Sunday, August 30, 2009

Trailer Unloading Woes

If there's one thing with Lilly I can complain about, it's her antics when she unloads from the horse trailer. As I mentioned in the JCHSS post, when we got home from the show I was in SUCH a good mood. :) We had done so well at the show and Lilly is just a joy to be around. One of my friends came to the show to watch us and she loves Lilly too... so it's not just me. ;)

When we got home, though, I stopped, got her lead rope and clipped it to her halter. Meanwhile, horses all over the farm are whinnying to her. She's whinnying back... Ok, I got it, you're happy to be home. I could tell she was ready to get out of the trailer, as she always is.

So here's my setup: Two horse slant. The front stall holds all my junk. A couple totes, hay, shavings, and one of my new carts. So Lilly rides in the back stall. My trailer has no ramp and I will admit has a bit of a high step, especially for my short, fat pony. There isn't a butt bar. It's a butt strap, and she already broke it, so I decided not to bother having it repaired since it would probably just happen again (although I probably should). I hook the lead rope to her halter, throw it over her back and grab it when she comes out. Sometimes I'll take the lead from the rear of the trailer and hold it while she backs out, it just depends on where we are and what's going on.

So here's what happened... lead rope was over her back, I opened the back door, and was getting ready to ask her to back out, and SHE CAME OUT. She came out at warp speed and I barely had time to get out of the way. So her fat ass ran right into me, her front foot stepped on mine and my freak out (screams of pain and flailing arms to get her off my foot) caused her to freak out. She proceeded to slam her head into the partition creating a nice hairless scrape right above her left eye.

Now my good mood is completely gone, and I'm pissed.

I've been working on this with her for a few months now because she started coming out faster than I wanted her to and often she'd step on her self or catch herself with a shoe and cut her leg. (Where are my wraps, you ask? Good question... it's just so dang hot here in the summer that she's a ball of sweat without them. If she keeps this up, though, I'll have to go back to using them.) So I'd toss her butt back in and after a few times of getting on and coming off, she would do it more slowly and more controlled.

When we first got to the JCHSS show she came flying out, but I put her back in and it only took one time coming back off before she was going slow and I was happy with it. So I thought we were making progress. Guess not.

So on and off she went... on and off, on and off, and it wasn't getting any smoother. In fact, I think had I not been aware, she would have run me over again. I could hold on to her tail or push on her butt, she didn't care, she was coming OUT. She doesn't usually fly out as soon as I open the door. She'll stand as quiet as can be, but as soon as I tell her to back, she flies out. Today was just a special day, I guess.

So I need to figure out why. Why is she flying out of the trailer? I think she's just very anxious to be where she needs to be and is in a hurry to get out. I haven't tested it yet, but I think if I went out there tomorrow, hooked up my trailer and practiced, she would get in and out without much trouble. Again, haven't tried it, and I plan to, but that's the result I expect. I could be wrong. And before you accuse me of being a crazy driver, I'm a really good driver, especially when I have the trailer. Extra slow on the turns and I stop smoothly. Granted, there have been occasional OMG moments where someone cuts me off, but her trailer rides are pleasant.

I was so pissed yesterday that I eventually just called it quits. I was hot, tired, and had to get into work. I was already running late. I've been pondering my options for teaching her to back out slowly. My challenge is that I'm flying solo. Most of the trailer suggestions begin like so: "Start by having another person..." No can do... it's just me. And when she's in the back stall, I can't fit in there safely to back her out from her head. I was thinking I could move all 600lbs of stuff I have from the front of the trailer and load her in the front stall for practice. Then I could be at her head when she comes out and back with her. Maybe she just needs to be shown how to come out of the trailer properly? That would have to be totally temporary because I don't have anywhere else to put all that stuff. By being in the rear stall, though, she's coming out at an angle and maybe by being in the front stall she can come out straight and it'll be easier for her? I need to be able to haul her in that rear stall, but maybe she'll get the hang of it and I can go back to hauling her like I need to.

As I tried to go to sleep last night, though, I started to wonder if it's uncomfortable for her to back out of the trailer. When she flies out, she gets her two back legs and one front leg out, but then that last leg that's still in the trailer is drug out. She literally drags it out, along with most of my shavings, and it slams to the concrete. So the step is so high that she can't even pick that foot up (or she's too lazy, one of the two) to get it out of the trailer and put it down. She has to drag it out.

