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*