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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


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Short Go!

I was in the office helping with envelopes while our Chair person, Ash, and another director, Jewls, were getting the short go figured out. Short go was based on the average of your two running times so things got moved around a little bit but not too much. We were taking back 15 in each D, Ash was reading out the names and Jewls was writing them out.  When Ash got to the 13th spot in 3D she giggled and said "Wow, I can't believe this person made it" in a joking voice.  Jewls and I looked at each other and said "Who?" at the same time.  With a sly grin she looked at me and said "You're back on Lefta!"
Shocked to say the least, I asked if she was sure, and yes it was correct.  The 14th spot was read out and then she burst out laughing when she got to the 15th and final spot... I had made it back on Frosty as well! :o
I'll admit my first reaction was "Oh crap!"  Between not having a lot of time to get both horses ready and the fact that he had been humpy earlier I wasn't too sure what to think.  I quickly texted Janelle and she called right away for a pep talk.  She said he had felt great when she worked on him and she was confident he would run and be fine.  One of the other board members hadn't made it back and I really like how she handles a horse so I asked if she'd warm up one of mine and she said yes.  Lefta was first up so CB warmed up Frosty for me. 
Lefta ran clean and pretty, but not fast.  The poor girl was t.i.r.e.d. 4 runs in two days were enough!
I cooled her out and put her up in her stall then went to the warm up ring.  CB smiled and said "He's really nice!  Like, I want him nice".  I told her she'd have to get in line behind MJ's daughter who is in loooove with him lol
As soon as I swung on I felt better, he just felt good.  We walked and loped a few circles to confirm it and he finally felt RIGHT for the first time all week.
We went to the arena to wait for our turn... then we were going in for our run!  I was a bit hesitant to push him to first, so I let him cruise in (oh what a mistake that would end up being!)  He turned nice but hadn't gotten much speed going in and was a bit wide (my fault).  Second was good, pics below:

*Photo credit for these two pics to Humphrey Tam of Wildting Photography*
 

He rocked third and I rode and kicked all the way home* I could hear some cheering from my friends and new we had had a good run :D
*not stopping riding/kicking before the timer has been a mental issue I've been working on.  Riding harder has been something I've worked on this year too, with support/verbal butt kicking from my friends*
I'll admit, I was almost in tears once I had him stopped in the holding pen.  He had felt so good, it was a really nice run and it just felt so damn good to have him feeling right again, I was a bit emotional.  One of my friends ran over and was super excited, congratulating me on my run and then said something that blew me away... She was pretty sure I was sitting in the top couple spots in 3D!  I knew it was a good run but I didn't think it was that good... not for the team that had barely made it back to the short go! :o   Now there was nothing to do but wait.
Once it was all said and done, yes Lefta finished pretty much at the bottom (if not THE bottom) and Frosty, well my golden boy finished 2nd in the 3D.  We missed the buckle by 0.026!!  Not giving him that push to first, and not keeping it a bit tighter cost us the buckle!
Instead he got a swanky BOT sheet with SBRA 25th Anniversary embroidered on it.  Not mad at all, love those BOT sheets!
All in all I am pretty pleased, making the short go was on my goals list this year.  I've never made a short go and I got back with both horses and finished in the prizes with one.  :D  I'm really looking forward to next year... already planning a goal list and game plan!

