Monday, June 29, 2009

JCHSS Show #5

Saturday was the 5th JCHSS show of the season, and it was HOT! When I pulled into the facility I parked way in the back corner because there were some shade trees there. I figured it was better to not be able to see or hear a thing than to be roasting in the sun. Just when I thought I might have all the shade to myself, the circus came to town and pulled in next to me. Aside from the truck and trailer, there were 3 other vehicles full of people, and they set up camp. They had huge rainbow umbrellas, tons of chairs, coolers, and tables. There were babies, children, teens, adults, and retirees! There was even grandma in her power chair. It was all great exposure for Lilly, though, especially when the kids started running around throwing plastic balls at each other. They were super nice, though, and when they realized I was there by myself they kept trying to feed me. I ended up taking some of their watermelon, which was very tasty! Even Lilly loved it! She's usually pretty picky about new food, but she gobbled it up and begged for more!

So our first class was halter and we got 4th out of 9 horses. We beat some horses that I thought would place over us, so I never know what the heck will happen when I go in that class.

Showmanship was next and the pattern was the usual L shape... walk from cone a to cone b, trot from cone b to cone c (the judge), and set up for inspection. After inspection we did a 3/4 degree turn and walked into line. There were only 3 of us, and we took first place. 1 more PAC point! And I've decided to quit writing "Showmanship at Halter" on my PAC reports. To eliminate all confusion, I'm simply writing "English Showmanship Open" or "Western Showmanship Open". Hopefully the points will go in the right place from here on out if the words "at halter" are removed.

The huntseat riding classes went well:
Huntseat Walk Trot Open - No place
Huntseat Pleasure Open - No place
Huntseat Walk Trot Stock Type - 4th out of 11

I have no idea what the judge was looking for... Lilly did excellent in her huntseat pleasure class and there were only 10 horses in the class. They place up to 8, so that means we were either second to last or last compared to the other horses. I was really expecting to hear our number called high up in the placings but the judge disagreed. The pleasure class was also interesting because it POURED on us. Lilly and I got completely soaked and they had to halt the class because all the horses wanted to stop and turn their butts to the rain. It was kind of funny. :) The class we got 4th in was probably Lilly's worst class of the day, so who knows...

We did two english classes:
English GAYP Open - 8th out of 17
English Pleasure - 5th out of 9

Again, Lilly did really well, and that's all I can ask. I disagreed with the judge, but he had an obvious preference, and it wasn't Lilly. :)

Our last class of the day was western showmanship and the pattern for this class was the same as the english class. There were 6 horses and we got 2nd. I think we should have won, but my friend said when Lilly and I started our pivot, the judge had his head down and was writing the entire time, so he didn't even see the pivot. It's another PAC point, though, so that's good.

It was a fun day. It's the last show until the first weekend in August, which is good since I now have 10 stitches in my hip (along with some on the inside too) and the Dr says no riding for 2 weeks until they come out. So Lilly get's a nice break.

Needless to say, there probably won't be too many blog entries for the next couple weeks, but I hope everyone has fun!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

PAC Points Saga Continues

No response to my email from APHA... and no points have been posted yet for the CMESC show, so I still don't know for sure what points are going where. I did dig deeper, though, into the PAC rules and categories and there is one listed for 'walk trot'. So it looks like my walk trot points will be counted too (YAY!). I'm just not sure if they'll accept GAYP classes or not, especially since they don't know what my GAYP gait was... The CMESC point I got was for a GAYP class so I'll be anxious to see how that's recorded. The equitation class from this past weekend actually says walk trot, so I should be good there, but will walk trot equitation be recorded as walk trot or equitation? So many questions, so few answers.

In either case, I updated my points total on the side of my blog with where I think the points are going to go. I'm sure I'll have to change them later, but that's my best guess. I'll update them as I find the real totals. :)

I'm just excited to have some points listed in places other than showmanship!

**Update**

So as of this morning my points for the CMESC show are posted. All of my riding points went under English Pleasure, even though the one class was a GAYP. However, they put my showmanship point under halter! So I called Paint but the PAC coordinator is at the world show, so the lady I spoke with said I could email the PAC coordinator and let her know so the point can be corrected. I'm also going to try and get last year's points fixed too. It's a long shot because it's been over a year, but it never hurts to ask. Especially since 3 of the halter points from last year are actually for showmanship. With them under the right category I'd be that much closer to my Certificate of Recognition!

