Saturday, March 28, 2009

Off to Baltimore

I'm off to Baltimore for 2 weeks to train for my new job. I'm not thrilled about going and I was enjoying all this time off, but I guess I need to get back to work and start making a living again. So the good news is that I have a job, but the bad news came when I found out my schedule. I have to work second shift (4pm till 12:30am), which is fine with me, but I'll be working Saturday through Wednesday. So my showing is up in the air right now... :( I'm trying to find out how flexible the schedule is, but I probably won't know until later this month whether I can make it to any of the shows. I hope I won't have to give it up all together.

Have a great 2 weeks everyone!

**** Update!**** (4/4)

Things here in Baltimore are going well... I wish I was home right now, but I have another whole week of training. Last week was interesting in regards to my schedule for work, and as it turns out I'll be working Monday through Friday from 4pm until 12:30am. Thank you, God! I am so excited and so thankful and it's a huge weight off my shoulders! Of the 4 people I will be working with in my specific section, I'm the only one that lucked out with the weekday shift.

So it looks like I'll be able to keep showing after all! Early Saturday shows will be tough since I won't be able to give Lilly a bath on Friday night, but I'll make it work!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

JCHSS #2

What a day...

It started out quite cold this morning and was, of course, windy. The turnout at the show was impressive. I'm not sure where all those people came from! Needless to say, we waited and waited and waited for our first class. I arrived at about 10:30 and had time to clean Lilly up, eat a pack of chocolate donuts, band her mane, clean out my trailer, eat a thing of nachos, and then sit around watching all the other horses, before I even thought about getting dressed. When it was finally time for halter class it was about 1:30. During the 3 hours of waiting, Lilly the porker went through 3 flakes of hay. This is important later in the story...

Halter Class:
13 horses, we didn't place. Poor Lilly... I think it hurt her feelings that we didn't at least get 8th place! I reassured her that she was quite beautiful and the judge didn't know what he was doing.




English Showmanship:
Today we had a really wonky pattern. Picture 3 cones in a row, the 3rd cone a bit farther from cone 2 than cone 1 is from cone 2. So cone 1 and 2 are about 4 horse steps apart and cone 2 and 3 are about 10 horse steps apart. So we had to start at cone 2 and back to cone 1. Then from cone 1 we had to trot past cone 3 and do a big loop and come back to cone 3. It wasn't a circle, though, it was like a giant tear drop. Then when we got back to cone 3 we had to stop, do a 360, then walk to the judge for inspection. Lilly did a pretty good job. She backed really well and took right off when I asked her to trot. The tear drop was a bit crazy, though, and she nearly ran me over. Her pivot was decent... she's still not 100% with the new pivot and moved her foot at the last minute. On the old foot she was automatic and I never had to worry. Now I have to pay closer attention and help her along. We're getting there, though! So we ended up with 3rd out of 9. 1 more PAC point for me!

As far as the riding classes go, I think Lilly did a fantastic job. She didn't stomp her feet when we were on the rail waiting for the other class to leave! It was amazing, but I'm not holding my breath on that one. (I did work on it a bit at home, but she just tends to stomp when she's pissed) She didn't jump into the trot like a lunatic and moved right out at the trot. I was happy with her head set (even though it looks high and not level in the picture) and rode her with looser reins than usual. It tends to calm her... When I asked her to go low with her head, she would. It would eventually come back up, but would go right back down when I asked. I was really happy with her performance. I think she did better today than at any other show. Such a good girl!!

The classes were HUGE and one was split into 3 heats of 15. We were in the finals for one of the classes but never did place in any of them. It was easy to pick the top 3 horses, though, because the same horses were 1, 2, and 3 in ALL of them.

Western Showmanship:
Our pattern was only slightly better in western than in english. That tear drop pattern sucks! HAHA! Guess I know what I need to work on... jogging circles! She moved her foot during her pivot but stopped perfectly square when we stopped for inspection. I thought that might get us bonus points, but apparently not. We got 4th out of 8.
Like any good judge should, this one seemed to actually look at the horse and how well they're groomed. He pointed out to one girl that her horse had some shavings on his belly and that's why she didn't win. I'm sure my 'white' horse was counted down for being dirty and having red clay and remnants of green crap all over her legs. Not to mention the dirt marks from the saddle. If only she didn't have white legs and white hair right where the saddle sits. Guess she wouldn't be much of a tobiano then, though...

