Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Mecates... Again!

The weather today was gorgeous! The sun was out, it was 70 degrees, and there was a slight breeze. It was a perfect spring day... except it's still winter. Unfortunately the arena continues to be soggy, and with more rain coming tomorrow, it won't get better anytime soon.

I just love the wrinkled nose!
Miss Lilly was enjoying a flake of hay when I arrived, but when she came over to sniff for cookies, I haltered her and brought her into the barn. On our way in, I noticed something pretty outstanding... she didn't take a single short step on the rocks! To give you an idea, here's our path to and from the pasture:

With a bonus shot of Luna, the dog.
It's about as rocky as you can get, and they're the kind of rocks with sharp, pointy edges. When her shoes first came off, this was a nightmare. She was in a pasture slightly closer to the barn then, but I still had to take a shovel and make a path for her. She's been gradually getting better and better on the rocks, but today was a big day. I was so excited to see her walk over them like they were nothing.

Hello, rock crushers!
Okay, so just at the walk, but wow! Even that right front I've been having issues with didn't seem to mind the rocks. *Doing the happy dance!*

Her hooves actually needed to be trimmed, so before we went for our ride, I busted out my tools, and guess what else? I was able to use my nippers on her fronts, which means we have growth!! So the trimmings weren't super exciting, as evidence by the look on the dogs' faces, but there was hoof wall to trim. I have to believe that the new supplement she's on (BioFlax 20) is making a difference. Up until this point, we had been at a stand still, and now I'm seeing real changes. If JenJ wasn't so far away, I'd kiss her for suggesting I try it with Lilly. :)

After trimming her hooves, I put the mecate reins on my bridle correctly and took her out to the arena for a test ride. I rode her around bareback for a bit and we didn't do much other than jog around because of the slick footing. I really like the reins... they're just the right size and I like how they feel in my hands. We will definitely be getting a lot of use out of them.

Too cute for words...
I skipped the Renegade boots this time to see how she felt in the arena. I couldn't tell she wasn't wearing the boots until we went from the dirt to the concrete driveway. She was still slightly gimpy until the packed sand came out of her hooves, but she looked much less uncomfortable than usual. In a perfect world, I'd be able to take her to shows and not worry about having to boot her. Most of the arenas we show in are pretty nice, so perhaps we'll get there eventually. Especially if she continues to improve like she has been.

Back to eating her hay and enjoying the sunshine.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Clinic Was Cancelled

This has to be the wettest winter we've had down here in a long time. Granted, I've only been here for the last 6, but it still seems really, really wet! It's hard to get your pony in shape when you have to go for a week at a time without being able to exercise her.

We had a "winter weather event" (hehe) over the weekend and the clinic was cancelled. First it was post-poned to Sunday and I was bummed that I'd have to miss it thanks to my real job, but then they decided to cancel it all together. We had ice, snow, and rain, and the arena is SOGGY. The weather for next week looks beautiful, but it'll be a while before I'll be able to get into the arena.

So since there's nothing interesting to write about, I'll just ramble...

Goal #4 from my list of 2013 goals is already busted. The show circuits are putting out their schedules and I'm bummed to find that two of the three circuits won't hold enough shows during months I can show to qualify us for year end awards. So there's no point in even getting memberships. I'll still show at the ones I can make, but we'll only be able to qualify for day awards. Boo.

And since I don't want to break yet another goal by not posting a picture, here's one of me and Lilly. It's an oldie, but the look on my face makes me laugh. Jeeze, lighten up and have some fun!!

At least Lilly looks happy
In other news, my back is 99% better... thank goodness. Thank you all so much for the well wishes!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Out of Commission

Luckily it's me and not Lilly, although I prefer not to be out of commission either. Unfortunately, there isn't a sweet story to tell about how I was riding bulls or jumping out of planes. Instead, I just woke up Thursday morning with the worst lower back pain ever. As long as I stayed hunched forward and bent slightly to the left, I was good to go, but trying to stand up or lay down flat, and I was in serious pain. It wasn't muscle pain, but rather spine pain, like maybe I pinched a nerve or tweaked something just right. So I spent the weekend sitting on the couch, or laying on my chiropractor's table, neither of which helped that much. Riding has been absolutely out of the question.

