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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

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Clinic #2 - John & Jamie Tilley

This year I had two clinics I wanted to take, the Rebecca Beebe clinic (barrel racing) from the prior post and the Tilley clinic (horsemanship). This is my third year taking the Tilley clinic and I was pretty excited to take my green Frenchmans Fuego filly Sarita.  Although I was a bit nervous, I'd hurt myself two weeks prior so I hadn't rode and she'd had quite a bit of time off with only a couple rides this spring.
I knew the clinic would be a good fit for her, what I didn't know is how much it would test her.  I knew the tougher work and riding in a bigger group of horses would be a test, but Mother Nature decided to bless us with some rain - finally - and that made both the weather and the footing a bigger test than she's dealt with yet.
It rained a bit Friday, enough to make the arena fairly wet although there were some limited areas where it was kinda dry (rubber boots for Friday night's groundwork!)  The good news is the Biggar Rec Valley arena is sandy and can handle a lot of moisture and still maintain safe footing.

hmm, maybe the drought is over?

We worked in three groups. My traveling partner (and sponsor NBET) and I were in group 1 (actually NBET brought 2 horses so she was also in group 3).  Group 1 was mostly either green horses or people who hadn't taken a Tilley clinic before. NBET has and her horse wasn't exactly green however he is a rehab  project so physically group 1 was a good spot for him.
Anyhoo... Friday was groundwork for group 1, we never did get on although we did work saddled in case time permitted and we got through the groundwork with enough time to ride.  Sarita did fairly well as long as we weren't in the slop, and we kept getting squeezed out of the dry spot we had staked a claim on.  Not a big deal as she does need to learn that we won't always have good ground, but for a filly that's 4 and we've had a drought pretty much her whole life... this learning to deal with mud and water and not just a little bit of it, it was a bit of a challenge at times for her.  I was also having a bit of trouble with some handling, timing was off and I was just not quite getting a few finer points, but overall it went pretty well.
After group 1, before I went to watch groups 2 & 3, I put Sarita up and got her settled in her pen and tossed sleeping bags into the gooseneck and organized stuff for the night in the trailer (super thankful for good friends!  Doig lent NBET & I her 4 horse gooseneck for the weekend otherwise we'd have been tenting!) After group 3 I took Sarita for a walk and then there was a little visiting, and then... was that a raindrop?  And another?  Hmm, yep it was going to rain so I put my BOT rainsheet on little miss then visited with everyone a bit longer before heading to bed.
I woke up a few times overnight and every time I did it was raining.  I was so thankful we weren't tenting!  The trailer isn't an LQ, heck it's not even a weekender.  But it was dry and snuggled into my sleeping bag I was warm.

Saturday morning it was still raining.  There was no indoor arena as a backup, it's just not feasible due to the size of the clinic and the location.  John spoke to MJ, my friend that was the clinic "host", and due to the miserable weather they decided to break the three groups into two and to do more Q&A stuff inside (there's a kitchen/general purpose building we could sit in to talk).  I did chores and took care of my own morning needs and then saddled up for round 2.  There was no dry spot to work in, so I started in my rubber boots.
The groundwork went better, I did have to get one on one help from John with a bit of stuff that I couldn't get.  He came over and one small change and things started to smooth out.  He did take Sarita for a bit again later though, she really didn't like letting us in her right eye.  But that came around quickly and it was time to get on.  Put on my helmet and switched out my rubber boots for cowboy boots - which were instantly soaked - and we were off.
It rained the whole morning of our 3 hour session.  My sweet little filly just rolled with it and worked.  The mud and weather didn't get to her, the larger group of horses didn't get to her.  And despite the weather no one complained, after this drought I don't think anyone dared! lol
Like John said, it's better to prepare your horse (and yourself) to work in conditions like this than to need to work in them for the first time when the cows get out or you're entered up in a rodeo ;)
After my group was done I unsaddled Sarita and switched her to her regular rainsheet and gave her some more cubes.

the pens were originally all grass 

We broke for lunch after my group and had some Q&A time in the kitchen. John has a lot of really good stories and insights to share so it's always interesting to talk with him.
The weather continued while the other group worked, in fact at times it was worse so they took a break and came in for more Q&A.

