Thursday, May 31, 2012

Watch Out World!!

The order of go finally came out last night for this weekend's show, and I'm chuckling after doing my show analysis. Yes, yes, I analyze the schedule. It's true. That's probably why I love betting on horse racing so much. It's all about trying extract something from a bunch of words.

So my Saturday starts at 8:30 am with cross rails. I'll go into that more later, but it's a whopping class of 15!!! ONE-FIVE. Wow. I went from classes of 1 at my last show to 15 this time...is that like a 1500% increase? : P

Okay, it can't all be that crazy. I mean, we don't show again until after lunch and it's the Walk/Trot Dressage test...with 15 people.

Trail class? Phew, only 10!

Bribe your Horse? Last show this was my largest class with 4 or 5 people in it. This time? 17!!!

Sunday I get to sleep in since all the jumping classes are in the morning, but I obviously need to feed Moon and want to braid him, so I'll be there early anyway. We're on at 12:00 with our Walk/Trot Equitation, which they split into two groups. Of 10 and 11 each. : P At least I got the 10 group, right??!

I'm probably scratching from the Freestyle, so it's Pas a Deux at almost 2 pm (the smallest class of just 3 teams), and then Costume Class where when I DON'T pull out the giant cardboard car, I have 7 competitors!!

How cruel! : ) I would have LOVED that competition last go around!

Overall, I'm thrilled. The same girl from the Fun Show Walk/Trot and Bareback will be at this one and no surprise, is in almost every one of my classes. Even those that are split into two groups. : ) I've decided she'll be my "Arch Nemesis". She's totally nice, but everyone needs a Nemesis to keep things interesting. ; )

I'm really happy to see that I'm gonna have to work my hardest to get any ribbons in this show, and truly suspect I may come away with just one default ribbon in the Pas a Deux. I WAS thrilled to see that our two junior riders have a couple classes of 5 or 7, which means they'll be coming home with their first ribbons. : ) I still love seeing every junior get something. I know, I know, this isn't public school with no fail policies, but you gotta admit, they worked hard. : ) And yes, I'd love to compete in this 15 person classes and come away with even a 5th place. I'm not dead!

Show analysis?

X-Rail: 15 people = 33% chance of ribboning based on size, 0% based on skill and experience. Totally fun class to say "I jumped in competition". And see how we kinda stack up in relation to everyone else.

Trail: 10 people = 50% chance of ribboning based on size, 15% chance based on skill and experience. Again, I think Trail would be AWESOME to show, so here's my first experience to see if it's true or not.

Walk/Trot A: 15 people = 33% chance of ribboning based on size, 5% based on skill and experience. Not being harsh, but our nemesis is in the group, and of the 15 riders only 5 are NOT showing Training level afterwards! Heck, FOUR are showing 1st level after they walk-trot!!

That means our 1st level riders will take the top 4 places, one of our training level riders will take the 5th, and the rest of us will trickle down from there.

So I assume that it'll be a tough run for anything in the top 5. I DO want a higher score then BHP, and THAT is what I'm aiming for. : )

Bribe your Horse: 17 people = 29% chance of ribboning based on size, 50% chance based on skill and experience. THIS is one class I'm actually a little confident that I might stand a chance at getting a ribbon. We've done it successfully before, Moon moves awesome, and we're not half bad. I'd like to see a top 5 place here, but it'll be a bit of a game of luck.

Walk/Trot Equitation: 10 people = 50% chance of ribboning based on size, 5% chance. 3 are riding Training Level dressage tests, 2 are jumping 2'6" Hunters. Let's say that's our top 5 placing, so chances aren't looking good. : P

Freestyle: 7 people = 71% chance of ribboning based on size, 71% chance based on skill and experience. Assuming I don't scratch and use my old freestyle, I probably stand a chance.

Pas A Deux: 3 Teams = 100% chance of ribboning based on size. I assume K and I will get at least one ribbon at the show, since I doubt we'll crash or ride out of the ring. : )

Costume Class: 7 people = 71% chance of ribboning based on size, 50% chance based on skill and experience. Since I haven't even created a costume AND there's a boatload of cute kids in the group, I'll stay the sceptic.

: )

_________________________

Okay, okay. Back to the "Real" stuff. : P

Tuesday was cold, wet and I was sore from my long trail ride, so I chose to stay home. Instead of riding, I put most of my floor boards back in the pony trailer, and made a little progress there. Hopefully at lunch today I can get the new lock installed and pick up the last piece of lumber I need for the floor (the old piece was too rotted for me to want to reuse). Not close to being done, but a step closer.
Floor Boards!!

Yesterday was lesson day, for everyone but me. I got to bed late on Tuesday since I was trying to rearrange things with the lesson schedule so it would work for everyone, and thankfully when I awoke, it was all making sense again. W was super gracious with her time, and I probably owe her a couple bags of M&M's at this point...


Happy Puppy going to barn!
 
I stopped at home to grab the Halo before heading to the barn, and made it in time to watch A's lesson while grooming Mr. Moon. A is an absolute hoot, and I laughed through most of it. She's one of these skilled riders who goes around pretending they don't know a horse from a donkey, but she lies. She's really good, even if she doesn't run about saying "Piaffe" or "On the rail" like the rest of us DQ's. : ) I personally think it's all a ruse... ; )

Moon had rolled in the muddiest mud he could find (further punishment for Monday's bog ride), so I had to let him dry a bit before I could remove it from his beautiful pulled mane. By the time A was finished her lesson and W was jetting back to her barn, Moon was clean-ish. He was starting to sweat in his sheet, and it seemed to encourage a good round of shedding. So there was hair flying EVERYWHERE!

I pulled his mane a bit more, and then tacked and threw two jumps in the ring (by throw, I meant H2 carried half of them for me! Yes, yes, a pregnant lady did my work ; ) ). We set up a small vertical (9"?) and a small x-rail (9"?) on either side of the ring. A was game to jump with me (I tell you, lies, all lies!), and we went around with H2 acting as our skilled Hunter Coach. She was AWESOME! Getting us to focus beyond the jumps, leg on, how to move like a hunter on course, what's allowed, what's frowned on. Just awesome. My first go-over I lost a stirrup and wound up half-cocked in my saddle (thanks Moon for not deeking the 1/2 step required to land me in the sand). H2 coached me into a better position and told me to tighten that girth!! ...haha...whoops.

Yup, my boy when I got him wore a 52" girth. On the last billet hole (the longest out we could make the girth on the billets). Last year I bought and managed to squeeze him into a 50" girth (?) on the second hole from the end. Yesterday, that same girth was on the highest hole I could get it on both side, meaning our SHORTEST girthing to date! And no, the elastic didn't stretch! We haven't used this saddle in months!! He's SKINNY!!! YIPPEEE! Now to find a 48" girth... ; )

So after that initial topsy jump, we got a refusal. H2 reminded me to stop STARING AT MY JUMP!!!

Right. : )

Around and around we went, and amazingly, we actually were doing it!!! Like JUMPING! I don't care how small it is, it was JUMPING. And I was having fun! Like really enjoying myself! Something about H2 and H standing on the sidelines offering instruction and encouragement, A out there doing it with me, just felt awesome. And Moon wasn't hating it. One might almost hesitate to say he was "enjoying it", at least as much as he enjoys Dressage or any other activity that doesn't involve racing across open fields at light speed!

H then raised the jumps. : O I know, insanity. I mean, I could've hugged her for doing it, but still, insane. Then the H's coached us around again and BAM! We jumped 18" in a happy, relaxed (sometimes lazy) manner! X-rail and vertical, without stressing over it. FUN!

I can do this Saturday. At least, make it around and over things. And have FUN!

That's what I just can't get over. How fun it was. It hasn't felt like this since I got him. I WANT to do it again. Higher. Gymnastics. Courses. Anything. Just again. Build on it. And I want the H's guiding us, and I want A right there being crazy with me! Such FUN!!

