Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Ultimate Horse Week.

I have to say, that I feel like I'm having the ultimate horse week.

Which seems perfect considering the weekend celebration of the Interlake Riding Club, to mark its 50 years as a club.

Now, where to start...

I bragged fully about our bareback jumping last week, so let us roll right on into Saturday. Saturday was the start of the IRC's 50th weekend, and the BF and I headed out to Teulon to assist. We directed traffic in the morning (wow, can people be grumpy!) and then hopped aboard the horse-drawn wagon to ride in the parade ourselves. We had brought our lovely dog along, and with the rest of the executive members, rolled through town waving at the spectators. It was a blast. We had something like 40 mounted riders following along too, and a fair number of floats. It was awesome, especially for a little town like Teulon.

After the parade, we had a bit of a break where things go chaotic as I helped out with the gymkhana entries. LOTS of transcribing all the participant lists! Thankfully, it all ran smoothly and while initially we were a little nervous that there wouldn't be many participants, the finally tally was over 20 people per class! Wow.

So I settled under the shade of the big announcers tower with the BF and one of the club's original members, and the three of us chatted horses while I snapped a handful (over 500 actually) of pictures of the competitors. Which was a blast. It's amazing what technology can do for us. In the past, photographers had MAD skills, and knew how to perfectly capture their subject. Today, thanks to digital images, inexpensive equipment and a multitude of advances, just about anyone (myself included) can take a "professional" photograph. No skills required. I've worked hard since buying the camera at Christmas to improve a touch beyond "Auto-Mode", and now shoot in "Professional" mode, which allows me to mess with some settings. My personal love is a very vivid and brightly colored photograph, and I think the shots from the weekend captured it well. More impressive, was the number of folks asking for permission to steal the pictures for their own facebook pages, printing and blogs! I even had someone step out of my way because as he said "You're clearly the professional photographer". Ha. Don't be intimidated by my big lens kid. ; )

The gymkhana was a lot of fun, and then the BF and I toured around to look at the different horse trailers for a bit. The field was chalk full of every make, style and model. We're talking big semi-pulled rigs for the chariot horses, beautiful Sundowners in their glorious white aluminium beauty, long stock trailers in every color, or little tiny two-horse trailers so reminiscent of my own. The BF was just a *bit* too encouraging of me selling my lovely little Blair trailer to buy a fancier trailer. No joke, his statement was "Get something with a change room and lots of tack space...then you can get a bunch of stuff out of the house". We actually REALLY liked one with tons of extra space (slat load to boot) that happened to be for sale. Unfortunately, the $7500 price tag on it was a bit over my head. And really, I do love my little Blair.

We finished the evening by manning the entrance gate to the infield. The chariot racers were going to be running on the track, and the gate had to be closed or else they'd run right off the track and head for home. DANGEROUS. We ran into a few problems as people wanted to leave, and we had to stop them because it was a danger to the racers. Thankfully, with a little explaining and then WATCHING the chariots fly by, they seemed to be more understanding. : P

The chariot racing was incredible. I must say, I would LOVE to try that just once in my life. The pure speed of the thing, the majestic nature of those two horses running with their driver standing behind was incredible. Just once, just once...

We returned home very late on Saturday, and I was sunburned and happy. I love, love horses. A tiny part of me wished I had hauled Mr. Moon out with me, but the dog had a wonderful day and I knew in my heart that Moon and I weren't ready yet for this event. Not yet.

Sunday morning I was revved to get on my horse. I want to school some of these gymkhana events! We had noticed that a lot of the horses were mostly scared of the strange objects used for the events like tires, flour-lines in the sand, pylons, barrels...So my goal now is to start getting Moon used to these objects at home, so it'll be easier when we actually compete. The tires come off my car this coming weekend (it was hilarious that the old tires they used in the events had more tread then my own tires...), and the BF didn't consider me crazy for wanting to bring them home with me. I'm gonna use them to practice at the barn! He's also going to try to get his hands on a couple of big barrels from work, so we can practice with those too!

When I got out to the barn, I noticed that H had moved the horses into the FAR back paddock since they had munched the grass down too low in their old paddock. After hiking all the way out to Moon, I was not wanting to walk all the way back. Plus, I didn't know where he'd lost his fly mask...

Thanks to H's lesson on mounting bareback, I tied the other end of the lead to the side of Moon's halter and leapt aboard. And then trotted him around the field in his halter to scope out his mask. Which I couldn't find. So I trotted him back to the front field. Bareback and haltered. AMAZING. And sooo much easier!

I had borrowed a friend's western saddle way back when for our last show when we were gonna do trail class. Unfortunately (I'm still bummed), we didn't have a chance to change tack, so I never got to ride him western. I've been meaning to return the saddle, and finally loaded it into my car on Sunday...and thought maybe I'd sneak in a quick ride with it before the return. I know, I know. We're dressage riders. But maybe...

