Wednesday, July 15, 2015

June JCHSS Show

Lilly and I ventured out for another show at the end of June. Because of terribly awful weather on Saturday, the show was held on Sunday. The turnout is never as good when the show is pushed, but there were still quite a few horses there showing. The weather for Sunday was perfect, and we had another really good show.

I decided to set a goal for myself on Sunday, to give us something to focus on and work for. Lilly and I always place fairly well, but I wanted to place really well, and I wanted to do well enough to win grand champion for either the stock type division or the adult division. I've had reserves in both divisions this year, but I really wanted to win grand. The usual recipient of the grand champion ribbon has a really nice horse, and they nearly always place at the top of the class.

If I was going to have any chance at winning grand, I knew I'd have to sign up for the adult trail class. It's a walk/trot class, and I could ride either english or western, but I'm pretty sure Lilly and I have never done trail before. Usually I look at the pattern and say "eh"... and then I skip it because it's just not really my thing. The pattern looked ok, though, and had quite a few maneuvers that I knew Lilly would handle with ease. My plan was to ride it english, so I could use both hands.

My first class of the day was the stock type halter class. Lilly and I placed 6th out of 6, and my competition won the class. We weren't off to a good start for the stock type division.

I think she looks amazing. :)
Adult showmanship was next, and I was very surprised by the pattern... we had to do a 560 degree pivot. (I'll give you a second to do the math in your head. Ready?) I knew Lilly wouldn't have an issue with it, and I was hoping she'd be the only one. I convinced my friend to go in first, so Lilly and I went in second for a change. She was amazing. We had a great turn around the cone, an awesome pivot, and a very straight back. Something I've noticed with her this year is how quickly she sets up for inspection. In previous years, she'd set up fast, but I'd have to mess with her feet just a tad to get her where I wanted her. At every show so far this year, she squares up as soon as I turn toward her. I love it! It looks very impressive.

Showmanship, complete with 560 degree pivot!
I watched my competition complete her pattern and waited patiently for the placings. Lilly and I won the class, and my competition got second. Put a check in the box for the adult division! It also earned us a PAC point since there was a whopping three of us in the class.

Our english classes went pretty well, or at least it felt like they did. We didn't place in the walk/trot stock type class (again, not doing so well in the stock type division), but I felt like we had a really good ride. We did a little better in the adult GAYP class with a fourth (and my competition doesn't ride english, so we got a little bump there), but again, I felt we had a really good ride. She's a little slow, but she's consistent. I entered us in the english pleasure class as well, which is something we tend to place well in, even if we don't do well in the walk/trot classes. It doesn't count for either of the divisions I was going for, but it's one of the only canter classes at the show and I like to try and get some different PAC points. We placed third in that one, but there were only eight horses, so it wasn't enough to get us a PAC point.

I had some time before my next class, so I headed over to the trail arena to see if they could squeeze me in. There was no one else there, so we were able to walk right in. She didn't give me any trouble on the obstacles, even though I anticipated we may have an issue with the L shaped back. Sometimes she gets rushy and wants to do her own thing, rather than listening to my cues, but she did an excellent job. I think now that she's 15 years old, she's decided that being lazy is the way to go. She really doesn't get upset these days. I wasn't sure if we did the obstacles correctly, but I knew we hit them all, and in the correct order. It felt like a win in my book!

Trail class!
Since we did so well in the equitation class at the last show, I decided to enter it again. This one doesn't count for division points either, but it was the same pattern, so I figured I might as well. I felt like we had a really great pattern last time, but I wanted to improve on it, so I really worked hard on keeping my circles nice and round, and matching. Without video it's hard to know for sure, but I was very proud of Lilly after our pattern. After a little bit of rail work, they announced the placings, and Lilly and I won the class! So proud of my girl! I heard a couple "two shows in a row!" comments from the crowd, so that made me feel good. It earned us two walk/trot PAC points.

English Equitation!
We didn't get our usual break between english and western like we usually do. The english equitation is the last english class, and they had no entries in the first group of classes after the break, so Lilly and I had about 20 minutes to switch from english to western and get out there for the western horsemanship class... we barely made it, but we made it! We just didn't have any time to practice anything western.

