Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Great Reading!

My good friend Laura is giving away one of her books today!  Check it out. 
The link below takes you to Amazon to get the book for FREE!

I have read the entire series and each book takes you to a different place and time in the life of Dr. Gail McCarthy.  She is a believable character and the accuracy of the "horse world" is excellent. 

Have fun reading. 


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

I was consistant!

Now you might think that was a good thing - but not so much!  Another -0- in the rookie class.  Really.  I don't know what the heck is going on with me that I have such a hard time in that class.  And it was all ME.  I got through the entire pattern, counted my turnarounds, did my circles, had a little trouble with a lead change but worked through it and then....  forgot to finish my last wrap around and stopped - a very nice stop - on the wrong side of the arena.  The scribe is a friend of mine and as I started to back Semper up I heard her say (in a very scolding voice) "KELLY - you were supposed to end over there!" I thought the judge was going to smack her.  Instead he just chuckled.  I had no idea what I had done wrong. I just had to laugh. It was too pathetic to cry over.

I had rode the non pro class first and had a little trouble with Semper on my right to left lead change. He changed in front but didn't change in the back - I knew it the minute it happened but it took me a circle and a half to get him lined out. By that time my score was dismal to say the least.  I have never had a problem with him doing that before. I went out and schooled my lead changes and probably over did it because in the rookie class he was anticipating the changes way to much and changed before I asked. UGH

It was a rough start to the show season but it was a start. And you have to start somewhere - Right? 

Last weekend SCR hosted an FFA Horse Judging day.  I have been asked to ride for the FFA kids before but hadn't done it in a couple of years.  The new trainers at the barn asked me to run one pattern on Saturday morning.  I was kind of surprised because they were at the show. They saw my less than stellar performance in the rookie class. Hellooooo..... Forgot the pattern.  I decided that they must have been looking for an "obvious bottom"  ha ha...  On Friday night I went out and moved Semper around a little and the trainer says to me... "Get some peppermints, put one in your mouth and read over your pattern tonight, then tomorrow do the same thing.  Just before you go in to run your pattern put another peppermint in your mouth - it will help you focus." At this point I will try anything.  I got a box of Mini Sugar Free Altoids - I need all the peppermint I can get - and followed her directions.  Mr. Wonderful thought I was nuts. The next morning with about 200 FFA kids watching - I ran my pattern. Perfectly.  I don't know if it was the peppermints or just the the fact that it wasn't the rookie class... but if felt good to have a nice run. And boy was Mr. Semper on. He just floated around his circles and changed leads perfectly.  We could have done a few things a little better - our turnarounds were not as fast as I would have liked but they were average. Our stops were better than last year but he can still do better. Our roll backs were good, not a lot of snap to them but he came out of them on the same path and loped right off. No U turns, no trotting.  All and all it felt pretty good to just Get'er Done.

Bringing Bob home this Sunday.  More on that later. 

I'm riding Lily again.  She has had a year off to heal up. Her legs look good, no bumps or lumps and she is moving sound.  She seems to be happy to be back at work.  Taking her to a versatility clinic in a couple of weeks to see how she handles it. 

Scooter is home babysitting Axle.  And Axle... well - he is going to lose his manhood soon, very soon.

Friday, March 1, 2013

First show of 2013!

Saturday is the first show at SCR.  This is the same series that I have done for the last 3 years.  The weather here has been absolutely beautiful.  High 60's and mostly sunny.  These are the kind of days that make me so content living in Northern California. So my plan for Saturday... to do better than last year. I don't care about winning or losing but I want to be more consistant. Last year I rode Semper in the Rookie class four times. And I was consistant. I scored a big fat -0- all four times.  The goal is to just get a score.  Ride the pattern without forgetting it, count my turnarounds, concentrate on my riding and look where I am going. I also rode the Non-Pro Limited last year and I did fairly well in that class.  This year I would like to see my scores stay above 67.5.  I know that doesn't seem like much to aspire to, but it is for me and the big white horse. And that is who I am competing against. I am competing against the rider I was last year.

Here is my little mental checklist:

Sit back.
Look up.
Look a quarter circle ahead. 
Stay sitting center in the turn arounds.
Relax and breathe deep.
Ride for a 70!
Expect and visualize what I need to have happen.
Raise my expections!

