Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Dazzle Mentioned In CRHA Journal

Dazzle and I are the only members of the Colorado Ranger Horse Assn. in Oregon. We are also the only ones doing Dressage through their Open Show Point Program. In the journal, Rangerbred News, the manager of the Open Show Point Program gave a shout-out to a few of the people in the program. This is a photo of the little mention. It is in the July/August, 2009 issue.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Calf-Sorting 2.0

Saturday I took Ashley to the Wagon Wheelers arena for calf-sorting practice. They were supposed to have practice for a couple hours, then jack-pot sorting, but there were a bunch of events this weekend and so the turnout for the sorting was small so they just did the practice. It was my first time driving the truck we bought and using the trailer that is now MINE. It is the truck that was my brother-in-law's and the trailer that was my mother-in-law's. We made it there fine, safe and in one piece. We tacked up the horses and loaded them up. When we arrived we just pulled them out and tied them up. We chatted with Don Johnson and signed up for the sorting. Then we put on our bridles and rode around in the arena, walk/trot/canter. Ashley was scared to canter at first but I told her she had too and she did great.

Then, the man running the sorting let us go in with the cows and walk around in them since we are new to calf-sorting. Ashley got the hang of steering back and forth in the cows. Gypsy is a cow horse so she knew what she was doing, but Ashley had never done any cow work before. Dazzle was much calmer than last time.

Trudy and Andy arrived and Don sent them to get one of his horses for Trudy to ride. She returned with Handy, an Appy that looks like a bulldog on dachshund legs. He is a trail horse first and apparently also a cow horse. I don't think he's ever competed, but he knows what he's supposed to do. We talked and walked around in the waiting arena.

Then the sorting started and since there weren't many people there we got to go in for four runs. I ran with a lady that I had taken a college class from a few years ago twice and then twice with a girl named Kelsie that shows barrel racing with her paint mare, Patches. She is another advocate of doing everything you can in a snaffle. Her horse rides in lime green and it looks good on them. We had a great time and even had a run with only 2 cows out of order.

Michelle rode her mom's horse over from their house as it's only a block away and we talked and rode in the arena together a bit between my runs. Then she headed home, she wasn't able to do the calf-sorting this time. I'm hoping she'll get to next time.

Our last run was good and I felt like I didn't fight with Dazzle much; she was starting to figure out the game and was letting me direct her instead of arguing with me. I did had to borrow spurs from Kelsie because I ended up without mine. They were much bigger than mine, but she didn't act any different for them. I think I'm going to have to get actual western spurs to do the western stuff with, lol. My English spurs may just not be cutting it for cows.

It's really challenging and I felt tempted to decide not to do cows anymore, but after thinking about it, I decided that maybe that means I need to keep doing it because it's a challenge. Then we had our last run where it felt more like we were working as a team and that was encouraging. My secret dream is to have her doing well in totally different categories and Dressage-Calf-Sorting would definitely count!

Ashley did great, didn't complain the whole day, even though it took her two hours of figure 8's and circles to get Gypsy to stand still. Gypsy had a ball and was quiet excited. We will definitely be going again.

The New Girl Gets a Name!

Tuesday was a happy and sad day. Wednesday was all happy! We put Ashley horse in western tack and I tacked up Dazzle and we rode through the field to Grandma's where we stopped to say hi, then rode around the block. Ashley horse cantered down the lane next to Dazzle fast! Ashley was surprised; Thunder was never that fast. I deemed her the "Mare with a mission"; she walks so fast! She left Dazzle in the dust. By the end of the ride Ashley had declared her horse better than mine in that she is taller (15.3H to Daz's 15.2H), has longer mane and tail, AND walks faster. lol.

Thursday, we put a snaffle bit on the new horse and my extra dressage saddle. I showed Ashley how I get a horse used to giving to the pressure put on the bit. The horse picked it up quickly. Then I got on and rode her a bit. She is way heavier in your hands than Dazzle, but was quickly picking up the idea of giving to the bit and going on the bit when asked. I walked and trotted her in a circle. Next, Ashley got on and I took pictures and yelled pointers. They did well, and Ashley was encouraged that her new mare would be able to do Dressage. I was impressed; I lunged her both ways and on her blind side I used voice commands and she was great!