Friday, October 7, 2016

SBRA District Finals - Day 2

I arrived at the barns on day two and both horses seemed happy and comfortable, which was nice to see because it was Lefta's first time being stalled over night.  I was up on Lefta first so I did chores and a quick walk with the ponies then let them settle for a bit before I started to saddle up.
Lefta mosied over to the trailer when it was time to get ready.  Once she was saddled she knew it was time for business and had her "let's get there now!" walk when we headed to the warm up pen and then to the arena.  It felt like everything was going to be good and I was really looking forward to our run.
We went in with our set of five and our run wasn't good.  We hit first, unusual for us as Lefta rarely knocks.  I bought back, in fact I told the arena director before I'd even stopped Lefta :p 
My rule for myself is that we don't do a buyback unless 1) something goes wrong/we knock a barrel and 2) I honestly think it'll do good to run again (as in we may place) or the horse needs it for training/confidence.
I was heading back to the trailer to untack and beating myself up a bit on my crappy run when a fellow competitor pointed out that my line to first was messed up by another girl in the holding pen and that in the future I should politely ask the other rider(s) to get out of the way when it's my turn.  She also said that if I had had a better run into first that I probably would have been clean.  That made me feel a bit better.
Awhile later it was time to get Frosty ready.  He still felt NQR in the warm up but again nothing drastic and the couple friends I asked said he *looked* fine.
Well, that wasn't quite the case.  He felt a bit better in the holding area and when I came around the gate he was eager to run in... and then on the way to first he felt just a smidge humpy.  Tiny enough that I doubted and second guessed it as we turned first and lined out for second.  And then on the way to third it was there again.  Just the tiniest bit but more definite.  And then again on the way home.  Never a full fledged buck, never even a noticeable hump to anyone watching, but just that feeling like there's a bump under the saddle that could turn into more.  And I have to say, when looking at the photos from that run it was noticeable in the pics (at least to me).
and no those won't be shared :p
I was pretty worried about my poor yellow horse but then something awesome happened.  I picked up Lefta from her stall as I was taking Frosty to get untacked so that I could get her ready for her buyback run and when I got to MJ's trailer Janelle (sponsor/friend) was there to work on MJ's mare!  Janelle was taking the weekend off to visit family but happened to be in the area and came to work on Lux after hearing she was sore and why (MJ's daughter's gelding put her through the panels in a little argument overnight, no major injuries but the mare was sore!)  Anyhoo... Janelle asked how my runs were that day and I let her know I was doing a buyback with Lefta and that Frosty's NQR had progressed to feeling humpy during his run. 
I had Lefta tied to the trailer with Frosty to the right of her.  As I was finishing saddling and beginning to boot her up I noticed Janelle come around to Frosty but didn't really think anything of it until I went to mount up to re-warm up Lefta and take Frosty back to his stall and instead of just petting on him Janelle was working on him!  Janelle said she'd take him back to his stall and for me to just focus on my run.  Dang it almost made me tear up, if I hadn't been getting into "game face mode" it probably would have.
Lefta warmed up decently, I didn't ask too much of her though because she was seemed a bit tired, I just wanted her muscles loosened up and her brain on barrels.  It was her third run in two days, which isn't the norm for us, plus she wasn't in the best of shape (my bad for sure!  but she wasn't too out of shape to enter or I wouldn't have)
I was up at the top of my set after the rake, and I kept the advice from earlier in the day in mind and used it!  There was a woman circling her horse along the back wall/entry to alley and I gave her a heads up a couple times that I was up first after the rake, and she'd just smile and nod and stay in the way.  Finally I said "could you clear that space please, I'm up first".  She gave me a bit of a snitty look but she got out of the way ;)  then the announcer called and I came down the wall into the alleyway, lined up nicely and off to first for a good run. 
Alas it was not meant to be.  For the first time ever (with Lefta) my reins flipped over so that both were on the inside of first.  She had just a tiny bobble and they swung right over.  Finishing first was no problem but now my reins were to the outside for second and third :o 
I'll admit I hesitated a moment, I probably would have just gone on with it and salvaged what I could with a more seasoned horse.  And in the nanosecond it took for that to cross my mind I came back to myself with "well how the heck is she going to learn to deal with it if you don't just go on!" and I kicked into gear and got riding again.  Another confession, I actually laughed out loud on the way to second when I heard MJ yell from the stands "Switch hands!!" and another person yell back "She can't!!"
Then I was at second barrel and it was time to put 'er to the test, would Lefta turn or blow past.  No fear, she turned but it wasn't pretty.  I couldn't get her rated and shaped quite right (duh!) but she is a turny little thing and turn she did.  Then we were hustling off to third and again she turned but again it wasn't pretty. 
On the way home I had another moment of hesitation, would she stop or should I quit pushing her?  Then I thought "well there is a solid wall and a gate, what's the worst that could happen?" so I kicked her on home.  Oh, and she did stop pretty nice.  But my poor tired, confused horse... she didn't clock too well.
So there we go.  Both long goes done and that second day had been pretty craptastic.  Just the short go left later in the day.  I'd be there due to being on the board, but for me and my ponies finals were done.