Now I'm bemoaning missing out on Sunday's X-Country clinic, especially since H had offered me The Black to do the course on! Though I'm probably not ready for 2'3" just yet... : P I wouldn't be surprised if H and I take to the x-country course this fall... ; )

When we finished, I was thrilled. Little M helped me carry the standards back out of the ring. Omg, who doesn't love this 2 year old?! She walked RIGHT into the ring after I carried the first two out, and grabbed a standard and tried to lift it to carry it like me!! These are pressure treated 4x4's with 2x4 stands! They're taller and heavier then she is! But there she was, helping me out. I seriously melted. I know, I know, get the mushy kid-stories out of the horse blog. But she's SUCH a pony girl!!





Okay, so the ring was cleared by the time W showed up again and she brought J.Z. with her. J.Z. is this awesome teenager from W's barn and she's a blast. So while W gave H2 her lesson, J.Z. and I discussed the weekend's show (She's bringing her mare Sunshyne) and then she showed me how to make BUTTON BRAIDS!!! : )

  
Learning Button Braids!!
 

Our first ones didn't really turn out, so J.Z. showed me how to determine if you've thinned the mane evenly, and then how to trim off the little hairs. She worked diligently cleaning up my mess, and when we finished, it looked AWESOME! So then we re-braided our buttons and WOW! They looked AWESOME! I still might need to thin one section (she wanted me to wait a day to see how it settles out), but it's stellar! Granted, we only did 2 braids, but I can only imagine him looking like a little dressage pony!
  
Button Braid!!

And it was AWESOME to get first-hand guidance from someone who's a really skilled braider. Now I'm excited to get braiding on Saturday morning!


Tired pony with pretty mane!
 

By the time H2's lesson was over (she did great!), J.Z. and I had finished our mane pulling, and Moon was half asleep. We all hung around for a bit chatting and laughing, and then J.Z. and W headed back to their barn, and H2 and I went to feed the ponies. The sun slowly started its decent, and everyone was back in their places. The evening was over.

As I drove home, the sun setting in brilliant colors on the horizon, I was stupidly happy.

THIS is what riding is all about. While I only put maybe 30 minutes in the saddle the whole evening, despite being there for 4.5 hours, I felt like it was an awesome, awesome evening. From the H's and A in our jumping, to joking around while learning to braid with J.Z., to little M helping me out, to the laughter shared with W and the whole group of gals, to standing on the edge of the pasture with H2 in the dimming light before the horses, it was an evening of fun.

When W told me that she's be picking me up Friday early to head to the show barn, and that she would be a ball of nerves, I was certain that I wouldn't. This weekend is going to rock. Nerves? With this team? With 6 of us going there together, these awesome gals cheering us on, and bringing our favorite ponies? No, this weekend won't be stressful. It's going to be a BLAST. And I really, really can't wait.

Watch out world! Here comes Team Bar W!!
 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

AURGGHH!!

AURGH!!!

AURGGHH!!!

Badabumdadada!

WE JUMPED!!!
And both REALLY had fun! I mean, FUN!

Like the type of fun where you WANT to do it again! And raise the jumps! And got over you assurance that you're gonna die doing it.

FUN!!

I know, I'm still wired about it. It wasn't even anything high. The pins were in the 18" hole, so may 19" high x-rail and a vertical. Nothing fancy. Nothing tall. Nothing serious.

But FUN!!

Why hadn't jumping felt like THIS since I got Moon?!

And Moon actually jumped! In a fun, not going to freak out or kill us both sort of way. Granted, sometimes he just walked up to the jump and was like "Dream on woman", but the other times, we JUMPED!!!

Yes, yes. From a trot. Yes, yes, it wasn't even a course or gymnastic. But we JUMPED!! AND HAD FUN!!!

Do you think if I type it enough, I'll calm down??!

I'm tired, didn't get in any dressage practice, haven't bothered to upload the pictures for you yet (none of jumps or jumping, but I DID learn something REALLY cool tonight!), still don't know the Pas a Deux for tomorrow and am in the midst of one of these potentially life-altering (in a great way) career moments where I'm waiting for the dust to settle on a potential opportunity. To fresh and new to possibly be anything, but in my industry, you gotta get a jump on anything even if it turns into nothing. So it's long discussions, it's trying to keep 1/2 my mind on the show weekend, finally getting the needed supplies, and still trying to get the horse trailer finished. So while I should be exhausted and done, I'm just like...

JUMP! We jumped! WEJUMPED!WEJUMPED!ANDDIDN'TDIE!WEJUMPED!ANDHADABLAST!WEJUMPED!WEJUMPED!WECOULDJUMPHIGHER!WEJUMPED!WEJUMPED!XCOUNTRYWATCHOUTSOMEDAY!JUMP!JUMP!JUMP!JUMP!JUMP!JUMP!WEJUMPEDWEJUMPEDWEJUMPEDWEJUMPED!!!AURGHJUMPINGWECANDOIT!JUMP!

Details tomorrow.




Monday, May 28, 2012

Come Hell or High Water.

And the preliminary show schedule is out.

By and large, I'm pretty pleased with it all, though I remain a little nervous about the cross-rails class. Only because we're sooo green and I don't want to make a fool of myself. I know, I know, not why I'm there. : P

Looks like we'll x-rail it up, relax for a bit before the walk-trot equitation. Have lunch, go outside for our walk-trot test, skip back inside for a trail class and then have a short break before the bribe your horse.

I'm now planning on staying in the costume class if I can whip something up, as it's one of 2 classes on Sunday. Won't be a lot of fun doing only one class all day! Would have prefered the x-rail class on Sunday, but not surprised by the order of go.

Saturday, June 2nd

Indoor
Cross rails
2'0" Hunter
2'3" Hunter
2'6" Hunter
Walk/Trot Equitation
Show Hack

LUNCH
Western Pleasure
Western Equitation
Trail
Horsemanship
Best Groomed
Bribe Your Horse

Outdoor (begins after lunch)
Cadora Walk/Trot Test A
Cadora Training Level B
Cadora First Level A

PineRidge Equine Park's 100th anniversary FREE BBQ!!!
Will begin once Saturday classes have finished

Sunday, June 3rd
Indoor

2'0" Horse/Human Relay
2'0" Jumper
2'3" Jumper
2'6" Jumper
3'0" Jumper

LUNCH

Dressage Freestyle
Dressage Pas de Deux
Cup of Water Race
Flag Race
Costume Class
Champion Ribbon presentation
 
_______________________
 
Today I headed out to the barn despite the calls for rain showers. Mr. Moon was waiting for me, and I took some time just prepping and getting things ready. I like to be prepared.
 
I pulled a bit more of his mane, and then brought out...THE CLIPPERS.
 
Yes, I did. I know.
 
I kept thinking about how strange it is when you don't know your horse's history. Did Moon previously show? Is this old hack for him, or something new and scarey? He sure doesn't give me a lot to go by, that's for sure. He acts like everything is either "kinda new" or "boring". Mane pulling? Doesn't care other then he can't get to the good grass.
 
I was nervous to try the clippers. In hindsight, I can't believe I did it without A. A helmet on, and B. Anyone else there.
 
Um, hello, previous hospital visit from horse+clippers+stormy day. And just 20-days (and many years) off the last accident? Oye. Glad I wasn't thinking about it! In honesty, Moon is the kinda horse that I often forget about ever being nervous or injured by horses. I just trust him.
 
Even when I brought the whirling clippers towards him.
 
And he gave me the stink-eye. "Um, I don't think so" his eyes seemed to shout.
 
"It's okay bud", I said as I brought them closer and leaned them against his shoulder. His muscles quivered like a million flies sat there, and then he settled.
 
"Whatever mum. Can I have some grass now?"
 
