then stitched on.

I stitched the body seams together, then attached the appliques and most of the crystals.  The final crystals didn't go on until the final seams were stitched, the zipper was in place, and the hems finished. It's much easier to maneuver the applique stitching and the crystal application when the garment is in pieces, but some of the crystals are placed too close to seams so they needed to be placed after the seams were finished.

Did you know that EACH crystal needs to be heated for 20-35 seconds?

I cannot wait to see photos from Becca and Lilly's first show in this jacket!!!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


On Monday I was given a great opportunity to Steward for a local judge.  I got to dress up for the occasion in my new straw hat and my new blingy belt... yeah, I finally got one...a little girl in the restroom said "I like your cowgirl suit!" and spend the day with the judge at a local 4-H county fair western show. I first helped place the showmanship teams on the rail after their patterns were finished. After each class I took the placings to the announcer. I reset objects for the Mini-Horse in-hand trail and jumping, then for horsemanship I sat next to her and got great insight into what she was looking for in the patterns. For the pleasure classes I got to be the go-between and tell the announcer when the judge was ready to see the next gait, which was kinda funny towards the end of the day when the announcer ran out of steam and forgot to watch me. :)  I can't blame him, I was out of steam to! I almost went home with the walkie-talkie on my belt!  For trail we sat and I scribed for her.  It was a long day.  I don't know how she does this THREE DAYS IN A ROW with travel days in between as she had just gotten back to Ohio from Michigan following two 15-hour days of judging Pinto.  She's a wonder, and a wonderful judge and mentor.  It was a great day, but I never realized I could get just as exhausted doing that as I do actually showing!  Watching the 4-H kids brought me back to my own fair days and I just loved hearing the other shows going on at the same time in the beef barn, the dairy barn, and the swine barn.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

I'm Making a Show Jacket!

I am making a show jacket for one of our fellow bloggers.  She can "out" herself in the comments if she chooses.  There will be a whole post about it when it's finished, but here is just a teaser of how it's coming together...

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

All Is Quiet

Just a few little things to report from the world of Junior.

- I've been doing the morning feeding at the barn twice a week to help with board payments and to get my lazy butt out of bed and moving around without excuses.

- My back is annoyed today by the horrible humid rainy muck that is central Ohio this week, but otherwise seems to be working it's way in the direction of "getting better", but I probably shouldn't say that out loud.

-It took a good two weeks after my fall to feel physically recovered from it, and I was more mentally shaken than I thought.  I cantered today for the first time today and was a bit nervous.  Wuss.

- I haven't gotten the neck stretcher out again yet, but riding with it is on the list for this week.

- The barn tried Junior in some lessons but he's not been the most cooperative so he's won the right not to be a lesson pony... again.

- So instead of lessons, I'm trying out half-leasing Junior to the sweetest couple I have ever met.  If it works out it has the potential to be the best possible situation.  They take a lesson each week and do two more rides per week, leaving me 4 days with him and lately that is plenty.  The nice couple had been leasing another horse but their owner moved the horse and they want to stay at this barn.  They really like him so far, are very smart, eager to learn, and promised not to let him try to be the boss.  ;)

- I am more concerned about his stifle(s) than I have been before.  I'm hoping he's just going through that phase between totally out of shape and back into shape and will, with steady work, turn back into the cadenced horse I know he can be.  My last two rides I felt it stick too often. We've been here before so hopefully it will get better as he gets stronger.  Plus he snuck some fatty past me and is suddenly on the chubby side which can't help.  We cut his grain back a bit, hopefully that'll catch up.

In other news, my house-rabbit continues to entertain me.  She's not proving to be a cuddler, which is disappointing but not unexpected.  She might change her mind in time.  But for now I'm satisfied with feeding her kale and banana chips when she comes over to say Hi.

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

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.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


I have returned from the Mighty Mississippi river valley!  I had a lovely vacation with family and friends.  I have missed blogging and I have some projects lined up that I hope to share with you, including the more photogenic parts of my trip. 

I had a hoof trim scheduled for the morning after I got back so I went early knowing the Junebug would be filthy.  Adding 100 degree temps, fly spray, sweat and dry dusty paddocks to the usual amount of horsey goo does not make a clean horse.  He seemed happy to see me, right up until I led him into the wash stall and turned on the clippers.  

But I like my overgrown bridlepath, makes me look punk!

Other than a few new scrapes on his head from trying to crawl out and eat grass underneath the fences, he fared very well over the month.  Filthy from head to hoof, though, even his usually very white face!

