Friday, December 29, 2017

Equilutions 2018

Hello Dear Readers!

I hope you had a lovely holiday season, no matter what you celebrate.

As I reflect upon my 2017 goals and the year with Huck flashes by, I am grateful that I'm taking a break!!!  I put SOOOO much pressure on myself to have a good show season and my body, brain, and bank account suffered for it.  This year will be better...

So how did we do on our 2017 goals?

1: Congress - ACCOMPLISHED!  I'm sure you are caught up on that saga.  I am glad I did it and proud I took such a big risk, but I don't plan to ever do it again, at least not without a trainer! And of course, on our best days I had delusions of grandeur that we might have placed, but as soon as we got there I knew that there wasn't a chance.  Even if we'd had our very best ride ever we wouldn't have had a chance and I'm okay with that.  My goal was to show there, not to win there and we certainly did that.

2: Huck Injury-free - LOL NO.  The year was nowhere near as injury-filled as 2016 was.  Right away in March he went through four fences in the middle of the night and was found in the wrong field in the morning.  The fencing at the time was mesh panels stapled to wood posts so they were pretty easy for a horse to pop through.  My guess is that he was spooked by a coyote (they were very bold that spring) and he bolted.  All the horses were mixed up in the wrong fields, but Huck was the only on injured.  The incident solidified my decision to sell him after Congress.  I was just DONE with his crap.  All the horses had to be stalled for a few days while the fences were fixed and when we put him back out in his field he acted like he was terrified of something out there.  I didn't post the photos when it happened because I was too angry.  He eventually healed, though with some scars, and one spot on his white foot was still looking like Scratches when I sold him.  The only other incident was that he came up a little lame on his LF after our long trail ride (see #4) but the chiro said his ankle was just out and the farrier had me put front shoes on in case we went back to that trail.  And then I babied his front legs with ice after each ride and all was well.  I did have his SI joints injected but instead of waiting until he was really sore and in need of rehab, we did it early and didn't miss much work.  In the end we cut the number of injuries by half.  I on the other hand enjoyed the year with a broken finger and a banged-up foot but we don't need to count those....

3: Win Year-End Championship - KIND OF ACCOMPLISHED!  We ended up Reserve Champion for the year in the Amateur division of our Ranch Horse Show series so technically that counts as a championship, right?  I failed at saving the year-end results sheet or I'd check to see if we would have one a year-end champion in any of the classes.  They didn't do awards for each class, but I may have been up there for the Reining class, and we won the Conformation every time so those kind-of count too, just no awards to show for it.  But it looks like next year they are doing awards for each class so who knows!

4: Be Brave - ACCOMPLISHED!  This is admittedly a non-measurable goal.  BUT I did ride alone in the big field a few times and I did go out on the trails alone a few times and we didn't die or have any major issues.  I also went on the biggest and scariest trail I've ever been on up at Mohican State Park.  I don't think it would be considered scary to most trail riders, but it was steep and muddy and there were scrambly places and drop-offs and I was nervous the whole time, even though Huck was a champ.  I would also add showing at Congress to this goal, because it was WAY out of my comfort zone!

And for 2018:

1: REMEMBER WHY I LOVE HORSES.  This year kind of broke me.  People are still asking me "do you miss Huck?" and "are you shopping for a new horse?" and they are surprised when I answer NO to both questions.  I mean, I know he wasn't the right horse for me.  Our good days were few and far between and the majority of our days were frustration or tears or pain or all three!  I just hope he's doing alright wherever he is.

So in 2018 I want to put very little pressure on myself to accomplish big things.  I want to get to a place where showing is more FUN than aggravation, and riding feels like a privilege instead of a chore.  I'll see how this year goes to see if it'll be time for a new horse next fall.

So what are your goals for 2018?

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Today Sucks

Today marks four years since I lost my heart horse.

I don't know how I'm "supposed" to feel after this much time, but what I do feel is still a deep sense of loss and longing.  I still think of him all the time and at every new equestrian milestone or setback I wish he was still here with me.

I wish HE had won me a buckle.  I wish HE had taken me on the trail ride with Stacy Westfall.  I wish HE was still out in the field in his December fuzzies with what would have been an incredible mane had I been given the chance to let it grow.  I wish I had been able to make HIM into a Ranch Horse.  Oh, but if wishes were horses...

But I'm not a child or an idiot and I know he's gone forever. And that still stings.

I re-read some of my posts following his loss.  I cried through so many lessons on Lillypony, and to be honest, I'm crying today, too. 

I wish I could say that I'm "fine" and that I'm "over it" but that just isn't the case.  That horse meant the world to me and it's incredibly unfair that I only got to have him for five years, three months, and five days.  He'd be 17 right now and I can only imagine what kind of partnership we'd have by now with four more years under our belts.

I didn't plan to finish this project today but after I started writing this post I just had to DO something.  So I finally put his last horseshoe and his nameplate in a shadowbox.  I only used five of the six horseshoe nails, to symbolize our 5 years together and that there was so much left unfinished.

I spent too long deciding on a frame and too long deciding on the fabric background (a grey silk noil) and I came to the conclusion that I don't really like it.  I'm not sure if it's because finishing it didn't really make me feel any better, or if I just need to do it differently. Maybe I will someday. 


Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Reunited with an Old Friend

'Tis December!  No Horse November is over and I have a little news!

Remember dear sweet Kevin from 2015? I'll be riding him again this year!  He's a little older and a little fluffier, but I'm excited to see how he shapes up for the show season. 

I nearly bought Kevin that year but I was convinced I wanted a more competitive horse in the reining and boxing classes so I bought Huck instead, and well, there's lots of blog posts about how that turned out if you want to reminisce...

Kevin's owner started showing him last summer in the walk/trot classes at the ranch shows and wants to improve on her Division Reserve Champion title from last year.  :)  He was originally purchased for her youngest daughter to show but she lost interest so her mom decided to take up riding.  She has made a lot of improvement during the last year.  I'm looking forward to getting Kev tuned up a bit so he's easier for her to show.  He can be kind of a brat and since she's such a green rider that he takes advantage. 