I usually don't do western horsemanship either, because it doesn't count for division points, (and if I'm being totally honest, because I can't use two hands) but I figured I'd keep with the theme of the day and try some new stuff. Lilly does so well in the english equitation, I thought perhaps we'd rock the western one too! We had a little trouble walking in a straight line, which I found completely ridiculous, but she wanted to turn and head out toward the rail. I had to get after her a smidge with the reins to get her back in line, but that was our only issue. We had a really great pattern. When we went out to do rail work, the judge asked for an extended jog, which Lilly did really well. She's very easy to sit at the trot/jog/extended jog, so she helped me look good there. When they announced the placings, Lilly and I were first again! Two more PAC points in walk/trot!

Western Horsemanship!
We had our usual western walk/jog stock type and GAYP adult classes, and she did very well. We got third in the stock type (the competition won the class) and we got second in the adult class (behind our competition). I don't think we've placed that well in western before, and a couple people said they thought Lilly and I won the adult class. They told me I need to sit back, put a little more slack in my reins, relax, and just ride! I do keep her a little tight because of all the times she's decided to reverse on her own, or trot on her own, but she didn't do any of that this time around. She's becoming quite the little western pony! We got a walk/trot PAC point for each of those classes.

Looking very western-y!
We're really racking up PAC points in walk/trot this year!

After the trail class closed, we went up to the office to see what our placing was. Turns out, we won! My competition was the only other person in the class, but I quickly tallied up the placings for both the adult and the stock type division, and I was pretty sure I had placed well enough in the adult classes to win grand, but I had to wait for the results.

We didn't do well enough in the stock type classes for a grand or a reserve, but we did win grand in the adult division! I was so excited, and so proud of Lilly! Another great show in the books!

I even won a new sweat scraper.
Here's a recap of our placings for the day:
Stock Type at Halter = 6/6
Adult Showmanship = 1st out of 3 PAC Showmanship Points = 1
English Walk/Trot Stock Type = No Place out of 13
English GAYP Adult = 4th out of 6
English Pleasure Open = 3rd out of 8
English Equitation Open = 1st out of 8 PAC Walk/Trot Points = 2
Adult Walk/Trot Trail = 1st out of 2
Western Walk/Jog Horsemanship Open = 1st out of 8 PAC Walk/Trot Points = 2
Western Walk/Trot Stock Type = 3rd out of 10 PAC Walk/Trot Points = 1
Western GAYP Adult = 2nd out of 6 PAC Walk/Trot Points = 1

Another great day!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Time To Upgrade

I haven't been into showing much these past couple years. The reasons are numerous, ranging from a little bit of burnout, to frustration, and into some personal issues that just left me without the energy to devote to showing, or really riding in general. Lilly and horses will always be my "happy place", but while I found comfort in her, I didn't have the urge to ride. I just wanted to be with her and not feel pressured to ride or perform or improve or anything else. I still feel like I'm working up to riding regularly again, and I'm not quite there yet.

I dove head first into showing this year because I have really missed it, I miss my horse show friends, and I only have to commit to one day of riding, so it's easy to talk myself into going. It gives me a chance to set goals, have fun, and enjoy Lilly in a social environment outside of our barn. Also, even though it's not "old" per se, Lilly is 15 this year and it makes me a little sad. I've had her since she was three months old and she's now FIFTEEN. Where in the world does the time go? Some would say these are the best years of her life, so I want to enjoy them with her, and not watch them pass us by.

Being fifteen definitely agrees with her. She is just so relaxed, so happy, and finally healthy. We're riding barefoot 90% of the time, she's not having diarrhea, her weight has evened out and she looks amazing... she's doing excellent on her ration balancer, hay, and no fuss lifestyle. Taking things back as close to nature as possible has done her well. Our boarding barn is as close to nature as I can get too, while still being able to enjoy some of the perks of stall boarding. She has a stall, but it's all open. She has a nice pasture with a bunch of friends and they all get along. She's not bound to any specific horse, either. In fact, they're bound to her, but she could care less. And she's with MARES. The whole environment is very relaxing, and we both love it. I can't remember the last time I've been (we've been) truly content with a barn like I am here.

