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...

Sunday, August 23, 2015

August JCHSS Show

As I mentioned in my last post, for some reason I thought it would be a good idea to drive 4 hours on Friday (after spending the day packing up camp), drive 12 hours on Saturday, and then as soon as I got home, run to the barn to bathe my horse, and get ready for a show on Sunday. I figured as long as I could make myself do it, I could count on Lilly to do her part and be a good girl (she always does her part).

That's not exactly how the day went, and I learned a lesson... let's not do that again.

The bathing went well, and I had packed everything before I left for Michigan, so I didn't end up spending too much time at the barn. I still went to sleep rather late, though, and 6am came really quickly. I distinctly remember checking Google maps earlier to see how far away the fairgrounds were from my new barn, since I haven't made this drive before, and it said 35 minutes. I swear it said 35 minutes. So I gave myself 45 minutes of driving time when planning out the morning. As it turns out, it took me more like an hour to get up there because Google maps took me a really crazy way down back roads and through the city. We won't be doing that again! Needless to say, I was running behind when we finally got there, and I still had to find a place to park the trailer. The place was packed with people who showed all weekend, so I ended up squeezing between another trailer and a truck, which wasn't supposed to be parked in the trailer area. By the time I ran up to the show office, it was 8:45, and the show started at 9.

I had signed up ahead of time for my usual classes, but decided to scratch halter because it was the third class of the day and I was nowhere near ready. As it turns out, I could have easily made it (they never start on time), but I heard there were 16 horses in the class, so I didn't hurry to add us back.

Snack time.
There was quite a wait between halter and showmanship, so I did all that rushing for nothing, but it gave me some time to relax, get Lilly ready, and do a few prep items that I've been lazy about lately. I became seriously frustrated when I couldn't get the hoof polish open (good thing I didn't have a knife!!), and said "screw it", let's just go. From where I was parked, I couldn't hear the announcer and the showing was all done in the indoor, so I couldn't see either. I decided it was better just to hang out at the arena so we didn't miss showmanship.

So, let's talk about showmanship. Above is the pattern, which I loved when I saw, because it was so different from the other patterns we've done. We practiced our tight turn around the cone, worked on her pivot a bit (she didn't feel like leaving her foot planted at first) and waited patiently. I was extra excited when I heard there were 10 horses in the class... I don't think I've seen more than six in a long time, and there's usually only 3 of us. I hung back a bit because I didn't want to be one of the first to go in. I saw the first team head to the cone, and went back to working with Lilly. I didn't watch her pattern because I wasn't planning on going next, but when I realized no one else was going to the cone (as always) and the just was waiting, I jogged over, set Lilly up at the cone, and waited for my nod. She did great around the cones and I was so proud to set her up for the judge. Lilly wasn't cooperating and it took me a while to set her up, but when I finally got her set, I remembered I was supposed to back before setting her up. CRAP. CRAP. CRAP. I was so disappointed in myself, but I continued to show and completed the pattern as if I hadn't jacked it up. I beat myself up in the lineup, thinking about the lost PAC points because I forgot to back, and how mad I was that I hadn't watched the pattern before me to help remind me, and mad about how I am always one of the first ones to go.

Imagine my surprise when I was called for second place. No one else forgot to back and I was wondering how I ended up in second. Granted, our pattern was great minus that part, but I should have been sent to the end of the line. If I was one of the other exhibitors, I would have been livid knowing I placed below someone who did the pattern incorrectly. Nonetheless, I walked out with a red ribbon and 2 PAC points.

Things didn't get much better from there.

During the showmanship class, I was inspecting the footing and watching Lilly move to see if we could show without boots here. I decided that she would probably be ok, so for our first riding class, English walk/trot stock type, I skipped the boots. Lilly was awful. And by awful, I mean awful for Lilly. She was clearly unhappy about something, but I didn't know what. Was it the footing, was it the indoor arena, was it the noisy kids banging around in the seats when we passed? She was doing everything I asked of her, but she made sure I knew she wasn't happy about it. There was tail wringing, chomping on the bit, and just an unwilling attitude. I wasn't sure what was upsetting her, but I wanted to put on boots to eliminate that as an option.

Even after putting on her boots, she wasn't much better. I did see a slight improvement, but she was still not happy to be in the arena. We didn't place in the stock type class or the adult class.

We managed a 5th in the English pleasure class and a 6th in the equitation class. Since the equitation pattern didn't have any pivots, we didn't do as well, but 6th out of 16 horses isn't bad, I suppose.

English Equitation
During the break between English and western, I made sure Lilly had lots of hay, lots of water, and I checked her over really well. Nothing seemed physically wrong, but I still thought about scratching the rest of my classes and going home. I ended up talking myself out of that, and decided to stay for the 3 western classes.