It might take while for the coordinator to email me back or call regarding my points, so I labeled them as they should correctly be and hopefully will be. With any luck, I'll be adding some points this Saturday at the JCHSS show! :)

Now I wait... for the email and for this past weekend's show to be posted. :)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Weekend at the ECOSC - Updated!

**Edited to Add**

Here is a link to Lilly's photo album from the show: Lilly Enjoy!

****************

Let me preface this blog post by saying, HOLY CRAP was this past weekend a lot of work! I think it was about 20% fun and 80% work. Not to mention, it was 100 degrees on Saturday, but much cooler on Sunday... only 92!

Friday
I got to the barn around 9:30 and the farrier was just getting ready to leave. The barn owner had Lilly out already and they were taking a look at her feet. He said he thought her feet looked really good, considering what my farrier has to work with. So now my trainer can get off my case. :)

Once I got packed up, we were off! It was a nice drive... a pretty straight shot and took us just over 2 hours to get there. Once we found out our stall assignment I parked close to the barn and unloaded most of my stuff. I was trying to get a close camping spot, so I decided to go park the trailer and then unload the rest of my stuff before more spots disappeared. I still had to park fairly far away, but it wasn't too bad. It could have been much worse, that's for sure! Of course, it could have been better too. That became apparent each time I had to walk back and forth from the stall to my trailer... Once she was all set in her stall with hay, water, and fan, I set off to enjoy the complimentary pig pickin'.

After getting some good eats, I took Lilly out to explore. Let me say, this place is amazing! I guess this is what you get when you pay the big bucks! The indoor arena was huge! It had wonderful footing, lots of fans, seating, a snack bar, and the show office was air conditioned. It even had a covered make up area that was attached and there was a walkway between the covered outdoor and the indoor which was also covered. It was really nice on Saturday to have all that shade! We checked out the covered arena first, which was really scary. There were birds flying all over the place and lots of equipment and jump standards piled around the outside. She was really nervous in there at first, but once we got working she settled down. Next we went to the indoor arena. I thought she'd be more freaked out than she was. Especially since the make up area was kind of dark and there were trash cans all over the place. She walked cautiously, but never balked. Even once we got in to the indoor, she just walked around and looked, but never spooked. She was a little more skittish the closer we got to the rail, but once she decided the funny green walls weren't going to hurt her, she was good.

She worked really well in both arenas. We cantered a lot and she never missed a beat. She even picked up the correct lead every time I asked. I was quite pleased with how well she was behaving in this new place!

After our ride it was time to clean her up. There was a really nice wash rack attached to the barn and made an aisle to the other barn. It was really neat. So there were 4 wash racks total, all concrete, with hoses that hung from the ceiling if you wanted to go that route. They even had temperature settings so you could use warm water if you wanted to. When I got to the wash racks, I had to wait in line. There were 2 Saddlebreds being washed and Lilly and I had to stand back. I used to have a Saddlebred back in the day, and he was psycho... these horses were no different! They're beautiful, though! And what is it with Saddlebred people riding through the barns? People would be sitting outside their stalls and a Saddlebred horse and rider would come through, and everyone would have to get up out of their chairs to get out of the way or risk getting trampled... meanwhile, the rider is like "Sorry! He's afraid of EVERYTHING!" Well, duh! How about getting off and walking him! Anyway, so she got a bath and I banded her mane. Then I tucked her in bed and set off to get myself ready for Saturday.

Saturday
I did not sleep very well Friday night. My showmanship class was the very first class to go in at the covered arena, so I knew I had to get up early to make sure we were ready to go. I kept waking up to look at the clock worried that my alarm wasn't going to go off. So finally at 5:45am I climbed out of bed. When I got to the stall I found that my horse had crapped all over herself, so I had to wash her tail and back legs again. I have to keep repeating, "I love my Paint horse, I love my Paint horse..."