So now I'm contemplating a ramp... I have no idea how much it would cost to add a ramp to the trailer, or if that would even fix the problem, but that might be what I have to do.

Any suggestions for teaching her how to step out of the trailer SLOWLY? One foot at a time perhaps? With a slant load trailer and one lonely handler?

Saturday, August 29, 2009

JCHSS Show #6

I have no pictures from today, but we had a good show.

Our first class was halter. We got fifth out of 8 horses. It's always interesting to see what the judges place in a big group of non-halter horses. There are always some nice looking horses at this show, but none of them are "halter horses". Lilly is no halter horse either, but her legs are straight and my biased eye says she has no "major" faults. I wish I had the opportunity to approach the judge and have them pick her apart for me... it's just never there.

Next up was english showmanship. It was the dreaded tear drop pattern again, but we've practiced that loop so many times it was cake for us. :) Lilly did a really great pattern and she nailed her pivot. My idea of staying at her head and just pushing her around rather than walking toward her shoulder was the trick. Now she doesn't get her legs all bunched up under herself. I was quite pleased. We placed first out of 6 horses, so two more PAC points for us in showmanship.

Rather than going through each riding class, I'll just sum them up. Lilly did phenomenal. She was really consistent and she kept her head down for the majority of the time. It still comes up during transitions and she still anticipates sometimes, and when she's doing that, her head comes up. All in all, though, I was really pleased with her. In our two canter classes, she missed the left lead... both times. So last weekend it was the right lead, the show before that it was the left lead, and this time it was the left lead. Total coincidence I'm sure, but it's rather interesting to me. The first class where she missed her lead the judge was looking right at me, but we still placed 6th. The second class she missed it and we placed much better. I was quite pleased with her performance for sure. I actually thought we'd place better because of how well she was doing, but these classes are always a mixture of horses. There's ponies, QH type horses, TB horses, and then you've even got some giant Warmblood looking horses. So the look in each class really varies and it's hard to know what's going to place.

Now on to my favorite class of the day... english equitation! The eq class here is just walk/trot, so I figured what the heck. We tackled a canter pattern last weekend, so certainly we can do a walk/trot pattern. It was an interesting pattern too... Starting at cone A, walk to and around cone B. Once we made our loop, we picked up the sitting trot (where the dotted lines start) to cone C and made a loop around that cone. Once we made our loop there, we picked up the rising trot (right where the loop ends and the straight line starts) on the right diagonal to cone D. Stop at cone D and back 4 steps.

Lilly did pretty good. She seemed drunk and unsure of where we were going. The pattern size was also really small so we didn't have a lot of room between cones, but I thought we did pretty good. It seems the judge agreed because we got 2nd out of 9 horses! I was so excited! 2 PAC points for walk trot! Yay!

I'm such a slacker. I should have been doing these equitation classes all along. Oh well! We'll definitely be doing them at the next two shows.

Western showmanship had the same pattern as english, of course. There were 5 of us and we ended up with second. The judge had us go in and do our pattern then exit the ring so I didn't get a chance to see the pattern that beat us. So I can't say what she did or didn't do better than us, but Lilly did great in my book. We were slightly crooked when we stopped for the inspection, but otherwise I thought she nailed it. Pivot was great again. :) She was dirty, though, from the saddle and the red clay all over her legs, so I suppose if I was the judge and had to do some sort of tie-breaker, I'd knock me down since showmanship is all about presentation. I clean her up as best I can in the 10 minute break I have from my last class to the showmanship class. All I can ask is that Lilly does a great job, and she did!

So here's the breakdown: (I'll update when the results are in)

Stock Type at Halter - 5th out of 8
English Showmanship Open - 1st out of 6
Huntseat Walk/Trot Open - No Place out of 18
Huntseat Pleasure Open - 6th out of 12
Huntseat Walk/Trot Stock Type - 7th out of 13
English GAYP Adult - 6th out of 11
English Equitation Adult - 2nd out of 9
English Pleasure Open - 4th out of 11
Western Showmanship Open - 2nd out of 5

Lilly was a good girl... until we got home. But that's for another post.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Just Thinking Out Loud

Sometimes I think I should be really embarrassed about where Lilly is in the grand scheme of things. She's 9 years old, I've had her since she was 3 months old, and she doesn't know her leads yet? Really? What the heck have I been doing for the past 7 years anyway? Sometimes folks will ask me certain questions about her, like "are you doing western classes too?" and I say, "no, we haven't got that far yet". We aren't doing any western classes this year because she's just not ready. Not ready? She's 9 years old! What's the hold up?