Or were they?

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

SBRA District Finals - Day 1

First off, I'm a tad late posting this... our district barrel racing finals was the first weekend in September (3rd and 4th).  Oops!
This year it was our 25th anniversary and the board had done a ton of work to make this one of (if not THE) best district finals we've ever had.  For the first time it was held INDOORS.  We had a lot of really, really nice prizes and a good cash haul to boot!  
I had entered Frosty and Lefta, and thanks to a good friend I was able to get them there.  My darn truck isn't running so I wasn't going to enter even though I would still be there due to being on the board.  But MJ, a good friend and fellow board member/barrel racer, wasn't going to let me miss running my ponies!  She picked them up the Friday evening while I was at work and I went to Prairieland to help set up as soon as I was done.  Man oh man it was hot and humid in there and setting up panels for the holding area/alley way just about did us in. 
PL is the same arena we had our provincial finals at and we set up pretty much the same.  However our pattern was slightly larger and because of that first and second barrel were quite close to the alley, which meant you didn't really see them until you were out there (kinda made me think of the NFR lol).  And like at finals we set up to bring in 5 racers at a time and rake at 5, I love that!  It gives the horses a chance to settle and their eyes to adjust and it just makes everything run so much smoother and quicker.

Saturday morning I was up early to get to the barn to do chores and help with entries.  I wasn't nervous about my runs really, although I was a bit concerned with how Frosty was feeling because he'd been sore all week.  Thank goodness my sponsor Janelle was able to come and work on him a few times between Monday and Friday, and she said to go ahead and enter him because 1) he wasn't sore enough to vet out and 2) if he wasn't entered she'd be telling me to work him anyway to keep him from getting stiffer.  And like the late, great Ed Wright had told me "we all have to work a bit sore sometimes, horses and humans". (and goodness knows I'VE worked sore lol)

I was up on Frosty first, he warmed up decently but just didn't feel right.  Like MJ said, it was so subtle that it was more I could feel it because I know my horse than obvious enough that someone would see it.  We went in and made our run and it was okay.  Not great but okay, an 18.244.  At provincials he'd run a 16.804 and a 17.217, so I'm not surprised with the big pattern and being a bit off he was slower.  And to be totally honest I probably didn't ride as hard as I wanted to because I was worried about him being off.
Then Lefta came in... she warmed up nicely but seemed a bit distracted.  I haven't run her much this year and while she was very well behaved you could tell she was paying a lot of attention to everything around her, even in the holding pen she was a bit more looky-loo than I would like.  It was funny though, because she knew she was at a competition and was still very business like.  Her little "I need to get SOMEWHERE trot" going to and from the warm up/barn/arena whenever she was saddled just cracked me up.  Once it was time for her to go make her run though she was focused!  She clocked a 17.559, considering she was still carrying quite a bit of extra weight and wasn't legged up as much as I'd have liked I was pretty happy with that :)

We were bringing back 15 in each D on an average.  With Lefta's run I was fairly hopeful, and with Frosty... well that was all going to depend on how he felt the next day.  He got a good rubdown and all his BOT on for the night, chores were done and I just had to wait and see how day 2 played out.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Problem with Boarding