I'm feeling slightly better today, but now the rest of my back is terribly sore, I think from compensating for my hunched stature. I was brave enough to venture out to the barn with hopes of at least working Lilly in the round pen, but once I got moving around I decided it probably wasn't a good idea. Saturday is the clinic, and I want to make sure we don't miss it.

Are you here to play with me?
In other news, I've been working with the folks at Cultured Cowboy to see what kind of saddle Dakota can make me. I was told that the tree in my current saddle is made by Steele, and they can use that exact tree in a new saddle, but build it into a show saddle instead of a cutting saddle. Custom always costs more, but I don't mind paying extra to ensure it fits Lilly and that I can use it for my shows.

Other than that, it's cold outside and I'm ready for spring.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Mecates Are Here!

Today's weather forecast: cold, damp, windy, foggy, with a hint of rain. Summer, where are you??

Does the sun even still exist?
My mecate (muh-caw-tee - you're welcome) reins arrived late last week, but I haven't had time to do much with them other than admire how very mecate-y they are. Today I decided to create my beautiful snaffle bridle, so I pulled out my phone, brought up my email with instructions on how to tie everything and proceeded to put it all together. When I was done, I put the bridle on Lilly and went to lead her out to the arena for pictures and discovered...

I had put the lead rope part on the wrong side of the bridle. *EXPLETIVES!!!* By this time, I was too cold and too wet to care, so I'll have to fix that later. Until then, try to pretend that I did it correctly and that Lilly is actually wearing a western saddle. She was just too warm under her blanket for me to take it off... what kind of monster would do such a thing??

Aren't they pretty? Lilly said she feels like a real cow pony now.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Show Clinic and Saddle News

I've been doing a lot of research on saddle trees now that I'm searching for a new show saddle. The saddle I have now is a Dakota cutting saddle, model 100, with a 16" seat. I don't know much more about it than that because Dakota doesn't use serial numbers like Circle Y. I figured I should stick with Dakota because I'm more likely to get a saddle with a similar tree if the saddle is at least the same brand. It's possible, of course, that Dakota is using a different tree now than when my saddle was made, but with any luck, they aren't.

During a recent web search, I came across a Dakota model 100 cutting saddle. I was quite surprised to find one, and was even more surprised to see that it is the exact same saddle I have.

Fancy, new saddle...
My saddle...
Everything about it is the same... from the tooling right down to the stirrups (that I couldn't wait to get rid of). It's brand new, though, and mine is B.E.A.T. Because of my saddle's condition, I thought it was really, really old, but now I'm starting to think it was just used and abused.

The website says the saddle has a fiberglass covered tree with Quarter Horse bars. There's no tree brand mentioned, but I'm fairly certain they're Steele trees. I plan on calling the nice folks over at Cultured Cowboy to see what I can find out about my current saddle. If my saddle's tree is in all of the Dakota saddles, chances are I could choose any saddle I like (with QH bars), and it would fit Lilly. My life would be super fantastic and awesome if that was the case. Dakota makes a really nice, high quality saddle for much less than someone like Circle Y. They custom make each saddle so they don't have the overhead, and I think I could get the perfect show saddle, with headstall and reins, for less than $1500.

In other news, I decided to go with the show clinic instead of the western dressage clinic. As much as I wanted to watch some western dressage, I thought the show clinic would be more beneficial to us and our quest to meet the goals I set for this year. I signed us up for showmanship and western horsemanship and I'm really looking forward to working with the judge and getting some good pointers. The clinic is on the 26th and I'm hoping the weather will be nice!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Soggy, Soggy...

Lilly and I went for a very brief ride today. For some reason, the arena was really, really wet, even though I don't think we've had rain since Friday and temperatures have been in the 70's. I just don't understand. It had recently been dragged but it was still too wet to be able to do any real schooling, so we just jogged around for a while and called it a day. It's supposed to rain for the next four days, so we won't be riding much at all this week. I'm glad we had such a nice ride at the show.