I'll be exercising Kevin once a week through the coldest months then increasing as we get to show season.  I want to ride and I want to show, but I REALLY need a year off from the kind of pressure I put on myself last year.  I have very different goals for my time with Kevin than I had in 2015.  Back then I was trying to make hi a Ranch Versatility horse, cattle work and all.  This year, I'm looking at Ranch Pleasure (his specialty) and Ranch Riding.  His owner will probably do the full slate of classes in either the W/T or Amateur division, but I'll just do my two classes and help her out for the rest.

I've had three rides with Kevin so far and I'm starting to see that easy loping wonder that I once knew.  We're working on all the tune-up basics: self carriage, collection, and extension of the gaits, steering, you know.  All the stuff.  I'm excited for this project! 

But Kevin maybe isn't so much...

Kevin may not be as excited as I am...

Friday, November 17, 2017

No Horse November

A Horse Blog Without a Horse...

Here's the thing.  I LOVE horses and I will ALWAYS live the "horse life."  But I must admit that I am thoroughly enjoying these weeks of being horseless.  I know a day will come when I start to feel the itch of wanting my own horse again, but for now, I am enjoying it.

Oh, and I had a photographer friend come take a few photos before Congress, just so I had something to remember the good times...

Evan Zimmerman Photography

Top Five Reasons Being Horseless is Awesome:

5. MONEY: Imagine all the $$$ that goes to your horse each month suddenly going into your pocket. No vet bills, no boar, no farrier, no chiropractor, no supplements, no replacing broken equipment. I didn't even buy ANYTHING at Congress, it was weird, but also good.

4. RESPONSIBILITY: No one is going to call me at 9pm to tell me my horse is colicking/bleeding/loose.  I don't have to be responsible for a 1000lb bag of trouble.  I don't have to check the temperature constantly to find out if I have to change blankets. I don't have to treat cuts or ice legs.

3. CHOICES: It's friggin cold already and I can stay in the warm house instead of the cold barn.  I don't HAVE to go ride.  I can choose to ride as often or infrequently as I want without the guilt of neglecting or over-working a horse. 

2. TIME: Especially leading up to Congress I was at the barn almost every single day for weeks and weeks.  Now I have at least 3 hours/day extra to do things like put dishes away and shop for a new washer and dryer or

1. HEARTBREAK:  Horses have broken my heart.  It's nearly 4 years since I lost Junior and I still miss him madly.  I still catch myself wishing I could just have him back.  Huck was supposed to be the next great one, and he just wasn't.  He broke me financially, emotionally, and physically.  I'm going to take my time in recuperating. 

We'll see how long this lasts before being broke and busy is "worth it" again. 

I've ridden once since I stepped off of Huck at the Congress.  I took Kevin for a little ride last weekend while hanging out with friends.  It was nice, but I'm still happy about my horseless situation.

I admit that I am happily distracted at the moment so I'm sure that is helping me be "okay" with horselessness.  The first weekend of Nov. I moved into a house with my BF.  Without the horse I finally feel like I have the ability to do some much overdue "adulting" like buying new oven mitts and window treatments and purging excess stuff. Lemme tell you, living in one place for 10 years with THREE walk-in closets kind of makes you a hoarder.  I don't know how many times I thought "WHY do I have this?" while packing for the move. 

And soon it's the Holidays, I need to finish up my Sabbatical projects, and get ready for school to start back up in January.  Plus I'm designing the costumes for our big spring musical, so there will be plenty of distractions until Spring.  I mean... I did put the summer horse
show dates into my calendar just in case...

Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Blur that was Congress

I’m kind of a bad blogger and this will be a wordy post with not enough photos, but I hope you read it anyway as it's kind of huge.  Yesterday happened so very, very quickly.

First, the days leading up to Congress were far more stressful than I anticipated. On the 25th (I've blogged since then but didn't mention it) I had a great reining lesson and then I was careless about my feet and Huck smacked a hoof across the top of my left foot while coming off of the trailer.  100% my fault.  I thought I broke it and that Congress was over.  Luckily it was not broken and only took until the 29th before I could try to ride again.  Then on Saturday October 7, a mere day before move-in, my back self destructed (I have two old disk bulges and weak SI joints) and I spent Sunday in lots of pain while my BF and friend did all of the heavy lifting including bedding my stall, hauling everything into the tack stall, lunging Huck – EVERYTHING.  I still didn’t know if I’d be able to show. 

I admit that the pain and the fear that I wouldn't be able to show really clouded what should have been a fun, exciting celebratory time.  I planned to take pictures of us moving in and really document everything.  Instead I was too worried to do anything but try to get through it all.  

Thankfully Sunday night my back adjusted itself a bit and Monday I was able to go get it adjusted and by the evening I was riding, with a little dose of pain meds.  Huck was very chill as we rode in a big arena with some pros I recognized.  I was intimidated, Huck did not seem to be. 

Tuesday morning came very early.  Our Senior Ranch Riding class started at 8am, and we were draw 29 out of 83.  My plan was to get dressed and have Huck lunged and tacked up so I could go watch a few runs, come back for him, and ride until our go.  I got to the arena (which is the furthest spot from our barn you can imagine) only to realize the pattern was taking only about 45 seconds and they were already on draw 5.  I booked it back to the barn, grabbed my chinks and my hat and my horse and headed out with my friend.  Halfway to the arena I looked down and I was wearing purple tennis shoes.  F*&k.  So I sent the horse with my friend and ran back to change into my boots.  I got to the arena, got on, and had only about 8 rides before mine.  So our warm up time was quite short.  

Also, before I went over to show, I discovered a facebook message from someone who was at the show whose name I recognized because FAMOUS, and who was interested in seeing Huck.  So I knew they’d be watching too.   No pressure.

