Tuesday, November 10, 2015

October JCHSS Show

This show series is a lot of fun, and each show has a theme to it. This show ended up falling on Halloween day, so they did a lot of Halloween related activities at the "Fall Fling and Halloween Spooktacular". I don't usually participate in them, but lot of people do and it's always a lot of fun to watch. They had a costume contest (which was amazing), trailer decorating contest, pumpkin carving contest, apple bobbing... lots of fun. The young kids really get into it, but so do the adults.

I hate that this was the last show of the season and I hate that winter is coming. I could definitely tell it was fall when I got out of bed, drove over to the barn, and saw the temperature readout on my truck said 43. Ummm, brrrr! Luckily, it was going to be a sunny day and it did warm up a bit in the afternoon. I still froze most of the day, though, because all my clothes are designed for 93, not 43. I'll have to remember that for next year.

The turnout was pretty good... there was supposed to be one more show in November, but it was cancelled, so this ended up being a double point show. Good turnout is good because competition is good, but it's also bad because that means the classes take forever. The jumping classes are the worst, and I ended up not riding in my first class until after 2:30 in the afternoon. Because of that, I ended up doing western in the dark, and boy was it cold.

My gorgeous girl.
All in all, a fun show, though. I've learned over the years which judges like me (and Lilly) and which ones don't, and today, for the riding classes, I showed under a judge that never places me well. I kept that in mind throughout the day as we showed, and ended up having pretty good luck with the grass ring judge. (They run two rings at once... one for halter, showmanship, trail, and mini horse classes, and the other ring is for jumping and regular riding classes.)

Our first class was stock type at halter, and it was a big class. The judge asked us all how old our horses were, so I was thinking maybe we'd place because she'd take that into account... but no. No place for us.

Lilly passed the time with a nice sunshine nap.

Showmanship Pattern
Lilly did an outstanding job on this pattern. I did have to make our pivot a little bit wonky just to avoid the giant ant hill in our way, but she nailed it. Her set up was picture perfect and her back was super straight. I wasn't surprised to hear our name called for first place. We showed against five other adults, so we get one PAC point!

Perfect inspection!
After we were done with the in hand classes, I knew it was going to be a while before we got to ride. Trail would be set up after minis did their thing, so I could do that in a bit, but Lilly and I went back to the trailer for a nice, long break. She ate lots of hay, and I wandered around looking at the pumpkins and the different decorations on all the trailers. I also tried to stay in the sun and out of the wind!

Once the trail pattern was set up, the jumping was still nowhere close to being done, so I got dressed, tacked up Lilly, and headed out to take care of trail. The pattern was a bit tricky because we had to trot around a very tight corner and go right into the ground poles. I watched several people go before me, all with much larger horses, and they had a very difficult time. I was hoping that because Lilly was much shorter, we would be able to do it without nearly as much of an issue.

Trail Pattern
She did an excellent job. We didn't have as much of an issue with the gate this time, and even though she clunked the ground poles, we made that corner without any issues. I felt really good about our pattern when we were done. The judge must have liked our pattern as much as I did because she placed us first (out of three), so we get another PAC point in trail!

Backing through the L like a boss!
After a very long wait, we finally moved into the main ring for our riding classes. We didn't really place well in any of the english classes, but I felt Lilly did great. She still anticipates when she hears the speaker click on, and doesn't seem to be as settled in english these days, but I was happy with how she did. We got several 6th places in the walk/trot classes and the pleasure class.

Not feeling the english love.
Considering how much time I had to sit around and do nothing, there is no excuse to forget any of the patterns I did today, but that's just what happened in the english equitation class.

English Equitation Pattern
Somehow I ended up on the side of the line that went first, so I ended up being the second to go. I heard the other riders going over the pattern and they said "left turn", but then they muttered something I couldn't hear, which I thought was them correcting themselves and saying, "no, right turn." The girl who went before me did a left turn, but her pattern was a little bit crazy and my gut was saying "NO... RIGHT TURN!" So I executed what I thought was a fabulous pattern with a right turn at the end. Beautiful!

Well, the pattern clearly says LEFT pivot, and I clearly did a RIGHT pivot. I was surprised to hear I my name called for 7th, because I was the only one, out of 13 riders, to do it wrong. I suck.

