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Until one has loved an animal, part of their soul remains unawakened.

Ride with your heart and soul ~ your horse can feel it


Tuesday, September 29, 2020

The Redhead


Meet Paige (Thats Superduper Pal) 6 year old AQHA mare
No, I didn't buy another horse lol Actually I've sold one but that's another post! Paige belongs to one of my boarders, B. 

This has been my view lately.  I'm not a trainer but I agreed to put some rides on Paige to help smooth out her barrel pattern.  

Again, I'm not a trainer! lol However B is a fairly new rider and even newer to barrel racing.  Paige was halter broke when she got her and she sent her to be started by a professional trainer then B started patterning her on barrels herself.  

They had some green barrel horse/green rider moments last year but that was to be expected.  This year Paige was starting to realize what the game is and seemed frustrated at times.  B realized that maybe getting someone with a bit more experience to help would be a good idea but she didn't want to not have a horse to ride and also with being student she didn't have a big budget to send her to a pro.  

She asked me if I would help and I'll be honest, at first I wanted to say no.  I think I've mentioned it, but a few years ago I started having an issue with fear and riding strange horses. 
Instead I said yes.  I know Paige, she lives here.  Yes I've seen some naughty behavior but nothing really bad and nothing where it seemed like she was purposely trying to be bad. 

I started working with Paige with a getting acquainted ride, I warmed her up walk, trot, lope, and I was starting to regret agreeing to ride her... her lope wasn't great and omg her trot was so rough.  But we kept going and moved on to working some basic barrel drills.  She was definitely not smooth and fluid on the pattern, and she really seemed to want to drop her shoulder turning (particularly left) so I was working on getting her to keep her shoulder up and move over nicely for the turn, she seemed to be getting it and then it happened - she picked her shoulder up and felt like she was going to make that nice move and then instead dropped in hard and took us right into the barrel.  At a solid lope. Hard.  (thank goodness for plastic barrels, although it still banged me up)

We kept working and for a bit it was not pretty but we ended that ride on a good note. Thank goodness.

When we hit the barrel just under my knee took the impact.  Enough to break skin and my leg was swollen by the time I went inside, I ended up bruising from the knee all the way down to the top of my foot and around my ankle.  It hurt a lot to walk or ride but we kept working, although the barrels came down and we used cones for a few rides ;)

B's rides consisted of getting Paige out and either doing cardio rides (W/T/L) or just a trail ride.  I worked on getting Paige softer, getting her to move out more at a trot and lope (which B's cardio rides helped with!), getting her to pick up and move over when asked, getting her to keep that shoulder up.

As much as I like and respect Ed Wright, he wasn't much for doing drills and in a case like this drills were so helpful in getting Paige on the right track.  In particular I really liked one I call the four corners drill.  It really helped her come out of a turn and drive straight to the next barrel (or in our case for awhile, cone lol), and then to pick up and move over to turn it.
Its not all drills though; time warming up and cooling down or "just riding in the arena" were all done with focus on trying to get her to use her body correctly - to keep upright and not lean, to keep that impulsion and drive from behind, to soften while being ridden and while stopping.  And her stop! Her stop has gotten so much better!  In just riding - I barely have to touch the rein most of the time now.  And her stop after a run is much nicer to, run to the gate/fence and stop straight instead of turning off - which is a personal preference for each rider, I wanted Paige stopping square because she was inconsistent with how and where she'd turn and circle after a run.


 I'm pretty happy to say that with ten rides I've seen a big improvement.  B rode Paige in a gymkhana (all events except barrels lol) and a few fellow barrel racers that knew I've been putting in some rides said they could see the change.  B says she can feel the changes even just riding out, but particularly in how she handled in the gymkhana games. I put a few more rides on after the gymkhana and Paige just got better and better.
B knows it will take some work on her part too, she's going to have to adjust some of the things she does while riding and we'll work on that together :)

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Finally!!!