My friend and our equine Chiro were there with me at the in gate while I tried to breathe and remember the pattern.  There’s a moment when you ride alone into the Coliseum and hear your name announced in the same voice that you’ve heard all the top riders in the country announced, where it all feels like a weird dream and you’re not sure how you got there or what you’re supposed to do.  So I took a deep breath and smiled and trotted right into the pattern.

Huck was as good as I could have ever expected him to be.  He listened and stayed with me and I didn’t forget the pattern.  We were not as soft and finessed as we needed to be to place, but that’s understandable when you’re competing against pros.  There was a whole cheering section of my horse friends so it felt really good to hear them whoop for my lead change and cheer when I finished my pattern.

I let Huck rest in the stall while I watched the rest of the class and a few of the Junior horses go.  Then I went to get Huck ready for our Level 1 Amateur class. 

I kept our schooling quiet and Huck seemed really soft and responsive. The pattern didn’t go as well as the first, but I was really tired by this point and the pattern was much harder for us - there was an extended lope through the middle of the arena.  He didn't try to change leads, but he got amped up and I didn't have accurate steering so our straight lines weren't so much.  I blanked for a second before one of the poles, not remembering if that’s where I needed to come down to the walk.  Huck felt my hesitation and offered the walk before I could process it so that was a break of gait, which is guaranteed to take you out of the placings.  Oh well.  So I headed back to the barn, feeling relieved it was OVER.

I walked him back through the warmup pen and dismounted.  As I was headed back to the barn I ran into a judge/clinician friend of mine and we stopped to chat for a minute about my run.  The prospective buyer came by and looked Huck over and said he’d try him later.  !!!!!!

I put Huck away for the day and went back to watch my friend get 6th place in the class.  He had an AWESOME run and he’s worked so hard to get there.  Last year he was in the bottom 50% of scores in the class and it was such a thrill to see how much he’s improved over the year.  He's doing the Freestyle Reining on Saturday, too.  

After the last Amateur class was done, the prospective buyers asked if I’d bring Huck over to the warmup pen.  As I'm leading him over I hear their name over the loudspeaker getting 2nd, 3rd, and 4th places in the Amateur class...... I watched them both ride him and it was surreal just seeing them RIDE my horse, let alone be interested in buying him. Huck was very Huck during the ride and got a little uppity when she asked him for a couple of lead changes in a row, but she didn’t bat an eye.  I told them all about him and how I got him and what we’ve been doing and about his maintenance.  He made me an offer and I took it and burst into tears.  LOL. 

Test ride...

I was so relieved to know that he was going to people who understood the kind of horse he is and can take him places I could only dream.  It’s not every day that a multiple world and congress champion Mozaun McKibben wants YOUR horse.  Yes, you read that correctly.  You know, just the guy whose demo at Congress years ago introduced me to Ranch Riding, and who holds just a few world titles in the class.  NBD.

Post test-ride, trying to make sure he had a ride back to Texas.

I took Huck back to the stall and untacked him and cleaned him up while Moz and Sarah put their horses away and tried figure out how they were going to get Huck home to Texas. 

They brought me a check and I signed over the papers.  Moz put a rope halter on Huck, tied up the lead and said, “Does he ride bareback?”  I said, “Uh, I’ve been on him bareback” and he jumped right up on him in the barn aisle and rode him away… bareback in a rope halter.  Huck didn’t even look concerned. The horse that scares me just found people who GET him and aren’t afraid to use him in the way he needs to be used. Hucks gonna go work for a living and I think he'll be all the better for it.  And I can't help but feel kinda proud that my horse was good enough for the McKibbens.  I'm not sure what their plans for him are, but I hope it goes well and that I get to see some of it happen.  

Me, Sarah, Mozaun, and Huckleberry

So.  Congress is over for us.  We didn't place, but we had respectable runs.  I believe Huck’s probably in his new home in Texas by now, stabled along with world champions. 

There will be more posts about Congress coming, including a "congress first-timers advice to other first-timers". 

I will eventually go read my scores to see where we ranked in our classes, and I’ll probably get some fancy Shane Rux arena photos if there are any decent ones.

What else do you want me to write about?  

Happy Riding. 

Moz and Huck, riding off bareback in a rope halter, like ya do.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Countdown to Congress - Patterns

In less than a week I will be showing at the biggest single-breed horse show in the world. 

The feelings of "what have I done!?!" have not diminished, but I am trying to remember that I'm doing this for FUN.  This is fun, right? 

I popped down to the grounds earlier this week to get my parking pass and to check out our stalls.  Parking is $25/day or $75 for Exhibitors which includes 24/7 In/Out privileges and parking much closer to the barns/arenas/shopping for the entire Congress. 

Exhibitor's Parking Pass!

We have our stall assignments. We are moving in on Sunday. We show on Tuesday.

There are 83 entries in the Senior Ranch Riding and 53 in the Level 1 Amateur Ranch Riding.
Senior starts at 8am EST, then the Junior, then our L1 class.  No draws yet, but I'll post them when I know.

You can find the full schedule and lots of info at The Congress Website.  

The event is live streamed via iEquine.  You'll need to give them an email address if you want to watch.  I'll do a blog post with my show number and our draw order when I get it.  The Congress starts with reining, cutting, roping, ranch, then there's a big shift over to the jumpers and pleasure folks.  I'll tell you the grounds have a totally different feel between the two factions and I much prefer the atmosphere of the first! 

Here are the patterns:

The Senior class is an open class for horses aged 6 and older.  It's mostly pros in the class riding client's horses.  I entered it as a warm-up, hoping that by going into the arena once alone before our class was worth the extra $65.

The Level 1 Amateur class is for amateur riders showing their own horses.  The Level 1 is basically the "novice" class.  There is also Amateur and Select Amateur for riders of a certain age.  