That's my boy!
 
And so I shaved off his fetlocks nicely (with all this mud, I'm happy about it!), and I cleaned up his chin. Unfortunately I forgot to do his bridle path, but maybe it's better. More experience is good experience, and I'll whip them out again tomorrow or Wednesday.
 
Another moment when I wasn't sure if he's had past experience, or is just that laid back.
 
Probably that laid back : P
 
I stopped to snap a couple pictures of my nicely trimmed man, and then saddled up for a ride.
Moon's Hindquarters - Summer 2010

Moon's Hindquarters - Spring 2011

Moon's Hindquarters - TODAY!! : )
We have muscle! Bum definition!

Moon Sideview - 2011 (pre-training)

Moon - 2011 (mid-training)

Moon - November 2011 (after moving to W's)
 
Moon - TODAY!
 
The rains have come down non-stop for almost a week now, and everything is flooded. The arena hadn't time to dry since it had only stopped raining about an hour before I showed up, so I thought the trails were my best bet. While I wanted to be jumping and riding our Pas a Deux, it wasn't happening until the sand dried up some.
 
We hacked up the road and over to the local Provincial Park. I found a nice place to deak into the woods and we wandered along the trails. I seriously need a map or to bring my gps. Because on a cloudy day, I had zero clue where we were going. I tried to always make left turns when at forks, and we wound and wove our way through the woods.
 
Until we came to a low spot. A bog. A marsh.
 
Ah well. Moon can cross it. "Good experience walking in water," I assured myself. And so I nudged him forward.
 
He started in. And further. And it was a little mucky and about up to the middle of his cannons, but nothing horrible. I urged him further. I mean, he's a quarter horse. ; )
 
And then it happened.
 
We were slightly more then 1/2 was across (it was a very long bog, 1/2 block at least), when he suddenly sunk to his haunches. I seriously just felt him go down, and my feet were in the water.
 
CRAP!
 
All of those horrible Sunday afternoon animal rescue programs went spinning through my head, my poor horse trapped in the mud as I stood need knee deep in the bog calling 911 on my cell phone (thankfully I had it and it was charged), and a boatload of rescuers would have to come to haul him out with a dozen ropes and winches and slings.
 
CRAP!
 
I knew I couldn't let that happen.
 
"Let's go Moon! Keep going bud!" I cheered to him, encouraging him to keep going.
 
Somehow he managed to extracate one hoof, propell himself forward and sink again into that bog. My feet returned to their murky depths even from atop Mr. Moon's back.
 
I kept encouraging him, giving him free rein, and doing everything I could to make it easy for him to pull that back end out of the muddy bottom.
 
Step by step, he lurched forward, always being sucked into the next hoofprint. It was deep, it was muddy and it was sticky.
 
Somehow he managed to get across it. My boots were soaking wet, my chaps were wet, my pants were wet, there was mud splayed on the back of my saddle, his bum...He was literally soaked from hind quarters to chest.
 
Water dripped off of him.
 
I hopped off and had a look over him. No damage done. Well, other then to my saddle and girth : P As I turned, this side of the trail had a nice little sign: "Caution. Thin Ice". How about "Caution, deep bog" next time?!
 
I walked Moon a bit to let him catch his breath and dry off before remounting and carrying on.
 
...You know, another 200 paces before we came to a second bog!
 
And I was NOT going back through the 1st one!!! This one was at least shorter and hopefully not as deep.
 
Moon thought I was nuts. He refused to move from the edge of the bog at first, surely thinking I'd taken him out into the woods that afternoon to do away with him. Why else would a sane creature venture through so many bogs??!
 
Thankfully while this one was muddy and sucky, it wasn't nearly as deep. Even more thankfully, when he got to the shallows and gave a MASSIVE SHAKE.
 
...and shook his bridle right off his head.
 
----PLOOP-----
 
Into the murky water it went.
 
----PLOOP-----
 
Went his matching crocheted ear net.
 
-----THRUMP----
 
Went Moon's hoof, right through the noseband of that bridle.
 
----"FRIGGEN' 'ELL!!!"-----
 
Went I!
 
I wasn't dismounting into the bog. I squeezed him forward cautiously the three steps we needed to get to dry land, and thankfully he managed to neither damage bridle nor self nor rider.
 
And I promptly dismounted and removed my bridle from around his front hoof and jammed it back on his head. Was this Mr. Moon's way of expressing his general displeasure in my riding adventure??
 
Yes, I also pulled the wet ear net from the mud and hung it from the saddle to dry. Just like the rest of us : P
 
I must say that the rest of the ride was less exciting after that. We made it out of the boggy section, I found a path that appeared to lead to a clearing and came out from the woods...
 
...1/2 a mile downroad from where I went in! Yes, we somehow BACKTRACKED!!! AURGH!!!
 
And so we hiked back uphill (no wonder it was getting wetter!), and found a better path into the woods. From there it was a short canter where Moon thought another rock was trying to kill us and I nearly got ejected from my seat...and promptly discovered that I felt unbalanced in the stirrups because I WAS unbalanced in the stirrups...since they were on different hole numbers! After the stirrups were readjusted I felt more comfortable and we found ourselves on a nice little mowed patch of grass large enough for an imaginary dressage ring.
 
From there we worked.
 
Circles and serpentines. Changes of direction and leg yielding. Walk-trot transitions, lots of suppling and trying to reprogram my mind. Lift the hands. Elbows in. Relax those legs. Stop fighting. Wait for it. Be patient.
 
And so forth.
 
I think it improved as we went. Not saying anywhere near perfect or even show ready. But better.
 
By that point I was hot and sweating and so was Moon. The bugs were appearing, the darker clouds were rolling in, and we headed for home. Down the highway : P
 
At one point, thinking about the costume class, I tried riding him side saddle. NOT as easy as you think. And I'm sure a side-saddle wouldn't make it that much easier. That's HARD stuff!
 
I walked him the last couple of yards home so he could cool out and to show my appreciation. H met me at the barn and we chatted while cleaning him up. She gave me great advice to wrap the mane around the pulling comb to save my fingers and voila, WAY easier pulling time! I shortened up the patch in the middle that was longer then everything else, and still think we need to go shorter. But all things in time. Still need a trip to Greenhawk tomorrow to buy some braiding supplies anyway.
 
Moon was still sound when I put him away, and I was happy to get in my car and head home. We had a very successful and very fun afternoon, full of adventures. I can honestly say, come hell or high water, he's the best horse I'll ever have.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Counting Down.

As another weekend passes us by, I find myself only a few days away from our next show. :O Yes, open-mouth-face, it is certainly approaching awfully fast.

The ker music has been received and just needs to be downloaded and burned to a CD. And ridden through! 

I haven't jumped anything since our clinic, I haven't practiced any trail class moves, and to be honest, I don't think I've ridden since my lesson last Wednesday! Oh boy.

Saturday, the only sunny day of the weekend was otherwise occupied, which meant today was my only riding day. And it rained nearly all day. I did manage to finish putting more resin on the horse-trailer roof on Friday, and it was dry by the end of Saturday. So in a brief one hour this afternoon when the rain stopped, I went outside Dremel in hand and smoothed it all out. And finished JUST as the rain started falling again. Why oh, why?

Needless to say, I'll be left hoping for a sunny day (tomorrow?? Please?!) for putting that SINGLE coat of paint on it that is required before I hoist the roof back atop the trailer and rivet the whole thing down. Sadly, I doubt (okay, I know) it won't be ready by this weekend's show.

The order-of-go for next weekend's show is supposed to be posted Tuesday at the latest, and I'm reminding myself to wait until then at least before scratching from any classes. Who knows, maybe they'll space them out well enough that I won't feel overwhelmed by doing so many.

I remain clueless in regards to a possible costume, should I have the time to compete in that class. It's hard. I want something cool but simple, cheap yet impressive. So that means I have no idea.