While we were standing around waiting for the western horsemanship class, Lilly was very fidgety. She kept twitching her withers and I ended up adjusting her saddle two different times thinking I had put something on wrong. That's usually what she does when she's uncomfortable with the saddle, but no matter what I did, she continued to twitch. When we did our pattern, she was SO CRABBY. I got all the maneuvers out of her, but her tail was wringing the whole time and I wondered how much we would be counted down for that. Her pattern was great, but everyone knew she wasn't happy to be doing it. We ended up winning the class, but I was ready to be done with everything so we could just go home.
Western Horsemanship
We did ok in our last two classes and we rolled out of there as soon as possible.

Here's a breakdown of our placings:
Showmanship = 2nd out of 9 (2 PAC Points)
English Walk/Trot Stock Type = No Place
English GAYP Adult = No Place
English Pleasure = 5th out of 11
English Equitation = 6th out of 16
Western Horsemanship = 1st out of 11 (3 PAC Points)
Western Walk/Jog Stock Type = 7th out of 11
Western GAYP Adult = 5th out of 8

I won a comb this time!
All kinds of scenarios were running through my head... was she in heat? (Usually not an issue for us) Was she just tired of the heat? Could she tell I was super tired and lacked the happy attitude I usually have at the shows? Did she just not like the indoor arena with giant fans blowing? (We've shown in there before but it's been a really long time)

I couldn't come up with an answer, but decided I wasn't going to try and do that again. It was just too much, and I thought Lilly probably just had a bad day.

Somehow, we ended up winning Grand Champion in the Adult Division. Lilly looks beautiful with her ribbon!

We love this ribbon!
An update to this, though... My trimmer came out on Tuesday and mentioned that Lilly had a little bit of separation on all four hooves. She asked if she'd been sore or tender at all, and I told her about the show. We concluded that perhaps even if the separation hadn't started then (I didn't see any when I picked her hooves), that it's possible the changes were happening in her body and were making her a little uncomfortable. I don't know if that's the case, but it seems likely since Lilly isn't ever pissy just because. She's always very easy going, relaxed, and happy at shows. It feels way too early for the grass to be going through changes, so it never even crossed my mind, but I wish I had scratched her when I first thought about it. :(

Friday, August 21, 2015

The Michigan Adventure!

The first week of August, I made my usual trip up to Michigan to visit my family and go camping up north at beautiful Elk Lake. So this post doesn't end up being a novel, I'll just post mostly pictures and let them do the talking.

First stop... my mom and dad's house to visit AJ, Justus, and enjoy being back home.

Still sucking on that tongue.
Handsome, handsome!
Justus and AJ

After a couple days at home, we all packed up and headed up to Elk Lake. We were met with an awful storm that produced 80 mile per hour winds, hail, broken trees, demolished tents, and no power. Despite the fact that we had to use an outhouse, had no shower, and no electricity, we had a really good time.

Elk Lake is amazingly gorgeous.

Rylee had a really good time too. She was SO good! I had to keep her on a leash the whole time because of park rules, so I was worried about lots of pent up energy, but she was on guard the whole time (she takes her job very seriously) and by the end of the night she was exhausted.

Guarding the camp!
She went boating!
She went canoeing!
And then decided she was done canoeing, and rolled out into the water!
She did really well in the tent!
Such a fun trip... can't wait for next year!

After playing hard all week, driving a good bit Friday, and then driving 12 hours on Saturday to get home... I thought it would be a good idea to take Lilly to a show on Sunday. We've been doing so well with points this year that I didn't want to miss two shows, so I decided to make it work. More on that in my next post, though...

Thursday, July 30, 2015

We Made the List!

I've been waiting forever for my PAC points from the last show to post on APHA's website. I like to keep track and make sure what I have in my records is what they have in their records, but this time I was waiting for another reason as well.

They always post a Leader's List, where they post online the names of anyone with more than 10 PAC points. Since Lilly and I have 13 points in Walk/Trot, I knew we'd be on the list. We've never been there before, since we've never had more than 10 points in one season. I'm very proud of her, and excited to see our names out there.

We win! YAY!
Our next show is on the 9th, and it's up at the state fairgrounds. The show actually goes the whole weekend and counts as two separate shows, so it would have been fun to camp out in my trailer for a weekend show. I haven't done that in forever, but I'll be in Michigan until the 8th visiting my family (and AJ!), and didn't want to cut my time there short. So the plan is to drive 12 hours back to North Carolina on Saturday, run over to the barn to do show prep, and be up and ready for an all day show on Sunday.

Slightly crazy, and maybe a little ambitious, but we're doing so well in the points that I don't want to miss two shows. Missing one is bad enough... so it'll be busy, but fun!

Lilly has been doing pretty well and is waiting for summer to be over, I think. She had a few injuries this month too, but has recovered for the most part. She had a giant mystery scrape on the front of her rear cannon bone and some sole bruising, which I think is from stomping away the flies. Hopefully she'll be ready to go when I get back!