Here are my challenges going into practicing the patterns:

1. Bringing him down quietly from the extended lope to the collected lope.  Most times he will come down fine, but if he gets really excited I have to be more heavy handed, which doesn't make for a soft transition.  We are working on this with a few exercises so that hopefully he will be more willing to give with a smaller cue.  Practice practice practice. 

2. Coming down from the lope to the extended trot without breaking back to the lope.  This is really the same issue as #1.  We will have to err on the side of breaking to a jog for a few steps then asking back up to the extended trot.

3. POLES.  Sometimes he's super careful over poles and sometimes I think he's trying to step on all of them.  We will keep some poles in the arena this week, as well as working over the bigger logs out in the obstacle field.

4. In the Ammy pattern, elements 3-5 are somewhat unclear.  There has been an interesting discussion going on in a facebook group about whether or not it would be credit earning to treat those three numbers as a rollback, or if the judges want to see you stop.  turn.  lope off.  I'm leaning towards the latter, partially because it does NOT say rollback, partially because keeping Huck quiet leads to better control.   Plus, if there are three separate maneuvers listed, the judge will probably have three separate scores to enter so I want to be clear about completing maneuvers.  

5. My stress level.  (Note the name of this blog.)  Honestly part of me wishes I'd never even thought about doing it, let alone actually paid the money.  The other part of me knows that it's something I've wanted to do for a long time and this is the time to do it.  I'm trying to get enough sleep and eat well, an I'm trying to breathe and find the fun in it.  :)

More to come as we Countdown to Congress!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Countdown to Congress, and the Impending Departure

Hello Friends!

In TWENTY days I will be showing at the biggest single-breed horse show in the world.


YIKES.   Why did I think this was a good idea!?!  LOL!

Huck's been riding really well since the last show.  We've been taking it easy and really focussing on the things that are asked for in Ranch Riding patterns, which is mostly transitions, directional changes, and transitions mixed with directional changes.  Square corners, circles, lines, stops, turns, extensions, collections, just quiet quiet broke broke.  We are also working lots of gates and we need to up our ground-pole game too in case the patterns have walkovers, trot-overs, or sidepasses over poles.

The actual patterns haven't been released yet, but they should be by October 1st, which should give us a week with the pattern before we move into the Congress grounds on Oct. 8th.  I'm showing both the open Senior RR and the Level 1 Amateur on Oct. 10th so it's likely the patterns will be different with more difficult elements in the open, or it might all be the same pattern.  Congress was criticized last year on social media for just their lack of creativity/challenge for using one of the AQHA standard patterns instead of creating a new one so I'm interested to see what they choose this year.

The other day we even went out on some trails BY OURSELVES!!!  Then we schooled our extended trot out in the big grass field.  Man, that horse was striking himself he was taking such a big stride!  His extended trot is one of my favorite things about him!   I love riding in a fresh arena and seeing how his footprints overlap so he leaves the tracks of a two-legged creature.

So we are taking it quiet but doing a lot of riding.  :)

And what was that in the blog title about a departure? 

Spoiler alert: Huck has been listed for sale.  I actually made the decision back in March that the Congress would be our last hurrah and then he'd go find a new person. I didn't want to put it on the blog until he was officially listed.  Have you ever ridden a horse that you just knew wasn't "right" for you?  Maybe you bought a horse who you just didn't click with, or that lesson horse that could get the job done but just wasn't enjoyable to you?  And remember that other student who LOVED that horse you didn't get along with?  There's a horse for everyone and I finally accepted the fact that Huck isn't the horse for me.  I adore him and he's won lots of things for me, but I think I need less of a cow-horse, both for my physical and mental comfort.   I think he should go do more reining and cow work with someone else and I should find more of a ranchy pleasure horse.   Huck has come a long way in the two years that I've had him and I'm really proud of that, but I think he's just not quite the horse I want to invest any more time into. 

I've also never sold a horse before so this is pretty new territory and is causing some anxiety (big surprise) while I watch the "likes" pour in on the facebook ads and hope the right person finds him soon.

So shiny!!!!
So what next?   I am quite honestly looking forward to being horseless for a while!  The last time I was horseless it was not by choice and it was just awful. I was depressed and I got fat and it was just the worst.  This time I'm looking forward to refocussing my resources (time/money) and maybe doing crazy things like taking an actual vacation (like somewhere other than Minnesconsin!) like I've heard non-horse people do, and maybe buying myself some shoes or clothes that are less than 10 years old, you know, the little things.

I'm not done with horses but I'm excited to have less pressure about horse care and showing goals.  I want to be able to lay on the couch on a cold Saturday instead of having to go exercise the horse, or schedule farrier appointments or pay for vet bills, or.... well, you know.  And I want to not have to worry every time I get a text between 9pm and 10am.   At least for a while.

I do plan to go back to riding Kevin for his owner a few times a week, and I want to take some reining lessons somewhere. I may ask if I can show Kevin a little next summer, or I may consider leasing a horse for the show season if I can find one.  I expect I'll take one/two years off of ownership before I start to find my next partner.  None of this is set in stone as I'm quite excited that I DON'T have to plan it and I can just let it happen.

For the time being, I am enjoying my pretty little red pony, practicing a million transitions, and trying to breathe.....

Final Ranch Show of 2017

We had a really good last show!

Here's the TLDR Version:

1st Am. Trail
1st Am. Reining
2nd Am. Pleasure
1st Am. Conformation
4th Am. Showmanship
4th Freestyle Reining
NP in Ranch Riding
NP in Ranch Riding Jackpot
NP Horsemanship

I really pushed Huck more for this show than I ever have and I am really pleased with how he did.  We did NINE classes from 9am to 6pm. 

We practiced the trail pattern the night before since it was already set up.  The pattern ended with a walkover of a log jumble and he could not go over it without ticking damn near everything and knocking poles over.  I was so frustrated with him.  I have no idea how to teach a horse to be careful.  He has such big solid feet that he doesn't mind hitting things.... Junior was the same way. I did not have a good feeling when I left the show grounds Friday night. 