So after moping around and beating myself up for a while, I changed into western and went over the western horsemanship pattern a THOUSAND times to make sure I didn't forget the pattern. It was a pretty easy one, with no right or left pivots, so I figured I was good to go.

The horsemanship class went fairly well. I thought Lilly was excellent, and jogged nice and slow. I tried to make sure we had a nice round circle and a nice straight back, but we didn't place. At all. I was pretty disappointed.

Western Horsemanship Pattern
But, such is life, so we moved on to the other classes. It was getting dark, the sun had gone down, and it was late. I was ready to be done, so we just did our best for the last two classes and then happily headed back to the trailer to get ready to head home.
We ended up winning grand champion in the adult division, and I got a really pretty Halloween themed ribbon. It was pitch dark by the time I left, so I couldn't get any pictures of Lilly with her ribbon. You'll have to settle for seeing it on my wall at home.

Happy Halloween!

Here's a recap of our placings for the day:
Stock Type at Halter = No Place out of 15
Adult Showmanship = 1st out of 5 (1 PAC Point)
Adult Trail = 1st out of 3 (1 PAC Point)
English Walk/Trot Stock Type = 6th out of 10
English GAYP Adult = 6th out of 10
English Pleasure = 6th out of 8
English Equitation = 7th out of 13
Western Horsemanship = No Place out of 11
Western Walk/Jog Stock Type = 7th out of 13
Western GAYP Adult = 4th out of 6

All in all, a great show and a great show season. The awards banquet is in January and I'm excited to see what we win for year end awards!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Saddle Is A Keeper!

As I mentioned in my last post, my saddle arrived a week ago Tuesday. It shipped MUCH faster than I thought it would, which is both good and bad. Good because I didn't have to wait very long, but bad because I only have a two week trial, and it rained the whole week! The true test was going to be this past Saturday at the show, because she would be wearing it for so long, but I did find a semi-dry day to take it over to the barn because I was dying to try it out. The arena was super wet, so I couldn't do much hard riding with her, but we took it for a short test ride anyway.

Looking showy!

I love how it fits her, and I love how it fits me. It's a 15.5" seat and the one I have now is a 16". It fits me way better and because it's nice and used, it's really broken in, which means it's extra comfy!  Lilly seemed to like it too, and she didn't show any signs of being uncomfortable when I was riding.

I took measurements of my old saddle to compare to the new one, and they're very similar. The problem area I had was in the shoulders, because Lilly is so wide there. She's also not very stoic, so if she's even slightly uncomfortable she lets me know. I was having a really difficult time finding something with full quarter horse bars, so it wouldn't pinch her. This one has a nice, wide tree, so I was hopeful it would be a keeper after Saturday's show. More on the show later, but I've decided to keep the saddle. She didn't show any of the usual signs she gives me when she's uncomfortable, and the saddle was on for several hours.

She's just so cute.

I'm so relieved to have found a saddle that is both presentable and fits my horse. I was starting to wonder if I was going to have to buy something not showy, and dress it up on my own. The wide tree on this older show saddle, seems to be the answer to my saddle prayers!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Some Updates

Lilly has been doing pretty well since our last show. She's been trimmed once since then and her feet are doing MUCH better. They grew out quite a bit since the last trim, and they haven't chipped at all. She still has a bit of separation, but it's not anything that's active, and it seems to be growing out. I'm very happy with her feet!

When my trimmer suggested I get Lilly a muzzle, she also suggested I get a bottle of Durasole and try that as well. A lot of her clients use it and they've had really good luck with it, so I started putting it on her hooves back on the 13th. I haven't really noticed a difference yet, but my trimmer said I might not see anything for a little while. Her hooves are really soaking it up right now, and once they start absorbing it less, I should see a difference. I've been applying it about every other day, so I'll be curious to see how she does at the show on the 31st.

I haven't done anything with the muzzle yet. I was going out of town shortly after it arrived, and my barn owner was also going to be out of town right before I left, and I didn't want her wearing it when people weren't around. Plus, I think we missed the window already, and the grass threat has passed for now. July and August seem to be our danger months, but I'll keep an eye on her come spring as well. I'm also scheduling vaccines, so I'm going to speak with my vet about how often she thinks Lilly should wear it. She'll probably say 24/7, 365, but maybe we can have a realistic conversation about it.

