Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Teal It Is!

I went on a whirlwind adventure trip this past weekend to Michigan. I left on Saturday to surprise my parents for their 40th wedding anniversary... and surprise them I did! It was a great trip! I got home late yesterday. Lots of driving but it was worth it to see their faces when I pulled into the driveway!

Both the red and the teal shirts were at a store very near to my parent's house. How convenient!! So I went in, tried them on, along with another shirt I found I liked, but ended up going with the teal one. The red one wasn't quite long enough for my taste even though it looked the best with sand pants. I even had them alter the teal one to have a clasp at the bottom of the zipper... I'm just really in love with that shirt. And it should be cool too, in the hot weather we have here.

So hopefully next time you see a picture, I'll be in teal! With any luck, it'll be this weekend!

Also, I mentioned before in regards to my PAC points that I had one too many halter points... so today I see Paint has updated Lilly's points for this year to read 'GRAND CHAMPION PAC - 2' under the lifetime heading. So that would account for last year's grand champion halter class and I guess grand is worth 2 points, instead of 1. :) How neat! I own a grand champion halter horse!! LOL!

Now if we can just get that certificate of recognition for showmanship...

I also just realized that the judge for the show this weekend is the same judge I had at the last JCHSS show... the one that doesn't seem to like little palomino Paint horses named Lilly. Boo... :( Hopefully we'll WOW him this time and he'll love placing us in the ribbons!!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Showmanship Shirts

I rode Lilly again today and she did great! It's getting boring, I know... Lilly is wonderful, Lilly did great today, Lilly has been doing a really good job... blah blah blah. ;)

SO...

I would love to hear opinions on my new outfit. :) Well, my soon to be, currently non-existent, outfit.

The only western I do is showmanship and halter, and even then, sometimes those classes are done in english clothes. I haven't shown in a western riding class once this year. I don't intend to either. Maybe next year, but that's doubtful too. I think one thing at a time is better for Lilly. At least that's how I feel right now. She could surprise me, but I think next year will be all hunt seat as well. So I'm focusing on a new showmanship outfit.

You've all seen the pictures... I have that lovely aubergine outfit. I love it!! It fits great and I think it looks really good with Lilly's palomino coat. The problem is, I look the same in every friggin photo! Every showmanship picture looks exactly the same. I'm sick of it! So it's time to move on and get something new. I think I'll keep the aubergine because I really do like it, but I want to have color choices.

In my closet right now I have 3 show shirts, and they're all aubergine. :) I have the showmanship shirt, a slinky, and a really cool rail shirt that I never get to wear. PURPLE EVERYWHERE!

So, after wracking my brain, I've come up with my next color...

.....

Teal!!

I got a super great deal on a Hobby Horse hat while browsing eBay, and it's sand. (I'm done with my black hat too... new color!!) So I was thinking about my sand hat, a teal shirt, and sand pants. Huh?? Can you see it??!! Nice, right?

So I found a shirt I really loved from Hobby Horse and as it turns out, the damn thing is sold out everywhere, except for size 3x... I started thinking I was going to have to give up on teal.

Now, I'm really picky about my showmanship shirts, so not just any teal shirt will do. I don't think they should be made of a patterned material. No floral or zebra prints... I think they should be a solid color with embellishments. Similar to what my aubergine shirt is. Solid purple material with some accents on the shoulders, around the neck, and down the sleeves... within reason. That's just me, and my crazy outlook. Showmanship is about painting a pretty picture and I don't want my shirt screaming at the judge while he's trying to watch us nail our pattern. ;) I want everything to look neat and polished. I also like shirts that don't need to be tucked in. If you have to tuck your shirt in, you have to wear a belt and belt buckle, and it's just one more thing to distract. Plus, if your shirt is tucked in, chances are when you're in the process of 'fitting and showing', your shirt is going to come slightly untucked. It's going to bunch or hang out around your waistline. I like nice, clean lines. Seamless from head to toe. Again, just me.