After we wrapped for the day I took Sarita for another walk before supper.  Supper was a potluck and of course more visiting through the evening.  I called it an early night, checked on Sarita and went to bed.  When I woke the next morning it sounded a bit breezy but there was no rain!
With the improved weather we were back to working in three groups.  I fetched Sarita and saddled up, again I wore rubber boots but brought my cowboy boots to the arena.  My chinks were still a bit dampish feeling from the day before but were mostly dry so I still wore them, if anything they'd cut the wind if it was too chilly and would help keep some of the mud off lol
We checked out our horses on the ground and after a very brief bit of groundwork we were mounted up.  Sarita's groundwork was so much better the third day.  Still stuff to improve on but she followed a feel much better and was moving out nicely.  The arena was still quite muddy but I was able to keep my feet dry when I got on (glad I brought extra boots!)
Day three was tougher, we were doing things that were a bit more advanced but still in the green horse realm.  I had noted some improvement over day two but wow, by the end of day three I could really see and feel a difference with Sarita. 
probably the cleanest and driest I was all weekend lol

I had quite a few compliments on my little filly this weekend, from how well she handled her first big grown up outing, how pretty she is, how nice she seems to be to handle, how smooth she is.  I know I really like her but it's nice to hear other people think she's a nice horse too :D
Covered in mud, chill and relaxed at the trailer after our final work of the weekend, 
that's about the driest the ground ever got lol

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Rebecca Beebe Clinic

At the end of May I co-hosted and rode in a barrel racing clinic at my place... well, mostly at my place. We did run to the neighbour's indoor arena on the second half of the first day because we'd been rained on all morning!
We've been going through a drought for a few years now and this spring has been the driest on record.  I don't think a single girl complained about having to ride in the rain but after lunch we were all chilly and the indoor is and was ready to be used as a back-up so it was a no brainer to go there. 

(seriously y'all, I can see it from my barn and there's even a handy gate in the fence between us lol)

I've known Rebecca on a casual/acquaintance level for years, I've always admired her horsemanship and just what an all around nice person she seems to be.  Last year was my first year riding with her though and wow... she is definitely as nice as she seems!  Very positive but doesn't blow smoke and rainbows up your butt.  When you need the hard advice she gives it but in such a way that you feel motivated and inspired so when there was an opening to co-host one of her clinics at my place I jumped on it.
That rain the day before sure made for lovely ground at my arena on day 2!
On the first day Rebecca has everyone take a run, at whatever speed and level they're comfortable working at.  We all had handed in sheets with our names and information about ourselves and our horse at the start.
After watching everyone take a turn the work began... different little drills that were not necessarily "barrel racing drills" but that lead up to making all parts of your run come together, from the approach, to the rate, turn, leaving the barrel. Things that help keep your horse soft, things that help with horses that are too ratey, how about all.the.things. lol
The next day we worked on more drills, including ones more specific to barrel racing.  Then at the end we all took a turn making a final run.  I think everyone made an improvement and had a good time, from the girls just starting out (or with horses that are starting out) to the girls that rodeo, there were many "ah-ha! moments" during the two days.

 At the end of the clinic Rebecca put notes on everyone's paper and spoke to them individually, pointing out their improvements and where they need to put in some work, any equipment changes made during the clinic or recommended, and which drills are the best for that horse/rider team to utilize. My co-host and I already have requests to be on the list for next year, I'd say that's a success!

For my own part in the clinic, I'd used Frosty the year before and was planning to ride Lefta this year however she's been fighting a minor injury and was still on the 'rest' portion of getting better so Frosty got the call again. BEC had done a fabulous job with Frosty while he was hers and for the most part he's maintained, however I am not the rider she is - #goals! ;) and while I learn and get better he needs to be brought back up some. And holy heck it's coming again, he's better this year than the last couple that I've had him and since the clinic he's been nice and soft on and off the pattern, and on the pattern he's sharpened up.  I had been considering giving him a semi-retirement this year but he answered me with a "No ma'am I'm ready to rock!" lol

Thursday, May 16, 2019

The other day I had my first "bad" ride on Sarita, and even so it wasn't really bad.  I knew with being young and green she'd be bound to have colty moments but she's been so easy every ride that I was starting to wonder how lucky I was getting. 

Then Monday there it was.  She wanted to rush, she wanted to push through her shoulder, she wanted to make her own decisions lol. 
There were a few things at play... for the first time there were horses in the pasture instead of pens (and in places she could see them), I think she's possibly in heat, and she's on full time turnout now (and getting used to make her own choices for where she goes and how fast with lots of room to do it, which I think is making her a bit more independent)

So what did I do... lots of changes of directions, transitions up and down, backing.  And maybe most importantly (at least for me) just breath through it and ride.  She's not bad, even when she's a bit naughty, and I needed to remind myself of that a few times. 

We got there and quit on a good note - soft, quiet, cooperative. 

At least that's what I thought until I zoomed in on the picture below lol

Thursday, May 9, 2019

**tap tap tap** Is this thing on?

Well... I really have no excuse. I've been a bad blogger.  Blogging in general seems to be on a downturn.  At least the ones I used to follow don't really seem to be active any longer. 