My out of town trip was back home to Michigan. A friend of mine was getting married so I flew home for a long weekend. Rylee didn't get to go this time since I flew, but I had a house sitter, so she didn't have to go to the dreaded Camp Bow Wow. (She's not a very dog friendly dog... she doesn't mind other dogs, but she's more of a people dog. She doesn't play with the other dogs there, but instead just follows around the "Camp Counselors". I feel bad leaving her there.)

I visited my sweet AJ while I was home, of course! The weather was beautiful, so I decided to grab a couple lead ropes and go for a ride. We just walked around the pasture, but it was fun being back on him. Some other family members were visiting as well, so my nephew's girlfriend hopped on with me for a few minutes*. She hasn't ridden in a long time, but used to ride as a kid. AJ was such a good boy.

AJ, doing his thing.
And in other news, I bought a new western saddle. I have no idea if it's going to fit Lilly or not, but it comes with a two week trial period and I'll have it in time to ride in it at the show. That will be a great test as to how it's going to fit her. I found an older model Crates show saddle, with a wide tree. The gullet isn't as wide as my current saddle, but I swear the one I have now is a freak of nature because I haven't been able to find anything close to it. I really, really hope this one works. The price was great and I won't be embarrassed to show in this one.

Still in great shape!

Shiny silver!
It's going to ship today and I can't wait to get it. I've been speaking with some of my horsey friends and they think I might also need to swap out my felt pad for something a little more "squishy". Lilly might just need a little extra cushion up in the shoulder area, so that's an option too. I NEED THIS SADDLE TO FIT.

Hope you're all enjoying this lovely fall weather!

*Disclaimer: I know, I know... no helmets, no bridle, riding double. No humans or animals were hurt in the making of this photo.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

September JCHSS Show

I'm getting a little burned out, and I had to really force myself to go to this show. I'm stressed about some non-horsey thing, stressed about some horsey things (hello, muzzle), tired of the hot weather and bugs, worried about my horse's hooves even in her hoof boots... so I had to drag myself out of bed on Saturday.

I'm also tired of some of the stuff I keep seeing at the shows, and it's SO frustrating. I don't want to get into the drama here, but it's typical horse show stuff. I usually try to ignore it, but it affected me slightly on Saturday and greatly impacted a friend of mine. Consistency would be nice, and that's all I want to say about it.

There would normally be two more shows left, but November's show was cancelled, so that just leaves the show on October 31st. Normally I would be sad to see the season end, but I think I'm looking forward to it. There's a lot I hope will happen between the end of this season and the start of the next one.

Because I was feeling blah and wasn't sure how Lilly would be feeling, I only entered her in classes that would give us points for the two divisions we're going for; stock and adult. Not being so busy gave me some time to wander around and be a little more social than normal, so that was nice for a change.

Halter was up first, and we placed 5th out of 5 in the stock type class, which is expected. I just do it for the points, and I think that gets me one point in the stock division.

Showmanship adult was up next and there were only three of us showing. I thought Lilly had a great pattern, but we got second place, which gets me no PAC points, but a good number of points in the adult division because that class counts for double points. Here's the pattern:

For English, we did a walk/trot stock type class and a GAYP adult class. The turnout wasn't great, so the classes were pretty small. I forget exactly how many horses were in the stock type class (at least eight) and we placed 7th. It was a class I felt we did really well in, and I expected to hear my number second or third. I was obviously disappointed. We won the adult class, but there were only three of us in there.

After the English classes, I went over to do my trail pattern. It was posted online that we had to "lasso" a barrel, which I found strange, but wanted to see someone else do it before I made an attempt. While I was watching others go, I heard the judge say that the lasso was only for the working western class and it was a mistake. I was happy to hear that! Below is the pattern, just pretend the lasso part isn't in there.

Lilly did really well. She didn't want to sidepass over to the gate post so I could latch the gate, but we got there eventually. Otherwise, I felt the class went really well. We ended up with first place... out of two.