She's just in an excellent place right now, and I'm very thankful for that. I'm not sure I could have handled the drama that sometimes comes with being Lilly's mom, while handling my own issues at the the same time. So I don't know if it's her age, or her location, or if she knew what I needed, but she's been the one source of calm and happy things for me.

Things are starting to even out in my life, and get back to what seems to be the new normal. It's a lot of work making time for Rylee and Lilly, and not being completely exhausted and worthless at work, but I'm getting it figured out. That being said, I'm ready to start taking this horse thing seriously again.

As my desire to show dwindled, so did my collection of horse show necessities. Here are some examples of what's happened to my horse show life:
  • I no longer own tall boots. I wear old, beat paddock boots and half chaps.
  • I no longer own a pair of proper breeches. I wear riding tights.
  • I can't remember the last time I wore my hunt coat.
  • I have a gorgeous showmanship outfit custom made by Sillypony I've never worn. I haven't even had the pants hemmed! Instead I show in jeans and a western button up shirt.
  • Lilly has a super long mane.
  • I have the ugliest western saddle on the planet. No bling, a torn up horn, dry rotted fenders, and it's paired with a very plain headstall to match.
None of those things are a big deal at open shows, but I do feel a little bit like a slacker these days. I'm in the market to do a little upgrading. I don't want to go crazy and buy a bunch of really expensive items, but I would like to dress myself and my horse properly again. A bridle with a little bit of silver, a pair of breeches that I can wear with my hunt coat, and a saddle that I'm not embarrassed to show in. The saddle will be the tricky part because she's so hard to fit, but I'm going to try.

I'd also like to try and be a better blogger. I've been keeping up with all of your blogs, and even though I don't comment much these days, I'm living vicariously through you all!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

May JCHSS Show

I still haven't been doing a whole lot of riding. Having Rylee makes it difficult to get over to the barn more than a couple times per week. I always feel guilty when she's crated for the work day and then crated some more while I'm at the barn. She's doing really well, though, and she'll be two at the end of the month, so I've started leaving her out of her crate for longer and longer periods of time. Since she's been a really good girl (minus two hat casualties), I'll be able to ride after work more without feeling bad about her being in the crate.

She's adorable.
So even though we're both still fairly out of shape, Lilly and I went to another show last weekend.

It's so nice having her all shed out. It makes getting her ready a lot easier! I finally got around to clipping her legs, and I trimmed up her mane, but I've decided to leave it a bit long. Having it short requires so much more maintenance, and it makes banding mandatory. I don't miss spending an hour doing that! I've gone a little more relaxed with my outfits, so I figure she can go a little more casual with her mane as well. Since it's a local, open show series, I don't feel obligated to get all dressed up and primp her like crazy, and I think it's helped both of us relax a little bit.

The morning didn't start out too well. Lilly is super good in the trailer. I never have to worry about whether she'll get in, I never have to worry about her pawing once she's in, she's just good. It's like she's not even back there. So that's why when we were about half way into our trip and the trailer started rocking and I heard all kinds of bangs and noises coming from the trailer, I was freaking out. I was thinking she was on the floor of the trailer or something, thrashing around, so I pulled off as soon as I could safely do so. I opened the door slowly, afraid of what I would find, but she was fine as far as I could tell. She was breathing really heavy, but otherwise looked ok. I didn't want to unload her in the street, so I closed the door and started back down the road to the show grounds.

When I got there, I pulled her off the trailer, and saw blood all down the outside of her right front leg. After the initial "oh my god" moment, I noticed it was just a bunch of scrapes, and not any deep gashes or cuts. She also had some cuts on the insides of both back pasterns, a bunch of scrapes on her left hip, and a bloody cut on her bottom lip. She was wearing a sheet, so I don't know how she got the scrapes on her hip without ripping the sheet, and I have no idea how she cut her lip, but I assume she got the scrapes on her back legs by stepping on herself with her hooves. My only guess as to how she scraped her right front leg, is that perhaps she rubbed it down the side of the trailer wall, where it's lined with rubber. Her knee was all scraped and she had a big scrape on her ankle. She was still breathing heavy and was quite sweaty, so I pulled off her sheet and got to washing up her wounds.