I picked up a handful of flaxseed to see about feeding to Moon, though I'm amazed by the requirements in order to use it as a feedstuff. Soaking and boiling...boy, that's the reason why I never bake with Legumes! Too much work! : O  Just looking for something with a little oil in it to help give him some shine.

I have a lot of packing and prep to do still, need to finish mane pulling, maybe finally clip him (we all know that won't come to fruition), some repairs on my show coat, shine my boots, and yes, still haven't washed those white breeches. I so don't want to see that they're permanently stained : P

I did notice that my wintec saddle is showing a lot of signs of wear. It's only been 8 months, yet it seems to have aged dramatically. The panels are showing rubs, the seat is getting a shiny finish, and it just is starting to look very well loved. I'm not sure if this means I've done a lot of riding in it since I bought it, or if I'm some sort of octopus in the saddle, slip sliding everywhere and causing premature wear...

hmmmm...

Tomorrow. Tomorrow I get those breeches washed, I hope for at least no rain (if I can't have sunshine), and I get a ride on my boy. Progress!

And I keep telling myself that it's all for fun. It's all for fun...

Now, costume ideas anyone??! Gonna see if I can hunt down any of my children's costumes in the basement...hmmm....did I move with those???

Friday, May 25, 2012

Pouring Rain.

I'm struggling a bit to recall where I last left off my riding-pony updates, so I'm gonna just have to wing it.

I spent the last two days at a conference, and it seems to like to be sunny all day and then rain by the time I get to the barn and start feeding. So I wind up feeding in the rain, and not really riding at all.

Tuesday was supposed to be a riding day, but the BF decided to buy a quad for me, so we spent the evening doing that instead. I got to the barn late, packed hay bales into hockey nets in the dark by flashlight and lightening flashes. Yup. And it was pouring rain. I officially hate rain.

So Wednesday I got out of the conference (which leaves me a little anti-social on the best of days), and headed over to W's to meet with K to work through our Pas a Deux. She's got a music background and needless to say, did a fabulous job. I think W enjoyed watching us run around the arena pretending to do trot extensions and leg yielding on our own two feet! We were puffing a bit too much for two active gals who ride regularly, but I think all the laughing didn't help!

We did finally nail down a routine, and K practiced it yesterday on her boy. Said it worked out really well, so now I'm awaiting the music and a free moment to ride it on Mr. Moon. It's gonna be interesting...

I'm hoping to borrow a horse next Thursday so her and I can ride it together, even if it's not on the right horses! Anything for one more practice!

My show entries were received and there's a big group of us going from W's barn. Which should be fun. T has the day off, so she'll be coming down to cheer us on as well!

So after K and I ran about pretending to be horses for an hour, I headed over to H's to get ready for our lesson. I was distraught because Moon and I have barely ridden since our last show, and certainly what we have ridden hasn't been anything resembling serious training.

NOT how I like going into another show. I keep reminding myself that I didn't sign up for this one in order to do great, but rather for exposure and a good time with friends. I was debating scratching from the x-rail class (there's a lot of hunter-jumper people going), but K reminded me that A. You can do it all at trot, and B. It's all for fun. So I'm doing it!

The arena was a big quick-sand pit in spots, so W had us trying to stay on the rail or on one half of the ring. As I said, it had been raining LOTS.

Automatically she said that Moon was moving better and stretching down. Back almost where we were when we left. We did some leg yielding and W confirmed what I've always kinda known...I don't follow my own "Ask, Tell, Demand, Reprimand" rule. When Moon ignores my leg, I just keep asking gently, over and over. And he keeps ignoring me.

Yup, I need to find some balls, and actually give him a correction. It's not him, it's me.

So I finally bucked up and gave him a couple kicks when he ignored me, and suddenly, there he was, leg yielding properly! Finally!

It seemed to be the theme of the lesson...

Having looked at the pictures from the horse show, I was telling Wendy how I feel like I often post on my toes, and really feel like MY position is screwing things up.

W spent a good 25 minutes with me just working on position.

It's amazing. A year ago when Moon and I started together, she told me that the process takes longer because we have to train me, then train him, then train me, then train him. And we have to fix him, fix me, fix him, then fix me.

Wednesday was all about fixing me.

I can ride fine. Sit the trot well, post properly, legs long and loose, all of that.

Until Moon starts to come unglued.

Suddenly, I go fetal on him.

No joke.

I lean forward with my upper body, pinch at my legs, brace my calves, bring my legs up, get chicken-arms, hands drop, head stares at his head. Which makes everything worse, he braces back, I brace more, I bounce, pull and everything goes to hell.

So Moon thankfully had a bit of a fit as another horse was being led up the road and another was being loaded to leave. I love how sometimes I just need a voice in my head telling me what I already should know.

"Elbows bent"

"Relax those legs"

"Open your chest. No, don't hollow, open. Relax"

"Breathe"

"Elbows in"

"Stop forcing your heels down. Let them flow"

"Relax"

"Head up"

"Open your arms. No, wider."

"Sit the trot, and one-two-one-two"

"Hands up! Lift them!"

"Inside leg. No, following, not pushing. Yes, like that. Breathe"

And so on, and so forth.

As we went in circles, it was ridiculous. I could often catch it moments before W said anything. Those flapping arms. Those braced legs. It's just so instinctual. It's habitual. It's all about muscle memory and reprogramming.

W worked me back to a proper position where I was suddenly posting within my saddle, instead of up and out of it. I gained a closer contact with my horse, an easier ability to communicate and things began to flow.

As we circled, he actually brought his head down and was moving like a nice little dressage horse. Over his back. Stretching down into my hands. Moving in nice circles, not collapsing in.

When we finally stopped, I was thrilled. This meant that his training, is progressing still. He's learning to move how I want him to. NOW, I need to spend some time focusing on me, and what *I* do when I get tense. We spent a long time teaching Moon to change what *he* does when he gets tense, time for me to change too.

I was really proud of him. And of me. It's a long road. It's a slow road. But we're still moving forward. And I gotta admit, I have a little faith that by the fall, we'll get there. Where's there? A decent walk-trot score with a lot of 6's, and maybe a go at Training level. : )

The best part of the whole ride, was that Moon's back cut had healed enough I could ride in a saddle again! And after our lesson, it was still healed up! Yippee! I miss my saddle! Which means I can finally hit the trails again!!!

_______

Yesterday I met up with C, and her and I went to visit T and her ponies. I learned that one had passed away a week ago from a heart attack, while running with the herd in the pasture. So sad. : ( Made me think of Hickstead, as they were almost the same age. And suddenly I just wanted to go hug Mr. Moon!

It was nice seeing all the ponies again and so many have grown up since I was there last. A couple of the 4 year olds really grew over the winter and are nice heights for riding horses. : ) T also got herself a good packer for the trails, a cute Paint that I think she'll  be really happy with. Very soft, sweet mare. : )

We stayed and yapped well into the evening and then loaded up the jumps to haul back to Hil's. By that point another storm had rolled in and it was starting to rain. Oh joy.

I dropped C off and then unloaded the jumps. I contemplated grabbing Moon (it was just misting at that time) and going for a little ride over them....But of course, it was already 9 pm, more rain was on its way, Moon was in a wet blanket and the ponies still needed dinner.

*sigh*

Got everyone fed, stuffed hay bales into muddy nets and then was happy to crawl back into the warm truck to head for home. Since it was already 10 pm. Seems lately I've had a lot of late nights, and really look forward to things being "normal" again. Of course, that won't happen until the end of show season...

: P

Next Tuesday I'm picking rocks and doing a BBQ for the IRC, Wednesday is lesson night so I'll probably hack out to the park, Thursday K and I are riding our Ker, and then Friday, it's time to haul to the show! So unprepared!!!!