There were 15 entries in the showmanship class. We were able to see the pattern Friday night so I had plenty of time to memorize it and figure out the best way to go about the pattern. There were 3 cones, set up in the shape of an L. We had to walk from cone A to cone B and then trot a "half d" from cone B around cone C. Then at cone C we had to do a 180 and walk to the judge. After inspection, we had to back 6 steps, do a 90 degree turn and then trot off into line. The half d thing was a bit weird but it was easier than trying to turn corners at the jog, I guess. Lilly did really well as usual. She was the only horse in the class that actually did a pivot and her back was really straight. I messed us up at the end, so that was my fault. After our back, her legs were kind of wonky, so she wasn't able to do a nice pivot. I should have squared her back up before asking for the turn. Other than that, I thought our pattern was really good and had us pegged in the top 3. We ended up with 4th place, which is respectable as my Dad said, but it's not good enough and I was hoping for better. The first place horse, ok... second place horse, eh... but the third place horse had a really poor pattern. He was all over the place. It looked to me like the horse gets shanked and smacked on the shoulder a lot because he was FLYING around th arena and looked terrified the entire time. I don't know... I never know what the judge is looking for. With 15 horses in the class, though, we get 2 PAC points.

Our first riding class was 'adult huntseat stock/hunter type GAYP'. There were 14 horses in the class and we got a 7th place. I was actually VERY surprised and VERY happy because we were riding with some really nice horses. They're all tall, and we're really short... they've got pretty braids, and we've got icky bands... they've got fake tails, and we've got what we've got... they're all solid, and we're super loud... I felt very out of place. But gosh darnit we looked like hunters out there! :)

Our next class was 'open huntseat walk/trot equitation'. It was railwork only, no pattern, which is the only reason we entered. :) There were 28 horses in the class so they split it into 2 heats of 14. Lilly and I were in the second heat. My trainer keeps nagging me about my eq, so during the ride I kept saying, "sit back, shoulders back, head up, heels down, relax your arms..." We didn't have to drop our irons, which I thought might happen since we didn't have a pattern to do, but all she made us do was a sitting trot. Puh-lease!! I'm the sitting trot queen!! That's all I do is sit the trot on that crazy horse of mine waiting for her to be ready to canter! I knew we looked good doing that part of the class. :) And apparently the judge thought so too because we made the cut! So we went back into the final heat and came out with a 4th place!! I am so proud of myself!! I haven't placed in equitation in a very long time. I was starting to wonder if I just didn't have the ability anymore. And I was proud of Lilly that she did so well that I was actually able to equitate! So I still haven't found out from PAC yet if they count walk/trot classes or not. I tried calling them today but no one was available and I gave up and sent an email. I think they're getting ready for the World Show or something... Gosh, like that's more important than this?? :) So if they DO count them, I'll have 3 points in equitation!

The next class was the 'huntseat stock/hunter type w/t/c' class. There were 18 or so horses in the class (I'm not sure) but we didn't place. She did REALLY great, though! I know I had a huge smile on my face the entire time we were cantering! She picked up both her leads and cantered around like a champ! It feels so good to be in there cantering! And she actually is cantering better at the shows than she is at home. When I ask her to canter in a class or in the practice arena, she just canters off. We don't have crazy transitions or anything and she just canters around like she's been doing it forever. I'm not sure why that is, but maybe when I ride next time at home we can pretend we're at a show. :)

'Open huntseat stock/hunter type GAYP' was next, and I'm not sure how many horses were in the class. I'm guessing about 18 again. We didn't place this time and since Lilly didn't want to walk on the rail, I'm guessing that's why. There were a lot more people in the arena than during previous classes and the little kid shuffling her feet on the concrete was a bit unsettling as far as Lilly was concerned. We worked through it, but not before the judge saw our antics.

The last class of the day was 'open huntseat w/t/c equitation'. By this time, Lilly and I were roasting! She was all sweaty and I was too. I had even opted to go hunt coat-less since the judge was allowing us to. Usually, I tough it out and wear the coat... especially for eq classes, but it was 100 degrees outside and I didn't feel like killing myself. If I had someone to hand me my coat as I went in the ring, then maybe, but being by myself I had to make due. I was really hopeful that we would do as well at the canter as we did at the trot, but I know I fall apart when we canter. :) My trainer said so... but I went in and tried as hard as I could! More sitting trot (score!) and then sit, sit, sit, when she cantered... I kept saying, "sit deep!" There were 15 riders in the class and we got 5th! I was SUPER excited! Lilly did fabulous too... I just can't tell you how proud I am of her progress at the canter. It's wonderful to see all our hard work paying off. So even if Paint doesn't count walk/trot classes, we get 1 eq point with this class for sure!