I can't for the life of me figure out what happened. Did she fall down for some reason? Was she being attacked or stung by a bee? I didn't see any bites or anything on her, but I just don't know what happened in there. I don't haul her with a hay bag, so it wasn't because she got hung up that way. I don't like that I don't know what happened because I don't have any way to prevent it from happening in the future.

She wasn't sore or lame at all, and there wasn't any swelling, but I wondered if I should haul her home or stay and show. Once I got her all cleaned up, I dressed the wounds with some Swat and decided to go ahead and do my halter and showmanship classes, and then see how she was doing after that.

The show crowd was huge. I think the show manager said this was the biggest show they've ever had. Some of the classes had 25-30 horses in them, and they had to split them all up. None of the classes I entered had to be split (because I decided not to enter in those), but it was nice having some larger classes for a change.

Adult showmanship, however, was tiny as always. There were only three of us in the class. They've even made the showmanship classes worth double points just to try and get more people to do them, but it doesn't seem to be working. I wish they had an open showmanship just so Lilly and I could have some more competition.

Why doesn't anyone want to do showmanship?! I live for showmanship!

Showmanship pattern
So, we went in first as we always do. The pattern was a lot of fun. Lilly was great as always... nailed her pivot, backed straight, and squared up very quickly. We ran into a bit of a problem, though. The pattern called for a jog from cone C to the judge, which is fine, except when the judge is standing at cone C. As I'm walking from cone B to cone C, I'm wondering when the judge is going to get out of my way. So as we get closer, she says something like, "Oh gosh! I need to back up!" and starts to run backwards. We caught up to her quickly, and only got in about two trot strides. She said she was sorry, and all I could say was, "that's ok" and smile. I was pretty bummed, because I didn't know how this was going to affect my placing. Granted, she shouldn't count me down because it was her mistake, but I didn't get to do the pattern properly, and I also didn't want to feel like it was a gimme ribbon because "her bad."

Doing our pivot!
When everyone had done their pattern, she walked over and said we made her job very difficult, and everyone had a nice pattern. Lilly and I did end up winning the class, and I hope it's because our overall pattern was the best.

We win!
We had halter before showmanship, but halter is halter and we placed 8th out of 10. I only enter halter so I can maybe get a few extra points in the stock type division.

Because there were so many exhibitors, the jumping classes took forever and I had a nice, long break before my english riding classes. Lilly's knee seemed to be doing ok and even though I was asked no less than 20 times what happened to her leg (also by the halter judge), I decided to go ahead and ride. She snacked on hay, I got my usual chili dog and chips, and because it was a birthday show for the show manager, we had fun doing the hokey pokey in the arena.

"... and you turn yourself around!"
I had heard through the grapevine that the judge for the riding classes really liked to see the english horses moving out. I hear this at every show, and usually just ignore it, but I decided I'd go ahead an push Lilly a little bit more than usual. We don't always place well in english because we're short and pudgy (shhh... don't tell Lilly), and we get lost on the rail while the longer legged horses pass us over and over again, but I saw the judge placing some really cute, short, stocky horses. So I was hopeful that if I pushed her just a little bit, we might do really well.

So for the first two classes, I pushed. I posted faster than ever, and we were cruising along the rail. I felt she was still looking good, but we were moving out, and I got really good rides from her in the walk/trot stock type and walk/trot adult classes. We ended up with 8th out of 13 in the stock type class, and a big NO PLACE in the adult class, out of 16. So either the other horses just looked really good, or we didn't look as good as I thought we did. Since I was really pushing her, and we weren't placing, I decided to scrap the whole idea for the next class, and really from here on out. We're just going to do what we do best, which is plod around the arena at a nice pace, with our head nice and low, and do our best to look good.

She was so good!
Our next class was english pleasure. Based on the two previous classes, I wasn't getting my hopes up. There were 13 horses in the class and Lilly did really well. I just let her trot at her speed and she took me for a nice ride. She hit both of her leads and we had a really nice canter both ways. We were even complimented after the class by some of the exhibitors saying how nice her canter looked. I was very surprised to hear my name called for second place, but I was very excited! It made me wonder if we would have placed better in the previous classes had I not pushed her to move out... all the more reason to scrap the whole idea at the next show.