Lately though I realize that I miss it.  Both the online community of friends I built but also the almost living journal like thing my blog was.  I've turned to it to look up stuff, photos to show people, events, etc a decent amount.  So I'm going to give it a go again, crappy rural internet be damned ;)

Hopefully there will be a decent amount of goings on at the Rafter K to share (and remember)

Wednesday, August 15, 2018


I spent this past weekend at a barrel race in Ponoka, Alberta.  I hauled there last year with one of my good friends, M.  The Calnash Centre is just such a great facility and that race was so well run (and affordable) that we decided to do it again this year.  This arena can fit a full standard pattern indoors as well as holding pens and an alley for the next five up, AND an indoor warm up area.  There is a barn right next to it that has stalls to rent and is clean and modern.  We really have nothing of this calibre in Saskatchewan.

This year I decided to bring both Lefta and Frosty.  Frosty runs about .5-1 second off Lefta, I was pretty sure he wouldn't be fast enough to be competitive but I thought it would be a good experience for me to have him there and would also be a good race to keep him sharp for district finals.

We arrived Friday for time onlies and a warm up race, which was a fundraiser for cancer.  M and her mare won the 4D (cash and a blanket).  Lefta placed out of the money in the 4D and Frosty... well he just wasn't quite himself.
You see, when we arrived Ponoka was in the middle of a ridiculous heatwave.  I swear stepping out of the truck was like walking into an oven.  Frosty's IR makes it hard for him when it's that hot and the ground is hard (which is why he's shod).  He was fine loading at my house, he was fine transferring to M's trailer for the trip, and he was fine when we unloaded in Ponoka.  We walked the horses, offered water, tied them to the trailer while we went to sort our stalls out and pay for them, signed waivers, then came back to the trailer to saddle for time onlies.  As I ponied him to the arena there it was, the limp he gets from heat and hard ground.  This was the first time this year that it's happened and once we were in the arena where the ground was softer it wasn't as bad but he still was NQR :( 
M and I managed to squeak into the last few time onlies.  She worked her mare then bridled Frosty while I worked Lefta, I swapped out horses and Frosty wanted to work but he just felt a bit wonky strided so we cruised through very slowly.
When the race started I was still iffy on running Frosty, but I figured it was a good chance to see if I should run him in the weekend race or scratch him.  M and her mare ran a 19.0, putting them into the bottom of 3D.  Lefta ran a 19.5, putting her out of the money in 4D (and reaching a secret goal I've had this season, which was to be within a half second of M and her mare), and Frosty... he tried.  He was fired up and wanting to go but still felt a bit weird in his stride... and clocked a 21.5.

Frosty got a muscle rub and a bit of bute.  It cooled off a LOT into the evening... from something like 35C to 21C.  Later both horses were put to bed with their BOT blankets on.  In the morning the temps were pretty much normal and when I pulled Frosty from his stall he seemed back to his old self.
Saturday was day one of the event we'd come for.  Lefta usually hits a slump and goes downhill performance-wise at these multi day things.  Instead she pretty much maintained, running a 19.6.  Frosty sped up a full second running a 20.5.  M knocked which put her out of the average :(

Sunday was cool and damp.  It had rained overnight and the forecast called for it to rain all day.  We lucked out and were able to saddle in just a light mist.  M ran a 19.2, Frosty sped up again and ran a 20.3 however while we were in the indoor warmup I looked out and it was POURING.  Dang... I was thinking I'd have to saddle Lefta and warm up in the rain, plus the indoor warm up was likely to be crowded as heck.  Instead it tapered off to a mist, talk about luck!
M took Frosty to the trailer with her mare, I grabbed Lefta and after M untacked her horse she untacked Frosty and took him to his stall.  In the meantime I saddled Lefta and headed to the indoor warm up, which was surprisingly uncrowded.  We had a nice run even with a few mistakes on my part, it was actually our best time of the weekend (take that slump!) and ran a 19.0!!  I was super happy... watching the video I can see where I made a the mistakes and I'm confident we could have been an 18.9 :) 
In the average from Saturday and Sunday Frosty ended up 10th in the 4D and Lefta ended up 13th in the 3D.  I'm pretty happy with both of them.  Also Lefta ended up picking up some day money on the Saturday, so M and I both went home with some money in our pockets - theoretically at least ;)
Thanks to Facebook memories I was able to see that Lefta's best run last year was a 19.6, which was her worst run this year!

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Blogger fail... reboot

Yesterday was my first post in, hmmm... 5 months. Wow. Other than crappy rural internet (still, horses are at home so it's worth it!) and a few technical glitches when I've had time and decent internet to try to post I don't have any real good excuses. I do know I've missed blogging, it's nice to have it to look back at as a reminder of things if nothing else.
Wordless Wednesday yesterday featured Sarita, my little filly is growing up!  She came back from the trainer in July.  CS put a 2 month start on her, and a few times threatened to steal her.  He and his wife were very impressed with how smart, willing, and athletic she is.  Now that she's home and I've had a few rides on her I have to say I am more than happy with her too.  The only downside is she may be too smart!  She catches on to stuff quick, I'll have to be careful not to teach her the "wrong" stuff yikes!
There have been a few changes in the crew around here, so I'll be updating that section in the near future.  And there are a some updates to post as well.