I was done with my classes around noon, which was really nice because I got to watch a lot of the other classes. I usually don't get to see non-trotting, saddleseat or driving... so it was fun spectating too. Mike even came out to the show to surprise me! I was already done with my classes, though, so I felt bad that he drove all that way to see me... only to find out I was done already. He was like, "you're NEVER done this early!" We had fun watching the other classes together. It was SO sweet of him to come out! :)

During one of the driving classes something horrible happened... one of the horses spooked and there was no stopping her. She took off and got faster and faster as she went around the arena! The cart was up on one wheel when the horse went around the corners. Then she sped between two other horses and she spooked them, which caused them to break free from their carts. It was better that they broke their harness instead of more carts flying around, but now there were 3 loose horses... Then the spooked horse's cart tipped over and the driver went flying, but the tipped cart eventually stopped the spooked horse. It was awful to watch, but luckily no one was hurt, horse or human. Just some damaged carts and busted up harnesses. It was like that awful YouTube video that was floating around a couple weeks ago... this was a smaller scale with only 5 horses, but I had JUST finished telling Mike about the YouTube video and then we had to watch the live version unfold in front of our eyes.

Sunday
Sunday we rode in the following classes:
Hunt seat open GAYP
Hunt seat open GAYP - Ladies to Ride
Hunt seat stock/hunter type GAYP
Hunt seat adult open w/t/c

We didn't place in any of the GAYP classes. There were about 17 horses in them, and I don't know what the judge wanted. I tried going 'normal' in the first class, slow in the second class, and faster in the last one. Guess we just weren't hunt seat in her eyes! We did place in the canter class, though! We got 5th out of 9, but one horse was bucking and the other wouldn't canter properly... :)

All in all, it was a GREAT show! It was a lot of work but it was a great experience for the both of us. I couldn't be prouder of my pony either! I've got my eye on that APHA show in August!

Lilly did really well in the stall throughout the weekend, too. It's been a while since she's been stalled, and there was a lot going on in the barn for her to watch. She was constantly trying to get out every time I opened the door, but I expected her to me more antsy. So I was pleasantly surprised. She did start having a fit when the horses around her started leaving on Sunday, so things got a little loud that afternoon... but I know she was ready to leave then too.

There was a photographer there taking LOTS of pictures. She only does prints, though (or buttons, t-shirts, and mouse pads) so I'll have to see when all the pictures are up if there are any good ones of us and buy a 5x7 or two to scan to my computer. I wore my hunt coat on Sunday since it was cooler, so hopefully there's a good one with me wearing it. I saw one of me on Saturday and I should have put that coat on!

I will say that I am SORE! My hands hurt, my legs hurt, and my back is sore. I was the one without a muck bucket cart or tack trunk, so I was hauling buckets of manure all the way outside to the dump bin and had to take my saddle and equipment back and forth to the trailer every night and every morning. You can bet I have a list of MUST HAVES for weekend shows to make my life a lot easier.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Rain and Show Prep

I haven't ridden in what seems like forever... It just won't stop raining here!

On top of that, I have a list of things to do before this weekend that is a mile long. Luckily most of it is done... tomorrow I need to get some food and pick up my dry cleaning. Then, Friday morning I'll pack the rest of the 'horsey' things I need like grooming supplies, Smart-Paks, hay, grain, and tack. Then I'm off! I'm glad I'll be arriving there Friday early afternoon. That way Lilly and I can get settled in, I can ride her around, and then clean her up for Saturday. We'll know our way around and hopefully will have addressed any monsters Lilly might find. Sometimes she has issues in indoor arenas, so that'll be first on the list to address. Hopefully it's a nice relaxing weekend.

Friday morning before I leave, I'm meeting with a new farrier. He comes out and shoes other horses at the farm, and offered to take a look at Lilly's feet. I'm really happy with my current farrier but my trainer has been bugging me to switch. I'll see if he thinks we're on the right track or if she needs work and then go from there. He's really well known and really busy, which can be a hassle if shoes come off before they're supposed to. It'll be impossible to get him to come out in a pinch.

It's supposed to be 96 degrees on Saturday... isn't that lovely?! Thank goodness my trailer has a/c and we're showing in an indoor! It'll still be miserable, though! I got Lilly a fan to hang on her stall door, so hopefully that will help keep her comfortable.

I'll take pictures of what I can, but I'll be by myself. I'm hoping they'll have a photographer there so I can get something other than Lilly standing in the stall. :)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Happy Birthday, AJ!

Well, probably not really, since I have no idea when he was really born, but it's his made up, pretend birthday today and he's 23 years young!

This is Lilly's blog, so I rarely talk about AJ, but she won't mind if I tell his story today, especially since it's his birthday.

