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!!!