Lilly posed for some pictures before her ride and I had my real camera with me, so these turned out a bit better than the iPhone pictures. Maybe one of these days I'll have some pictures where I'm in them as well!

Funny how she's about the same color as the arena dirt... LOL

Sunday, January 13, 2013

First Show of 2013

It was really foggy yesterday morning, so I got up a little early to make sure I'd have plenty of time to get to the show. I drive pretty slow with the trailer as it is, so add in some fog and I knew I'd need extra time. I had prearranged with the BO that I would be the one to feed Lilly so as soon as I got to the barn, I threw her some hay and made breakfast. This made all the other horses angry (of course), so I gave them each a little bit of hay to snack on. All the horses were outside except for Gabe, and he's the horse most obsessed with Lilly. I was all packed and ready to go, so as soon as Lilly was done eating I tossed her in the trailer. This made Gabe VERY angry and he was trying to crawl over his stall door to get to her. He was rearing and hitting his head on the top of the door, so I closed his window to keep him safe. This made him even more frantic since he couldn't see her anymore, so I just decided to hurry up and leave. After Lilly and I got back I noticed his stall had been completely stripped, so I'm guessing things didn't go much better after we left. I hope that doesn't happen before every show!

Lilly and I got to the show grounds around 9am and I was the only one there. It was quite creepy actually because of the fog. I knew the show hadn't been cancelled because everyone was chatting about it on Facebook so I assumed it was just going to be a small show. We had our choice of parking, though, so that was nice!

Foggy... and alone!
I've been working with Lilly on backing out of the trailer. I'm not sure why, but it seems to make her very anxious and she has the Band-Aid mentality... just do it SUPER fast and get it over with. This behavior is unacceptable to me so we've been working through her issues. She backs out so fast that there's nothing I can do to stop her, especially since I'm always at these shows by myself. I've just been asking her to back one step at a time, and each time she takes a nice step I tell her she's a good girl. When she reaches the point where she inevitably flies out backwards, I tell her no and make her get back on the trailer and we start the process all over again. When we left off last year, I would need to back her on and off about four times before she'd back out slowly. This time, though, I only had to pull her back on the trailer once before she backed out nicely. Progress!

I only signed us up for four classes. Two western walk/jog classes and two western go as you please (GAYP) classes. I figured I'd use the GAYP classes to practice loping since they didn't have any actual western pleasure classes. I skipped showmanship because we were the only ones signed up for the class. If I go to another one of these shows, I'll sign up for trail too.

Finishing up her breakfast hay.
After she had some time to settle and eat some hay, I tacked her up so we could have a nice warm up. There were quite a few classes before ours but there were only 2-3 riders in each class so they were going quickly. Lilly was a bit hyper when I first started riding. She was listening to me pretty well, but she wanted to do everything quickly. As long as she's obedient, she can go fast... for a little while. I was hoping I'd be able to wear her down so she'd relax, and after a good 30 minutes of jogging and loping, she decided she was good to go. We watched a bunch of classes together after that. I sat in my chair and she napped next to me.

During the lunch break, Lilly and I went into the arena to do some more practicing. By now, the temperature was about 70 degrees, the sun was out, and she wasn't hyper even a little bit. She jogged around nicely and I received quite a few compliments from onlookers. When it was time to lope, however, she copped a bit of an attitude and didn't want to give me a nice transition. I had to really get after her, but after a few tries, I had her going nicely.

When it was time for our first class, I realized there would only be one other rider in there with me. I was a bit disappointed because I was hoping for a larger class to simulate a more "normal" environment. With such a small class, I was hoping the judge wouldn't screw us over and tell us to use half the arena and only allow us to jog for like 10 strides. As it turns out, she didn't so I had plenty of time to work with Lilly.

My plan was to use this show to school. I figured I'd go in there, start off showing, and then as soon as Lilly decided to be a brat, I'd take hold of her and make whatever correction she needed. I talked to Alex before my classes and she suggested I make BIG corrections since the corrections I usually make in the show ring are very subtle so the judge won't see. She needs to know the rules are the same everywhere, so I wanted to make a point.