Friday, Ashley decided on a name for her new horse; Gypsy! I think it fits and we've both been able to remember it, so it looks like it's the right name. We had decided my extra Dressage saddle was too narrow for Gypsy so we put my Wintec on her and it looked like a better fit. I got on and walked and trotted and tried her with a crop to reinforce my leg. She was fine with it, even on her blind side. I went around the arena twice as she seemed nervous at the far end. Then I cantered her both directions. She felt like she wasn't sure what to do once in the canter, but she was better than I expected. I could steer, she knew the aid for the transition. She will progress quickly I think. She is still too much at the canter for Ashley to handle practicing Dressage, but they did great walk/trot working on the circle. They are at the bobbing stage of going on the bit. She is a very bright horse and I think she will be ready for intro level in no time.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The End and The Beginning

Yesterday was a sad and happy day. First, my old gelding Thunder (show name, Stealin' Your Thunder) went down hill last week and I made the hard decision to put him down. Thunder was between 28 and 33 (Ashley and I always called him 33 as it was cooler) and had been with me since 2005 except for two breaks where he lived with other families teaching kids to ride. Thunder taught me to jump, drive a cart, and take care of old horses. He taught Ashley to canter, ride bareback, and won her a Reserve Hi-Point 11-17 with the CEA for the Umatilla Sage Raders show series in 2007. He neck-reined for western and adored pole-bending and barrel racing. He also did quadrille practice, I took Dressage lessons on him and showed him Hunt Seat. He was also one of the best trail horses I ever met. He taught multiple children to ride. Ashley's sister, Maddy, took several lessons on him and did her first solo ride on him only weeks ago. I always knew he would never be a pasture pet, he would be galloping one day and just gone the next. I just didn't know how right I would be. Thunder did a difficult trail ride just a couple weeks ago. He was star, did better than our younger horses. Then, last week, he stopped eating all his food and was dehydrated. I moved him to a different paddock and he ate a little more, but not with his usual appetite. He spent all his time standing in the shade under his tree and no longer nickered to me when he heard me at the house. He was always the one to yell the loudest that he wanted food. He didn't run around anymore, didn't glare at the other horses not to eat his mush. He barely moved around and looked very stiff. He looked "tucked" up by his hips and started dragging his back toes. This all happened within days. Dr. Adams said he probably had kidney failure and definitely had something neurological going on since he was dragging his back feet. She said he wasn't even pasture safe because of that. She said it was definitely time to let him go. Ashley and her mother and I were there when he went. He made it very easy on us. He laid down spine-up. Like he was sleeping, his head resting on the ground. I was shocked, usually horses lay on their side and look dead. We hugged him and cried and said goodbye.

Then, I sent Ashley home for a couple hours and went into high-gear. Ashley knew we were doing a small celebration of her birthday as it was this last weekend while she was out of town. I had made cupcakes. What she didn't know was that I had gotten her her OWN horse. I went and picked up the horse and then positioned the trailer so I could tie the horse behind it and you couldn't see it unless you were in the field. I tied a purple ribbon on her halter. Grandma brought me icing and ice cream. I iced the cupcakes and got everything ready. Everyone arrived and we ate cupcakes and ice cream. I asked her what her birthday wish was after we sang. "My own horse, of course!" she said, everyone laughed. I have her a riding helmet and a pair of breeches. Her mom had told her I had a gift for her, so she thought this was it. Then, I told her she should take everyone down to see Dazzle since that is who she would be riding now. She had family there that didn't know Dazzle, so she thought that was a good idea and everyone trooped down to the paddocks. As we went by the paddocks they asked who owned each horse and Ashley was telling them, "That's Trudy's horse", and "That's Bethany's horse." As they crowded around Dazzle's paddock, I pulled the new horse from behind the trailer and walked up behind the group. I yelled, "Ashley!". She turned around. As she did I said, "And this is YOUR horse." She started screaming, Oh MyGod, Oh My god! and crying. She ran up and threw her arms around the mare's neck crying and still saying "I can't believe it", etc. It was awesome. Her parent's were crying and my grandma was crying. I teared up too, it was perfect. The mare stood there, totally stoic about the crying teenager on her neck. The most amazing part is that his mare is blind in one eye. Wasn't spooked in the least.