You might notice that none of my checklist is for Semper.  He knows his job.

If it is to be, it is up to me.

And... my friends Holly and Laura are showing at this show!  This is the first time either of them will have shown reining.  Wishing them the best. 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Bob Harley update


Bob Harley is growing up. Fast. His body has taken on the look of a mature horse with a head that still fits into a yearling halter.  He is 15+ hands, maybe 1100 lbs, conformationally correct, nice big black feet, a chest and hip that are pretty, pretty, pretty. His brain however, is light years from maturity.  He meets me at the stall door and can't wait to get his head into the halter. He seems to love being fussed over, clipped, bathed, brushed and saddled. He stands fairly still and while he doesn't doze off like an older more seasoned horse might do he is respectful. If he isn't the one getting the attention he throws quite a little fit. While being the naughty onlooker he will pin his ears, throw his head around, weave back and forth, go in and out of his stall to his paddock and generally act out like a spoiled rotten child.

He is quirky. He is impish. He is busy. He is sensitive. He has an incredible amount of desire to please. He tries and tries and tries again. For the most part he only gets in a snit occasionally and when he does, you can usually take him back to a place he is confident and he comes right back to the trying and pleasing side of his personality. There are times when I am riding him and I almost feel like he is saying to me..." Hey mom - Look at what I can do". Usually just about that time he trips or something shiny catches his eye and I come back to the reality that he is just a baby. A four year old baby in a very horse sized body.

It has taken me a while to figure him out. There have been times when I was ready to ship him down the road with a a bunch of disclaimers and buyer beware warnings.  I have really struggled with what to do with him. He isn't like my other horses.  I am in over my head with his training. I don't have the time to provide the consistency that he so desperately needs. I have made two mistakes with trainers already and he has weathered those storms. Recently, I sent him off to another trainer and am hoping the 3rd time is a charm and that it is a good fit for him. I haven't really stopped thinking about him since I dropped him off. I am pretty sure that I know what call I am going to get. The call that says "come get this nut job and buy yourself a better horse". The plan is that he is being evaluated for 90 days. At the end of 90 days I will be given the opinion of said trainer as to whether or not he has the potential for a working cowhorse and / or ranch versatility prospect. Basically whether or not he is worth dumping a lot of money into.

The thing is - for whatever reason - I see something in this horse. He has such a drive to please. Such a willing attitude to try and excellent retention of what he learns. He is going through some pretty extreme growth spurts and still shows so much athletic ability. All that said,  I don't think that any trainer is going to give him the type of attention and spend the time figuring him out to allow him to blossom. All of this swims around my head and I find myself daydreaming about what he is going through. I swear it is like having a special needs child and putting them on the regular school bus for the first time. You just want them to be like all the rest, but you know they are just a tad different and no matter how much try and desire they have, the world isn't going to bend and mold to accommodate them.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, January 21, 2013

Judges Seminar Part 3

Part Three was the boxing and fence work. 

I have shown the boxing a few times.  At last years club shows they added a class called rein, box and drive to give some of us in-betweeners a chance to go down the fence without having to really GO down the fence.  The first three runs we watched I judged 3,2,1 of course the real judges placed them 1,2,3.  What! I mean really  - was I that off base?  I sat with a friend who has judged some small club shows and he judged them the same way I did.  So what did we see or not see?  

Some of the first comments that were made really, really threw me into a tizzy fit.  Albeit a quiet tizzy fit, but I gotta tell you I was silently steaming.  One of the "sharks" said... "I placed him first because I know this horse and he is a good one." I wanted to say... "what...did you have coffee with him this morning?"  I mean really.... Then a comment from one of the wanna be judges  was "well I placed him higher because that steer could have really moved and the horse was so tuned in that he would have been on it."  But, but, but....  the steer didn't move. So the horse didn't have to move.  Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda....  Does not make a champion.  No What ifs, No Almost, No No NO!