In the first walk/trot class, Lilly was SUPER good the first direction. She was relaxed at the walk and when it was time to jog (I waited about 10 strides after the speaker clicked off) she was amazing. She jogged the same way she does at home and I was loving it! When we were asked to reverse, though, the fun started. We had taken a good five steps after the reverse and Lilly decided it was time to jog, so she started jogging. I snatched up my reins and we slammed it into reverse. After she settled, I asked her to walk again and not two strides later she started jogging again. Each time I had to ask her to back, I got more and more rough with her. I kicked her harder and asked for a faster, longer back. I guess she was over it after the fourth time because when she walked off she just calmly walked along the rail. I think the judge was waiting on me to finish schooling in her class because as soon as we had walked a few strides, she asked for the jog. Ooops. I waited about ten more strides before I asked Lilly and she jogged off like nothing happened. Needless to say, we placed second out of two...

During the second walk/jog class, I only had one issue with her and that was when we were jogging and she broke down to a walk. I booted her back into a jog and pretended like nothing happened, but I was sure the judge had seen me. We went back into showing mode, though, and I had a great ride on her. It was wonderful. We walked out of that class with a first place ribbon, so I guess the judge missed my little correction (big correction).

Next up was the GAYP class and I asked the other adult rider if she was going to lope. She said she would if I was, so we both went in there planning to lope. The only bad thing about the GAYP class is there's only walk and one other gait. So we wouldn't end up jogging at all, but I figured if anything would make her anticipate, it would be the lope. When it was time to lope, Lilly wanted to give me a little bit of attitude about our transition. I abandoned the one handed ride and took hold of her with both hands to demand she do it properly. She did, and as soon as I had her going nicely, I switched back to one hand. The judge had us lope around the arena at least three times, so by the time the reverse came along, Lilly was probably too tired to even think about doing anything other than a walk. Her transition in the other direction was much better and I stayed with just one hand.

When we were in the middle of the ring for line-up, the judge asked us if we were curious to hear her opinions. Of course we were! She said she was having a difficult time choosing which horse and rider to place first because our horses were so similar and we each had our strengths. She discussed our walk/jog classes too and told the other rider her horse was a bit fast, but she told me she knocked me down because my horse's head was too low and I should bring it up a touch.

I'm sorry... do what now? Her head is too LOW??

She said she has to penalize for horses for having their ears below their withers for more than five strides. I was actually really excited to hear her say that, but a little bummed at the same time. I wasn't asking Lilly to drop her head, that's just where she's decided she wants to carry it. I guess I'll have to pay closer attention next time and see exactly how low it is.

She said she was also trying to make sure we got our money's worth, which is why she was having us go around so many times. She told me that since I was here to school, she wanted to give me time to do it. (Thanks!) She said Lilly's lope looked nice and she liked her head much better there, but Lilly was a little fast and our transitions needed some work. All in all, she really liked her, though, and thinks she'll make a "nice little western horse".

Lilly and I won the second GAYP class, but Lilly was TIRED. She did two flying changes from her right lead to her left lead and I was about to just stop loping when the judge finally said to walk. Definitely getting my money's worth... poor Lilly was about to die, though, especially with all that hair and with the warm temperatures. It took me quite a while to cool her out.

All in all, it was a fantastic day. Lilly was really good, and I loved that after I corrected something, she didn't continue to do it in every class. Perhaps we'll just need to have one class for schooling before we show in our actual classes, and then hopefully, eventually, she'll just stop the nonsense.

I would also like to say that since this was a schooling show, I didn't wear any show clothes. I wore jeans and a sweatshirt... and my helmet. Why is it that when my horse is dressed in western clothes and I'm wearing a helmet at a horsey social gathering of some kind, I feel like a complete loser? I was the loser in the helmet riding in a western saddle and there were no english riders there either, so I was the only one wearing a helmet. It sucks that the helmet is part of the english outfit, but when you pair it with western tack, you're made to feel like a dummy wearing it.

Anywho... when we got back to the barn and I unloaded my pony, she backed out slowly the FIRST TIME. It was just the perfect ending to the wonderful day I spent with my very special and very loved Lilly Poo.