Its always tough when a boarder you really like leaves, especially when you like both the person AND their horse.  This spring/summer I was lucky that a girl I know through mutual friends, and that is also a barrel racer, came to board at Rafter K and through her time here we became friends ourselves.
Tonto, Two Eyed Jack bred I believe
 barrel & "all around" horse

Tonto fit into the herd really well.  He was easy to handle and be around, heck even little Carlos! (so often a jerk to the horses) became smitten with Tonto and would often play with him through the fence, and try to steal his grain lol
Unfortunately, for us, Tonto's owner CH had a sudden change in direction in her life... she's off to further her education.  Now that's a good thing!  The not so good thing is that its hours from here and it makes no sense for Tonto to keep living with us.  So he's headed home to her parents's farm for a winter vacation and in the spring she'll move him closer to her.
Tonto went home on Saturday, CH left a bag of coffee (haha she knows the way to my heart! ;) ) and a thank you card (that made me tear up) in the barn.  I was sad I couldn't be around to say bye, but its probably good that I couldn't be there, I probably would have gotten a bit weepy.

It didn't take long to find a new boarder to fill Tonto's spot.  Shortly after CH gave her notice another friend through barrel racing messaged me asking if I had a full time spot and a temporary spot.  The temporary spot is for September and October while her horse is her for a lameness study being done at the veterinary college nearby and then she'll be moved, she should be arriving next week.
On Monday the full time horse moved in, meet Oakley:
cute as a button little red mare
great grand-daughter of Peptoboonsmal

Her owner plans to introduce little miss Oakley to the world of barrel racing, take her team penning, and just flat out enjoy her horse - I love it! :)  I'm looking forward to seeing their progress.  
If things go well Oakley and Lefta will share a pen for the winter.  First up though, pasture introductions!  So far everyone seems to be getting along fine over the fence so fingers crossed it will go well!

**horse photos for this post were shamelessly acquired from their owner's instagram accounts**

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Sponsor?!

When my good friend Janelle (aka Marge, in past blog posts) asked me if I was interested in having a sponsor I laughed, and almost fell off my horse.  Maybe she could have brought it up at a better time lol

You see Janelle is a (fantastic!) equine therapist.  Among her tools are massage and chiro.  You can find out more about her here Natural Balance Equine Therapy.
She's also a BOT dealer and I looove my Back on Track products, both for my horses and myself! 
Also, I already am a loyal client of hers (and not just because we're friends, the friendship came later) and usually sponsors go for the girls that rodeo or at least compete at the top (1D).  I'm just a little 3Der trying to crack in to a higher level.  (and, and, and... ;) )  So yeah, I was a bit surprised!

When I reminded her of that she explained her reasoning... she knows that I'm her client with or without sponsorship, so it's not like she'd be gaining a temporary client.  And, here's the big one, while lots of people realize the top end riders use services like hers they don't necessarily think that "they" need to or should.  ("They" being the lower level riders and backyard riders.) 
But really, some of those horses need it as much and sometimes more.  She also added that quite a few people know that even though I'm not 'big time' I do what I can to keep my horses happy, healthy and comfortable which makes me a good example for those lower level and backyard riders and could possibly help add some of those lower level/backyard riders to her client roster.  Or get those riders thinking about adding that kind of care even if they use someone else, which will lead to more happy horses. (see?  Janelle is a good egg, she's all about making horses happy and keeping them feeling good!)

Janelle and a friend of hers, that is also an equine therapist, are so passionate about helping horse owners take better care of their horses that they've started teaching clinics.  I've taken a few and definitely plan to take more!  Check them out, Natural Touch Equine Therapy Program.  Between the tools Janelle has been teaching me through her clinics, and as a client, and having her work on my horses I honestly think they are doing better than before.  I've even had her scheduled for an appointment and she checked Frosty over and said that I had been doing such a good job with my "homework" that she didn't need to work on him!  I tell ya, that made me pretty proud :)

Who woulda thought... me a good example?  And me, having a sponsor? lol

Sponsor?!