So I've been looking and looking... even considering some other colors. I was thinking about red, but I'm just not sure how that will look with Lilly. Or pink, and I hate pink, but I think she'd look really good with a soft pink. She's supposed to look good with any color, because she's palomino, but I really had my heart set on teal.

I'm trying not to spend a fortune on shirts... I'm willing to shell out some dough, but I'll be darned if I'm spending more on an outfit than I did on my horse. (Lilly was cheap by the way...) So I've seen some shirts I really LOVE, but there's no way I'm paying for them.

BUT... !!

I found this shirt today on eBay that I just might buy! And it's on sale... 30% off! So it brings it back into the price range I'm more comfortable with.



Isn't it gorgeous?! It's teal, it's plain, but it's also fancy! I'll have find out more about the material because I don't want something really thin that isn't going to hang right when I put it on. I prefer the old school shirts like my aubergine one where it zips in the back and has a more plain front, but then I remember how much of a pain in the ass it is to try and zip up the back of a shirt when you're the only one at the show. PLUS, I can use my number magnets on a shirt like this and not have to use the string to hold my number on. I could get a nice necklace to wear and unzip the neckline some... I could even wear a tank top underneath it and be able to get dressed right before going in to ring rather than having to dress myself in the trailer and then stand around in a hot shirt waiting for my class...

I did some more shopping, though, and also found this beauty. I haven't decided on red yet, and this one borders on "too busy", but something about it calls out to me. Sand pants, sand hat... palomino horse. Can you see it?



This one is slightly cheaper than the teal shirt, but not enough to make price a factor.

Any thoughts? I created a handy dandy poll so you can easily help me choose. If you have an idea about color, though, I'd love to hear it!

Of course I want both!! But I'm going to try and be responsible and only buy one.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Consistency!

Lilly and I had a great ride today. She did really well at the trot in regards to keeping her head down. We trotted along the rail and she kept her head set about half way around the arena. And it was in a great spot... not too low, and not too high. I was really proud of her! We seem to be moving past the up-down-up-down stage and she's staying down much more. She is getting really consistent with it and seems to be perfectly content having it there. Usually when she puts it down, I'll give her withers a little scratch and I think it's been helping to get my message across. I'm getting anxious for that first August show!

We also worked some more on cantering down the middle of the arena. When we first started, she hit all her leads, but as we worked on it a bit more she started getting them wrong. I think she was more worried about the 'whoa' at the end of the arena than she was with her leads... but after some more work, I got her back on track. She was also moving off without quite so much sidepassing and fuss.

We had this really wonderful canter going a couple of times too... anticipating the 'whoa' was causing her to really slow her canter down (at least that's my guess). So I got some really nice canter strides out of her today as well.

We ended the ride with some leg steering... I like to try and steer her around the arena using nothing but my legs. Sometimes it goes well, sometimes it does not. Today was mixed. :)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Hunter Hack?

Just a quick update:

I've been really busy lately... what's new?

Yesterday a friend came out and we practiced some showmanship with Lilly. Her horse is at the trainer's place, but she wants to learn how to do showmanship with him when he comes home. Lilly was such a good girl and made a great prop!

Now for the hunter hack questions...

Hopefully a few of you have shown hunter hack and can answer my questions. I plan on trying my darndest to watch the hunter hack class at the APHA show and also at the State Fair, but in case I don't... I gotta know!

Back in the day, when I showed 4-H in Michigan, I rode in the hunter hack class at fair every year. There was even a year when I dominated it. My very favorite leased horse, Jack, and I won in a very large class of 4-H'ers. There's a picture of us somewhere and I've been trying to find it for this post. I'll keep looking. Ahh, those were the days!

So the hunter hack pattern went like this... Two jumps lined up, I don't remember how far apart they were, but I'd say about 4 strides or so, and they were crossrails set at 18". So those of us wannabe hunters did our hunter circle at the trot, trotted to the first jump (sometimes cantered), jumped, cantered to the next jump, jumped, cantered a few more strides, stopped, and backed a horse length. Then we all came back in and did rail work. I don't know if it has changed since I did it about 14 years ago (gosh, I'm OLD!) but hunter hack was always 18 inch crossrails. Everything I've read lately says they can be from 2' to 2'6". TWO FEET SIX INCHES?! There's no way in crap I'm jumping Lilly over jumps that high. Call me a weenie if you want, but we're not jumpers. That's what was fun about hunter hack... because even back then I wasn't a jumper either... we could do little jumps. I always had fun.