I *did* pull some more of Moon's mane.  I need to go a bit shorter as it gets pretty long in the middle, but it's looking very neat and tidy. : ) I'm kinda glad I did it, though it's going to be a hectic time.

: )

Hope everyone else is having great horse-rides!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Not For Sale.

You've probably noticed a lot of "Not for Sale" ads going around the blogging world today, thanks to some recent thought inspiring posts.

I couldn't help but think about Mr. Moon. He didn't have a sale ad when I bought him (he technically wasn't for sale), but I can only imagine his "Not for Sale" ad...

__________



1999 AQHA Gelding - RR Moons Sox out of Moons Star Trek (Speed Index 81) of the AQHA Hall of Famer Top Moon (Speed Index 100). Half-Brother of World Champion Barrel Racing Qualifier RR Moons Rusty Bar. Pretty "well-loved-mahogany" chestnut of a debatable bay-liver coloring, with large blaze and soft eyes. Looks best in blue.

Standing 14.3hh on a hill, this boy will take you where you want to go, however you want to get there. Has been in dressage training for the last year and is currently showing Walk-Trot, schooling Training and First level. Moves best laterally, requires proper suppling to maximize his movement. Must be patient rider with soft, quiet hands.

"Willing" is the best descriptor of this horse. He'll never take you Prix St. George, but today you could show him training level, tomorrow you could hack him out through the valley, and the day after you could try your hand at trail class, costume class or a little x-rail. Great indoors and out, never herd-bound, trail rides alone or in a group, loves a good gallop but is patient walking the trails. Traverses any terrain: wood bridges, rocky paths, edges of highways, trot poles, ditches, forests, fields, busy streets in town. Have led my dog from his back, stood on him, frequently ridden bareback, dressed in a giant cardboard car costume at a busy show, mounted and ridden bareback and bridle-less in the paddock.
Has gone English, Western, Aussie, Bitless, Bridle-Less, Bareback, you dream it, he'll try it. 

Stands awesome for the farrier, fly spray, blankets, loads in everything but my tiny 2-horse trailer (we'll get there!), tolerates mane pulling, leg wrapping or any other crazy antics you can imagine. Ability to lunge is questionable, round pens, and basically refuses to canter under lead. Leads like a dream, recently won 2nd place in a Bribe Your Horse at Liberty pattern, he's a dream to handle on the ground. Ties (cross or d-ring), halters, always walks away from you when you go to catch him, hates being bathed.

Rarely spooks, never unseats rider, is a freeze-and-stare instead of a buck-and-bolt. Typically the lower man in the paddock, has a tendency to remove bridles, fly masks...known to roll under saddle.

"Tidy" horse in a stall (hardly any mess, doesn't crib, doesn't wind suck). Only stereotypie is an incessant need to gape his mouth when stressed, annoyed, bored, hungry, sleepy, happy, excited, sad, upset, hurt, angry, irritated...

Lovely walk, inverted trot, non-existent canter, this boy has all the gaits. Favorite is the gallop, an absolute dream, and having been clocked at 35 mph, he's got speed in his blood. Willingly chases a quad, loves a good trail ride. Have toyed around barrels but his owner is clueless. Has been ridden in a dark arena, over bridges on a busy highway, and been followed through town on a pair of lawnmowers.

He's all champion, 100% diverse, and perfectly trust worthy. Everything you could need and want in a horse.


_______________





In other news, I mistakenly checked out Rocking R Ranch's 2012 foals for any of Moon's ancestors...

This cutie is for sale and has the most impressive face markings...AND is Moon's cousin...


Monday, May 21, 2012

The Reveal

What a weekend.

We all love a good Montel Williams episode where they take your average joe gal, and transform her into a runway goddess. There's that moment when she breaks through the fabric curtain of her former self and stands before the audience looking phenomenal. And suddenly we all have hopes that we too can go from the ugly duckling to that beauty queen.

You can pretend that you don't enjoy a good Montel episode, but you do. So today, we present:

MONTEL WILLIAMS
PRESENTS:
TRANSFORM YOUR TRAILER EPISODE

Back in 1974, a beautiful trailer was born. It wasn't anything awestriking to the eye, but it encompassed some truly unique features. Like that front-exit door, the bright fibreglass roof and that rolled rear bumper...

The Blair Standard 60's baby picture...

Years later, life had treated it roughly and there's no doubt it had undergone a few face lifts as time had passed. The layers of paint required to keep her pretty had grown, and she was showing signs of wearing out. The rust was bleeding through, the roof was covered in moss and the fabric that covered the wells was torn and faded.

What had become of this beautiful trailer?


Yet a girl fell for the weathered good looks. This was a hearty trailer, compact enough to tuck away in the off season, perfectly sized for her perfectly sized pony. She couldn't get over her front exit door, and at $900, who could pass her up?

Her roof, flooring, doors, trim, everything was removed. The local "welders surgeon" (aka. plastic surgeon) repaired her rust perforations, repaired the worst spots, and even went to far as to upgrade her. She now sported a new hitch, new tow chains and a more open stock style. Removable doors, and blocker plates on those rear wells.

Then she was stripped and left fully exposed, taken to the local sandblasters for a complete overhaul. The sand blaster went over every inch, from top to bottom, every wheel well, front and back of rims, everything.

She was left looking ragged and naked for just $300.


But that wouldn't last long. That very same day she was picked up and hauled to a local paint booth. JUST before the rain it. Which meant she was nearly 100% rust free.

The custom metallic blue paint was purchased, along with a high build epoxy primer. The primer was high adhesion and direct to metal, and strangely tacky until it dried. Solid.



This isn't your "spray can" rustoleum paint. This is THE STUFF. On top of the primer went that custom polyurethane paint. This stuff is COOL. It dries to almost a "plastic" coating, and even now, the rain beads off of it. And yes, it's metallic. It has tiny beads of sparkle in it. And yes, I left the tiniest patch of original paint with the technician to color match. And the BF and Dad spent the WHOLE day painting (prep, primer, 2 coats of paint = 12 hours straight! Plus 1 trip to A&W and many trips to Timmies for coffee!).

Do you think it was a success? 

AND

NOW

FOR

THE

REVEAL

...








Yes, she's gorgeous.

Really, really gorgeous.

The tires will hopefully be replaced in June (and will no longer be blue!). The lug nuts were even repainted blue! The paint needs 7 days to dry, so next weekend I can put the floorboards back in and start getting her back together!

The BF has agreed to redo her wiring, and I'm currently so caught up in her beauty that I'm contemplating putting LED lighting on her. The old lights were all worn out, rusted or broken. So she's getting new ones. And LED would be sooo pretty... ; )

It's wonderful to be back to the point where we put her back to her full beauty. I'm not sure I'm ever gonna want to load my pony, considering how shiny and bright she is!

I'm also hunting for the "right" decal/magnetic sticker to complement her. : )

Now, I DID get a ride in despite all the activity of the weekend...

Friday evening.

After feeding horses, I hopped on Moon for a ride. I was having a bit of "a day" and decided to try Moon in a sidepull instead of a bitted bridle.

At first, I was amazed. He seemed to actually round over his back and it was like riding a different horse. I was stunned. Seriously contemplating riding him only bitless for awhile in hopes of strengthening his back and teaching him how I'd like him to move.

And suddenly, it all disappeared.

Now keep in mind, I'm bareback still, so it's questionable what went wrong.

BUT, based on the thunder that started booming in the distance, and the lightening flashing in the sky...and the fact all the other horses headed into their shelters...

...one has to wonder if MAYBE he got high headed and stopped paying attention to me BECAUSE of the impending bad weather. I can't really say. I CAN say that he wouldn't stop staring off towards his paddock... : P

So I dismounted and called it over.

BUT, I came to a crazy decision earlier this week that Mr. Moon will sport button braids at all future shows. I'll go crazy if another running braid comes undone on me during a show! Especially if it's a sanctioned show.