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Day In Pictures

Not very exciting pictures, but picture nonetheless... I spent the day shopping at the tack store (new jeans, yay!), cleaning my tack for tomorrow, packing up the trailer, and wishing I could ride my pony. The fog is nuts, and it's supposed to hang around until tomorrow at 10am-ish. I pray there are no idiots out on the road while I'm driving to the show!

None of the after pictures of my saddle cleaning turned out very well, so you get a before picture instead. The after looks really nice, but you'll just have to trust me.

Oooooh... Ahhhhh...
Luna, the barn dog, supervised the event...
Do you has a cookie?
No seriously... the cookies?
Tomorrow's show is low key and hopefully will be a great experience for both of us. I'm excited to see how things go!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

It's In The Works!

There are a lot of dates to choose from when it comes to Paint shows. There are two Paint clubs in my general area, and a third if I really wanted to get crazy. The Carolina Paint Horse Club, the Palmetto Paint Horse Club, and the Virginia Paint Horse Club all hold shows in locations that are around three - four hours from me. The CPHC occasionally holds shows at the Bob Martin Eastern Agricultural Center in Williamston, NC which is less than two hours away, and I've been trying to make it to one of these shows for quite a few years now. Lilly and I showed there once before, but it wasn't a Paint show. The facility is amazing and we really enjoyed our weekend there.

I don't mind driving three hours to a show if we'll be there for the weekend, but some of the dates don't work out because of my work schedule, and some of them are too early in the year. I want to go to a number of local shows first and get Lilly back in shape before we spend $400 for a Paint show.

After looking through all the dates, it just so happens that CPHC is having a show at the Ag Center in July! It's a joint show with the VPHC and for some reason, it's four days long. They only have the dates posted, and not much actual information, so I'll have to get more details as they're posted. Right now, it's listed as two separate shows, both being two days with four judges. In a perfect world, Lilly and I show both shows. That'll depend on getting time off work, though.

I have two friends I show with who also ride Paints. M, who has been mentioned here before, and my other friend, L, who I met last year. M owns a mare named Baby, who is Lilly's true love. Just thinking of their time together makes me twitch a little bit... Anyway, I've spoken to both M and L and they're totally interested in going to the show in Williamston as well. So it's looking like a girl's weekend with our girls! (We all have mares!)

I know it's only January and July is quite a few months away, but I figure if I start making plans now and keep it in the forefront, it'll be more likely to come to fruition. I'm really excited!

Showing at a Paint show also means I need a new saddle. I can't show up for western pleasure in my $200 fixer-upper, so I'm in the market for something new. I dread the idea of shopping because I know how picky Lilly is, and there aren't a lot of western shops around where we can go to go try saddles.

I'm thinking perhaps I should stick with Dakota brand saddles since that's what my current saddle is, and I'll have a better idea as to how they're going to fit. I don't want anything super expensive or fancy, just a nice, lightweight, comfortable saddle with a little bit of silver. Something like this:

Dakota 600L
I'm not thrilled with the leather flap in front of the stirrups, but otherwise it's pretty much what I have pictured in my head. Luckily I have some time to think and shop around.

Keep your fingers crossed!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Easy Lopin'

Sunny and 65 degrees? Why yes, I would like that very much. Thank you, weather gods! Today was gorgeous! The next two days will be in the 60's, and then we're looking at 70's for the following four days. A whole week of gorgeous weather!

Saturday's forecast is sunny and 74, so I think I'll go ahead and take Lilly to the fun show I've been eyeballing. It'll be a great opportunity to get her off the farm and into the show ring where she loves to anticipate. The show series does participate in PAC, but I'm not planning to actually show at all, unless Lilly surprises me with her behavior.

Lilly and I had another great ride today. She was relaxed, happy, and content the entire ride. Our jogging exercises went well, and when it was time to lope, I decided to do some rail work. I've been avoiding the rail work for most of our rides, but every now and then I like to just let her lope. I don't pick at her, I don't ask her to slow down (unless things get crazy), I just let her lope using the whole arena.