When my good friend Janelle (aka Marge, in past blog posts) asked me if I was interested in having a sponsor I laughed, and almost fell off my horse.  Maybe she could have brought it up at a better time lol

You see Janelle is a (fantastic!) equine therapist.  Among her tools are massage and chiro.  You can find out more about her here Natural Balance Equine Therapy.
She's also a BOT dealer and I looove my Back on Track products, both for my horses and myself! 
Also, I already am a loyal client of hers (and not just because we're friends, the friendship came later) and usually sponsors go for the girls that rodeo or at least compete at the top (1D).  I'm just a little 3Der trying to crack in to a higher level.  (and, and, and... ;) )  So yeah, I was a bit surprised!

When I reminded her of that she explained her reasoning... she knows that I'm her client with or without sponsorship, so it's not like she'd be gaining a temporary client.  And, here's the big one, while lots of people realize the top end riders use services like hers they don't necessarily think that "they" need to or should.  ("They" being the lower level riders and backyard riders.) 
But really, some of those horses need it as much and sometimes more.  She also added that quite a few people know that even though I'm not 'big time' I do what I can to keep my horses happy, healthy and comfortable which makes me a good example for those lower level and backyard riders and could possibly help add some of those lower level/backyard riders to her client roster.  Or get those riders thinking about adding that kind of care even if they use someone else, which will lead to more happy horses. (see?  Janelle is a good egg, she's all about making horses happy and keeping them feeling good!)

Janelle and a friend of hers, that is also an equine therapist, are so passionate about helping horse owners take better care of their horses that they've started teaching clinics.  I've taken a few and definitely plan to take more!  Check them out, Natural Touch Equine Therapy.  Between the tools Janelle has been teaching me through her clinics, and as a client, and having her work on my horses I honestly think they are doing better than before.  I've even had her scheduled for an appointment and she checked Frosty over and said that I had been doing such a good job with my "homework" that she didn't need to work on him!  I tell ya, that made me pretty proud :)

Who woulda thought... me a good example?  And me, having a sponsor? lol

Friday, July 29, 2016

Provincial Finals and a quick July catch up

Holy smokes I've been b.u.s.y. lately!  Happily I've spent more days riding than not riding this past month, and about half those days I got in rides on multiple horses :)

Mr. Frosty is fairly fit, Lefta is coming along, now I need to get Voodoo legged up and miles on Odin.  We have our district's barrel racing finals at the beginning of September.  Voodoo, Lefta and Frosty are qualified, I just need to decide if I'll enter on Voodoo or not.  I probably won't have my decision made until the 22nd of August (entry day lol)

At the last Biggar valley jackpot I went to (first week of July) I took Lefta and Frosty and they placed 2nd and 3rd in the 3D.  Then this past Saturday I took Frosty to the Prairieland jackpot and he won the 3D (and there were a lot of entries!)  I'm fairly sure they'll both make 2D horses yet.

Little Miss Sarita spends her days with Uncle Applejack and gets some time in the grass pen by the barn to graze.  Lefta has been in the pen with them lately because I haven't had time to ride her enough and on pasture she balloons right up.  Seeing those two bays together, oh my what a pretty sight :) Once Sarita is grown up I'm going to have a couple really nice mares.

SBRA FINALS!

Our provincial finals were this past week, the 25th to 28th.  Move in day was Monday, my friend MK hauled Frosty in with her mare and her daughter's Peewee horse.  Got settled in, rode some, and of course visited!