For some crazy reason, I also entered us in the equitation class. It's a walk/trot class, even though I wish they had canter classes as well. PAC sees any walk/trot class as walk/trot, so even though it's an equitation class, I get points in walk/trot instead of equitation. Quite a few of my walk/trot PAC points are from equitation classes.

Equitation pattern
Anyway, I looked at the pattern and thought it was something Lilly and I would do really well with. She's an excellent horse for doing a sitting trot, which might seem strange since she has such a short stride, but I can sit her trot really well. It always feels very smooth. I knew we'd nail the pivot at the end of the pattern too, so it was up to me to make nice, round circles, and figure out how to do two point at the trot.

Don't laugh! I can't remember the last time I did two point! LOL

The last time I entered the eq class, there were five of us. This time around, people just kept entering the ring, and it didn't stop until there were EIGHTEEN of us in there. I was like, "holy cow" and chatted with the girl next to me about how big the class was. Lilly and I did our pattern somewhere around the middle of the pack. I was surprised by how many of the horses didn't pivot, but mostly everyone had a nice pattern. I was SO nervous when it was our turn, but was trying to just stay calm and relaxed so Lilly wouldn't get nervous. Sometimes, if we have to start the pattern at a cone, Lilly goes sideways instead of forward when I ask her to move off. The cues are very different, so I'm not sure why she thinks I want her to move over, but it happens. This time, she jogged right off. I knew from then on, we were going to rock this pattern. And rock it we did... everything felt really good! The circles felt good, the two point felt good (no idea how it looked, but hey...), her pivot was perfect, and she backed up nice and straight. I trotted to the line up feeling REALLY good. We watched everyone else do their pattern, and then we headed out to the rail. I transported myself back to my 4-H days, trying show off my best equitation skills. In reality, I was hoping I wouldn't look terribly awful out there on the rail and ruin our fancy pattern.

I was SUPER SUPER excited to hear my name called for first place!

We had another short break before our western classes, so I was able to tend to Lilly's leg and run some more cold water on it. She still seemed to be just fine, so I put some more Swat on, and we changed into our western gear. It was a really hot day, and it was getting late, so I scratched two of the western classes we were going to enter and just did the walk/jog stock and adult classes.

Western pleasure pony!
I thought the classes went really well. She was much more relaxed than last time, and wasn't chomping on her bit at all. She was very consistent, and I was very happy with how she looked. We ended up with an 8th place out of 12 in the stock type, and a 5th out of 11 in the adult class. Not what I would have given us, but I was very happy with her.

Here's a recap of our placings for the day:
Halter Stock Type = 8th out of 10
Showmanship Adult = 1st out of 3 (1 PAC Point)
English Walk/Trot Stock Type = 8th out of 13
English Walk/Trot Adult = No Place out of 16
English Pleasure = 2nd out of 13 (3 PAC Points)
English Equitation = 1st out of 18 (6 PAC Points)
Western Walk/Jog Stock Type = 8th out of 12
Western Walk/Jog Adult = 5th out of 11

We ended up winning reserve champion in the adult division, but I didn't find that out until later, so I don't have a picture of Lilly with the ribbon. We left pretty much right after our last class because I wanted to get her home, so I got it in the mail the other day.

Reserve champs!
Overall, we didn't place as well in our division classes as we did last month, but I feel like we had a much better show this time around. She was so good and so relaxed, and I just can't top the feeling I had after the equitation class. I saw some of my usual friends, some friends I haven't seen in a while, and we just had a really great day.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

First Show of 2015 (And In Many Years!)

It's been quite a while since Lilly and I had a consistent show season. The last one was in 2011 and we did pretty well, but things really tapered off after that for one reason or another. I only took her to one show in 2012 and one show in 2013, in May of both years, so I started out the years with good intentions, but never managed to get out to another one. We won a reserve championship in the Stock Type Division at the show we did in 2013, which I thought was pretty amazing. I never dreamed we could top it, but we did.