The progress I've seen from her since starting this exercise last year has been nothing short of remarkable. Previously, her transitions resembled someone being shot out of a cannon, and she'd quickly gain speed until we were zooming around the arena like lunatics. Today's transitions looked like transitions should... stepping off into the lope (on a loose rein) and maintaining a nice, consistent pace. She's still too fast for western pleasure, but her reins are flopping and I get to just sit there, stay out of her way, and ride. As we lapped the arena over and over again, she she just loped along on a loose rein, I couldn't help but smile. I never thought I'd see the day when Lilly could lope on her own. It's such a wonderful feeling!

After quite a bit of easy loping, we did a few figure eights and she did really well with the lead changes. Because of the weather, she was quite sweaty when we were done, so I hopped off and walked her around the ring to cool off.

Ugly iPhone picture number 1...
And only slightly better iPhone picture number 2...
I just love, love, love my sweet mare and I have a good feeling about this year. :)

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Lots of Loping

Here's the pony after our ride today, sporting her new bridle. It was a wedding gift from Alex and eventually, once I decide on which mecate reins I want, it'll be my snaffle bridle. It's sort of a snaffle bridle today, just with the wrong reins. At least I have reins, though! Those are new lace rein ties you see! Found them on the eBays for cheap... bought two sets just in case. :)

Lookin' fancy!
We had a pretty good ride today and I couldn't complain even if I wanted to! Her western jog is SO nice and I wouldn't change a thing about it. She seems happy and content to jog around the arena nice and slow, with her head just right. I love it when cars drive past the arena when we're jogging because I know their drivers are super jealous! The only problem is I know she's not going to jog like that at the shows... at least not right away. It makes me sad. Hopefully after a couple schooling shows I can get her to stop anticipating and just do her job.

After I got our jogging exercises out of the way, it was time to move on to the lope. She's in much better shape than when we started and I can work her fairly hard for a good 20 minutes before she needs a breather. She worked SUPER in the snaffle today and I really do wish I could show in that thing... I think I'll work her more with the snaffle for a while and only switch bits a day or so before a show. At least while we're still doing a lot of training.

I've been trying to keep her off the rail when we lope. Up the middle and around the ends have been something we've done a lot of. We do normal figure eights too, but I like doing up the middle exercises because she has a hard time keeping a straight line... she gets all noodley without the rail or a circle to use as a crutch. It also keeps her a bit more on her toes and it's helping with the Anticipation Queen's need to anticipate our every move.

It has also been helping with her leads. She's spot on 90% of the time, but every now and then (I think when she's tired), she'll try to take the wrong lead. Going up the middle makes her listen to the cue, again, without using the circle and rail as a crutch for helping her determine which lead I asked for. She actually has to LISTEN for a change. It's quite nice really. The tight turns at the ends of the arena are good for her too. She's getting much better and making those turns smoothly.

After our up the middle exercises, we worked on figure eights. When I'm working on simple changes, I like to use the circles. I'll switch leads and circles every other time, or every three times, just so she doesn't think we're changing in the middle every time.

Sometimes I think she uses her brain too much. Just let me tell you what to do, Lilly... it's so much easier for both of us!

She actually did a flying change on her own today, although it was ugly and full of attitude. There had been a couple times when she didn't switch to the correct lead, so I asked her to come back down again, and then she'd pick it up when I asked the next time. The time she did the flying change, I sat deep, asked for the trot stride, then asked for the right lead and she didn't change. As I was repeating the process, she flung her head up, swished her tail, pinned her ears, and did a flying change. It's almost like she screamed at me, "I KNOW, WOMAN!! DANG!!"

It gives me hope that she understands what's going on, but perhaps just can't always figure out exactly how to do it yet. She has been tricky for me to train sometimes because I don't always know the best way to ask her for stuff. Certain things work right away, and other times I really have to try over and over again in different ways. So hopefully she understands me! She definitely tries hard and wants to please so I reward any effort on her part so she knows she's doing the right thing.

I get a much better lope out of her when we're circling, and her left lead lope has come along quite nicely. She's still a bit unbalanced and is quite a bit faster on her right lead, but that's always been her more difficult way.