Well, Moon look sooo cute in the western tack. What was even more funny, was that it's his cousin's tack (literally, the horses are related), and they look identical! I present to you, the matching Scooter and Moon:

I rode Moon a bit in the arena in the western gear, which was really interesting. I haven't ever had him in a shanked bit, and wasn't sure how he'd go in it. I was impressed by his neck reining and ability to transition smoothly from walk to trot. I could even sit the trot for a good while before he'd hollow and I'd start to bounce. So we ran a couple of pylons pretending to be barrel racing. It was fun and he's pretty quick, but doesn't have those tight barrel turns down.

Finally, I thought I'd just skip up the trail briefly. We walked and trotted up the road, and then when we got to a nice wide, flat ditch, I opened him up. VROOOM!

He surged forward, and caught by the feeling of it, I galloped him a full mile. Up hill.

He was blowing when we stopped, so we turned around to head home. He still wanted to run though. So we galloped the return mile too. : )

I went total cowboy on the way back, encouraging him forward, couple kicks with my boots and we surged forward. He transitioned to that full-on racing gear and the wind whipped tears to my eyes. Heaven my friends, absolute heaven.

We eventually made it back to the barn, I hosed him off, placed the saddle back in my car, and drank three bottles of water. HOT.

I will say, again and again, Moon looks FANTASTIC in western gear. I seriously, seriously, seriously, want to mess around with a little western. I really just have total riding ADHD! (western, jumping, dressage...oye!).

Sunday I also spent some time lacquering the boards for the trailer doors, which is a process. Takes a LONG time!

Monday morning came, I lacquered the last of the boards before jumping in my car and heading to the barn to meet E for a trail ride. Once again, it was a blast. She's just awesome to ride with. We did a ton of trotting, finally got to canter together through an open field side-by-side, rode over and under and up a bridge for the combined driving events, looked at the cross country jumps (okay, they're terrifying up close! Granted, they were for the Pan-Am games, so well above anything I'd ever manage), and then actually wandered through the Folk Festival's campground on our way back home. Which meant a bunch of high-hippies were all "OOOOhh! Horse!" : P The horses were awesome about the experience though, calmly walking beside golf carts, cars, campers and a ton of people carrying all kinds of camping paraphernalia.

The whole ride was an EXCELLENT conditioning experience for the horses. I keep maintaining that I don't want to muzzle Moon, which means I need to keep riding him like this. Lots of exercise, especially since he's in the new grassy field. Tubby pony...

He probably did 15 miles or more over the weekend, and still happily cantered anywhere I asked. Love him.

When I got home, I hammered all of the wood panelling into the trailer doors, which fit perfectly! Then I carried them outside and the BF helped me install them back on the trailer. Beautiful. Though H reminded me in the evening that they'll be less pretty when the horses poop on them. : P

I spent HOURS on Monday hand polishing the aluminium trim, which had old paint on it and general corrosion. So it didn't shine anymore. Lots and lots of scotch pads, wire brushing and dremelling and FINALLY it was all polished. I then started riveting the trim back onto the trailer, though ran out of rivets towards the end (though all the trim is up). I measured for the BF to make me a couple of aluminium plates for the front floor as well as the back doors, and then tested out the new tail lights. Which PERFECTLY fit in the old holes! Yippee!

Needless to say, I'm bouncing off the walls. The pony trailer is making steady progress. I'm hoping to start installing the tack room components this week, and caulk the whole thing.

Even better? The local Horse Council announced it will be doing a gymkhana for Horse Week!!!! Which last year was a free event at the park that's like 2 miles from H's place! And I've no plans for that weekend! So I'm planning on taking Moon for the fun of it. : ) And a couple girls from the barn were thinking of giving it a go too! Yippee! So we still might get a competition or two in!

Yes, yes it is certainly a horse-filled week for me. And tonight I'm going out to do some dressage work with Moon and feed the ponies. Wednesday I'm filming a friend's lesson, might do a quick school and trail ride with Moon, and then Thursday I'm out again!! Probably a jump ride, feed ponies and then Moon gets the WHOLE weekend off! He'll have earned it!!

MMMmmmmm...wonderful pony week.


  1. This sounds like the most amazing time! Moon and his cousin are such twinsies, it's crazy. And he does rock the Western saddle. I'm the same as you, I'd love to do a little bit of everything. Which means I'm gonna need more gear.....

  2. The trailer is looking great!

  3. Fun!
    Crazy how much Moon and his cousin look alike! Even the blaze is so similar!
    The trailer is looking great! Awesome job!!

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