Rant over...  But I did learn what the judges think is supremely important and what I was missing.
First....  the boxing is just incidental to going down the fence. Again, it is all about courage and control.  Being in charge, driving the cow, not just following it.  Making your turns quickly and in the right spot on the fence.  Making good choices about where and how to "circle up".  Even though the last horse seemed to be in a better position on the cow when circling up, the big dogs in the room all said that the first rider did a better job positioning the cow and horse.  I realized as I sat there that it isn't aways about being smooth and pretty.  Sometimes it looks messy, sharp and hard, but it needs  to be executed effectively with intent.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Judges Seminar - Part Two

Part two was the dry work. Again the videos were shown of the riders from the SBF and other major cow horse events.  We judged several runs and I was feeling pretty confident.  I tend to look at the dry work in the cow horse events like I would in reining events.  That didn't work out particularly well for me.  I have known for some time that the dry work in the cow horse industry isn't done with the precision that reining is. And for the most part... isn't as critical as the actual cow work. 

Before you ready the next paragraph... 

A "check" is average.
A "check plus" is slightly above average
A "plus" is well above average
A "plus - plus" is excellent
A "check minus" is  slightly below average
A "minus" is well below average
And a "minus - minus" is well...terrible.

I could go into the actual scoring of points and half points but that gets off onto completely different discussion so lets just stick to talking about checks, pluses and minuses. 

Bill Enk walked us through each run when we were done.  On the first run, we all agreed that the circles and lead changes were done very well.  Excellent definition between large fast and small slow and the rider showed "courage" in his large fast. Lead changes executed perfectly and in the middle. No one was willing to "plus" the circles - the rider was given a "check".  The stops were done well with the horse committing to the ground and sliding - nothing overly spectacular.  Everyone wanted to check plus or plus the stops.  Same with the turn arounds.  Bill proceeded to go back and ask all of us why we were so willing to plus stops and turnarounds and not plus the circles and lead changes. He pointed out that we had all agreed that the circles and lead changes were above average but as a group we were unwilling to give extra points for that.  The stops and turn arounds we agreed were average but we all wanted to atleast "check plus" them.  In the particular pattern we were watching there were 2 large fast, 1 small slow each direction with 1 lead change each direction, 3 stops - includes run downs, 3 1/2 turn arounds each way. The majority of your pattern was circles and lead changes. He went on to say that while the crowd loves the stops and turnarounds they do not make a finished bridle horse. Circles and lead changes are as difficult, if not more difficult than stops and spins.  He really stressed to the judges how important it is to give credit for those maneuvers.  In the last run the stops were average at best - the horse committed to the ground and slid, he may not have had perfect form but it wasn't terrible. The turn arounds were fluid and technically correct but not lightening fast. In comparison to the first run they were a "check minus". The judges that were in attendance marked them a "minus".  It was interesting to me to see just how critical the judges felt stops and spins were.

What that brought to light for me (again) was how important it is to not "give away" points.  You can do absolutely perfect circles and lead changes and not get any extra points but if you don't do perfect circles or change a lead a stride to late...they will ding you hard!   Do a bad or slightly below average stop and you are done. Just done.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Judges Seminar

I went to a National Reined Cow Horse Association judging seminar a couple of  weekends ago.  I am not sure, but I think that I was more confused after it was over than I was before I got there. 

The seminar is for those who are doing their continuing education or need to test for their judges card.  Needless to say - there were some pretty heavy hitters there.  Two of my favorite riders were there - Sandy Collier and Lyn Anderson - those ladies can get the job done!  Skip Brown, Smoky Pritchard and Kenny Wold were also in attendance.  Bill Enk was the presenter.  I went with a friend and we were running a little late. We got there and sat down in the first available spot.  Turns out that we were at the same table as Skip Brown, Ken Wold and Smokey Pritchard.  I am never one to sit in the front row or draw attention to myself. This was definitely the wrong table to be at.  Bill Enk is a character and he likes to involve the room in his presentations. These stoic men sitting a seat or two down from me were going to be prime targets for his shenanigans. 

I am going to do this in 3 parts.