I was very happy with her today and look forward to another good ride tomorrow!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Which Clinic Is Best??

Oh the agony!! I'm torn... SO TORN!!

Why do such wonderful horsey things always have to fall on the same day? WHY?!

I mentioned at some point last year that I wanted to dabble in western dressage a little bit. I didn't have much opportunity last year, so I've been keeping my eyes open for western dressage related shows and clinics this year. Well, it just so happens there's one this month, and it's just the kind of event I've been looking for. It's about a 3 hour drive and starts at 8am (hello early morning), but I think it would be a lot of fun.

I hopped over to my calendar to save the day and BAM! There it is... the conflict! I already have a show clinic scheduled for that same Saturday. JCHSS is having a judge come out to coach and judge showmanship, english equitation, western horsemanship, and trail. I was going to sign up for showmanship and horsemanship to get some pointers as we kick off the show season. There's also going to be a swap and shop going on at the same time (shopping... woohoo!).

I would take Lilly to the JCHSS show clinic, but I wouldn't take her to the dressage clinic. They're allowing 12 horses, but I don't think we're quite ready to participate in the clinic. I think the JCHSS clinic would be a bit more beneficial for us, but I really, REALLY want to go to that dressage clinic.

I'll probably end up taking her to the show clinic... both are first come, first served so I need to decide and send in my paperwork. I wish they weren't happening the same weekend. So bummed.

Lilly's sniffer is working hard trying to find cookies!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Good Changes!

Okay, so the one down side I've found to the Renegade hoof boots is they are REALLY picky about the hooves they allow to be strapped inside them. It's a good thing I do most of Lilly's trims, or I'd be in trouble. Before I could ride today, I had to bust out the rasp and work on her hooves a little bit. To be fair, it's been about 6 weeks since Rebecca was out to trim, but still... Lilly doesn't really grow a lot of hoof. I really just had to shape them a bit, but I also trimmed her bars and scraped out some dead sole. As I was doing so, I noticed something VERY interesting! A certain someone is finally growing some hoof wall! I snapped a picture of her right front, since it had the most growth, but my camera was being a whore and wouldn't take the downward shot I wanted. So you can't really tell very well in this picture, but we have growth!

Funky angle thanks to my stupid camera...
Is it the new supplement? Perhaps the new feed? Or, could it be that we've finally been getting some rain and it's helping her hoof condition? That's the crappy thing about so many changes going on at once, but it's possible that they're all contributing. I'm just thrilled to see it, and thrilled that Lilly is eating her feed without complaint!

Speaking of feed and changes, look who is losing her giant belly!

November 19th
Again, is it the new feed or the exercise? I'm sure it's both, but I wonder if it's more the feed or the exercise... she might be consuming fewer calories, but not by much. Now I'm waiting for someone to tell me she's too skinny!

We had a pretty good ride today. Lilly is making a lot of progress with her lope, and while she's not western pleasure slow, I can leave her on a loose rein and not feel like we're racing around the arena at warp speed. We've been working a lot on transitions and leads and she's making some good progress there as well. She's still a challenge, though, because she never wants to wait until I ask, so I've been trying to keep her guessing so there's less anticipation on her part. I'm not sure it's working, but I think I'm going to switch her back to the snaffle for a little while. Sometimes she works better that way.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

2013 Goals

I have high hopes for this coming year. I might be repeating myself over and over again, but I want to mention one last time how Lilly and I are in the best place we've been in a while. We have a saddle that fits, a bit we both like, hooves that don't hurt, and we're both ready for the best show season yet! To help keep myself motivated during those inevitable "down moments", I'm going to set some goals that really push the limits for us. Hopefully I'm not setting us up for a disappointing year, and hopefully we both stay happy and healthy! (Pray to the pony gods with me!)

So without further ado, here are our 2013 goals!

1. Take Lilly to a breed show. - I have a couple choices here. There are two Paint clubs in my general area, the Palmetto Paint Horse Club, and the Carolina Paint Horse Club. Neither of them are actually "close", and while I prefer the CPHC, sometimes the PPHC actually holds shows that are closer to me. Either one will suffice, I just need to pick the right weekend and start making plans.