Ashley walked the mare around a bit and I told her about it. She is a 24 yr old reg. Appy mare. She is even chestnut. Ashley has always wanted a chestnut mare and had recently decided she wanted an Appy. She is thrilled. She gave her a bath and detangled her mane and tail. Then I took some pictures of them walking in the arena. A couple hours later the mare's former owner dropped by and signed the sales agreement and gave us her papers. She gave us her email so we can send pictures and updates. Ashley was happy she got to meet her horse's previous owner.

Next, Ashley put her horse in the paddock that had been Thunder's and showed her around. Then she had to go through the paper work with me. She is going to work off board to have her at my house and have me supply hay for her. She was still not sure it wasn't a dream when she went home last night. She is supposed to ride her today for the first time, so hopefully that all goes well.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Dressage Show Results!

My nerves about did me in yesterday, I was starting to get dizzy waiting for my last class. The first class was crazy. It was Trail class and I've done it at schooling shows before, it's always drawn out and pinned to the fence to memorize before you go in. So I get there, find the paper...and it's a LONG dressage test with like, 13 movement directions. I had 10 minutes to try to memorize the thing. It wasn't drawn out, so I looked at an arena picture to get bearings for the test. All of us were freaking out about how we were going to remember this thing. Finally someone thought to ask if we could have a reader since in lower levels of Dressage you can. Thankfully, we could have it read. Melissa read for me. We made it through! I forgot where I was supposed to halt at the end and whether I was supposed to get there walking or trotting. Otherwise, we made it okay. Dazzle would stand next to the mounting block for me to get on so I got on without it. I got marked down for that. If I do it again next year, I'll know more what I'm supposed to do and we'll do better.

My first class was Intro B, a walk/trot. I was shaking, but we headed in. I made a mistake heading into my first 20 meter circle; I tried to start it at S! I realized I was in the wrong place and straightened out so it looked like I just faded off the wall a few steps and no one knew what had happened until I told them, haha. I was focusing on having a steady trot rhythm instead of going forward which wouldn't have stayed steady. I felt pretty good about that test, though I felt pretty silly about trying to start my circle at S.

I stayed on my horse and watched the other riders until my last test. I did a few transitions to warm up and headed in. That was when I felt I might faint, I felt light-headed. I had made sure I ate breakfast or it would have been worse.

We started out fine. I had a moment where I thought I forgot a trot diagonal, then remembered there are none in Training 1. We made it through our canter left. We had good geometry. We headed into canter right, and that end of the arena was deep and wet. I asked and she took canter. I look down and she looked on the wrong lead and felt like it with how frantic her gait felt. I dropped to trot for two strides and asked again. We got the correct lead and finished the test. We got out of the arena and Melissa told me I had been on the right lead the whole time! So again, my biggest error in the test was ME not Dazzle. I didn't really care though, I was just happy to be done.

Melissa came up with the scores for my first two tests, she was freaking out. I got a 75.8% on Trail and a 4th place ribbon, and 69.5% on Intro B with a 2nd place ribbon...I had lost to HER; she and Bayberry got a 79%!!!!! That score won her the Hi-Point for the day and she won a beautiful Dressage saddle pad with BMDCTA embroidered on it on one side and a rider on a dressage horse on the other. She was thrilled. She said when she saw the score she crumpled onto the ground and cried. She worked SOOO hard for that score. When she told me my scores I started to cry too. I was just hoping optimistically for a 65%. When my Training 1 test score came in, I was a little disappointed it was a 57.4%, but that was 2nd place out of 4, so it was just a harder test. They score harder every step up, so a ride worth a 69 at intro is only a 57 at training. I beat older ladies, so I feel good about it. I lost the first place to Annie, a friend who was riding her huge Appy/TB gelding. She about fainted when I told her she'd won because she had accidentally done a late canter/trot transition.

So, I ended up with 2 2nds and a 4th for the day, and and least two scores that will count for ACAAP and CRBA points. I don't know if they'll accept the Trail score. I got all the paperwork ready to send in and so tomorrow I will be able to drop it in the mail.