I compare Lilly a lot to the "boys of my past", so I'm going to introduce you to them.

I had AJ first, and we know all about him already. Love you, Boo!

Once AJ's arthritis was too much to manage, I showed my 4-H leader's horse, Rock. He had a very strange way of going at the trot... he dragged his back feet forward and then kicked them out sideways. It was bizarre. And it hurt him in halter for sure. He was a lot of fun to ride, though, and drew a lot of attention. He was trained, but not show trained. I worked with him all summer and we won high point that year at the fair. I had a lot of fun on that horse.

Rock was temporary so I got another horse, Jack. Jack was a 4 year old QH/Morgan/Who Knows What Else horse with giant ears and a face only a mother could love. He was a free lease and belonged to a friend of my father's. I think he was thrilled to get some free training on Jack and my parents were thrilled that they didn't have to purchase another horse. He was still quite black when I first got him, but he was well on his way to turning gray by the time we gave him back. He was short, scruffy, and knew absolutely nothing, but soon Jack was awesome. I believe I showed him from '93 till '96, and we did everything. We showed at open shows, the fair, the equestrian team... we did showmanship, hunt seat, western, dressage, trail, reining, saddle seat, barrels, driving, western riding, and hunter hack. We did disciplined rail classes and versatility classes. He was a machine. He made me feel good as a "trainer" because he really excelled in everything. If you pointed him to it, dressed him up in it, or asked him for it, you got it. Flying lead changes, sliding stops, rollbacks, even egg and spoon and bareback classes! He did it all. Never a hiccup. Automatic. A machine. Going from knowing nothing, to high point at the fair multiple times, all in a few years?

While I was still showing Jack, my mom and I went in on a Paint yearling named Dodge My Deemer (The Redeemer and Dodger's Playboy on his dam's side). Deemer was my first Paint. He's where it all started! I showed Deemer in snaffle bit classes during his two year old year and we did fairly well. He would walk, trot, and canter. He knew his leads, and we showed in western and english snaffle bit classes. Jack went back home when Deemer was three and Deemer became my full time show horse. I showed Deemer for two more years at open shows, the fair, and on the equestrian team. We didn't do as much as Jack and I did because of Deemer's age, but he was really good at the events I showed him in. We even won high point at the fair. I sold Deemer when I went to boot camp and he brought a pretty penny even though he went to a non-show home. The lady still has him and loves him to death. :)

So these successful geldings are why I ponder...

I got Lilly in 2000 when she was a weanling and I worked with her a lot. I taught her to load, trot with me, pivot, to stand for the farrier, baths, and clipping. We were well on our way. We even went to some shows when she was a yearling. Then, in the spring of 2002, I trained her to walk/trot/canter, and then she went from NC to Michigan to live with my parents while I finished up my time in the Corps. I got out in November, and not much riding goes on in Michigan in the winter. By the time April came around I was on my way back to NC to escape the cold and my joblessness. I ended up with a job in Virginia and brought Lilly down in August of 2003. She still needed more training, but I had another horse at this time too and I was trying to find time to ride them both. During our time in Virginia, we did a lot of trail riding, camping, and no showing at all. Nothing structured at all, just fun on the trails. In 2006 I moved back to NC, but the horses stayed in VA for a while, then went to a barn where they weren't fed, and finally to the wonderful barn they're at now. They've been there since 2007.

Lilly has been moved around a lot, and many of our boarding situations haven't been ideal, or I've been in a different state, but I can't help thinking that she should be farther along than she is. When I rode the boys, we just did it. They just did it. We did it all and I didn't even give it a second thought. My training with Lilly has been in slow motion. I'll work on something for a month before moving on to something new. With the boys, they got 3 new things a day. There are a lot of things she doesn't know how to do and there are a lot of things I don't know how to teach her. The boys were so easy to teach.