Our farrier said his hooves look great, best he's seen in a while actually.  It's nice to have an oak-footed horse!  After his trim he got a good solid bath and a sheath cleaning.  He's getting more tolerant of that each time.  He raised a back leg a lot, but never pushed or kicked.  I got a bean out, not quite as big or dense as the last one but enough to remind me why I have to subject both of us to this barf-inducing activity.  

I'm trying to jump back into riding, we'll see how it goes.  I rode Thursday (had a wedding Fri/Sat) Sunday, and Monday.  A little stiffness in the lower back but not prohibitive.  I even decided yesterday to brave the "trail" on the property, but there was a low limb covered in army worms so we turned back, much to Junior's relief.... treeeeeees!!!!!!  AUGHHHHH!!!!

We even ventured over to the pond.  He still gets nervous and wheels around to go home, but he is manageable.  The ducks came to visit, provoking a good amount of snorting, but he got over their presence.  It was very muddy at the edge so it was good practice for future cowboy challenges.  He did as he was told, but for fear of getting him stuck (Don't need any Artex moments) I didn't ask him to linger in any one spot, instead we walked semi-circles in and out of the water, splashing and snorting all the while, but he did as he was told and received much praise.  

It's very difficult to tell (when I'm mounted) how deep the mud is and how deep the water is once it's stirred up, but he was wet up to his belly and there was mud on my irons. I did see one hoof print in the mud that went down about a foot.

Yes, I washed the girth cover.

So he got a nice hose-down afterwards.  Not sure about those lines halfway down his hooves.  I didn't scrub them so I don't know if they'd disappear if I did.  I suppose it's evidence of the scrubbing and polishing he got for the show, but it looks like more growth than early May-now doesn't it?  Perhaps it's from our feed switch last August?  Or from the bug supplement we added in March?  You have any other ideas?

Friday, July 13, 2012

WTFriday - The Daddle!

I'm nearing the end of my annual summer trip, I'll be home in a week and am anxious to get back to the old routine...well kind of... I'm anxious to get back to my pony for sure.

For your What The Friday enjoyment:  The Daddle.  Both the vintage and contemporary versions:

Thursday, June 28, 2012


You might have noticed that I LOVE to shop for horsey stuff.  Up in my main header bar, you'll find a tab labeled "My Sheplers Style".  There you will find some items I own and love and some that I would love to own.  Check it out!  You just might find your new favorite thing!!!


Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Boring Blog

Perhaps I should re-title this "The Boring Horse Blog."

I suppose it's not a bad thing that there aren't too many things that bring out the Overanxious Horse Owner in me, and that after nearly 4 years of horse ownership things are starting to mellow into a nice comfort zone.  But y'all want something to read, right?!?!

You can expect more out of me.... eventually.

Limited Riding:  It's taken 3 weeks for my back to feel like it did BEFORE the show so I'm not planning to do another one any time soon.  I'm riding a little but I'm not very smart and can't help doing "fun" stuff.  By "fun" I mean cantering over teensy crossrails and riding over to the pond which has resulted in one big spook each time.  Spooks aren't good when you're trying to avoid compression on your lower spine... duh.  Junior's remained a great babysitter for me and aside from the inevitable spook at the pond he's been the steady-Eddie I need.  But I get real bored with trotting around in circles and serpentines. Today we just spent a bit in the round pen and I was able to enjoy him following me around like a puppy.

Show Clothing Designs:  I am working on the design for a new Showmanship outfit for myself AND one for a potential "client"... you know who you are and may reveal yourself if you choose.  :)  I am planning to use the latter for a design competition so I won't be blogging the progress, but I'll keep you posted on the one for myself.  If  you want to see the kind of colors and things I'm currently inspired by, you can click the Pinterest link to the right and head to my "Show Clothing" board.  My "Equichic" board is all horse related, too.  I also use boards for theatre productions I'm working on.

New Friends:  We've been at our "new" barn for 7 months now and things there are running very smoothly.  The "new" barn manager KT is quite cool and she often brings her two dogs with her.  I have fallen madly in love with her 9 month old Jack Russel Terrier named Dallas.  He's my buddy.  I want to take him home with me.  I missed a great photo opportunity when he was sitting on my lap and holding onto Junior's lead for me, but it didn't last long, baby Jack's are GO GO GO!  Until the get so tired they fall down.

The BO also adopted 6 ducklings so I'm having wonderful flashbacks to Gobo, the duck we raised one year at a summer stock theatre. A baby wood duck just showed up and refused to leave.  I also raised a lot of ducks when I was a kid.  Never get ducks.  They are FILTHY pigs.... but they are SO CUTE and I really miss the sound a bunch of duckings make!