Sidenote, I love how they've started doing things the last few years.  It makes things so much smoother and the runs go way faster.  It probably saves at least two hours, if not more, running the open. 
There are two 'round pens'  at the start end of the arena and the space between them forms an alleyway.  The overhead door at that end of the arena is open and there are gates there.  The gate people bring in riders in sets of 5, after every 5 they rake and change riders.  This is nice because it gives the horses time to settle and for their (and the rider's!) eyes to adjust. 
While the set of 5 is in to run the gate people call the next set up to the gate so they're ready to enter during the next rake.
If you are not at the gate when the rake is done you are called a few more times and if you're not there when the gate closes you do not get your run.  Once that gate is closed it stays closed.  I worked the gate for the first 50 on day 2 and there were a few that cut it close.  One was even riding along the fence on the other side of the pre-hold area and I called to Chas (arena director) "That's her!"  He yelled her name and said you have 10 seconds and hit his stop watch!  She hustled right over just in time
Riders wait in either round pen.  When you make your run you go up that short alley into the arena proper, when you come back you run down that alley and either stop at the gate or circle off into either pen.
If for some reason there's not 5 in the set due to a turnout or a scratch, they stick to the program and bring in whoever is in that set and still rake at 5 on the program.  When you come in the arena director quickly confirms he's got the right people and reminds riders to stay toward the front of the rounds pens so as to leave the back wall clear for the rider finishing their run.  If someone knocks a barrel, or even touches one a smidge, he lets the next rider know the barrel is being reset/picked up and when they're ready he waves you in.

The first of two long go's was on Tuesday.  Frosty clocked close to what he did in the jackpot on Saturday (same arena) but it felt rough and sloppy and he was slinging/shaking his head a bit.  He did just get his teeth done the night before so I chalked it up to being a bit tender from that, but I know I didn't ride as well as I should have. It wasn't quite fast enough to place in the money but we were sitting pretty good to make the short go on Thursday.  Our run on Saturday had been smoother and I had rode better so I thought hard about where I was messing up and what to do differently.   It wasn't nerves though, I was just too complacent and sloppy :/  Seriously, so many people were saying "Are you nervous?"  Not just to me, I heard them saying it to other people too, it was kinda weird.  But I guess it is our "big event" so people are supposed to be nervous?  I just answered with a smile,  "No, it'll be what it'll be."

Day 2 Wednesday... when I was tacking up and warming up for long go #2 I visualized what I wanted to do and mentally made my run.
I went in with my set of 5 and waited my turn.  Day 2 runs in reverse order, so I was second out on the drag.  When the rider before me was rounding 3rd I started circling Frosty at a walk.  I was right where I wanted to be when she got back and her horse was out of the way for me to enter, right at the top of my circle.  I squeezed him into a lope and when our circle got to the back wall we made a right turn into the alley and I let him run into the arena.
I rode pretty much exactly what I had visualized: I let him go faster to 1st, I picked up my inside rein and grabbed horn with my outside hand when/where I wanted to while I said "easy" (I tend to want to rate too soon), I took up both reins and kissed as I was finishing 1st instead of a few strides later (he runs much better to 2nd - for me - with two reins), kissed to second, set him up better there, smooched coming out of 2nd and all the way to 3rd, "easy" and set up at 3rd and smooch and kick all the way home (seriously, I watched for the timers because I have a bad habit of quitting too soon).
I rode much better, my horse handled better, and our run felt smoother... and it clocked slower :( 
We were out of the day money again but still sitting well to make the short go - the short go is based on your fastest time of the two days.  I wasn't feeling too badly, a lot of girls were saying the runs were slower.  And it looked like they were... until Bailee smoked a gorgeous run and fastest run of the week (til the short go) and changed all the brackets. 
Honestly, yes I was a bit sad to not make the short go but I figured I was out by a lot after that run... later that night I found out I missed the short go by two. freaking. spots!!  So yeah, disappointed but you know what, let's keep things positive... I am way more comfortable with Frosty now, my horse worked well and my mental game was strong! 
Rounding 3rd on day 2 ~ photo credit to Wildting Photography

Because our cutoff for provincial finals was July 7th I've already got Frosty 1/3 of the way qualified and next year we're going for it!!  But first, we have district finals and we're going hard for that too!  ;)