Norman video-taped our Intro B's and my Training class and Ted took over 1200 pictures with the digital camera. I will have pictures up and video as soon as I can.

We were both thrilled with how many people showed up to support us, at least 75% of the crowd was my family and friends. Thank you guys! It was awesome to have someone cheering us on, I've never gotten to have people at shows like that. I appreciate it and I can't wait to see what we can do next year!

This is the only show planned for this year, so now we start work for next year. I'm hoping money and the help of someone to groom will allow me to show more next year. The plan is to do a Training test and a First level test, but if we aren't quite to showing 1st level we'll do more than 1 of the training tests. Melissa is hoping to show 2nd level next year as her big goal. Everyone at the show banned her from showing Intro ever again, lol. Both Rae and Trish were there cheering us on and they were thrilled with our results. Patrica especially knows how far Dazzle and I have come and was beaming after our tests. We couldn't have made it this far without her.

I told Melissa that next year I'll put her down as my coach since I didn't make a fool of us this year, lol. Hopefully we can make great progress again this year to surprise ourselves at next years show.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Big Day!

Yesterday I rode in the morning in my arena. She was perfect! I only rode like 15 minutes since she was good. Then, Ashley and I bathed Dazzle, cleaned tack, braided Dazzle, got all my stuff ready, then helped Melissa get ready.

It's not 7:12 AM. I fed everyone at 6:20, then got dressed in my comfy clothes and washed dishes to keep my mind distracted. I'm eating even though I'm not hungry because otherwise I get shaky and that's never helpful at a show. Lots of family and friends are supposed to be coming to watch which is awesome, I hope they all show up, but also adds to the nerve-wracking-ness of the day.

I just hope we get through the tests without spooking, bucking, forgetting the pattern, taking the wrong gait or lead, or generally making a fool of us. We'll see.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

FINALLY, A Good Ride!

Yesterday I rode in the morning. She was AWFUL. She kept trying to jog no matter what I did, took the wrong lead at canter, etc. I had to spin her around, make her move off my leg, it was a disaster. I couldn't get the feeling I had before trying to get my legs to relax. I was starting to feel like I shouldn't even bother with Dressage and should just do western, but that feels like giving up or cheating.

Today we trailered Dazzle to the Ranch and I rode in the indoor arena with Melissa coaching. It was amazing. We got an awesome canter, worked on trotting center-lines, walking on two diagonals. She was super. I think she likes the super footing in there. It's SO nice. It was a perfect ride. I only ended up riding like 20 minutes because she was so good. If we can do that at the show we'll have nothing to worry about. It was just what I needed. I was starting to get discouraged after our messy ride yesterday.

Mister, Mister

Mister is a 3 yr old gelding that my mother in law bought last year as a two year old. I convinced her not to try to start him as a two yr old. Melissa and I have been working on him this spring. We sent Sparkles back to Trudy's house and brought Mister here. Melissa did some ground work with him and he magical stopped jumping around, walking over the top of you and rearing. She did round-penning with him at the ranch with help from Ali. THey spent 2 and half hours on him and he FINALLY turned his head in and quit bucking and kicking at them.

Melissa and I took him back Friday and took turns round-penning him. I rode him about ten minutes after doing all my "scary stuff" to him.

So, I rode him again a few days ago here in the arena. I lunged him, then Melissa lunged him, both with side reins on the bit but the lunge line on the halter. Then I got on and rode a little. He wasn't doing ANYTHING, so I had her take the lead line off. We rode walk circle-eights trying to get him to walk when I squeezed. I had to wallop and wallop to get any movements, haha. He was halting from my seat with no rein by the time I finished riding. It was about 20 minutes probably.