We've got a funshow coming up in 2 weeks, and it'll be out 'practice' session for braids.

Which means...

We started pulling.


: O

I know, it looks horrible. But I'm just doing a little bit each time I'm out riding, after we ride. I plan to get it shorter, have a look, and then pull even shorter if needed.

I spent a lot of time wondering if it's a bad idea with his outdoor life, but we're planning a rather intense show season, and we might as well do it right. He can grow the mane back next year, and we all know I'll be coating him in fly spray, masks and blankets anyway : P

Goodbye gorgeous mane...

A lot of folks will be sad. But hey, they say it grows back fuller, right?

Might not get a ride in until Wednesday's lesson. Oye.


But I got all the fiberglass repaired on the trailer roof!!! : )

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Call me a liar.

Oh curses.

Beside me sits three pieces of paper.

Upon them sits 13 check marks.

Call me a liar.

For I am one.



I have filled my form and am just moments away from signing up for our second show of the season.

And unlike my previous promise, it seems unlikely I will:
A) Have a trailer ready
B) Sign up for only 3 classes

Some of us never learn.

I must admit that when I went for a bareback practice ride on Mr. Moon on Tuesday, after giving him Sunday and Monday off after the show, neither of us was particularly impressive.

I quite suddenly understood all the gadgets and doohickeys of the equestrian world.

As I rode my giraffe around the arena, bouncing like my ping-pong ball self (let's face it, a sack of spuds would be more graceful then I), I found myself with an overwhelming urge to strap the Mr's mouth shut to spare another round of THESE photos:



That wasn't all I felt compelled to do. I wanted to crank his head down, strap it to his chest, toss the biggest double bit in his mouth, tie my arms up so my hands wouldn't constantly be pulling down, and *maybe* beat myself with a wet lead-rope until I stopped posting like I was trying to stand in my freakin' stirrups.

We'll ignore "glue glasses to face", as in many pictures I'm pushing the darn things back up. Yup, anyone know if you're penalized for riding one handed during your test in order to see where you're going?

Oye.

So there I was, bareback bouncing around the ring, dreaming of how stellar my pony and I could look if I could just "get" him to look like a dressage horse instead of giraffe.

I mean, last show I was lucky. There was no competition. But how, HOW can I progress if I don't look like a dressage team? How can we get training level if he moves like a giraffe, and I, a ping pong ball?

No, I want him to move like a swan, or a deer, or some other creature that instills beauty and flowiness. Not our inverted hollow selves.

Begone you 50%! I want 60%. No, 70%. I want red ribbons and to beat classes of six or eight people while looking smart and dashing on my perfectly pressed, freshly ironed pony.

And how, how can I do it as I am riding now? On the horse I am riding now? With the gear I am riding now (who noticed the brown reins on a black bridle? Hmm? Who? Who noticed that my show coat too often exposes my white behind?)


I noticed. And I want flowy, beautiful shots that make the cover of newsletters, not America's Worst Dressed Dressage Riders.

Surely I can achieve that if I tie my horse's head down, and position it correctly. Throw on the right double bridle, maybe buy a stock tie with six OR even EIGHT ruffles in it, and enough show sheen to force the judges to require retinal surgery.

Maybe a pair or two of those cute little white polo wraps that dressage people are CONVINCED turn your horse from donkeyX to Fuego...

But alas, as I bounced around that ring, dreaming of the magical numbers and awe-striking judges remarks I could achieve if ONLY I had the right gear, headset and diamonds-up-our-hiney, I kept seeing one thing...

(we'll ignore the fact that it's largely because I still stare obsessively at Mr. Moon's face while riding, and have ZERO equitation abilities...)...

Regardless, I keep seeing THIS:

Aw crap.

Look at him.

Why on earth would I ever do anything "quick" to "fix" something that really isn't broke? No, he's not a "dressage horse". No he'll never look like Mr. Shiny or Mr. SuperHorse. He'll always look like this crazy little goofball, mouth agap, neck held high, eyes warm and welcoming.

Dang it all. As much as I want to be competitive, I just LOVE this horse too much to jeopardize it all for some ribbons and placings.

Because tomorrow, when the show has ended, when the stalls have been emptied and the trailers unloaded, that dressage horse ceases to matter.

What matters is where we've come from and where we've gotten to. Where we're going and how we got there.

Mr. Moon, I can not promise you that I will not be unrealistically competitive. Sometimes I will ask or demand things of you that are far from reasonable. My equitation may fail me at times of frustration, and I can assure you, I have many lessons to learn.

But I can promise, from my dusty riding helmet right down to those toes you stepped on four times this past weekend, that I will never put a ribbon or prize ahead of you and what is best for you.



_____________

Okay, enough sappy tapping. Back to my lies.


____________

After a very convincing argument for why I should attend the PREP School's Out Fun Show (Go Team Bar W!), I found myself staring at the entry form.

Hmmmm....

We're definitely doing the Walk-Trot test, as Dressage is the whole point of being there.

Right?

Right?

....

Well, there's that Pas a Deux. The conspiring will begin shortly and I'm really, really excited to do it. I keep thinking "AURGH! I'm not good enough! She's training level!"...and then remember that this is a FRIEND we're Pas a Deux'ing with. She already knows we suck ; )

Of course, I should limit my classes. Didn't I say 3 over a weekend or something just yesterday?

I lied.

There's a walk-trot equitation class. Oooo. I've never done equitation (yeah, cause after one show in my entire life, there's plenty I haven't done : P ).

Okay, okay, we'll check that box off. I mean, it's walk-trot.

And we *did* do well and have fun at the Bribe your horse at Liberty Class last  weekend...hmmm...maybe....

Now I'm controlling myself on the costume class. They take SOO long to prep for, and how do you outdo a race car in two weeks? When you should be riding AND practicing another freestyle?

Scratch that one.

We're never again doing Best Groomed. Bahahaha. I found Mr. Shiny online, proudly announcing his 1st place ribbon. I mean, when a horse is even named "Simply the Best", you KNOW that diamonds in his behind come standard. 

Now, we can't do any of the jumpers. I mean, we don't jump.

Right?

Right?

.....

Well...maybe a little x-rail?

Huh?

Maybe? With a little practice?

Huh?

*sigh*

It's an addiction.

___________

Then I embraced my inner cowboy.

And checked off the trail class.

Yup.

It's 2 weeks away. I think in 2 weeks I can not only become a hunter (haha), but also do western trail. I mean, I can seriously open the gate from horseback at home. I can't close the gate, but still...

____________

I'm officially a nut case.

6 classes over 2 days. I'm *hoping* that they spread them out enough that I'm not back-to-back, but thankfully most of them are get on and ride type, not costume-change type classes. I could probably even trail in my english gear if they'd let me...

BUT I'll have a stall the whole weekend AND hopefully a tack stall too. And a trailer ride out there and back. I mean, it could be worse.

Right?

Right?

...

____________

I continue to aim to improve. This show will likely have more participants (the inclusion of the hunter/jumpers tends to fill up arenas here), so getting ribbons isn't really likely. What *is* (hopefully) likely, is improving our test scores and comments from last week.

I won't be out riding tonight, but starting tomorrow it's back to regular training. And a lesson next Wednesday.

_________

And somehow in all of this, I also aim to get my pony trailer up to snuff. Last night we delivered it to the sandblasters...which included a lecture on why we bring PHONE NUMBERS to places we're going to. : O I mean, at least my cell phone was actually charged for once!!! ; )

In the end, we found the place (the sign wasn't visible when heading east!), and left my darling trailer there. I got home and realised I never even put the licence plate on it... : O

The guy is sandblasting it tomorrow morning, then after work I'm picking it up and dropping it off at the paint booth. So it *hopefully* won't get any rain fall before being painted!!