This brings me to my next point. Well, I actually have a couple. I need to rant...

I went to the show today alone. Just me and my horse. While I don't mind, as I've done it a million times before, it tends to suck in certain instances. I tend to wonder what would happen if I got hurt and couldn't drive home... Aside from that, I see moms and friends tending to horses in the make up arena. They're brushing tails, cleaning boots, offering drinks, or running back to the trailer to get something. They're there to say, "Hey! Your number is on upside down!" Or better yet, they're the one that puts your number on, so you know it's on right! They spiff up your horse after hunt seat GAYP while you change into your western clothes for showmanship. When you step out of the trailer, your horse is ready to go, western halter and all! My boyfriend tries to be helpful when he tags along, but he just really doesn't know what to do because he didn't grow up at horse shows. I could shout orders at him all day, but that's not cool either. So even when I do have company, I usually just ask them to take pictures and occasionally help out with the little things.

This is all going somewhere, I promise...

Today I could have used a horse savvy buddy.

Picture this: I have a Paint. Her legs are white, her butt cheeks are white, and she's been eating lovely green hay all day long. She has also taken a dump in each and every class so far, twice at the trailer, and I've scrubbed her ass twice already. As we're trotting around the ring, I feel her back round up and I can see in her shadow that she's taking another dump. (Click on the riding picture above and check out her back legs... you can see the manure all over them!) Yay... It's my last riding class of the day and I have 2 classes between this class and my western showmanship class. This means I have to hurry to clean the shit off her legs, unsaddle her, change my clothes, get her haltered up, and be ready right at the start of my class because I'm 2nd to go for showmanship. I get her back to the horse trailer and assess the damage. She has managed to cover her entire back legs with bright green crap. Not only is it running down her cheeks, but both hocks are covered, the backs of her cannons look as though I painted them green, and the insides of her ankles are covered too. On top of that, her tail has been crapped upon and somehow she managed to get it all over the underside of her tailbone. So as we were trotting along, her tail was working like a windshield wiper to smear the shit all over the outsides of her cheeks. Fantastic... So I pull the saddle and work to clean as much of her legs as I think I have time for. Next, I hop in the trailer to get dressed. Now... my showmanship shirt zips in the back. There is a zipper from top to bottom and the only way to get that sucker on is to unzip it completely. So I have my arms in it now and I'm trying to zip it behind my back, without being able to see. I tried to pull it to the side to see the zipper bottom and managed to put the zipper together and work it all the way up to my neck. Next, I was bending over to try and get my boots on when I hear "ZIP"! I turn around to look in my tiny mirror and see that the back part of my zipper has just come apart. It is at this point that I realize it wasn't zipped as well as I thought it was. Have you ever had a gym bag or something that gets its zipper messed up? Remember how NOT easy is it to try and get that zipper all the way back to the beginning again to try and start over? Now imagine doing it with your hands behind your back... I got it about half way back down and it was stuck. It didn't help that I was in a huge hurry, but I was starting to think I wasn't going to be able to do showmanship because I wouldn't be able to get dressed in time! I contemplated doing the Incredible Hulk move and ripping the darn thing off! Reality hit, though, when I remembered how much I paid for the shirt...

So I took a deep breath and managed to get the shirt off and rezipped, and had a 'presentable' horse for showmanship, just barely. But it sure would have been nice to have some help today. Sometimes I feel like a schmuck because I always end up going to these things alone....

So I leave you today with my 'mean mug' face. It pretty much represents the day.

There was a professional photographer today at the show, so I paid $45 for a CD of 12 images. I think they turned out pretty good, and I hate going home without pictures!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Spring Vaccines!

My favorite vet, Tracy, came to the barn today to vaccinate all the horses. Lilly was really good and has come a long way since her first shot. She's still not happy, but she stands there like a good girl. I was so proud! AJ is always good... I think if he had thumbs he would give his own shots! :)

AJ needs to have his teeth floated, but Lilly's can wait until fall. Otherwise, she said everyone looked healthy and good. I'm always happy when AJ passes his "old man" test. He's a healthy old guy!

A couple of weeks ago I noticed a bump on the side of Lilly's left leg. So while Tracy was there I asked her to take a look at it. She wondered if Lilly had been lame at all and I told her she had not. She was surprised because she said it was her tendon causing the bump. She said it resembled what an old bow would look like on a horse recovering from a bowed tendon. She even had me trot her around so she could watch her move. She just couldn't believe she hadn't been lame at all. She thought maybe Lilly hit it on something since it really couldn't have been caused from a bow. She said to just watch it and let her know if it gets any bigger. Lilly always has the most bizarre things wrong with her.