BUT  Huck was sweet and quiet in the morning so I rode my trail pattern first to get it out of the way.  He seems to do better with that kind of stuff when he's fresh, which is opposite of my thinking, but I've found that after reining it's hard to get him to relax enough to just let me do things like drag a log or back through a small space.  He was so good!  He didn't tick ONE log! And we won!
I spoke with the ring steward after the show (someone I just know from being around horses over the years) and she told me the trail Judge said I had the best run of all 4 trail classes that used that pattern!  Video:

The pleasure class was deep as usual.  There were some horses there that we hadn't seen at our shows yet and I heard they were there to warm up for Congress. There were some nice moving horses in there and I was thrilled with our 2nd place finish.  I feel really good about the fact that the first time I tried to show him in a rail class he tried to do a rundown every time we hit the long side of the arena.  Now he lopes along like grandma's horse, extends, and comes back like NBD.    Video:

Reining went as usual.  I had a really hard time forming circles in that arena since it's kind of a square... then again I usually have the same problem in a rectangle too...  I have really been pushing his speed on spins since we needed to do 4 spins in the Freestyle reining so he was too reactive when I was trying to do just a 1 1/2 spin.  It was kinda ugly, but oh well.  Thankfully we managed to still have the best score in the class but it was low.   Video:

Freestyle was a hot mess - pun allowed but not intended.  I really shouldn't have done the class, but how can I not do a class that combines horses and COSTUMES!?!?!  I'd been choreographing a routine to Girl on Fire since I was showing Kevin and I knew Huck would look cool in a fire theme so I did it anyway. The streamers in his hair made the same "shhhhhh" noise as I make when we do our fast circles so he kept wanting to run and I kept holding him back which gave him mixed signals..... we basically scrapped our planned routine and just loped around and managed to get all the required elements in. We actually had our best stop of the day at the end of the freestyle so that was cool, and he backed up so well he stepped on and pulled out a small chunk of his tail. :( The best part of the whole thing was my wig so I'll just leave it at that.  My bad for not realizing I needed to practice in the hair streamers and also my bad for not trimming his tail lately!!!  LOL.

Ranch riding and Horsemanship were after the reining classes and they weren't great, which doesn't make me feel optimistic about showing RR at Congress.  I really feel like he has a hard time relaxing after we do reining.  He did all the things in the patterns, but lacked any finesse so we were out of the placings, especially with the other congress-bound horses there.  He looked anxious (on the hollow side) and he took every small cue as a big one and he guessed wrong several times. I'm hoping if we stop working on fast spins and hard stops and really focus more on quiet transitions that we'll be in better shape for Congress.   It may be fatigue, too.  I showed Trail at 9:20am and my last riding class at 4:40pm and I spent most of the time in between in the saddle either showing or watching or walking around and he probably only had 30 minutes in there where he was untacked and just loose in his stall.  Nine classes are a lot to ask when I usually only ride for an hour once a day. 

We won halter again so he went undefeated this year.  Showmanship he was so much better than the last two shows, but I suck at quartering and I missed an entire movement when the judge switched directions and Huck moved a foot. That's one of those things that is hard to practice when you don't have a coach.  I still placed but barely.  :(

Overall I'm happy with how the show went and I'm happy with how this series of three shows went. For the year-end high point awards, I came into this last show 21 points behind the leader and 16 behind the 2nd place rider.  I was pretty pessimistic about closing the gap.  I knew I'd have to have a really good show to even get to 2nd place.  But the day went in my favor because not only did we place high in most of our classes, the rider in 2nd place couldn't come to the show because her horse was injured (she's fine now, thankfully) and the other only placed ahead of me in 1 class and didn't place some of the classes I placed high in.  I'm not sure how the final math worked out because it's based on the number of entries in a class.  For example, I know I won trail, but I don't know if there were 5 or 8 or 15 in the class.  I know there were 6 in the reining so I know I got 6 points from that, but I didn't always pay enough attention to feel like I have an accurate count. I know I'm in the top 3 at least, and it's possible I squeaked by the leaders, and since it was my goal to win a year-end buckle, I'm anxious to find out.  The other two leaders are wonderful ladies with very nice horses, and I'm proud to be in the top three with them.

It was a fun show and I am grateful that my BF has been coming to the shows with me.  I didn't know if I'd even want him at my shows since I've been my own show-mom for ever and I didn't know if he'd just get bored or distract me or what, but he's learning how to be a good helper/gopher and he makes sure I drink water and eat and he films my classes and is generally quite enjoyable to be around.  And when the long day of showing is through I can hand him my car keys and let him drive us home.  It's worked out quite nicely.  He even wears a hat for me. *heart*

Friday, August 25, 2017

I Need Your Votes!

Okay, so I don't "need" votes, but I'm shamelessly begging for them!

Head on over to Hobby Horse's facebook page:

and look for this post:

Then in the comments, "like" my two entries!  They look like this:

I'm late to the gate on this contest, so please hurry and vote/share before August 28th!


And the Olive showmanship set is for sale, let me know if you're interested!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Sh*t Just Got Real.

Remember back in January when I told you I had a goal of showing at the All American Quarter Horse Congress?

Well, I've mailed my entry forms/payment via Certified Mail! There's no turning back now..... no refunds.  I may have screamed in my car after I left the post office...

Huck and I will be showing in two classes on Tuesday October 10th: Senior Ranch Riding and Level 1 Amateur Ranch Riding.  The Sr. class will be packed with the nation's best horses and trainers so I'm considering it a paid warm up. It's our only chance to get Huck and I ALONE in the Coliseum before our actual amateur class.  I'll let him spook at something in that class and hope he's over it the next time around.  Fingers crossed...

The show isn't cheap, but I figured it's a one-time thing and in for a penny in for a pound as they say.  Stalls are $280 (even more for the "pleasure" part of the show) and classes are $65 each, plus $30 in fees per horse.  I splurged and got a tack stall, too, which I'm sharing with the friend that I shadowed at last year's Congress.  He's doing the Ranch Riding and the Freestyle Reining.   I expect we will be there from Sunday to late Saturday night, but I'll leave that up to him since he's hauling.