Has anyone recently entered a hunter hack class? I'm wondering how high the jumps were... I was hoping to do some hunter hack next year with Lilly, but if the jumps are going to be that high, forget it.

Lilly had check ligament surgery when she was only 6 months old and the vet told me she'd be fine throughout her life as long as I didn't have plans to make her a jumper. No way! So I'm not sure if she could even handle jumping more than just small jumps. I'd be worried about her legs during the landing. Especially with me trying to learn how to jump again. By the way, anything under 2' is small in my book... anything over 2' is too high. Weenie... I know.

I used to jump a lot at home, but nothing high... I had a lot of friends that jumped and I always had to try and keep up. Plus, we were all shooting for high point at the fair, so I pretty much entered every class I possibly could. I even did saddle seat, driving, reining, and dressage. Jack was a versatile little horse. :) But I never jumped an actual course. Jack could do it, but Becca wanted no part of it. Weenie...

My trainer has been hinting about starting Lilly over a few small jumps and I just don't see the need... especially if we won't even be able to do a hunter hack class here and there. Plus, I'd be worried about Lilly's legs and would have to have my vet give me her opinion. Lilly already has that bump on her leg...

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Not Sideways!

We worked on a lot of different things today and I was really proud of how Lilly held it together! Not too long ago she would have been quite a handful and we would have got nothing accomplished. Today, however, it was very easy to keep her calm and on task!

We practiced our headset of course, and she is doing much better with it. I usually practice that first because once we move on and start working on stuff other than "keep your head down, please" it is much more difficult to get her to put it down. So we're working on that too...

I've been working a lot on leads and canter transitions. Since she is so much better about the canter transition at the shows I figure I must be overanalyzing the situation or doing something that is keeping her from the perfect transitions I've seen in the show ring. So I've been pretending that we're pros already and I just ask. I don't overthink, I don't check this and set that, I just ask. It has made a world of difference. She has the occasional overeager depart, but I've been stopping her and having her back about 5 steps before asking her to try again. Without the bending and checking, though, she's been picking up the wrong lead on occasion, so I've been working on teaching her left leg means right lead, right leg means left lead. So we worked on cantering up the middle of the arena where she's not bending or trotting 15 steps before I ask for the canter. We start off walking and I ask for the canter. We worked on that for about 10 minutes and she only got it wrong once. When she's wrong, I stop her, back her, and then ask again. So all of this cantering and she never once got out of control! I was really happy with her... pogy pony is gone, and sensible, mature pony has arrived! It makes it so much easier to work with her and teach her things when she doesn't get her bell boots in a wad... ya know? It's like I'm just riding a normal horse instead of constantly dealing with her hyperness and being concerned about what she's going to do next. It's like I was riding a gelding again! ;)

So this is the point where I feel like I'm short changing myself or Lilly by not using my body to teach her about her leads and her canter transitions. My trainer has told me that Lilly is so sensitive that all I should have to do is shift my hips over and up to ask Lilly for a canter on whatever lead I want. And I think eventually I could do that, but I guess I feel like she should have a more definite cue for now, until she gets the hang of it, and then I can make the cue more subtle as we go along. Is that backwards?

Now, regarding the title of this post... When we were doing our cantering up the middle of the arena, I was stopping her facing the direction we were going to go, as if we were getting ready to start an eq pattern or something, and then I was asking her to walk and then eventually canter. When we were stopped, and I asked her for the walk, she just kept sidepassing... to the left, to the right... so I had to use both legs and "bump, bump" her and then steer her like a mule to get her to walk forward. She got the hang of it a little better toward the end, but can you say "needs more pattern work?" I can! Too much rail and circle work and not enough patterns (stupid jumps!). She cracks me up... After I got her cantering and we were nearing the end of the arena, I could feel those little jigs left and right like, "ummm... you DO see the end of the arena coming up, right?". But I would stop her, we'd pivot around, and then head back the other way. Super slow rollbacks if you will. :) But before the next go, she stands completely still, head up, watching me out of the corner of one eye, with both ears ticked back... waiting for me to tell her what to do next. That's why I think she's be such a good pattern horse. She's always super responsive and always paying attention. If only I could teach her to go straight!

