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...