She is very different from the boys. They were hard headed but easily convinced. She is emotional and needs a lot of patience. They were strong and steady. She lacks confidence. They were ok with whatever was thrown at them, and I didn't take any crap. She anticipates, gets hyper, and is easily frustrated. I was harder on the boys than I'd like to admit, but I was using the only methods I knew. I was taught to teach them that way. I baby her... boy do I baby her.

I have felt the need to take things slow with her because of the reactions I've received from her. And I see a huge difference in my mare compared to my geldings. She needs things to go slower, more steady, consistent, and with a gentle hand. But does that mean it's ok that she doesn't know her leads at 9 years old?

Don't get me wrong... I am SO proud of her. She has come so far in the past two years, but with the boys, in two year's time, we were rockin' and rollin', whereas Lilly and I are just getting situated in the rockin' chair... I did have more time back in the day because I didn't have to work for a living and my horses were in my back yard, but I ride pretty darn often.

Good examples are "our first canter class ever" and "our first equitation pattern ever". Why did it take me so long to do these things with Lilly? Why are we just now getting around to things I would never have thought twice about with the boys? And the thing is, she won her first canter class, and she did way better on the pattern than I expected.

Maybe she's more ready than I think? Or maybe we're chugging along at just the right pace?

I'm just thinking out loud...

Sunday, August 23, 2009

CPHC Show!

What a great weekend Lilly and I had at our very first APHA show!

And first and foremost, HUGE kudos to my friend, Alex! She came out to the show on Saturday, braved the heat, and took over 500 pictures! Thank you so much, Alex!

It was in Huntersville, NC which is very near to Charlotte, so it took us about 3 hours to get there. I made a few mental notes as I was driving along... like don't take this route again! When I'm towing the trailer, highway is MUCH better than back country. Stop, go... stop, go... sounds like a Penzoil commercial.

I really hate going places for the first time. I had no idea where I was supposed to park, where my campsite was (it was assigned), and what stall Lilly was in. Finally, after I turned around twice in the back parking lot, and very nice guy came to help. Campsite 12, barn A, stall 38. Next time, I'm calling ahead to see what site I have and what stall Lilly is in! And I'm bringing my own shavings. (More mental notes...)

Once she and I got settled in I put my new carts to good use! They worked out great!! Although, at this particular show, everyone was driving around in golf carts, on Gators, or on little scooters. They zoomed past me as I pushed my cart up the hill... think I can muster up some more sympathy and someone will buy me a scooter for the next show? Yeah, probably not.

And dogs... dogs everywhere!! And not one of them was on a leash. I saw a lot of people wandering around calling out various dog names looking for their wandering pooch. And I think a Boxer was the biggest breed I saw. Lots of Corgis and other assorted rats. Lilly isn't a big fan of dogs, but she was on her best behavior.

I took her out to the arena to practice and get her used to things and she was really good. She wasn't spooky and went right to work. I did let her do a lot of looking outside the arena... heck, even I wanted to look around. I've never seen so many Paints all in one place!

I saw a lot of rough riding... I saw a lot of draw reins with shank bits, I saw a lot of spurring, and I saw a lot of jerking. Jerk, jerk, jerk... I saw one girl riding around at the lope on her cell phone, looking around, and jerking. She wasn't even looking at her horse and she was talking on the phone, yet she was still jerking. Really?! I'm not sure how it's fair to jerk your horse's face when you're not even looking at him. How do you even know he needs to be jerked? As if they ever need jerks like that, but especially when you're not even paying attention! I felt sorry for most of the horses there... I told Lilly she better appreciate me!

After riding, we had dinner together. She ate grain, I ate a Lunchable. :) Then I gave her a bath and banded her mane.

Saturday morning when I went to feed Lilly, I noticed she was no longer white, but rather pinkish-red. Gotta love NC clay! So I pretty much had to give her another bath and then realized when I put her back in the stall to go change, her legs would get dirty all over again. It was a big PITA, and I think I washed her legs 4 times yesterday morning.

I forgot my teal outfit earrings, so I was really pissed about that, but I was planning on showing in that shirt anyway. The plan was to wear that for halter and then switch to plum for showmanship, but it was looking like rain and had even sprinkled a little that morning. No way was I wearing my way-too-expensive Hobby Horse hat and chance it getting wet, so I just went with plum for halter and showmanship. There weren't a lot of horses in the halter classes, and they were going quick, so I wouldn't have had time to change clothes anyway. So it's back to plum pictures. :)

So I figure the easiest way for me to do this, since there were two judges there, and it'll just get confusing, is to go through the classes and then post the placings after I get done boring you with details.