Ahhh... such a good girl. :) I love my Lilly!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

More Practice!

I took some video today at the barn because I wanted to see how Lilly was doing and I had planned on posting it here... that was until I looked at it. I had to set the camera on the fence and just push play and it didn't work so well. You see me SUPER close... then I'm gone... then I'm back REALLY far away... then you don't see me. I'll have to figure something else out for next time.

So you'll have to settle for this picture of Lilly's neck instead. Isn't it lovely?

So today was more headset practice and she did really well. She's still up and down, but even when she's up, she not all the way up, just higher than she needs to be. When she's down, she's down, so I'm trying to get her to stay level for longer and longer periods of time. She'll get the hang of it eventually!

I also cleared some of the jumps out of the middle of the arena and made it so that I had a clear path through the middle to work on figure 8s. Someone will not be happy, but too bad! I ride there too and I'm tired of being confined to one end of the arena. We practiced some cantering 8s with simple changes in the middle, and, well, let's be honest, many, many trot strides before we were back into the canter again, but she did great and didn't get all crazy. She has made so much progress there.

I also set up one of the jumps and we attempted to jump over it... yeah... she stepped over it with her front feet one at a time, and then hopped over it with her back feet. Guess we better stick to headsets and canter transitions for now!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Headsets!

I am on a mission... I want to get Lilly trotting around the arena with a beautiful, level, headset. The goal for now is just the trot. We'll worry about the canter later on, since we're still working on the basics of the canter. I hope to make a lot of progress by the APHA show on August 22nd. So the countdown begins!

She has moved so far past her star-gazing days, I barely remember what they were like. :) So the progress we've made so far is something to be quite proud of. And I think we're almost there, but things need to be refined and she needs to be more consistent.

During the last show, the photographs that were taken showed a cute little mare with her head down, but not quite level, and not quite far enough. I need to get her stretching down and forward. So that's the goal!

After getting some much needed advice from DIJ, I set off this morning to ride. She did really well and I'm going to have to see if there are some other places close by for me to ride, or see if the barn owner will allow me to ride in the yard somewhere just to switch it up and let Lilly know she has to listen no matter where we are. She always does better with her head at home in the ring, but when we get to the shows she likes to look around.

So here's what we did: Lots of warm up, lots of stretching, and lots of circles. I haven't ridden her in a couple weeks, but she got right to business. Good pony! I'm still using the "relax" circles to get her to give to the bit and it really encourages her to stretch down. There are times when all I have is the buckle of the reins and she's really reaching. We did a lot of "move your butt over" circles too, so I could get her to use her hindquarters and cross her legs over. After doing all this at the walk, we moved on to the trot.

Her trot is getting better. I was really excited to see that she is right where I left off two weeks ago. She's moving out, but she's not trotting with tiny, short strides. She's getting her butt underneath her and working like she's supposed to. Her circles are pretty good, although she seemed a little stiff to the right today. So we did a lot of bending off the rail. On the rail, with a slight tug on the inside rein and a little extra pressure with my inside leg, she'll drop her head. She drops it way too far, but then it gradually comes back up, and I ask her to drop it again. I think the main challenge will be communicating to her that "that" is too far, but right "there" is where I want you. I just don't think now is the time to correct her head being down too far. So all in all, she did really well. She has to be told quite often to drop, but she'll do it as soon as I ask for it.

AND, we're trotting around on the rail like normal folks do! She's doing so well that aside from the warm ups and bending circles, we stayed out on the rail. She actually won't stay there on her own, though... she constantly tries to come to the inside. So we need to work on that too.

