Monday, May 25, 2015

Show Report - 2nd Show of 2015

New headstall... and ribbons!
After the last show, B and I decided to see if there was a show we could haul to before our next Ranch show.  B's new palomino gelding, Heath Ledger, is only 5 and showed his lack of mileage at our first show.  A local open circuit had a show on the 23rd we set our sights on.

We all had a GREAT day!

I decided to take Kevin into the Adult Showmanship class just to see how we are doing with his training.  I worried entirely too much about our outfits and our hair because Showmanship is a class of precision and what I would consider a more "formal" class as far as turnout.  The judge is evaluating your horse's level of cleanliness/presentation, as well as the correctness of the maneuvers and whether or not you create a pleasing overall picture.... This is the class we use spray paint, 200 rubber bands, and 2,000 crystals...

The conundrum comes in when I have switched over to RANCH... ie we don't clip much, we don't do fake tails, we have natural manes, and we wear jeans and cotton shirts.  So what should I do with his growing-out bridle path?  Wear what I would wear for Ranch?  Will I look too casual like we're not serious about it?  Do I use my show halter?  Plain leather halter I used to use for Hunter Showmanship?  Gah!  It's the costume designer in me that worries about these details and I just can't help it.

I ended up going with my show halter and wearing dark starched denim, a tan shirt, brown blazer, tan felt hat, and a vintage scarf. There were only 4 entries. The pattern was not difficult but there was NO PIVOT (WTF?) and there was a back-in-an-arc to the judge that was new to me and required a little schooling before we headed in.  I didn't watch the other handlers and ended up going last.  Everything was good but the back was wonky-bendy and when I stopped him I had to do some big correction to get him lined back up with the judge so I took forever to get him set up. ... and I failed to switch my first quarter, which is a terrible habit of mine because I never practice having someone walk around us.  I assumed I was last so as the placings were called I was in for a surprise.  I didn't get 4th, I didn't get 3rd, a
nd by golly, we WON THE CLASS!  Kevin won his first showmanship class!

Our next class was Ranch Pleasure 19+ and there were only two entries.  We did break gait during the extended trot and he loped a stride or two but came right back to the trot.  I heard the other rider broke gait twice including halting when the 2nd jog was called for.  In Ranch, a downward break of gait is a more serious offense than an upwards break.   We were called for 1st place.

Our last class was Horsemanship. The pattern was decent, with a lead change and an extended trot.  I wasn't sure if I should sit or post the extended trot (I post in Ranch Pleasure) so I sat it, but needed to go a bit into half seat because he really extended more than my disks can take!  We ended up first in the class, rounding off three blues for the day!

Trail at this show is set up in a nearby building and is judged by a different judge.  The building is open for 2 hours and you just go do your pattern when you have time.  They ended up calling the placings while B was getting ready for her reining class. Hearing her name called for 1st a great pep talk! We ended up with 4th and I was happy with that.

The day after the show we took an easy trail ride (having 80 acres to play on is AWESOME) and braved the creek again!  Both boys (and both gals for that matter) were in good moods and enjoyed the easy day.

Enough horsin' around, our next Ranch show is in two weeks!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Finding a Home in Ranch Versatility

Here in central Ohio, winter ended late and spring lasted about 2 minutes.  The calendar may say MAY, but the weather says JULY.

But 90 degrees or not, SHOW SEASON is ON.

B and I are attending the Ohio Foundation Quarter Horse Ranch Versatility shows this year.  Classes run the full gamut from rail classes, trail, horsemanship, reining and including cattle classes like boxing, roping, etc. The shows are all-breeds welcome so along with the QH's and Paints there are ponies, a Belgian, an OTTB... you name it.  There are year-end awards for each class as well as the Versatility and new this year is a Green Versatility award.... Buckles to the winners.

This first show was actually perfect weather.  Warm and sunny but with enough breeze not to get overheated.  It's about a 2-hour drive to get there so we hauled over on Friday so we could have plenty of time to acclimate the boys to the grounds and the cattle. On Saturday night we left at 8:40pm and they hadn't finished class 17 yet.... there are 23 classes.  But I had to be at work in the morning for commencement, so we couldn't stay. Next show we plan to spend Saturday night as well.

B and Ledger starting Trail Class

B is a veteran of these shows and won two year-end buckles and a few other top 3's with Zip in 2014.  This year she is showing her new stunning palomino we call Heath Ledger.  Ledger is only 5 and B's only had him for 4 months so she's easing them into showing with just reining and trail.

Kevin and I decided to go for the Green Versatility so we bit the bullet and entered the four required classes: Ranch Riding (walk/trot/extended trot/lope on the rail), Horsemanship (pattern), Green Reining, and Green Boxing... yup, that one means there's a calf involved.

There were 15-23 entries in each of our classes and I was thrilled that we placed in four of our five classes.  We were 7th in Riding and Trail and 3rd in Horsemanship and Green Reining. Both of which surprised me because I have a whole list of things that we clearly need to work on!

Since it was the first time (to my knowledge) Kevin had been that close to a cow, we took it very easy in the green Boxing and kept a nice "big bubble" between us and the calf, just enough to make him move a little, but not enough to encourage quick movements that may have unnerved my red friend.  I'm sure we were DFL but I know I can try harder next time since his first experience was so chill.  The class consists of them letting one calf out of the pens and you work the calf back and forth without letting it turn a corner and run down the fence.  Obviously the more the calf moves (with you "on" it) the better your score.  We just walked slowly towards the calf and moved it about four feet right and left and the time was up.  The calf then tried to follow us out so I got another minute of practice heading it off and sending it back down to the pens.  DFL or not, it was a success in my book!

Wait, so you used to show the Pleasure All-Around, what's with Ranch?

At the time that I bought Junior, I really wanted a western pleasure horse.  I had grown up hunt seat on Arabs and I'd always admired the girls with the QH's that beat me at all the shows.  Also, their outfits were way more fun.  At 16 hands, Junior was better suited for Hunter Under Saddle.  Really he became a jack of all trades but a master of none.  When B took us to one of these Ranch shows back in 2013 we really liked it.  The classes and the atmosphere were so aligned with what I had been looking for.  I wanted to show western but my horse wasn't competitive in Pleasure and I wasn't interested in doing what it would take to make him competitive if it involved making him look like a crippled horse.  No soapbox, just not my thing.

I knew I had found a home with the Ranch Horse shows and was looking forward to transitioning Junior into more of those classes.  Now that I'm looking forward to my next horse I know that this is the direction I would like to go in. I love showing a horse doing a job, doing something with an outcome and purpose.  Today's Western Pleasure baffles me.  I still sit at Congress and wonder, if you are going that slow, why are you going at all?  To me it serves no purpose.  Pleasure used to be the "beginner" class and then you worked your way up to things that mattered more like horsemanship, trail, and go figure: cattle work.  When I watched the Ranch Pleasure at Congress I saw an end goal.  I saw that the horse's movement and response was cattle-worthy. There is a horse and a discipline for every person and I'm so glad I've found mine.

I'm hoping to take Kevin to 4 of the 5 shows this year and continue to show in those 5 classes, plus throw in Conformation just for funsies.    Kevin's teenage girl is working with me a bit and we are hoping to haul to a local show in two weeks to see how they do together.  I just love summer!

Awaiting the results in Ranch Riding