And what's up with this weather??!! It sucks!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

I've Been Riding!

The weather has been lovely, almost hot. At least I'm sure it feels that way to a super furry horse being worked in the sunshine! Poor thing! So I've been grooming, grooming, grooming... trying to get rid of some of that hair she's shedding. I went to the barn Saturday but I wasn't feeling well, so I just did a nice grooming session. I had purchased one of those Slick N Easy grooming blocks and it has been working great! Her white hair is coming out by the buckets, but her color is just dry and icky. The grooming block helps a lot with her colored hair to make it smooth.

I rode her Sunday and Monday and she did great. She seems to be much more relaxed when she's got some rein, so I've been letting her have some slack. When she gets too fast I just take her in a circle until she slows down. I've also been mixing it up with the canter transitions. I did some from the walk, some from the trot, and in as many different places as I could find in the arena. She does really great when she's not anticipating the canter, but I can't get her to relax on the rail and I get tired of pulling on her face. If we do a canter depart from the middle of the arena from a walk, she does great. I'm at a loss about what to do with her on the rail...

She was really sweaty both days when I got done riding her so I hosed her off. The water wasn't as cold as it was on Friday and she seemed to be ok with the light bath. So she actually has WHITE hair for a change. She looks really pretty. I also sprayed her with this fantastic leave on conditioner I have so she's quite soft... even the colored part of her body that was so so dry. While she dried I took her out to the grassy spot and let her munch some grass. Of course she rolled when I put her back in the pasture but I made sure she was dry so it would be dust instead of mud that got caked on her nice soft hair.

When I was letting Lilly eat, AJ saw me and gave the most pitiful, saddest face I've ever seen, so I had to get him out and let him eat grass too. He's in heaven! I thought it would be a good time to brush him, but he is barely shedding. I brushed him anyway and made sure to scratch his favorite spots. He was torn between the grass and the itchy spots, but eventually the grass won out and he ignored my scratching. AJ's pasture is right by all this green grass and it must torture him all day long, just staring at him, teasing him by swaying in the breeze. He finally got to taste it and he was a happy camper!

So, in other news, APHA has me completely confused. Last year for PAC, they seemed to count my showmanship classes and halter classes the same. They went under 'Halter' and I had 4 points by the end of the year. I think one of those points (maybe 2 of them) were from actual halter classes and the others were for showmanship. Since the most recent JCHSS show I've been periodically checking the performance records to see that my points were counted. They were there this morning but all the points are listed under 'Performance' and is actually listed as 'Showmanship'. So I don't know if they changed it this year, or if they were just confused last year. I figured showmanship counted as halter since it was in hand and performance would be riding points. But now I have no idea. I guess from now on, halter is halter and showmanship is performance. I hope to get a riding point or two this year so I can see how that is listed on our current year credits. APHA also lists us as having 4 points this year instead of 3 like I had figured. 2 points for each showmanship class from the JCHSS show.

So confused...

Friday, March 6, 2009

Warm Weather!

I finally got out to the barn today. It was sunny, 70 degrees, and beautiful! I had plans to spot bathe my girl but after I got started I found out how COLD the water was, so nothing but a tail wash and leg scrub for her today. I also put her mane in braids to hold it on one side. I can't stand it when her neck looks HUGE from her mane sticking up all over the place. After her hind legs dried I shaved them with my clippers so it will be easier to clean them when she drips manure all over the place. Long story short... she looks good! And she is shedding like crazy, but just the white hair. It's bizarre how that works. The palomino hair holds out till the very last second while the white hair drops out like no one's business!

She was really good when I rode, too. One of the other boarders was riding her horse and she said Lilly looked great. It had been a while since she saw us ride and said Lilly has come a long way since she saw her last. Yeah! Progress!

I worked on transitions, transitions, transitions... at this point in our training, I think that's where we're lacking. She anticipates so much that I've been trying to mix it up. She's just never surprised, no matter what I do...

I also worked on pivots. I must have the smartest horse in the world because she's got it figured out already!! And she looks at me like I'm an idiot... it's like she's saying, "duh... that's how we should have been doing it all along!"