I was 10 years old in 1990 and had been taking lessons for a while at a local barn. My dad had told me that I could get a horse when I was 14, and I was counting the years! This particular year, though, my dad had a proposition... we could take a family trip to Disney World, or I could get a horse and my brother could get a dirt bike (looking back now, what a completely unfair proposition it was where my brother was concerned LOL). There was no debate at all, I was getting my horse!

So we built an addition on the barn, set up a pasture, built a riding arena, and set off to find my very first horse. Let's be honest... we had no idea what we were doing. We had no help, no one to talk to, and blindly went searching for something we knew nothing about. Books and magazines told us not to buy the first horse we saw, but that's exactly what we did!

The ad in the paper said "4 year old QH for sale. $1000" Sounded good to us, so we went over to take a look. He was gorgeous! 16 hands tall and he shined like a copper penny! We were told that he had been an orphan, was born in 1986, and the man had purchased the then 2 year old AJ at a local auction. AJ didn't have any papers and his pedigree was unknown. The man said he was looking to buy another horse and AJ needed to find a new home. I rode him in the arena, I rode him down the road, and he seemed absolutely perfect. The man even offered to trailer him to our house for us. SOLD!

So the next day, AJ arrived at his new home. I was ecstatic! I finally had the horse I dreamed about for years! Things were great for the first couple of weeks. We had so much fun with him and although it was only April, I couldn't wait for school to get out for the summer so I could spend even more time with him. We even joined a 4-H club so we could learn how to properly care for him. I also decided I'd like to get into showing so we were planning for me to start taking lessons from my new 4-H leader. We had big plans! After those first few weeks, though, things took a turn for the worse. I believe he figured out that we were clueless and he decided to take advantage of it. He started chasing us out of his pasture with his ears pinned. We'd have to run into the stall to get away from him when it was time to feed him. He turned in to a downright mean horse and my mom and I stayed clear of him unless my dad was around. We were afraid he would really hurt us. He never pulled that stuff with my dad or my 4-H leader, but he had my mom and I pegged as easy targets. We tried to work on his behavior for a couple months, and we even called the man who sold AJ to us. He offered to come out and help but AJ would only misbehave when my mom and I were alone with him, and we weren't exactly knowledgeable horsewomen, nor were we willing to do what was suggested to set him straight. So we made the decision to sell him... he had to go, and we told him as such. Our patience with him had run out.

What happened next is something we still talk about to this day... Literally the next day, as in the day after we decided to sell him, we had a totally different horse. He stopped all his crap, all his aggression, and transformed himself back into the horse we had purchased. It was as if he heard what we said and decided to straighten up. So he stayed... and the big plans we had for him were put into motion.

He and I were both learning, and we were learning together. He was very green, and he was a challenge. He was way too much horse for me and my 4-H leader told me so on many occasions. That old saying "green + green = black and blue"... oh so true! I shed many tears that first year, but we pushed through. I loved my AJ and I knew we had potential. The second summer we worked even harder. I was more experienced and less afraid of this big, powerful horse. I took lessons, I went to shows, and I even took him to the fair that year. We only did walk/trot classes, but we won the high point for our division. It was a wonderful reward for all the hard work we had put in. I was really looking forward to the following year!

During that second year, we started to notice some problems with AJ's soundness. We saw him dragging his back legs when he went down the hill in the pasture, and he started limping slightly after long periods of standing. We called our vet and she thought it best to get some xrays of his hocks. So we took him up to MSU (what an adventure that was!) to get the xrays and then we waited for the results. In the meantime, we put him on bute to see if he would improve. The bute did help but the results weren't good. He had arthritis in both hocks. Wondering how in the world a 6 year old horse could have arthritis, our vet offered several scenarios, but we would never really know why. He got several shots of Adequan, and was on a steady diet of bute tabs. It was manageable for a while with the bute, but he seemed to progressively get worse. Standing in the cross ties for 5-10 minutes would make him extremely lame. He could walk off most of the stiffness, but he had a noticeable gimp to his gait when I rode him.

The following year we trailered him to what would be his last show. It was our first canter class ever and the judge pulled us to the center of the ring because she could tell he was lame. The trailer rides were just too hard on him and the bute couldn't keep up any more. He was officially retired, at 6 years old.