Our first class was halter. There weren't "halter" horses like I expected halter horses. There were a few beefy ones in some of the classes, but mostly they were tall and lanky. I guess that's just the style these days for western and english? This class was "aged mares" and Lilly was the only short, fat pony in the class. We got last and second to last. :)

Then we went in the tobiano color class, which according to APHA "is to reward the most ideal markings of the individual Paint Horse as defined as a 50/50 distribution of white and color overall. The tobiano pattern is to be judged 100% on the most ideal markings of the individual tobiano Paint. Conformation is not considered and the class should not be conducted like a conformation halter class." Which explains why we walked in circles around the judges both ways and didn't jog or line up. I thought Lilly had nice tobiano markings, but what I consider the more overo style horses placed higher. They had the "wispy" looking markings and not the big patches like Lilly has. It was an interesting class and something we've never done before.

Next up was showmanship. I had two classes, the novice amateur and the amateur, and they both had the same pattern. After seeing the other horses warm up, and after hearing there were 20 horses in the novice class, I was really nervous! Every single horse there did a really nice pivot. I just kept telling myself that I'm just as good as they are and me and my fat pony were going to show them just how good!

Our novice pattern was first and I thought we did pretty darn good. I decided I really need to work on our pivot more. I think it's my fault that Lilly steps out of her pivot sometimes because I'm still pushing her backwards like we did back in the day when we were pivoting on the wrong foot. I need to stay closer to her head and just guide her around in a circle. Our pivots were good, but I can see now where they can improve. And that's one of the reasons I wanted to go to this show... so I could see some of these higher caliber horses and gets some tips and ideas, and see where we compare. She squared right up, backed up perfectly, and I felt good about our pattern. I wasn't sure if we'd place or not, but I was hopeful. And we did! We got 6th place from one of the judges out of the 20 horses entered! So I was really thrilled about that! We've officially got our first REAL Paint point now!! Novice Amateur Showmanship! :)

The classic amateur class went well too, but it took Lilly a little while to set up. When the ground is uneven, sometimes she'll try to put her foot down, but then puts it back in the wrong spot because of the bumpy dirt. We still placed ok, but nothing spectacular and no points. I'm very happy with her performance, though. She did super. Now if I can get my butt in gear and get our pivots worked out...

Now for the riding classes! Please note that I got to use my number pad! YAY! I'm so sneaky, Lilly didn't even notice.

Alex thinks Lilly is saying, "please don't ride me like that guy, mom..."

Just like for showmanship, there's a novice amateur and a classic amateur hunter under saddle class. I thought there were going to be a lot of horses in the novice class because there were so many in the showmanship class, but there were only 9 of us. It was still pretty crowded and Alex noted that I got lost on the rail a lot and seemed to be hidden behind other horses. We even got cut off at the canter! I was coming around on the rail and the girl in front of me decided she was going to get to the rail too and we had to hit the skids and trot to keep from running them over. Then back to the canter. Does no one look over their shoulder anymore before moving to the rail? Guess not... And let me tell you about my precious angel!! Her head was beautiful for a good majority of the class, even at the canter! She picked up the wrong lead going clockwise, which is usually her better way, but who knows. We were able to correct it pretty quick. So other than that, she held her own in there with all those 16 hand hunt horses! I was really proud of her!

The classic amateur class only had 4 horses in it and we placed 4th under both judges. She got the wrong lead again and then about fell on her face promptly thereafter. So it took us a little longer to get the correct lead. I wasn't surprised that we got 4th. But she still did great! She was a little rushy at the walk, still, and I have a tougher time getting her to keep her head down at the walk than the trot these days. She's still anticipating, but she gets better and better. I wonder what we would have placed had we got our leads... time to do some more practicing! She was doing great in the warm up ring, so it's probably me, and I'm probably rushing her into the canter when we're in the classes.

The equitation classes were next. Usually, if there's a pattern it'll say on the show bill. There wasn't anything mentioned for this show, so I assumed it was just rail work. So I about fell out when they said they were setting up for the pattern... Pattern?! Lilly and I don't do patterns!! Her head will explode!! But we were already signed up and Alex helped ease my fears and we decided to try it. Our first equitation pattern!