For western, I had the same plan as I did for English. I only did the stock type and adult classes. We placed fourth out of 4 in stock, and third out of 4 in adult (I think there were four). Lilly was AWESOME in her western classes, and probably gave me her best ride ever in the stock type class. It was incredible.

Here's a recap of our placings for the day:
Halter Stock Type = 5th out of 5
Showmanship Adult = 2nd out of 3
English Walk/Trot Stock Type = 7th out of 9
English GAYP Adult = 1st out of 3 (1 PAC Point)
Trail Adult = 1st out of 5 (1 PAC Point)
Western Walk/Jog Stock Type = 4th out of 4
Western GAYP Adult = 3rd out of 4

All our winnings in the adult classes earned us enough points for reserve champion. They had pretty neck ribbons this time, and I think Lilly looks gorgeous in hers.

Pretty girl!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

I Guess It's Time


I guess it's finally time to break down and buy a damn muzzle for Lilly. I've been avoiding this as much as possible despite the fact that people keep telling me over and over and over that it's probably a good idea. I just really wanted to manage her 'metabolic issues' in different ways. It's not working, and I've finally come to terms with it.

I mentioned in my last post that it was possible Lilly had some kind of metabolic event around the time of the last horse show. When my trimmer came out shortly after that, she noticed separation on all four hooves, and Lilly also had a little bit of bruising on her front hooves. I have never really had issues with her hind hooves, so to see separation back there was a bit alarming for me. We were on the lookout for other signs of laminitis, but those never came (thank goodness). She's been a little bit more tender, and my barn owner noted that Lilly had a difficult time doing a tight circle to the left on one occasion, but for the most part she's been ok.

Her hooves have been chipping like crazy, which is why I think she's been a little more tender. Once the separation shows up, and with the type of hooves my girl has, it's only a matter of time before it all starts chipping away. I've been keeping up with it by keeping her mustang roll going as much as possible, but I was fighting a losing battle. Without the hoof wall for support, she's walking much more on her soles, and we've lost some of the concavity we had back before August. I think she's also put on some weight since the last time my trimmer was there.

My trimmer was out again last night and I told her what I'd been seeing, what my barn owner noticed, and what I've been doing about it. The good news was that my trimmer didn't see any sign that whatever we had going on in August was still ongoing. It all looked old, the separation wasn't still chalky, and the bruising was nearly nonexistent. We could see a very clear line on her hooves, which indicated when the event happened, and the new growth above it looks really solid. So now we're in a place where we're managing whatever happened. The problem is, when is it going to happen again?

The weather has been crazy here... we went from HOT days and warm nights, to cooler days and even cooler nights, back to warm weather, and now we've been getting temps in the low 50's for nighttime lows. I'm sure the grass is going nuts.

Being in a boarding situation, there's only so much I can do in regards to Lilly's turnout. When Lilly had her episode, I asked my barn owner when she planned on switching the horses from night turnout to day turnout, and she said she keeps them out at night as long as possible because it's the schedule that gets them the most turnout. I was hoping we'd be switching sooner rather than later because I want Lilly to have LESS turnout. Last night when I arrived at the barn around ten after five, she was already turned out. On the weekends when I go over to check on her, sometimes they'll still be outside at 10am. I'm not sure when she brings them in on weekdays, but I know it's not super early. So even if they come in at 8am, we're looking at 15 hours of turnout. That's a LOT. And when I went out to the pasture to grab Lilly for the trimmer, I noticed quite a bit of grass in her pasture.

This is not good. So the only real way to regulate her grass intake if she's going to be on pasture that much is to buy her a stupid muzzle.

My trimmer recommended the Best Friend muzzle, which I have researched plenty of times and have decided is probably the best muzzle for Lilly, but I don't know whether I should get her the one with a breakaway halter attached, or the one I attach to her nylon halter.

Muzzle with halter?
Muzzle without halter?
I don't like the idea of her wearing something on her head for turnout, but the pastures are all free of trees, so I only have to worry about other horses and maybe the t-posts. The posts do have caps on them, but horses are horses. I'm thinking of going with the one already on a halter because it looks like it would be more 'minimal' and she could wear her fly mask without having lots of bulk on her face.

Any thoughts? Pros or cons to either? Or is there a muzzle you like better?

I hope she doesn't hate the muzzle as much as I hate the muzzle...