By this time, though, he had become part of the family. We all loved him and what a personality he had! I rode my 4-H leader's horse that year at the fair and we eventually leased another horse that I rode for a couple years after that. We bought a Paint yearling that was my show horse until it was time for me to head off to boot camp. Even with all the other horses in my life, AJ was my pride and joy. He was the horse I wanted to ride, and he was the horse I wanted to show. I'll always wonder what could have been and what we would have accomplished if things had gone as planned.

AJ is most certainly a special horse. He's special because he was my first, but he's also special because his personality makes him so. He's smart, he's beautiful, and has a presence about him that is just regal. What fun the past 19 years have been!

Happy Birthday, my old friend!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Great Lesson Today

It was a hot one, today! Very humid, and poor Lilly was dripping with sweat when we were done. And she didn't even have to work very hard! Today's lesson was a complete 180 compared to last week's lesson, for those of you who know what I mean...

While I was waiting for my trainer to arrive, I did my usual warm-ups with Lilly and then decided to play posse horse with her. I've been trying to get her to walk between two 50 gallon plastic drums and push them out of her way if they're too close together. Kind of like how police horses would handle crowd control. Why you ask? Just because. :) You never know when you'll be riding along and find yourself with a need to use your horse's shoulders to push people out of the way. Right? Well she hates it... if she can't fit, she doesn't go through. Today, though, I got her to move them a bit with her shoulders, but it was SO funny after she moved them, because she put her head down and started trotting really slow. It was like she was saying, "I'll be a good show pony, SEE! Please don't make me do the barrels again... PLEASE! Look, I'm putting my head down and trotting SLOW!"

For my lesson today we worked on the halt and some new exercises to get Lilly to bend, especially before the canter, during the transition, and after the depart. It was really confusing to me, and to Lilly, but if we practice enough to get the hang of it I think it'll help quite a bit. I just have a habit of bringing my reins across her withers to get her to bend and turn, which tends to mess up Lilly's way of going. And then I'm all off balance too...

We worked on some pole exercises, which Lilly did really well at. My trainer thinks we should try some hunter hack classes, but I've never seem them at open shows before. Everything starts at 2' and although my trainer said "that's not that high", 2' to me is HIGH! Not to mention, hunter hack is 2 jumps and 2' is an actual course with lots of jumps. I think it would be fun to try some different things with her, but I also think we should take it one step at a time and not overwhelm her.

Lilly was doing great at the trot today too... she was SUPER relaxed and just plugging along at a great pace. My trainer was like "You know, you'd do great in a training level dressage test!"

*sigh

Pleasure... say it with me people! PLEASURE! Not jumping and not dressage... LOL At least not yet. Poor Lilly! :)

It was just a really great lesson. Lots of positives from the trainer and she was super proud of us and our win this past weekend. She said Lilly is looking really great and my hands are much better from last week. We're going to work on her leg bump too and see if we can get it to go away, but it might need to be wrapped for a while. I'm going to look into it and see what we can do. Then, once I get her front feet fixed (hopefully I won't have to change farriers) she'll be rockin' and rollin'!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

CMESC Show #1

What a day!! :)

I work until 12:30am, so Friday night (or Saturday morning) I got to bed around 2am. Then I got right back up at 6am to head to the barn and get Lilly ready for the show. I had gone over Friday during the day to band her mane with the hopes that she would leave the bands in and it would cut down on prep time Saturday morning. When I got there, I saw that she had bathed in the mud anticipating my arrival, so I gave her a real bath, the kind with shampoo, and clipped her all up. I decided against the banding in case she rolled in the mud again. I didn't want to have to take out all the bands to wash her mane and then have to put them back in again afterward. So bright and early yesterday I was banding... and she hadn't rolled in the mud again, of course, because I didn't do the banding. It worked out ok, though because I all really had to do was spot wash her. And it was pretty chilly, so she certainly appreciated not getting a bath, I'm sure.

Now, on to the good part!

I took Lilly in Mares at Halter and we got 7th out of 7... woohoo! LOL Then in the Stock Ttype class we got 7th out of 10... woohoo again!

But showmanship was certainly interesting! There were 6 of us in the class and everyone kept asking the judge questions because the pattern was so crazy. I drew it in paint so you see exactly what I had to deal with. And no making fun of my cones! :)

Hopefully it makes sense... it starts in the bottom left hand corner. When I first saw it I was like, what in the world?? It was weird because the cones were off center, so everyone was wondering what side of the cones we were supposed to be on. I love a challenging pattern, though, and this was one of them! I was last to go so I got to watch everyone else do theirs first, which was nice. I usually end up being first to go...