Our first pattern went ok... she got the wrong lead around the first cone but did a beautiful simple change back to the same lead. :) It certainly wasn't spectacular, but she did wonderful in my book! She didn't toss her head or flip out and did much better than I ever hoped for.

The second pattern was much better and she got both leads! Again, she was really good and I just couldn't believe how well she handled being out there by herself and working a pattern. And, we won $15 via a random drawing for placing 3rd... I need all the help I can get!! :)

I just might have to try these equitation patterns more often!

All in all, I could not be more proud of Lilly. Considering the horses that were there, and their body type compared to hers, she did a fabulous job. She's getting more relaxed too, and although she made friends with the horse in the adjacent stall, she didn't carry on and whinny constantly. I think the open top doors on the stalls helped a lot too because she was able to see a lot more. We had so much fun, and if it wasn't so darn expensive, I'd go to the one next month!


Aged Mares - 6 Horses
Judge 1: 5th
Judge 2: 6th

Tobiano Color - 7 Horses
Judge 1: 5th
Judge 2: 6th

Novice Amateur Showmanship - 20 Horses
Judge 1: 6th
Judge 2: NP

Classic Amateur Showmanship - 12 Horses
Judge 1: 7th
Judge 2: 6th

Novice Amateur Hunter Under Saddle - 9 Horses
Judge 1: 5th
Judge 2: 7th

Classic Amateur Hunter Under Saddle - 4 Horses
Judge 1: 4th
Judge 2: 4th

Novice Amateur Hunt Seat Equitation - 7 Horses
Judge 1: 6th
Judge 2: 5th

Classic Amateur Hunt Seat Equitation - 6 Horses
Judge 1: 3rd
Judge 2: 5th

Good girl!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Back To Normal

Lilly's leg looks normal again as of today... thank goodness.

We worked on the usual stuff today... trotting, head set, leads, and being chill. She still gets a little hyper when she's anticipating something or right after a canter. It's only when we're on the rail, though. She's a cool customer when we're maneuvering the jumps in the middle of the arena. Which is odd, I think, considering how much more work we do in the middle as opposed to the outside. It seems as though she would be worse in the middle... but what do I know?

She will calm down after being hyper, but it usually requires a small circle or a stop to settle and then she'll relax and put her head down. She also very much prefers her reins very loose. She has a beautiful headset when I have my hands nearly on the buckle, but that certainly won't work for hunt seat (and she's way too fast for western). We'll get it one of these days!

I've been a little more demanding of her lately too... I don't let her get away with as much nonsense and when she messes up I let her know. I used to just move on because too much would get her riled up, but now I'll get after her a little bit or make her stop and back up. It doesn't take much, that's for sure. We've been working on keeping her head down for longer and longer periods of time.

We ended our workout with leg steering. She's doing better there too... not that it matters, but it's fun to practice and try to steer her with no reins. I even got her to back up without needing to give a little tug on the reins. It's really fun to watch her face, though... I can always see the wheels turning in her head. And if she does it wrong and I say "nooooo" she stops dead in her tracks and the wheels start turning again. Such a good girl... always trying to please. :)

Showmanship has been coming along too. I've been practicing with her that when I turn to face her she squares up. I hope it'll become as automatic as anything else. She should be watching my body language and when I turn, she squares up. Right now she tries, but sometimes I still have to fool with her feet to get them where I want them.

T -5 days until the APHA show! :) I'm getting nervous just thinking about it!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Puff the Magic Swollen Leg

It's that time of year... what time, you ask? Why, it's time for Lilly to start injuring herself. It just wouldn't be summer without injuries!

Her left hind ankle/leg is pretty darn swollen. I don't see any cuts or injuries that would cause the swelling and she isn't sore on it at all. If she wasn't turned out 24/7 I'd say she's stocked up.

I first noticed yesterday when the farrier was out. I had planned to ride her when he was done, but after seeing her ankle I decided just to hose it for about 30 minutes and then turn her back out. I hoped today when I went out that it would be back to normal. Of course, though, that wasn't the case. There was less swelling, but it was definitely not normal. Being the cruel, mean lady that I am, I tacked her butt up anyway and went for a ride. I thought maybe the exercise would help work the swelling out. It was all still there when I untacked, so I hosed some more and we'll see how it looks tomorrow. Good times!