I will be sharing the pattern, our back number, and our draw order as we get closer, and you should be able to catch our run on the live stream if you so desire.

Now let's just hope our red pony can stay injury-free for another seven weeks!  Seriously.

Oh, and our last Ranch show was supposed to be last weekend, but it was rained out and moved to September 9th.

Wait, we're gonna... WHAT?!?!

Friday, July 21, 2017

WTFriday - The Wardrobe

While browsing Ikea for a wardrobe, I noticed this photo:

I suppose the same person who stores their old school dressage saddle AND high heels in the same cabinet WOULD be the type of person to hang their bridle like that.... on an antler....

I wonder if the person who staged the photo though the bridle looked more artistic like that?

You can buy your own from Ikea here:

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Second and Third Shows of 2017

Hey, look who's behind on blogging?!?!?

This summer we are showing in a different Ranch circuit from the past two years.  This one is closer to home and doesn't have cattle.  We've had the first two of three shows so far and we are really enjoying this new circuit.
That trot though....

These three shows have points going towards a high point buckle for each division: Youth, Open, Amateur, and Walk/Trot.  There are also Jackpot classes that have cash payouts, but no points.  We are showing in all 7 classes in the Amateur division: Trail, Reining, Pleasure, Ranch Riding, Horsemanship, Conformation, and Showmanship.  The point system is a little wonky in my opinion. Points are based on the number of entries in a class and go to 5th place, so if you win a class with 20 entries you get 20 points.  Second place gets 19, etc.  SO the shitty part is that if you get 5th you get 15 pts but if you get 6th you get zero.   So someone who was only one place ahead of you could get 15 more points than you in that one class.  Awesome for the person who gets 5th, not awesome for the person who gets 6th.  More on that later.

The first show was May 25th.  The biggest thing I was worried about for these shows was that it was going to be the first shows that Huck and his girlfriend were both at.  I was concerned that he would lose focus and be stupid if they weren't together all the time. Luckily that turned out to be barely an issue at the first show and no deal at all at the second.

At the May show we didn't have a great morning.  I DQ'd us in reining by spinning 5 times instead of four.  Seriously I cannot be trusted with numbers!  And sadly it was one of our better runs ever.  If we had zeroed those spins instead of DQing we would have had 2nd place.  :(

We didn't place in Trail which disappointed me as I thought we had a really nice run.  I read the scoresheet afterwards and I am still baffled how the judge was using penalty points.  I had like 3 penalty points on the bridge but we rode it just fine.  One of the penalties was for touching an obstacle..... um.... how do you cross a bride withOUT touching it?  That's the game of horse shows I guess.

We were in the finals for the big pleasure class but didn't place. During the finals, every time we came around one side of the arena Huck saw his GF outside the arena and bent himself to the outside and lost focus.  :(

We won our Ranch Riding class, no place in Horsemanship, First in Conformation, and 2nd in Showmanship.

So our afternoon went much better than our morning.  I ended up in 4th place for the High Point standings, with the leader having almost double my points so we've got some catching up to do.

The July Show was highly anticipated because I was out of town from June 10th-July 5th so I only had two days to ride before show day.  Yikes.  Luckily a friend was working my horse a few times a week while I was gone.

We had a much better show than the May Show!  In addition to the 7 ammy classes, I also entered the Jackpot Ranch Riding class.  I figured we can use all the mileage we can get before the Congress.

Reining was first and we WON!  It wasn't our best run ever, but it was good enough to land us first.

Next we managed a solid 2nd place in Trail. I had one error in judgement otherwise I thought our run was really nice.  The pattern ended with a right lead lope and then asking the horse to straddle a pole and walk along it with right feet to one side and left feet to the other.  I stopped too close to the pole so he didn't get a good look at it before we got to it and ended up on one side, but I managed to get him to step back over it and finish all right.

It was a big pleasure class again, but not big enough to need splits and we managed to get 2nd in Ranch Pleasure.  Considering the first time I took him in a rail class he tried to do a rundown every time we hit the long side of the arena, I am super happy with how well he's doing this year!

Next up was the Jackpot Ranch Riding.  It was a huge class and I thought our pattern was really really nice and somehow the judge thought so too, and pinned us first with a prize of $150, which nearly paid for my whole show fees.

But to balance it out, the universe put us out of the ribbons at 6th in Ammy Ranch Riding which gave us zero points - hence my earlier whining. I would have rather had the points!  But I guess I could buy my own damn buckle with my winnings!  LOL! We came around for the lead change and a piece of paper flew into the arena right in front of us so he lost focus, did an ugly head toss/lead change and took too many strides to get himself back together.  I though that was what took us out of the placings, but when I looked at the score sheet we had 4 penalty points for ticking poles, which was my fault, again, for coming down from the lope too close to the poles so he didn't get a chance to assess them.

We managed a 5th in Horsemanship which I was happy with since I assumed we were dead in the water when he loped off instead of extended trot after the last pivot.  Such a nice forward horse....

We won Conformation again and were 4th in Showmanship.  I could NOT wake his ass up for showmanship! He just stood there all askew and ignored me when I was asking him to set up.  And when I asked for the pivot he did not want to move so he got all bent before he moved a foot.

Overall I was really happy with the day.  He stayed focussed and with me all day, I just need to figure out how to wake him back up for showmanship!  The High Point tabulation isn't posted yet so I've no idea where we all rank right now.  The final show is August 19th and has a freestyle reining class which I am very excited to get my costume together for.  Hopefully my plan works!

We are probably going to an open show this weekend to do trail, ranch pleasure, ranch riding, and reining.  Mileage mileage mileage!

Good start to the morning! 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

First Show of 2017

Our first show was April 6th.