Part one: Herd Work
We watched videos of runs from the Snaffle Bit and other large shows and tried to decipher what was good and what wasn't. Even though I have watched the herd work a million times and I have taken lessons and even showed a couple of times it is still so new and elusive to me.  After we have judged a couple good runs we went over the penalties.  That is where they show you what NOT to do. I think that I would have done better in my judging if I saw the penalties first and then saw a good run. Either way, sitting in a conference room passing judgement on some of the best riders...some sitting a seat or two down - felt down right awkward.  Sandy Collier was one of the examples of a "not so good" run. She handled it like a professional. She took the microphone and walked us through what was going on.  Her ride was an example of switching cattle -which she didn't actually do.  But that was a whole lot easier to tell when you had slow motion and could replay it 5 or 6 times.  The judges spoke about "courage" a lot.  Courage isn't going in and blowing the herd apart and getting it done quickly, but it is about taking the intuitive to drive your cattle out and really showing control and making something happen.  I thought back to my runs in the herd work. I knew that I was more at ease when the cow worked slowly and I felt like I was in control.   And that is how I have been taught  to work a cow - slow and methodical.  I realized while watching the good runs that even though my cow didn't get away from me, I wasn't ever really "in control".   In the show pen, you have to step up your game. Next time I get a slow cow, I will try to get a little more aggressive and hopefully show some courage.  I am also going to try to show that I can control the cow and work it in the middle the pen - not let it go fence to fence.  Semper goes into the herd like a pro. He moves slowing and pays attention to my instruction.  Where we get into trouble is not pushing the cow out far enough.  When I get my cow out of the herd he really doesn't "hook-on" like a cow horse should. He will follow my direction and about 50 seconds into a run, he gets the hang of it. By then it is too late.  Another one of my big dilemmas is when and how to quit a cow.  I learned that if the cow stops facing you and does not move, you can quit. It is like the cow has "given up" or "surrendered" to you. You can also quit if the cow turns tail and moving away from you. Completely moving away. Not at an angle where they can swing their head around and look at you.  They have to be gettin' out of Dodge. 

Part two - Dry Work
is for another day....

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Getting back on track - again.

I think this same thing happened to me this time last year. I get lost, overwhelmed, busy and just plain lost track of time.  I have started a blog post about a dozen times and get side tracked, have writers block or am afraid that I am repeating myself.  Could that be the beginning of Alzhiemers?

So much to say and nothing to say all at the same time.  Let's try news in a list form...

1. Moved back to Saddle Creek.  The ONLY place to board.  I was so pleased they decided to have boarders again.  check it out...

2. Changed trainers AGAIN.   I am not even going to tell you a thing about it till I am months in. I will sound like a foolish, wishy-washy child.  Not even going there.

3. Ended the show year with lots of swag.  I did well in the cowhorse club. I did well in the local reining shows and in the versatilty.  I can not complain one little bit.  Semper is Da BOMB.

4. Semper. The. Super. Horse. I just love him to pieces.  He is doing wonderful. He loves being back at the Taj... (it really is the Taj Mahal of boarding facilities - they have comfort flooring for goodness sakes!) I swear he smiled when we unloaded.

5.  Bob. The Triple S - Sensitive, Spastic, Silly.  He is coming alone.  More on that later - I have had huge revelations. 

6.  Scooter.  You just have to love Scooter.  He needs wheels to carry around his extra large head.  But he is a good one. 

7. Lily.  She is Lily.  She has been off for almost a year. She is in fine form - bitchier than ever. Legs look great. Attitude sucks.

8. The Twisted Sisters: Mystic, Rosie, and Dazzle. They are keeping on, eating, pooping and sleeping.

9. I have lost some dear animal friends this year. RIP Roxie and Old Girl. May you be in unfenced green pastures with no fear or pain, safe and content. You educated me, loved me and made me smile. You will not be forgotten.

10.  Axle - The new man on the block.  I am going to introduce him to you later.  His name is "His Tattoed Heart".  When I get the mud scraped off him enough to take a picture. 

I am sure that I am forgetting many things... it is that nasty aging process that makes me forgetful. or not.

Weight... still keeping on track with my diet and maintaining my goal weight.  It is a process.  And sometimes I just want to drown in a  ginormous bowl of Moose Tracks ice cream. But then I look at Mr. Semper, Bob and the rest of the herd and say a little thanks for this life.

And to Mr. Wonderful. He rocks. 32 years together 12/20/12.  Pretty proud to be married to him. 

It is weird being in this time and place in my life. When you are in the thick of raising a family and working you are almost obilvious to certain things. When your children leave and your job evens out - things get quiet. There isn't the static noise that hides little imperfections in yourself and your friendships. I have started to see my own imperfections and those of people close to me. I still love them and wouldn't change who they are but I do have to work at being more tolerant. 

Jez...that last paragraph was overly self indulgent wasn't it?  hmmmmm. 

I gotta get back the the training and riding stuff. Now. Right Now.