Melissa rode him yesterday. She didn't lunge and just got on. They walked circle eights and then he didn't want to go. He bucked! She said she was expecting it, but she still ended up on his neck. He was unphased. She didn't let him get away with it; she got back in the saddle and made him walk. He didn't try it again. So, he HAS got some spunk in him still, but he'll figure out it's easier to do what we ask soon enough, lol.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Practicing, Practicing

Yesterday I rode with Melissa watching. I worked a lot on trotting trying to stay straight so Daz would be straight and not wobbly. We worked on the walk and a little canter. We worked a lot on trying to figure out what to do with my leg to make it lay comfortably, but correctly on Dazzle's side. It's a project as it seems I'm fighting my leg conformation every step of the way. We tried lengthening the stirrups which seemed to help. I tried to really relax my leg and not grab at her side. It is difficult. I'm so used to trying to keep her walking by squeezing all the time and I have to quit that and get her to where she'll stay at the speed requested until I ask for a change WITHOUT me bumping all the time.

Today, I rode early. She was a mess. She kept trying to job or trot at the walk. Ignoring me when I asked her to walk when we were going at a faster gait. She wouldn't stay in the canter or take the transition well. I got a couple decent circles and gave up. We did a bunch of walk/trot and walk/halt transitions trying to keep her from jogging all the time. It was frustrating. We did a bunch of work on the two diagonals on the long rein. If we screw up canter we could at least rock at walk. lol.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Sunday's Coaching session

Today I spent an hour practicing test movements and actually ran through both of them with Melissa coaching from the side lines. Intro B wasn't horrible. She said to make sure I don't speed up on the diagonals and to look at my circles more, not ride so straight. I'm always riding too straight, forget to look around the circles. Then we worked on the canter. My training 1 was way better than last year, but she took the wrong lead to the right first try and I had to do a circle and try again. It wasn't too bad other wise, so we practiced canter some more. I worked without spurs and with a whip the first run-throughs, then without anything during the practice of the individual movements. If I remember to keep my legs relaxed and not grab her sides then I can use my leg to keep her forward. It's a trick to do everything at once, I feel lucky to have Melissa here to watch so I know what I need to work on. Otherwise we'll never get very far. If she behaves and I can remember the tests and keep coordinated then we'll do okay. The hardest part will be not letting her break gait, up OR down, during the tests. The two things I'm mainly worried about are getting the correct lead canters for the Training test and then the two diagonal-long-rein walk in the intro. That thing is HARD. You have to go on long rein from the corner to x bent one way, then get to x, switch corners you're aiming for and switch bend. All on the long rein with a nice walk. It's not easy. If Dazzle took her leads better and kept cantering better then training would be easier than the intro.

Trubo's Big Day

Friday I got up worried as I found Turbo's paddock empty. I called Andy and learned that they had taken Turbo home because he and Sparkles were going to be in the Weston parade. I was a little concerned because I wasn't sure Turbo was quite Andy-proofed, but I had confidence that Turbo would be a good boy if Andy made him behave. I reminded Andy that if Turbo was stubborn or scared to pull him nose around and make him do little circles. Turbo HATES this and will always behave if circles are the other choice.

Saturday, Andy came over and informed us that Turbo was "a jewel". He was the steady-eddy for the other horses. The only thing he was concerned about was when the motorcycles in front of them started revving their engines and doing wheelies and stuff. And it must not have been much since Andy could handle it fine. AND to top it off, they did the parade in a...wait for it...SNAFFLE. Take that all you old cowboys who told Trudy he had to be ridden in a gag-barrel-racing-shanked-piece of equipment. Andy said he even neck-reined fine. In the snaffle. And Andy doesn't do leg-aides, so that means he was only neck-reining. AWESOME. We are SOOO proud of him. Andy could even see the difference in how confident and comfortable Turbo is now, quite the difference from the scared, confused gelding they first brought home.

They didn't go to the judging unfortunately, but they got a participation ribbon for showing up. They were there as part of the re-enactment group, "Guns and Roses". Trudy wore a corset top and skirt and a gun on her hip. They had a ball. It's so nice to hear that a horse you have been training is working out for their owners. That is another horse whose life is better from having been here with me. Thank you Michelle for all the hours you put on him! He owes you!