2. Accumulate ten PAC points in showmanship. - A goal that is definitely attainable for us, if we manage to get out there to the different shows. The most difficult part about getting points in showmanship is that not very many people show in the class. In order to get one point, there have to be 3-5 people in the class and I have to place first. There are usually about 5 of us total, so unless we pull off a win, we go home without any points. That means we really have to hit the shows hard this year!

3. Obtain an APHA Certificate of Recognition in walk trot. We're at 17 points and we need 20, so I am sure this is something we'll be able to accomplish.

4. Apply for memberships with JCHSS, CMHA, and TWHA, and attend enough shows with each show series to qualify for year end awards. For each series, it's five shows. This one might be a bit tough, only because my work schedule dictates which shows I can attend, so I'll have to wait and see for sure when the show dates are scheduled, but I would love to make this a reality.

5. I'm planning to show mostly western this year, with a few english classes thrown in to help with year end awards, but I want to get at least three PAC points in western pleasure. Why only three, you ask? Most of the classes around here are walk trot or go as you please, which both count as walk trot. With the small number of actual western pleasure classes, and this really being our first year as a western team, I would be thrilled with three points.

I think if we can accomplish these goals, we will have an extremely successful show season. I can't wait to get it started!

Kicking off the new year!
Oh yeah, and I have one other goal that isn't really Lilly related, but more blog related. I want to try REALLY hard to post at least one picture on every blog post, even if it's an ugly iPhone picture of sweet, precious Lilly.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Review of 2012 Goals

My goals for 2012 were a little vague... I need to do a better job for 2013 so I'll know if I actually attained those goals!

Basic Goals for 2012

1. Hooves, hooves, hooves! I want to continue to work on Lilly's hooves and the thickness of her soles. X-rays will be in order again later in the year to see how much they've grown since the x-rays in 2011.
We didn't do any x-rays because I felt like it wouldn't really be worth our time. My trimmer said it was obvious that Lilly's soles were still quite thin, but I will say we made definite progress in the hoof department, even if we're not quite where we want to be. This barefoot thing is a process, for sure!

2. I want to stay consistent in my riding and work Lilly at a minimum of three days per week, although four is preferred.
Yeah, that didn't happen. Not even close! Although, we started out the first half of the year off to a great start, but I was just too busy with the wedding to be able to ride with any kind of consistency.

3. For those three and four day work weeks, I want to go into the arena with a plan.
This is what I mean by "our goals were vague". What kind of plan, exactly? I always had things to work on, but we didn't really have a schedule to follow.

4. I would love to take some lessons. This might not be the year to start having regular lessons because of wedding costs, but maybe I can take a lesson here and there. Ideally, I would prefer to take lessons on someone else's horse so I can get a better gauge of my riding skills.
I didn't take actual lessons last year, but I did work with Alex quite a bit, so I'd say this was a minor success.

5. I really want to get a western saddle.
Yay! We got our western saddle and we love it!

6. My main goal for 2012 is to keep Lilly healthy and happy! I want her to see a chiropractor early this year and also investigate the possible UFP. She's already lost some weight (had to use the next hole up on the girth!) and I think she's looking good!
Well, I think she's happy and healthy, although we never did see a chiropractor. The vet came out and evaluated her for UFP and we went with Adequan to help her be a little less stiff, so we were mostly successful!

Show Goals

If this was a normal year (i.e. not the year I get married!) I would probably set a few more show related goals for us to work toward. Because of time constraints and a need to save money for the wedding, the actual 2012 show season will be scaled down a bit.

1. I want to attend at least one show every other month.
That's a big, fat negative. We made it to quite a few the first half of the year, but we just ran out of time during the second half.

2. I'm hoping our show in July will be a Paint show.
Nope. Big bummer...

3. I hope to get at least five more showmanship points and three performance points.
We only got one showmanship point, but we got 8 performance points. 9 PAC points isn't bad, even if they weren't the ones I was hoping for!

I'm very excited about what 2013 holds! May it be a great year for all of us and our horses! :)