She did pretty darn good when I rode her, though. She's doing a great job at the trot keeping her head down and even drops it some when she's cantering. She seemed to be on target today with her leads, but she still needs to learn left leg means right lead, right leg means left lead. You never know when the judge might ask for a counter canter! I did some pretend, around the jumps, equitation patterns and she's coming along. She's learning not to rush so much and to chill out and wait for me to tell her what to do next. I wonder, though, if I'd get marked down for her turning her head all the way around to look at me every time we stop... you think? It's like she's looking at me saying, "what next, mom?" No, Lilly, stop looking at me! Look ahead!

We also did some ground poles and she is a total lunatic at the canter. She was having a really difficult time cantering over one ground pole, so I stopped doing that and went back to the trot. We also played "steer around the arena without using reins" and she's getting better at that too. She seems to constantly go in a circle, though... very small circles... round and round. I don't know what she's got against straight lines.

All in all, a good girl.

She's got sap in her mane and someone at the barn told me to use WD40 on it to get it out. Seems like a harsh chemical to use on skin, so I might try vegetable oil first. She needs her legs clipped for the show too, but I'm not sure my clippers can do another full leg clip on all 4 legs. They're 13 years old, afterall. They're tired and only want to do fetlocks and ears. Something needs to be done, though, because her legs are icky and will look much whiter without all that hair.

Monday, August 10, 2009

A Bath For AJ

105... As in one hundred and five... DEGREES! That's how hot it was today!

Obviously I didn't get to ride again. If my horses are sweating while they're standing still, it's just too hot to ride. So I thought today would be a good day to get my old man out and give him a much needed bath.

He doesn't mind water, but he hates how it hits the ground and splashes. Cross ties are a MUST or he constantly moves around, snorting at the ground. And actually, even with the cross ties, he still moved around and snorted. But the cross ties certainly help keep him manageable.

23 years old he is... you'd think he could just stand there like the old man that he is. No such luck. He was having fun shaking his head and biting the cross ties. As usual, he was carrying on and being hilarious until I got the camera to the movie setting and then he stood there like an angel.

After his bath, I took him out to eat some grass. He was thoroughly enjoying himself and insisted on eating in a grassy spot right in front of Lilly and Ricochet. I think he was teasing them!

So here's the old man all cleaned up. I think he still looks pretty good! I still need to get someone out to take some pictures before summer is over!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Happy Birthday To Me!

I'm the big 2-9 today... Oh so close to 30! Where does the time go? Seems like just yesterday I was showing 4-H and getting ready to graduate high school.

Well, if we must age, at least it comes with great birthday presents!

My mom and dad got me this great caddy for the Paint show. The last weekend show I went to was super tiring because I had to carry so much stuff by hand. This will be wonderful to have!

Mike got me a muck bucket cart for similar reasons... now I won't have to lug around a muck bucket full of manure and tear my poor hands up. I'll just throw it on this guy and wheel it away!

I also got a great book... "101 Jumping Exercises for Horse and Rider". It has some great ground pole exercises in it that I hope to be able to practice soon. After exercise 25, though, they start adding height to the jumps, and I guess that's where we'll bail. :)

I got some great non-horsie related items too! I had a great dinner with friends, cake, ice cream, and the whole shebang. It was a great day!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Hot, Hot, Hot!

It was a scorcher today! Even though the thermometer only read 95, it was super humid and pretty much miserable outside. It was the kind of day where every single horse on the farm had wet shoulders. They were just standing there, and they were sweaty. That's how you know it's hot outside!

I had planned on riding Lilly because I want to figure out why she hates my number pad so much. I don't want to look like a dork at the APHA show and have my number held on my back with magnets... I want to use my dang pad and put my numer there instead. Lilly just really seems to despise it for some reason. I have other pads just like it (minus the number part) that she seems ok with. I don't know what it is about this one that seems to make her uncomfortable. Maybe I need a wither relief pad to put underneath it? I'm just afraid that the more padding I add, the worse it will fit... maybe make it tighter. But I'm determined to make it work by August 22nd! I'm open to suggestions!

So as you can guess, I didn't have the heart to make her work in such humid temperatures. I just put her bell boots back on and fed her some cookies instead. I think she was looking forward to hanging out, though, because when I left the pasture she came hauling ass toward me, like, "WAIT for me!!"