Barrel racing!!
This past Saturday we finally had our first "real" (aka not virtual) barrel race.  A group of local barrel racers had been planning a series since fall, Grace & Grit.  They had worked hard to put together a fun series with some good prizes and then covid19 derailed everything.
Now that Sask is finally opening up enough to have some equine events they were able to go ahead.  And what a great day in barrel racer land it was!  Lots of smiles, some really nice runs, and beautiful weather.
The weather itself is almost it's own story lol  The G&G committee had rented Rafter K for the event, and early in the morning I woke up and heard rain.  Now after several drought years in a row I'm not going to curse rain, but why that morning!? ;) I started the morning in sweats and a bunnyhug to do chores and move horses because the mosquitos were SO BAD.  But it was so humid that when I went into the barn to sit down and check messages my glasses fogged over :o  I changed into a tank top and shorts, and was eaten alive.  A bit later when the day was really starting I put on jeans and a t-shirt, and felt damp and hot the rest of the day.
The committee pushed the start time back a few hours and we all watched the forecast.  So far we had somewhere between half an inch and an inch of rain, and for 1pm on it was saying 70-80% chance of more.  Then sometime between 10.30 and 11 the forecast changed to 20-30%!  Not long after that things were under way... banners and signs being put up, trailers pulling in, horses being tacked and warmed up.  That bit of rain turned into a blessing, the ground was pretty much perfect!
I had only entered Lefta because Frosty was a bit sore due to the heat causing his IR to flare up a bit (he's ok, it's something we manage every summer)  We were deep in the draw, almost at the end so I saddled Lefta and tied her by the barn but took my time waiting to get on.  In the meantime I took a turn working the gate, one of the best spots to watch runs from ;)
When it was time to warm up I popped into my tack room and changed my t-shirt for a competition shirt.  With how muggy it was I was not looking forward to long sleeves!  I know the MSport6 shirts are great in heat, but I haven't really had the occasion to wear one in humid/muggy conditions.  Well I was sure surprised when I put it on and felt not only cooler but drier!  Dang I should have been wearing that all day!
We warmed up with some trotting and loping in the barrel patch.  Lefta was working nicely but starting to get a bit hot mentally so I took her over to the arena and we just walked a big loopy path through the parking area in the pasture.  As long as she was moving she was relaxed. I used the time while the five before my set were running to thoroughly visualize our run. Then just as they were finishing the drag before our set of five I brought her closer to the gate.  Again just walking around, staying out of the way of the girls going in ahead of us.  Then it was our turn!  She was a bit hot going to the gate; I reminded myself to breath and stay relaxed, keep my hand forward and talk softly to her.  A few little changes of direction but she always came back around to face the gate and closer each time, and then we  were in and off to first.
I was really happy with first, she almost always inhales that barrel and she did so again.  Second I remembered to help her finish a bit better than I usually do and we didn't bow out a bunch to third. And third!  It was the best third barrel we've had in ages.  She went in at a great spot in our pocket, wrapped that sucker and came out neat and tight on the other side.  For quite awhile now we've either rainbow'd the whole dang turn or gone in nice but not finished it well and come out really wide.  This was almost perfect!
I came out of the arena patting Lefta and a big smile on my face.  I had no idea how my time would hold up or what my run looked like but it felt great!  Neat, tight turns and an ok time on the clock.
WELL
For starters I did see a video of my run and it looked as good as it felt.  It was pretty much what I'd visualized :)
(run was not added to this post because it's low quality and jumpy)
And it turns out I'd misheard my time.  It was faster than I'd thought by about a half second!  So instead of landing in the money in the 3D like I thought we might, we finished up 8th in the 2D!!  Don't get me wrong, money would have been nice but I was so happy to have ended up in the 2D with some pretty tough competition!  And I do have points in the series now lol
Now, to keep legging up Lefta and try to improve that time!  Unlike some people I have been working through covid, and my schedule has been a tough one to deal with getting anything done.  But for the remainder of the summer I'm pretty much part time so although that will hurt the pocketbook I'm going to make use of my time and get back to riding, take care of my garden (I do NOT have a green thumb!), and do some work on little stuff that needs attention around the house.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Times have changed...

... and while I don't think we'll see "normal" as it was before I do hope that things become closer to that than the strange new world we've been living in since covid (SARS-CoV-2) came to us.

Canada had some general rules for how things were to be handled, a lot seemed to be left to individual provinces. We've been fairly fortunate here in the grand scheme of things, at least as far as how many casualties there have been. The social & economic toll has been pretty bad though.

Things are starting to open back up, which is a relief. However here in Saskatchewan some of the decisions being made are not just confusing they're also frustrating. For example you can go fishing, and with members of other households in the boat, yet equine events are a no-no.  Although the government has decided that individual private lessons can take place (which previously they were saying NO to). Still, no clinics, group lessons, or events. Which brings us to this:


I think I can say prior to covid I never thought I'd see this, let alone compete in one. However here we are.

Lefta & I entered in one that ran this past week. Not being sure if I'd enter or not I ended up leaving it to the last day for my run, which ended up being the hottest and windiest day yet.  I set up the pattern* in my arena and had a friend pop over to stopwatch & video for me.

 After it was all set up I changed into one of my MSport6 "air conditioned" shirts (like I said it was hot!), tacked up and brought Lefta to the arena. I think she thought it was the lamest jackpot eeevvveeerrr with no one else there. But heck she had her 'work clothes' on and she knew she was there to make a run. Warming her up... she was spicy. I had no idea what to expect for our run since I don't make runs at home (unless there's an actual jackpot there) but she went in hard and we kinda blew first a bit. Second was nice although we did bow out a bit to third. Third was also pretty good but again we bowed out a bit on the way home, not out of third itself though which is something we've had a bit of an issue with.

I reviewed the video and thought well heck *maybe* I'll place in the 4D lol Then I sent it in to one of the race organizers for approval before sending in my entry. So to say I was shocked that we won the 2D is an understatement ;)

With it looking like virtual events are here for the next little while, possibly the summer, I reached out to a neighbour about co-hosting one (possibly more if it goes ok) and donating part of the entry fee to a local charity. My original plans before all this had been to host a gymkhana or two this summer, again to raise money for charity.

Hope y'all are keeping well and your return to normal goes smoothly.

* pattern size was a 44' score from the timers to 1st and 2nd.  57' between 1st and 2nd.  70' to 3rd.  To say it was tiny in my arena is an understatement lol

Friday, January 3, 2020

First Ride!

Of 2020 that is :)

I rode Lefta on NYE at dusk.  It was my first ride in months, after district finals the horses pretty much got a big vacation/break while I tried to let my leg heal (torn/bruised groin muscle from earlier in the season).She was pretty well behaved but I could tell she really wanted me to let her open up some instead of walking/trotting.  My leg felt the strain of getting on though (should have used a mounting block!) so we stuck to quiet slow work.

Frosty got the call for the first ride of the year and he was so good!  You'd never know he'd had so much time off.  We wandered around the arena playing with a few things to work on softness.  It was the perfect start to the day.

-2C on January 2nd!! :o
I wasn't really dressed for riding, I had gone out to grain and maybe play with the horses a bit but man these fleeced lined leggings are nice for milder winter days!  I may wear them some more, but I either need to find bigger stirrups or wear different boots.  I've been hung up in a stirrup before and once was enough!

While I really like these milder temps I sure hope we get some more snow.