I'm fairly confident I can't get it all back together before the next show. Oh how I wish, but there's an awful lot to do between then and now.

__________

Did I mentioned I haven't even washed my white breeches yet?

Okay folks, how do I get them back to white?!

_________

Okay, last thought. Improving our dressage scores.



Our judges comments from our first W/T last weekend:

- Wandering on Centre Line.
- Above the Bit
- Needs to bend in corner.
- Wide to your letter
- Slightly tense and inattentive (I assume they mean Moon, but this could have been me!), well shaped circle to left
- Obedient transition (trot to walk)
- Late turn, early turn ; )
- Obedient walk-trot transition
- Slightly running in trot
- Resisting right bend and flexion, unbalanced through circle right.
- Against hand at halt.

Underlined:
Gaits - freedom and regularity
Impulsion - Elasticity of steps, suppleness of back
Submission - Acceptance of bridle

"Well planned test although make sure to ride to letters"

4's on:
Circle L 20 m
Gaits
Submission

6's on:
Medium walk
(teehee. Didn't screw his walk up!)

On our $5 Bareback (same pattern, no saddle):

Judges Comments:
- Straight. Slightly to Right of Centre Line (CRAP!! I did this at Wendy's too!)
- Obedient Halt.
- Tense, slightly running in trot.
- Obedient medium walk transition (I'm awesome at medium walk)
- Tight, above bit in our trot
- Good shape to our circle right
- Straight and steady on our change rein across the diagonal at trot
- Straight on center. Obedient halt.

Nothing underlined (though I know she simply didn't feel like repeating herself ; ) ).

Comments: "Much Better!"

No 4's.

6's on...
Enter working trot.
Halt, Salute
Medium Walk
Circle Right 20 m
Change rein across diagonal at trot
Centre line and halt
Rider position/seat/aids

: )


What does all of this mean. It means that to get 6's we need to fix:

Our trot. Supple, Flexion, Not Running.

Ride to our letters!! Good golly, that should have been the easy part!

I think just those TWO things (haha, they're huge endeavors!) could be what we need to up our scores.

_____________

Now, in two weeks, someone remind me why I was crazy enough to do this again. AND why I entered so many classes. AND why 2 weeks later I'm doing yet ANOTHER show. : P

I'm insane, but it's too late. I already sent in the cheque...

; )
 The location of the next horse show...picture from the 2010 version of this show...

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Feeding the Addiction.


Almost had an issue with paint.

Went to The Paint Place at lunch to pick everything up. When I spoke to them last week and got the quote, I specifically asked if anything needed to be special ordered or ordered in advance. They said no. I asked about paint colors, explaining I was looking for a specific 1970's blue, and they told me it was fine.

So today when I show up, the same guy tells me I only have 3 blue metallic colors to choose from.

PAUSE.

? Excuse me ?

He says that there's only 3 metallic blues in the color book. If he had time, he would make a custom color to match what I want.

I remind him that I asked last week about colors and if he had mentioned this then, I obviously would have told him to custom match it right then and there. I'm trying to restore the trailer to as close to original as possible, not just looking for "a pretty blue".

I tell him that I need the paint Saturday because we're borrowing a paint booth.

He tells me he'll work on it and get it ready for pick-up on Friday, as close to the original as he can. I leave him with the paint sample and picture of the trailer.

Needless to say, I *almost* got stuck with some random blue color, but thankfully they had the good sense to realise their error.

Disaster averted. Picking up the paint on Friday afternoon.

______________

Now to get this sandblasting thing worked out....

______________

After some really enjoyable discussions with a rep from a horse feed producer, I've officially made the decision to try out Front Runner's 30% Supplement.

I hounded the woman for a week with questions of every type, and am floored by the quality of her responses and her knowledge. She possessed a rare ability to be honest and direct, yet not come off as a jerk. She was genuinely interested in putting horses on the correct feed for them, not just whatever it was she was trying to sell. Or just trying to push expensive products.

Needless to say, after a couple of emails I started feeling like I wasn't speaking to a sales rep. THIS was someone with what felt like rather specific and schooled knowledge...

Being the google-guru that I am, I threw her name into the search engine and up popped my own Department of Agriculture at the University. Yes, she's an occasional instructor in the same department that trained ME in the first place! : O And lo and behold, she's also educated at the U of M. Huh. Go figure that I'd like her!

Of course, I didn't make the decision to change purely based on a couple of nice emails. All the data checked out in the nutrition tables, and I'm sitting in a transition period of waiting, where I'm not sure if Moon will gain or loose weight (or stay stable) this summer at his new digs. His past pasture experiences were not as lush and required supplement with hay year-round. Last year on pasture he had no supplements, and then I moved him to W's, where there was no pasture, just lovely hay and supplements. At this moment he's not heavily worked, but as soon as I can put a saddle on him again, we'll be racing up to the park as often as possible.

Soo...will he need an actual feed supplement?

W had fed Buckeye as the ration balancer and I was happy with it. Now, we experiment with something new.

Looking at the pictures from the weekend's show to when I bought him, I'm THRILLED about his weight. I'd say right now he's about PERFECT in my books, minus requiring some more muscle. So the goal now is to keep his weight constant and get him some muscle already!


______________

Oh curses.

Remember that confession I made yesterday? About being addicted to showing??

My coach is evil.

She forwarded me an email to an upcoming local fun-show that includes Dressage, X-rail, Walk-Trot Equitation and of course, Freestyle.

Curses!

$140 includes as many classes as you want AND your stall for the weekend.

And since I realised the Brandon show was out due to a scheduling conflict (IRC Western Weekend), I'm not wondering if maybe...

Though June 2nd and 3rd is awfully close.

*sigh* How do I choose!

My initial reaction is so totally YES, but being realistic, it's too soon. His back won't be healed again for at least another week, if not two. The pony trailer won't be ready, so we'll be borrowing a ride. I still don't know how much this weekend's trailer repainting is going to cost (the paint guy is making a new quote), and I still have to pay for a well on the property this summer...Which I haven't yet saved a dime for.

My second reaction is therefore, no. : ( If I only get so much money for showing, then I want it to only be in sanctioned shows now. I'm kicking myself a bit because we *should* have just bought our provincial membership and done these fun shows this year, instead of buying the pro membership and doing all the sanctioned ones.

*sigh* Must.control.urge.to.enter.every.competition...

But maybe...

; )

_____________


But maybe, apparently, I also have an evil friend, who not 20 seconds after Coach W emailed to tell me of the show, emailed to say it should be our Pas a Deux debut.

Yes folks, we've been conspiring about a Pas a Deux since the end of my last Freestyle.

And now we have a chance.

Why, why!!! How can one not be tempted! All sanity gone out the window! No pony fencing this summer folks, Sand has become a showing addict, throwing caution and restraint to the wind, all in exchange for a wild weekend ride!

I haven't even washed my breeches yet!!!

Crap, crap, crap.

Okay, now to figure out if this will all work or not.

I swear this is like offering drugs to an addict. Shame on all of you!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Confessions.

At the show Saturday afternoon, running between classes, dehydrated and stressed, I realized that showing was NOT my thing. I was literally sitting there in the shade trying to recover before my last class and wondering why the h*ll I did this.

I wondered if maybe it would be easier if I had started as a child. Or maybe if I had paid my coach to walk me through the show. Or if I simply paid my coach to show FOR me. Or maybe I should stick to the small back country fun shows. Or give up showing all together. Maybe once was once enough.

I wasn't so sure I could do it again.

_______

As I dismounted from Moon after the Kur, I felt a little different. Tired and dirty, yes. But...satisfied.

My boots rubbed blisters, I still had a 4 mile ride home and Moon was about done for the day.

But somehow, we still cantered down the grassy patch on the side of the road, and still trudged along.

We still trudged along.