So instead I cleaned out the trailer, picked out some items to put on eBay, and grabbed stuff that needs washing for the APHA show. I like that I have two full weeks with no shows to get ready for the Paint show. That way I can have everything washed and cleaned and ready to go without having any last minute tasks.

AND, my mom and dad bought me this really awesome cart for my birthday that has a place to put saddles, bridles, and brushes so I can WHEEL the stuff from my trailer to my stall instead of making 4 or 5 trips with nothing but my poor, tired arms. It'll be SO nice to have that for the show. My birthday isn't until Friday, but I opened it early. :) You can do that when you live 4 states away from your parents.

I'm hoping tomorrow will be cooler or less humid... or both would be nice. We'll soon see!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

CMESC Show #2

I had a tough time getting up this morning at 6:00... I don't have to be to the JCHSS shows until about 11:30, but for this show I was in class number 2, so I needed to get there by 8:30 at the latest. No sleeping in for me! And when I was getting Lilly ready at the barn, time somehow slipped away, so I didn't have time to band her mane and I still didn't get there until about 8:35. Rush, rush, rush! I barely made it to my first class... what a morning!

The boyfriend tagged along and took lots of pictures. He was also very helpful and fun to have around. Too bad he was absolutely miserable, so he probably won't go again until the State Fair, and that'll be just because my parents will be in town. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.

Here's a snapshot of the placings:

Halter Mares - 3rd out of 5
Stock Type Halter - 4th out of 7
Showmanship - 2nd out of 3 (HEARTACHE!!)
Huntseat GAYP All Types - No place
Huntseat Walk/Trot All Types - 7th out of 18
Huntseat Pleasure All Types - 7th out of 18
Adult English GAYP All Types - 6th out of 10
Stock Type English GAYP - 6th out of 7
Stock Type English Pleasure - 4th out of 6

So as you can see, we did a respectable job. I was really happy with our two 7th place ribbons, but PAC doesn't count anything over 6th place. So we didn't get a single PAC point today. Bummer...

At least we looked sharp in our new outfit! Anyone feel like commenting on her conformation since she's all squared up nice and pretty?

Since Mike was there to take pictures, I'm going to add a whole bunch of them! I think they turned out nice, considering it was indoors.

Showmanship was heartbreaking! There were only 3 horses, which stinks. I prefer a much bigger class, but it is what it is. The pattern was this: starting at cone A, trot from cone A to cone B, stop at cone B and do a 90 degree pivot, back 6 steps and walk to the judge. After inspection, do a 270 degree pivot and trot off into line. Lilly did a really great job, and I tried to be snappy and smiley, so I wasn't sure where we'd place.

Why is he always writing when I'm doing my pivot?

When the placings were being read, the judge came over and said, "if he had squared up in front of me as well as he did here in line, you would have won. The 1st place horse squared up just a little quicker, but it was really close. You had a lovely pattern." UUGGHH!! So close, AGAIN! I just said thank you, but wanted to add that Lilly is a SHE and not a HE. Thank you very much...

Isn't she beautiful? Even when she's stuffing her mouth full of hay. :)

I schooled Lilly before our classes started and she was doing really well in the headset department. She cantered nicely and I was looking forward to our classes.

Raise your hand if you love our new pink bib! It was so much cooler than wearing a shirt!

Overall, she was good. She gets a little rushy when we 'reverse and walk' because her little brain is working overtime and she knows that trot is coming. I believe that's why we didn't place in the first huntseat class. She decided she was going to go ahead and trot NOW, and the judge saw us. So that was a fight we had in pretty much each class... good the first way, not so good when we reversed. Plus, both times in our canter classes she picked up the wrong lead going counter-clockwise, but both times the judge wasn't looking and we had it corrected in a matter of seconds. I really need to work on that before the Paint show, though...

I know her head still isn't as low as it needs to be, but she's getting better about leaving it there for longer periods of time. It was also interesting what was placing in the huntseat classes. There were all shapes and kinds of horses and many of the winners weren't trotting with their heads down.

I was hoping we'd do better today, but Lilly did pretty darn well, and I had fun. Each show we attend helps both of us, and I can see a huge difference in Lilly from when we started.

Now it's time to get ready for the Paint show! *Gulp!