It was chilly!
About the Show Itself:  Part of a local traditional (English/Western) summer open show series. Last year they added 7 Ranch/Performance classes to the end of the day. This was the same show we started with LAST SEASON.  There are paybacks for classes which is pretty sweet, but I admit I still like getting ribbons and prizes more.  This was a double-judged show and it was the kind of show where they dismiss a class and bring the next one in and then call the placings later so I am not sure exactly how we placed in some of the last classes.  It's hard to listen and show at the same time. Oh, to think there was a time that I would religiously record our placings and how many were in each class.  Over 20 years of showing will do that.  LOL.

It was a day of scattered showers but we managed to avoid most of the rain since the show was indoors.  There wasn't a warmup area, but they gave us time in the arena before our classes started.  I was wearing a base layer top in the morning but I got too warm and took it off before we left the farm and stupidly left it at the barn.  I could have really used it later!  Good thing I had my sweet new Noble Outfitters vest so I could look ranchy enough to show in it!

I was really happy we got to go show, partially because our next two will be part of a buckle series and since our first show last year was a bit of a .... learning experience... I wanted to get one out of the way before it "counted."  There are always things we need to work on and going to a show is the best way we can really know what's working and what's not, and make a plan of what to work on before the next show.... and yes, that's always a moving target.

I couldn't be happier with how Huck was at the show.  He's never bad at shows, but I tend to get pretty nervous and he does feed off of that.  He has taught me to "be the grownup" when I need to be, but it's so against my nature that it gets a bit exhausting.   This time around he flinched once when coming around the back of a trailer on our exploration walk.  No idea what he saw but it only lasted a second.  He was cheerful and obedient all day and I was happy with how we placed.

Ranch Conformation: 1st & 2nd.  We usually do well in this class and he's learning how to stand still for ages without moving.... but he moved right when one of the judges came to do the inspection.  I read somewhere to just calmly reset and if the judge leaves, she'll come back to get a better look later.

Walk/Trot Trail: 1st & 2nd.  This was our first trail placing!  [Our first (and only) trail class last year included the word "unruly" in the judges comments. Yikes! To be fair, he did EVERYthing I asked him to do in the class but he was a dancing giraffe the entire time.]  This time he was super awesome.  The class set up was really tight but he handled really well in the tight space and didn't hesitate stepping up onto a strange bridge.

Reining: DQ This has become my least favorite class, even though it's what all his training is in.  Our spins were wonky and dumb because I have a hard time relaxing and trusting he'll go off of my subtle cues.  Our lope off and first circles felt so un-cadenced and out of control and his frame was stiff and bent to the outside and he broke to a trot a few times.  For the 2nd set of circles I decided to DQ the class and take him two-handed and school the rest of the class.  Once I got him a bit more rounded up/in he felt much better and our lead change was solid.  He did the run-downs nicely and because the footing wasn't really good for reining I didn't try for slides.

Jackpot Ranch Pleasure: 1st/4th.  Clearly the 2nd judge didn't see the wrong lead (took left instead of right) and the brake to the lope on the 2nd extended trot.  I was really happy with the class.  It's almost baffling how he can be so out of sync in reining but drop his head and be cool as a cucumber in a rail class..... maybe it's me...
That trot though...

Ranch Riding: I think 2nd and 2nd?  This was listed as a Horsemanship class but it was a standard Ranch Riding PATTERN which I was thrilled with since I need all the mileage I can get on our future Congress class!  He did all the things, we just lacked some finesse.

Ranch Pleasure: ?/?.   I honestly don't remember, but it might have been a 1st?  No idea why they have two pleasure classes.  He still picked up a left lead instead of a right lead so I'll need to remember to bring his hip in when I ask.

We won all but $0.40 of our entry fees back with the payouts, so that was a neat surprise.

Our next show is on the 27th.  It's the first of three in a brand new Ranch series.

So what are we working on in the mean time?
-Picking up the Right Lead
-Quiet and steady in the reining
-Correcting the bend in reining circles
-Finesse in Ranch Riding transitions

Hopefully we will have the patterns a few days ahead of time so we can get comfortable with the trail, reining and ranch riding/ranchmanship patterns.

Post-show pasture naps are the best.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Spring is Here!

Spring is officially here.  It may even be time to send the winter blankets for cleaning, but that seems like asking for an April snowstorm.

Practicing Bridges

The last few months were a little busy on the non-horse side of things, so I'm just now getting back into riding on a consistent schedule.  Huck is getting his sliders on this afternoon while I'm at work, so I look forward to trying him out tomorrow.  He's also getting a massage tomorrow and seeing the chiropractor next week.  He's so spoiled.

Yesterday we played on all the bridges and the ditch that will become the water obstacle.  He was SOOOOO good about everything.  He's now mastered the teeter-totter bridge from BOTH directions.

Showing!  We are hoping to attend several shows this summer.

We are taking a break from the ranch show series we've gone for the past two years.  I liked those shows, but they're two hours away and the shows are getting so big they last forever into the night.  Part of our decision not to show there this year is that the Ranch classes are getting so popular there are TWO series right in our back yard!

Circuit #1: brand new Ranch Horse 3-show series. Our first is May 26th and they're just 30 minutes north of Columbus.  Our entire barn is going so it should be a lot of fun.  There are no cattle classes at at these, which doesn't bother me at all, but there are some people complaining that "you can't call it ranch if you don't have cattle" and I want to point out that HUNTER shows don't have foxes.

There are 3 shows in the series and they're doing year-end high point awards for each division.  So I'll show seven classes in the Amateur division:
Ranch Pleasure
Ranch Riding (pattern like AQHA)

There will also be a Freestyle Reining at the August show.... already thinking of ideas for that... and there are Jackpot classes for each of the riding classes so I may show some of those.