It was a Johnston County Horse Show Series show (JCHSS), and the show was supposed to be on Saturday, the 11th, which was also my sweet Lilly's 15th birthday, but the weather has been stormy and they ended up post-poning the show for Sunday.

I wasn't sure what to expect from her. She's always easy going, happy go lucky, and performs when I ask her to, even if we've been out of work for quite some time. I've been riding her a little bit since moving her to the new barn, but nothing consistent, and nothing too taxing. She's hairy, out of shape, and out of practice. (To be honest, so am I! Well, not hairy, but out of shape and out of practice.) At first, I only entered her in enough classes to make us competitive in two divisions, stock type and adult, so we would be eligible for the day awards. At the last minute, I threw in an english pleasure class (to maybe grab a few PAC points) and one other western class, just to get the practice.

Halter classes are always hit or miss for us. Sometimes we're in the middle and sometimes we're at the bottom. It always depends on who else is entered, and how the judge is feeling. We ended up in the middle of the pack yesterday, and placed 3rd out of 6. Honestly, I thought Lilly deserved a second, but the judge disagreed with me. That happens a lot.

Showmanship was amazing as always. I couldn't have asked Lilly to perform any better... her back up was so straight, her pivots were perfect, and she set up in half a second. She rocked it. We ended up with 2nd place behind someone who is a judge, and there's a feeling around the grounds that she sometimes places where she shouldn't because of that. I thought Lilly had a way better pattern than her horse, but Lilly is still a hairy beast and her horse was slick and groomed to the nines. You never know what the judge sees, or why they place how they place... you just get what you get because that's horse showing.

We had a nice, long break after our in hand classes and Lilly was happy to hang out at the trailer and eat hay. I socialized a bit and caught up with some of my horse show buddies, ate a chili dog and fries, cleaned up my tack, and frantically searched for my belt. It felt great to be back in the show atmosphere.

Our english classes went pretty well. We always do ok in the stock type english class because we're competing against other stock type horses (slow, lazy, fat, stubby legs...), so I wasn't surprised that we were pinned 3rd out of 9 horses. That won us 1 PAC point for walk/trot, which should earn Lilly her APHA Certificate of Recognition for walk/trot. YAY LILLY!

The adult class didn't go quite as well, as there were lots of gorgeous hunt seat horses in the ring. I lost count of how many horses lapped us in that class. I've really given up on pushing her hard in those classes, though, because she's just not going to look like the english horses do. I figure consistent and slower is better than pushing, pushing, pushing. We ended up with 7th out of 12, which I felt was actually quite respectable.

Our english pleasure class had 13 horses, and I went with the same philosophy. Consistency was the plan and try to keep her head in a good place when we cantered. She was REALLY good, and her transitions were beautiful. I was very pleased with her performance, and the judge seemed to like what she saw, as she pinned us 3rd! I definitely wasn't expecting that, but I was really excited about it. We won 2 PAC points for that one.

The western classes were not spectacular. She seemed a little cranky and even though she was consistent with her speed, it was too fast, and she wasn't really happy with her bit. It's the one I always use when we show, but usually when we're training at home, I ride her in the big o-ring snaffle. She very clearly prefers that one, so I'll need to ride her more often with her show bit. We got 4th out of 11 in the stock type, 4th out of 5 in the adult class, and 7th out of 8 in the open class.

The open class was a bit of a wash because there was a very young boy on a very hot horse zooming around the ring and riding up on everyone's butt. Despite the announcer repeating that faster horses need to stay to the inside of the arena, he continued to nearly run us all over. He had zero control and couldn't keep her on the inside if he had to. He should NOT have been on that horse. I spent most of my class trying to stay out of his way.

Here's a recap of our placings:
Halter Stock Type - 3rd out of 6
Showmanship Adult - 2nd out of 5
English Walk/Trot Stock Type - 3rd out of 9 (1 PAC Point)
English Walk/Trot Adult - 7th out of 12
English Pleasure - 3rd out of 13 (2 PAC Points)
Western Walk/Jog Stock Type - 4th out of 11
Western Walk/Jog Adult - 4th out of 5
Western Walk/Jog Open - 7th out of 8

And just when I thought the day couldn't possibly get any better, they made the announcements for day champions. Lilly and I won Reserve Champion in both the Stock Type AND Adult divisions! The ribbons are gorgeous!