_______

Saturday night faded away and Sunday was busy. Yesterday I stayed cocooned in the house avoiding the heat. I did manage to empty most of my gear from the car and still have some tidying up to do at the barn, post-show.

I sat on the couch and thought about the weekend...

Was I ready to give up this showing thing?

_______



Coach W emailed me Monday. Her words were simple, her question direct...

"Congrats on an amazing first show! I thought Mr. Moon looked great! So, June's approaching....maybe a bronze walk trot test is in order? Or will we be cantering by then??? Sandra I was so proud of you and Mr. Moon! Please consider the next show!"

Please consider the next show...should we even bother?

______

You probably all know me by now. I'd be surprised if you didn't already know the answer.

OF COURSE!!!


The first step when you have an addiction, is admitting you have one.

"Hi, I'm Sandra, and I officially have a showing addiction."

Yup. It's a fact. As I catch myself eyeing the July Brandon Show Schedule, wondering if maybe...maybe...

It's a 3 hour drive. It means camping or a hotel. It's a long way to go. 1/2 a day off work at least.

But...

...did I mention they have a special walk-trot Freestyle class...(freestyles are normally limited to Training level and above).

:  )

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Yes, there's no doubt I'll be aiming for our next show, the Captain DeKeyneres Bronze Sanctioned Show on June 16th and 17th.

BUT, we're doing it different then the last time.

You see, I loved the showing parts. I love riding in the ring, trying my best, improving our scores, and creating the freestyle.

I really, truly had next to NO ring nerves.

What I suffered from, was PRE-ring nerves. Where do I go? What do I do? When can I enter? Who do I speak to? When can I use the warm-up ring? Where can I walk? What's the protocol? How long before hand do I need to be ready? Will I be late to my class? What test is that?!! etc, etc, etc.

Because I'm an obsessive planner. If I don't have every detail and plan laid out in advance, I freak out and stress.

But I memorized my tests. I knew them. They were planned to every letter, every transition. It's getting INTO the ring that freaks me out!

Now we've experienced the "pre-show" bits. I know where to go at that facility, I know how and when to enter the ring, and how and when to leave. I know how to ride in a warm-up ring (well, how not to crash or piss off too many people)...

And most important? I know what I'd do differently!!

Yes, of course there's a list.

1) Own trailer. 
Technically I own a trailer, but it's not useable. Unless I want a leg-less pony.
Tomorrow it is being sandblasted, Saturday it is being painted! That gives me 1 month to reinstall the floor boards, lacquer and reattach the roof, and add the wiring and brakes. I think it's enough time, but if it's not, Coach W was awesome enough to offer us a ride : )

Oh, and teach Moon to load into it. : P The longest task. : P

This is key because riding home after a long show is not the hugest blast. Especially in your blister-causing show boots and white breeches. : P

I also hate asking for rides from people, no matter how awesome or nice they are.

Owning your own trailer also means all your gear is pre-stocked, by and large. At least that's my intention. No need to keep emptying your tack shelves to haul stuff between shows and home.


2) Less is More.
Less classes that is. 6 in 4 hours is insanity. Like beat your head on the nearest fence-rail insanity. If you've never done it before, you don't realize just how ridiculous it is (okay, so my whole family said it was too many, but not the point!). I learned my lesson. From now on, I want either only similar classes together, or at least 1 hour in between. NEVER again will I do what I did this weekend. Insanity.


I've already looked over the June show list, and have decided we'll do 3 classes, and stay for the whole weekend.


3) Get a stall.

I balked at spending the $60 or so dollars for a stall for one afternoon of showing. And had I owned a trailer (pretty sure the other gal tied to her trailer anyway), it may have been okay. But as Allison can attest to from her weekend show experience, holding your horse and wandering around the grounds for hours IS NOT FUN.

Mid-day Saturday I would have paid someone $100 to use their stall. I'm serious. Next time we do this, we're getting a stall. We're moving in Friday evening. We're relaxing in the shade of the barn, where Moon has a nice bucket of water and a hay net.

This also means that I can give him a bath Friday afternoon before going to the show, stick him in a stall for the night and return the next morning to a reasonably clean horse. And I can braid him in an environment where I can get on a stool and he'll stand still.


4) Show Cover.
On Sunday I went to a tack sale, and bought some new gear. All kinda show-specific. Such as a real stock tie. I know, stop the presses. It was $5, brand new in a package and came with three different colored accented center pieces. But I'm still not sure I want to part with my real tie...

I also bought Moon a show cover. It's a silk smooth, light weight and cool cover. It comes up over his entire neck, and keeps him clean. And shiny. Not dust covered as you wait between classes. Especially nice for haul-in shows where you're tired to a trailer. I'm thrilled. For $10, it would make my life so much easier.

5) Don't be Lazy.
My "show jacket" is not a show jacket. And somewhere between being lazy and not having enough time, I didn't add the two button holes I needed. I cut corners and stuck some sticky-velcro to keep the front closed.

Except...on hot days, the stickiness disappears. So my jacket would come undone in the sunlight. Oye. I need to add those button holes. I need to add those button holes...


6) Button Braids or Roached.
Running braids hate me. There was one person at the show who could pull it off and it stayed in all day, but poor Moon's just kept shaking out. No matter how tight I tried to braid it. Maybe if I had a stall and stool it would work, but at this point, I'm not sure I'm going to bother.

I know, I know. I want his mane natural for the bugs and weather, but if we're going to keep showing in REAL shows, he needs to be braided. And I can't do 30 second running braids before a class. Which means braiding the night before or early that morning. Which means I might need to make/buy a neck slinky.

Or I roach Mr. Moon...


Which means I need to get around to trimming his fetlocks. And bridle path.

7) Pack a picnic.
Someone (sorry forgot already!) suggested packing a cool with drinks, and that's an awesome idea. Maybe a cooler with drinks and food and candy. Or maybe next time, I'll ditch my horse in a stall and hit the canteen on the 2 hours over lunch I have between classes (couldn't get to the canteen this weekend since it was on the grass : P ). Hmmmm...

8) Gloves.
I thought people did this because it looks good. I rarely ride in gloves. Hate them. Didn't want to just buy some to look stylish, so I didn't. They don't offer you any more grip then bare skin, do they? I never found that.

Until Saturday.

When it's hot, dusty, your sweating from the heat AND nerves, suddenly your grip is gone. OR alternatively (or at the same time thanks to my luck), you're getting blisters on your rein fingers.

GLOVES. A must.

Looks like I know what my $25 gift certificate I won is going to. Really, really nice show gloves. Synthetic so maybe I don't wind up in hives again.


9) Wet Naps.
To clean up before pulling on those white breeches. For the apple juice you spill on yourself because you're too nervous to drink properly. To wipe your dust covered face between classes. To remove the gob of horse slobber from the back of your jacket. Wet Naps. Another must.


10) Ask for the sound check pre-freestyle.
If ONLY I had known and thought of it! : P
_________

There's many more lessons that I learned, but overall, I feel well prepared for our next show. I'm actually excited, and rather taken aback that W asked if we'd be doing training level! Haha. Not a chance in heck right now!

I read somewhere you shouldn't consider going up a level until you're managing 6's on all of your elements. For us, that means we have a long way to go. Our top score was 52%, which isn't all that great.

I'd REALLY like to see us manage a 52, 55% and 58% at the next show at Walk-Trot, so that we can try to break the 60% at our 3rd show. If we manage that, I'll take him to a walk-trot + training level on the last day of our 4th show to finish off our show season. No need to rush, it's all for fun.

What's even neater, is that maybe this means W thinks we're ready to school more canter?!

________

So we're on tap. We're ready, eager and excited for our next show. The count-down timer is being reset on our show page, the scores from the last show are posted, and I'm going to focus on working on the things we were docked marks for on our tests. Like actually riding to the letters : P

Hello show season, I think I'm in love...

: )