Circuit #2:  Just 10 minutes from the barn.  We're hoping to show up to five of those shows.  They're under a new name and new management and they added more ranch type classes this year. It's your typical open show with classes in western and english that caters to the 4-H and amateur crowd, plus some trainers schooling prospects.  The first time we showed there in the Ranch Pleasure there were only two of us.  It's grown each show since!
At those we can show:
Halter (if I feel like it)
Adult Showmanship (mixed seat Adult and a $200 Open)
W/T Adult Ranch Pleasure  (and a $200 Open W/T mixed seat class)
WTC Adult Ranch Pleasure (Adult and a $200 Open class)
Adult Ranch Riding
Open Reining
Open W/T Trail

Monday, January 2, 2017

Equilutions 2017

Equilutions 2017

Happy New Year!

For background on  Equilutions, start with Equilutions #1 - 2009You can also use the search bar to find all Equilutions entries.   

2016 was the first year since losing Junior that I'd felt like making goals.  I made four goals and was able to accomplish 3, but I have a plan to get the third one accomplished soon.

I spent New Years Day at the barn.  I cleaned stalls and rode out in the field with Luke. Then we went on the trails and even into the creek.  It was a lovely day with plenty of sunshine and I think it was about 45 degrees!

Late 2015 and all of 2016 was full of unexpected injuries. Here's your recap:
December '15 - Facial Laceration - Stitches
April '16 - Leg Laceration RF - Staples, Infection
April - Nasty Leg scrape RH - Sore
June - SI injections
June-August - Rehab
September - Cuts and scrapes on all 4 legs after an apparent tangle with a fence panel. - I still need to blog about that one....

At this moment Huck is not bleeding or lame.  (I shouldn't even say that out loud)  He is soft and responsive and not stupid - though we still have some issues with the sound of ropes and whips moving through the air.  We are continuing to work with a Chiropractor and I will be getting a consultation with the vet in a few months to see if more injections are prescribed.  I don't want to do them if I don't need to, but I also don't want to lose half a show season again.

We ended the show season on a very high note, but because of all the injuries (especially the SI stuff) we only made it to one year-end Top 3 in our club - 3rd in Ranch Conformation.

Needless to say I have some goals for next year.  Let's first review the 2016 Goals:

2016 #1: Solve my noisy saddle dee's.  ACHIEVED!  Not only did I achieve the goal with my training saddle, I found the exact saddle I was looking for at a reasonable price so I upgraded to a whole new saddle! - Should probably post about that...

2016 #2: Get rid of the clutter.  ACHIEVED! I sold a bunch of stuff at a tack swap in February, and when my mom visited in August we purged a bunch of domestic clutter. My tack area at the barn, and my tack storage at home is much easier to manage now. There is breathing room.

2016 #3: Learn to tool leather.  Honestly I had forgotten I made this one, but this fall I started to ponder my upcoming sabbatical and I included learning leather working as professional development. So I've got a plan to accomplish that one in 2017.

And for 2017?

1. CONGRESS. I am planning to show in the Ranch Riding class at the All American Quarter Horse Congress in October.  I debated putting this here in writing.  Posting it here means I'm committing to it publicly.  Yikes. It's a Bucket List thing to go "play with the big kids" at the largest single-breed horse show in the world - over 21,000 entries in the month-long show.  When I moved to Columbus, Ohio I was thrilled I was moving to the city where The Congress is held.  I've gone every year to watch/shop and for the past four years I've bought the Exhibitors pass so I could go as much as I wanted to watch classes or demos or shop or eat Bourbon Chicken and ribbon fries.  The fairgrounds is so big and there are SO many people/horses that I was very intimidated and thought I'd never be able to show there. But being there this year helping a friend show in Ranch Riding and the Freestyle Reining was really helpful.  I have a grasp of what it takes to show there and it's totally doable.  With my hopefully upcoming fall sabbatical, I aim to take advantage of not having to halt summer training for the insanely busy first half of the fall semester.  I'll be able to show all summer, assess at the end of August (entries are due August 25th) and continue training all through our class at the Congress in mid October.    It'll be seven years before I get another chance at a sabbatical so I've decided this is the year to aim for Congress.  I don't expect to place, I think there was over 60 in the Amateur class last year, but we aren't terrible and will try our best, and you can watch it live online! 😬

Watching Luke show Ranch Riding at the 2016 Congress.

2. Keep Huck injury-free.  If I could actually control this I would have, but it's a true goal for us anyway.  All I can really do is cross my fingers and hope there aren't any more mystery injuries.  He's in a safe environment, none of the other horses have this many injuries.  I'm pretty tired of getting a phone call saying my horse is bleeding and I'm REALLY tired of the vet bills!  I did the math and 2016 was a horse-savings-account train wreck.  If we have another year of injuries like last year there will be no Congress.

3. Win a Year-end championship.  In 2016 we managed in the top 10 in every class we showed, even with only showing three of five shows (and one of them was a wreck), but I know we can do better if we have a full season without setbacks.  I admit winning my first buckle in 2015 with Kevin was like first blood.  I want another buckle, and I want to win it on my own horse.

Heading out to join Luke in the field.
4. BE BRAVE: Ride alone on the trails. The barn has the indoor arena, an outdoor obstacle course (just outside the arena), then down the hill is a large grass riding area, a big hay field, and trails.  I want to overcome my fear of taking a horse out alone.  I will reach that goal by riding outside more and more while we're alone.  We have ridden in the obstacle course and the area just outside the arena and the lower grass area alone, but we've not tried the trails alone yet.  I'll ride outside alone more and more and start taking little trail rides, like just off the riding area and back, then progressing to taking more and more of the trails.  It makes ME nervous because I anticipate a spook at any second, especially while we're alone.   So far I've ridden every one of his spooks because they're really not that big, but because I've come off on the trail twice with Junior and had so many Arabs spook/teleport to the other side of the world, I get a bit anxious.  I just need to be more confident and take baby step after baby step until we can go out alone without worry.  This is partially a goal because I want it, and partially because I show RANCH horse and a RANCH horse and rider need to ride out alone.

I wish you all a lovely and successful New Year!!!

Do you have Equilutions for 2017?