In other news, I really wish the arena wasn't full of jumps all the time. I usually have one free end where I can do some longing sized circles, and that's about it. I would love to start doing some figure 8s with Lilly at the canter and practicing simple changes in the middle, but there's never any room! I can do serpentines around the jumps, but we certainly can't do that at a canter! I would also like to start trying some patterns so we can gear up for equitation patterns, but the jumps are always there, always in my way. Lilly is so responsive, I think she'd be a wonderful pattern horse, but we may never know.

Ok, I'm off my soap box.

Monday, July 13, 2009

New Shoes!

I've been wanting to post these pictures for a while now, but you know how it is. :) I added some sole shots as well!

So I had the farrier put a bigger shoe on Lilly's front feet because my trainer thought her shoes weren't supporting her heel enough. I was concerned about changing things around because Lilly wasn't having any problems, but I do think the new shoes look better. I haven't been able to try them out from her back because of my stitches, but I'm looking forward to riding her tomorrow to see if I notice a difference.

Before:






























After:































I wish I had taken both pictures from the same side... I do think she looks more supported. I'm just nervous about her ripping them off. Guess the bell boots will be on for a while...

PAC Points and Time to Ride!

I'm good as new as of this morning, so I'll be back to riding tomorrow. Today it just rained and rained, but it'll be back to sunny and 95 tomorrow, so Lilly and I will be getting back to work. We've got lots to do before the APHA show in August!

I heard back from APHA today too about my PAC points. They corrected the point from this year and also the ones from last year. Everything adds up for this year, but I'm still confused about last year, as I seem to have an extra halter point. They gave me the 3 showmanship points, but it appears I got 2 points for the championship halter class. Perhaps the championship classes are worth more? I'm not sure, but I only placed in one halter class, so it seems I would only have received one point.

I'm just glad they're fixed!

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Day in Pictures

Despite not being able to ride, I've still been going to the barn to visit Lilly and AJ. Lilly got new shoes on Friday and my farrier put a size bigger on per my request and I had some concerns about her ripping off a front shoe. So she's been turned out with bell boots and it always makes me nervous having stuff on her legs during turnout like that. After the last trim, she wore bells too, but they were the kind that could turn and they started to rub hair off. This time I put her in my PC no turn bells and I was anxious to see how she was doing with them. As it turns out, they look great, so she will probably wear them for a while.

It was also quite cool today (mid 70's) so I thought I'd take her fly sheet off and give her a break from wearing the sheet. She needed a hiney wash so I did that as well... and then I tried to treat her with a banana, but she had no interest. I though since she loved the watermelon so much that maybe she'd like other fruits too. I guess bananas just don't smell good. She didn't even want to try it. With the cool weather, she was feeling good. She kept trying to run around like a crazy pony on our way back to the pasture, so I grabbed my camera when I turned her out hoping for some good action shots. The majority of them were blurry (damn camera) but I got a few neat shots. :)




This one is after I took her halter off... She spun around, bucked, and squealed with glee!


I followed her down to the bottom of the pasture and got another one of her running off. Then I chased her a little bit trying to get her to run, and that's where I got all the blurry pictures. BOO! But after a while she got tired of running and kept looking at me like, "really? you want me to run MORE?!"


And all I got was this floaty trot... then a walk. She came walking over and demanded I scratch her chest for all the work she put into the show she gave me. So I patted her and went to get her flymask and a cookie.

On my way out I stopped to see AJ. I knew he would appreciate the ripe banana I had in my hand. And sure enough, he LOVED it!


Kind of like "finger lickin' good" only he uses his tongue instead.


Had to get a close up of the satisfaction!!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Picture of the Month!

Lilly and I are famous! OK, it's just the Johnston County Horse Show Series web page, but we are picture of the month for June. :) And since there aren't any shows in July and the next show isn't until the end of August, our mugs will grace the home page of the site for many weeks to come! How cool is that?

Does that picture look familiar? Now you know where I got the picture for my JCHSS Show #5 blog... right from the photo album from the show. I think it is such a cute picture of Lilly. A rare shot of her with her ears up!