Friday Training

(Spotless playing with his Jolly ball recently)

I worked Spotless in the round-pen at the ranch where Melissa boards. I did everything I could think of. We did bag-on-stick, grain bag in the air, surcingle, side-reins on the surcingle, saddle, side-rein hooked to the cinch. He round-penned a lot better than he lunges. His cues were sharp. Walk/trot/canter no problem. He even turns in when asked to switch, not out to the wall. We wore the bit and let me bit him up no issues. Before I put the saddle on I had him stand next to the mounting block and I danced and wiggled and acted scary. Then I pushed on his back. I laid on his back. Nothing. He would have let me throw my leg over and just head off. He is going to be so easy to ride when he's old enough. He just turned two on the 26th so he's not going to get to be ridden till probably next Spring, but he's going to be ready when the time comes. After that, he went into the barn and got put in the cross ties and got hosed down. He did good for his first time. I tied him out with Dazzle after that to dry in the sun.

Mister went into the round-pen next. He had been watching from the larger riding round-pen. When he saw me take his halter off the fence he CANTERED over to be caught. SUCH a different boy from when he got here. It's hard to believe there was a time he was hard to catch. I round penned him a bit, then Melissa did a bit, she had worked with him before and wanted to make sure he was being submissive and behaved before I took over with the "scary stuff". He tossed his head, looked out, and kicked at her a couple times, but she kept making him run when he was naughty and eventually he started looking at her more respectfully and listening better. FINALLY, he stopped and followed her around the pen which she said she'd never been able to get him to do before, so it was definitely a victory. She had worked him twice before and he has gone from a naughty, on the verge of dangerous, obnoxious, colt to a friendly, handleable gelding.

After the round-penning I did all my scary stuff and after his work-out none of it phased him. NONE of it. He'd never done any of it before and he still was not scared of it. The round-penning for respect had apparently done the trick. I put on the side-reins and surcingle and he handled that great, then the saddle and side-reins, did that great. Finally, I was out of anything to do but get on. Melissa came in and held the lead-rope and I laid on him and wiggled and talked and then swung a leg over. I rocked and wiggled and whooped. He dropped his head and seemed relieved I was JUST sitting there; no scary bags or running around or anything. We walked around the pen with Melissa leading. I rocked and rubbed my legs on him. Nothing scared him. He wouldn't walk off my leg. But, he didn't spook from my trying to get him to. I had done yielding to the bit exercises on the ground and he gave to the big both sides. He kind of steers. So, not bad for the first ride.

Next time, I will try to get him walking when I squeeze my legs and steering a little. I was thinking about it afterwards and Mister is the 6th horse that I have been the first person on. Kind of cool.

Trail Ride

Last week we did a trail ride to Bennington Lake. We took Melissa and Bayberry, me and Dazzle, and Michelle and Turbo. We met Michelle and tacked up and headed out. We went around the lake, which included walking in the few inches of water in the reservoir, then down onto a path that goes past a field and into the trees. Then Melissa took Bayberry back to the trailer to work on her mane and Michelle and I went around again doing most of it cantering. We had a blast. Before heading off, Melissa canter Bayberry a little and she was a angel. Didn't try to race at all! Michelle and I cantered single file down the bunny trails and took turns leading. Michelle said she was able to neck-rein with just a touch of direct now and then in the snaffle. That is SUCH a success. We are so proud of him!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Tuesday and Wednesday Sessions

Yesterday Melissa coached me for an hour. It went by fast! She did really well for no Dressage practice in over a month. We did a lot of trot trying to get more forward. We did canter. Her up and down transitions from Canter need work so we did a lot of that. She didn't want to take the canter to the right and actually threw a big buck, but she got over it. I tried without my little spurs and she liked that better, but it was a lot harder to get forward. So, I am going to have to figure out how to get her to go forward without them so I don't NEED them. I don't want to HAVE to have them to get forward. I could try the crop again, but it usually makes me lose focus to try to add that to the mix. Our circles are much rounder and the trot is getting there. If I look where I'm going and not at her head it helps a bunch, lol.

This morning I got up at 7 AM and rode for 20 minutes. We did trot and she kept tipping her butt to the inside. We worked on our forward. Then we did a little canter. She was good overall so I called it a day. We are going trail riding later so I didn't want to wear her out. If we can do our best in the show we'll be fine. I'm just worried she'll fall apart or I'll fall apart and it'll be a mess.