Lilly was better than I expected both in the ring and out. When at the trailer, she was happy to stand and munch hay. When waiting at the ring, she took many naps. She was very relaxed, very content, and just a joy to spend time with. As always, we have things to work on and I'm looking forward to having more time to ride and get her prepped for the next show. Overall, we had a great day!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Long Overdue Update

Usually when I'm a blog slacker, it's because I don't have anything to write about. The holidays are always busy, the days are short, it's cold outside (and I don't do cold very well)... but the holidays are over, the days are getting longer, and while it's still cold outside, I have ventured out a time or two.

I didn't do a 2014 recap, I didn't set 2015 goals... I just wasn't feeling it. However, it's time to stop being a slacker and get back into blogging. Show season is on its way, and soon I'll have lots to write about.

I've actually had something to write about, but never got around to writing about it. No one will be shocked by the news, since I do it all the time, but I moved Lilly to a new barn. Again.

My previous barn was increasing their boarding prices, and since I was already paying for my own feed and extra for trailer parking, I didn't feel like forking over more money. I've been concerned about the grass there anyway, so it gave me the little push I needed to start shopping around for something else.

Since I've been to just about every barn within a 20 mile radius of my home, I knew I'd have to go out a little farther than I probably wanted to, but I didn't have much choice. I checked out one place that was just awful, and then stumbled upon another place that I liked a lot.

It's not nearly as 'fancy' as I'm used to, but it has everything I need and the facilities are safe for Lilly. She has a stall, there's a wash rack, an arena, a nice tack room, and obstacles on the property so I can practice doing trail stuff. The barn owner is super nice, shares many of the same philosophies as I do, and actually RIDES. It's a small place, with 5 boarded horses, the BO's riding horse, and then an adorable little pony that she has for sale. I moved Lilly there Thanksgiving weekend and I love it.

I have to provide my own feed and hay, and prebag all the grain, but I don't mind that at all. I thought the hay storage was going to get annoying, but I have room on my pallet for about 8 bales of hay, which lasts my porker quite a while. It helps that the feed store is three minutes from the barn, so I can just "store" my hay there, and run over to buy some whenever I'm getting low. I'm saving quite a bit of money by boarding there, which is also a perk.

Shed row style barn, with wash area.
The very large arena.
Lilly in one of the pastures with her buddy, Bear.
Kat the barn cat, wanting more love before I head home.
Lilly waiting for dinner.
I mentioned my new BO actually rides, as does one of the other boarders. They're always hauling somewhere to do the trails and I happened to be at the barn one day before they hauled out. When they offered to haul Lilly with them, I jumped at the chance. We had a great time on the trails and Lilly was a super good girl. We talked about doing a lot of trail rides this year as a group, so I'm excited about having horse people to hang with and places to go ride. I was always amazed at how 'dead' the other boarding barns were. For as many people as we always boarded with, I was always riding by myself. It's nice to have people around for a change.

Me and Lilly on the left, the BO in the middle, and one of the other boarders on the right.
I also made a decision recently to switch Lilly's feed. I was feeding her the Purina Enrich Plus, but the feed store close to the barn doesn't carry Purina. My BO mentioned she feeds her piggy Tribute's Essential K, which is also a ration balancer. After comparing the two, I figured I might as well give it a shot. She was finally all the way switched over to the new feed about a week ago and seems to be doing really well.

Lilly's hooves have changed quite a bit since moving there as well. When I first got her moved, her bars grew like crazy. They were very flaky and easy to peel off, but I was surprised by how much growth she had in that one area. Since her first trim, the bar growth has slowed substantially. Her seedy toe continues to hold steady too, and I'm seeing more concavity in her hooves. The terrain there is fairly sandy, but it's not super soft, and I've seen her running like mad out there in her pasture, so I know her feet are feeling good.

Sweet pony face.
Thus far, this has been a great move for us and I'm very happy with how she is doing at her our new place.