So my precious Lilly nailed it... she pivoted on her right foot just like we've been practicing, trotted off promptly, backed straight, and I knew we had done well. The judge walked around and talked to everyone about how we placed and what we can improve on, so that was nice. When she got to me, she said, "I'm just going to be honest and tell you that I placed you 2nd." She said the girl that beat me had a little more "snap and pop" and "You need to come in the arena with the attitude that you own the class, because you do". She said Lilly was the picture of perfection and the first place winner only beat us by half a point. She said I need to push Lilly a little bit harder and we'll be unstoppable! She said she has never given anyone higher than an 18 and the winner got 18 and Lilly and I got 17.5. SO CLOSE! I don't know what's worse, knowing how close we were or knowing how close we were! It's nice to know we barely missed first, which means we had a great pattern, but it sucks to know we barely missed first place, which means just a little more from me and we could have won! So a second place for us and 1 more PAC point!

After showmanship, they ran all the western classes. So I had a nice break during the day and Lilly got to stand around and stuff her face full of hay. It gave me time to mingle and make some new friends, so hopefully I'll see them at some of the other shows too.

Towards the middle of the day, they moved the dressage suitability classes from the outside ring to the covered outside ring where all of the regular classes were going on. It took FOREVER for those classes to finish and I'm still not sure why they did that... other than to delay my classes for another hour and a half.

I signed us up for the canter class, so I did some practicing with Lilly in the makeup arena as it got closer to class time for us. She seemed really nervous and was constantly chewing nervously on her bit. We worked on a lot of circles... I wonder if she was nervous because she knew I was nervous?!

Our first riding class was huntseat GAYP, and I can't remember how many horses were in it for sure, but I think 17. We had to keep stopping because someone's horse kept going on a bucking rampage and was eventually excused. Lilly hates stopping on the rail... she stomps her foot, paws, and is constantly moving around. It is really annoying! (anyone have any ideas about getting her to stop that crap?) She's fine in the middle when we line up, but on the rail she's a bag of "let's GO"... She did pretty good otherwise. She was really behind the vertical most of the time and didn't ever really relax and stretch down. So when I couldn't circle her in the class to get her head, I asked for her it by using a little bit of inside leg and very slight pressure on the reins from one side to the other. And miss smarty pants decided in the class that she would just turn her head from side to side to avoid the contact before I could make it. So we're trotting along and her head is going from side to side... So that was fun to overcome! Anyway, we ended up placing 8th! Not bad, I thought, for a nervous nellie.

The next class was huntseat walk/trot and I think there were 17 horses in that class too. We did not place in that one... she acted pretty much like she did in the class before, except she fought the head stuff a bit more.

So after that class I took her outside and worked on some circles. Stretch down, horse! DOWN! So she was doing better when we went in for our next class... Adult English GAYP. Due to severe sleep deprivation (and the fact I am working 8 hours today...) I have no memory of that class. LOL I know we didn't place because I didn't have to find a place for a ribbon between classes. I'll have to see when the results come out online how many horses were in it and maybe it'll all come back to me. *Update* So the results say there were 13 horses in the class, but I don't really recall any specifics about the class. Bummer...

Moving along, our next class was Stock Type English GAYP. 7 horses, which was nice. Most of the horses there are field type horses like Thoroughbreds and I don't even know what else... there were some gargantuan sized horses there! So not too many stock type horses, which is fine by me. Lilly did much better in this class! She was stretching down and had a nice trot going. We were covering some ground and looking good! We ended up placing 2nd! I was SO excited! The first thing that happened was my mind shifted over to PAC mode and I start doing the math... do I get a point for this class?? And I certainly do, assuming PAC recognized GAYP classes, and I have to do some research first to find out. Or I'll just send it in and see what happens. But I was extra excited at the thought of having my very first PAC riding point!!

Next, last, and most highly anticipated, was the dreaded but exciting canter class! I decided to sign us up for just one, and I went with the Stock Type English Pleasure class for obvious reasons. There were only 6 of us in there. In the first direction, she was doing great. She seemed to be relaxing a bit more and I tried to keep breathing too. I've also noticed that she stays calmer now when my legs are ON her... I haven't wrapped my mind around that yet, considering all we've been through relating to her sensitivity. Sometimes I have to remind myself to lay my legs on her sides. When I'm nervous and she's nervous, I unknowingly keep my legs off her because it's such a habit, but as I go through my "calm down" ritual, I remember to lay my legs on her sides, and in the class yesterday she really calmed down after that. She was trotting nicely and then they asked us to canter. I exhaled and asked... she was really not expecting it but gave me a really nice transition and picked up her left lead like a good girl! But more fun followed... she started doing these hopping, jumpy strides. Kind of like crow hops, but less severe. I thought she was going to start bucking, so I pushed her forward and after about 5 or 6 of those, we were off and running! After I got her slowed back down (and all this took place in a matter of about 10 seconds, so it wasn't very long) she did great! We cantered around the arena like champs! :) Her downward transitions were perfect, as always. Next we reversed and started going to the right. This time they had asked for the canter from a walk. Lilly got the wrong lead, but I corrected her right away and she got it on the second try. We had some more jumpy strides but she settled shortly thereafter. She did SO great! We even got cut off and Lilly had to throw her head up so she wouldn't get hit by the other horse's butt! But she kept trucking along. Both ways at the canter she really stretched down and had a good pace going. I would even say that her canter in this class was better than her trot in most of the other classes. So from the canter we went to the trot and she nailed it... she is really good at those downward transitions. Then it was time to line up in the middle. I didn't get to see any of the other horses in the class, and I didn't know if the judge saw our missed lead or not, but I did notice at one point one of the other riders was on the wrong lead. So in my head I'm hoping we at least won't be last. But no matter what place we got, I was thrilled with how Lilly did. Then, the placings came...

Wait for it...


In 1st place...


Number 522...


ME RIDING R LIL BIT OF CASH!!!!!!!!!!

I could NOT believe my ears!! We won!! Lilly and I won our first ever canter class!! I kept waiting for them to correct the placings! I was on cloud nine! I'm still on cloud nine! And with 6 horses in the class, it's worth two PAC points!

This was the confidence booster we needed, for sure! I know there were only 6 horses in the class, and I know we weren't up against the big dog Thoroughbreds, but I'm not going to piss in my own Cheerios! I'm just going to enjoy how the whole thing turned out. :) I know what we need to work on (leads) and I'm excited for the next show.

Thanks everyone for the push to go ahead and do the class! :)

I'm so proud of Lilly! Again, no pictures. :( And what a day to be without a photographer.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Tuesday's Lesson

I wrote up a post about Tuesday's lesson, but decided not to publish it. If anyone is interested, shoot me an email and I tell you about it.

Lilly was a good girl, though!

Tomorrow I get to spend 4-5 hours at the hitch place getting my hitch installed. Luckily I have a pile of Paint Horse Journals, Horse & Riders, Horse Illustrateds, and Practical Horseman magazines I haven't had time to read. Those will be coming along for the ride. I have to be there at 8am which means I have to get up at about 6:30, just 5 short hours after I crawl in to bed. At least my truck will be all ready to tow by Saturday for the show. :)

Monday, June 1, 2009

Cantering On The Rail Like A Big Girl!

I rode Lilly yesterday but not today... today was my day to hang out at the pool and get some sun! We have a lesson tomorrow and we always get a good workout, so I figured Lilly could spend the day relaxing too!

She was pretty good... we did all the usual stuff but she seemed a little speedier than usual, so we did a lot more circles than we normally do. I pretty much spent the day at the sitting trot and I always encourage her to go slower when I sit (and maybe it'll translate over to western eventually). The one thing I did practice, though, was cantering on the rail. I figure if we're going to try a canter class we need to start practicing our canter depart from the rail and do more than just circles. I think she's up to the challenge... she's been making a lot of progress and seems to anticipate more when we're just in the circles. So to the right we had some issues with her lead. She picked up the wrong one a couple times in a row, but after I got her just right, and got myself just right, she started picking up the correct one. She did really well cantering on the rail and the transitions were decent... she's still making a big deal out of most of them, but not every time. As long as the judge doesn't see our transitions we're golden. ;)

At one point, she did a really good transition and like 3 strides into the canter decided to act up... almost like she forgot to do it in the beginning and decided she'd go ahead and do it then, even though we were already into the canter. If she throws a fit I bring her back down to the trot and make her do it again. She's progressing enough that she doesn't get super hot anymore, so I can actually do those things to correct her when I think she's just being a brat.

The Saturday show is coming up fast! To canter or not to canter... I don't know yet!