Thursday, April 26, 2012

Video & Spoiler

Well I am still planning to continue my story, but I better get some video up for those of you that might be waiting... Long story short, we got to perform our freestyle and we finished 8th.

I will get to the rest of my story soon!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Horse Fair Continued

I was relieved that Friday morning's events were over and I had some time to relax... but not much.  I went and got a pork sandwich and sat in the coliseum to watch for a little while.  I had to help with the Mustang Breed demo though, so my time off was short lived.

After the breed demo I went back to check on the scores.  It took a long time for them to be posted.  When they were finally up I found out that I was tied for 10th place with 67.5 points.  The first place competitor had marks in the high 80's.  I felt that my ride was a little better than what I was scored, but then again, maybe it was just good for Oakley, not necessarily good compared to the others.  There was questionable scoring throughout the weekend though and I try to just be happy with the scores I've been given.

Next it was time to get ready for the handling and conditioning portion of the competition.  This part required us to lead our horses into a roundpen, unhalter them, walk out, reenter, and catch them.  The judges also scored on coat and body condition.  I was 11th to go so I didn't have too much waiting.  Oakley did okay.  She did what I heard a lot of the horses did, when I released her she stuck her head down and started eating the dirt.  Weird... When I came back to get her I was hoping she would respond and walk up to me, but not that day.  She put her head up to look but then immediately went back to licking up dirt.  I approached her with my arm out and she startled a little when I touched her, but she didn't step away.  I haltered her and walked her to a sunny spot in the round pen so that her coat would gleam for the judges.  Again, I felt as if things could have gone better.  Oh well.

I had about enough for the day and I was ready to get home and go to bed.  I was hoping I would be so exhausted that I would be able to sleep.  I put Oakley away for the night and drove home.  Unfortunately, Friday night was a repeat of Thursday night and I didn't sleep much.

To be continued....

Monday, April 23, 2012

Update on the Horse Fair

Finally, I can breathe again!  It was a rough weekend but it turned out alright in the end.  I got to meet some great folks, and was reintroduced to some old friends from the 2008 Makeover.  I don't think I got any sleep aside from an hour or two here and there.  My stomach was in knots the whole time... but it was all worth it in the end.  I had the biggest smile on my face chasing that cow around the arena on my wild mustang mare!  Here's a quick rundown of how things went...

We arrived Thursday morning.  Jessica and I walked down the aisles of barn 2 looking for our stalls.  When I found mine I noticed Oakley would be hip number 30.  Just like last time, I was happy with my draw of almost last to go through the auction.  There were 31 horses total.  We unloaded everything and got the horses their hip numbers branded with paint.  Then it was time for a quick walk around the grounds.  Oakley and Kat seemed to take everything in stride and not a whole lot bothered them.  We had practices scheduled in all 3 arenas so I saddled up and got to riding.  I started in the outdoor, but that didn't last long as it started to rain.  I made my way to the Nutrena arena and spent some time in there.  Oakley was herself.  The surroundings didn't bother her, she was just very reactive off of my seat and legs.  At least she was consistent I guess.  She only had a few run-away moments before she settled into me though.  I gave her a break and then headed down to the coliseum to practice with the breed demo mustangs.  Oakley was good in the coliseum, we just walked.  Next came the arena I was most worried about.  The Hutchinson Arena, which was more like a large round pen under a tent.  Again, Oakley wasn't bothered by it.  She was just annoyed with the fact that I was still on her back.  I rode her around for a while, but 20 plus horses in a small arena tends to get a little dangerous.  It was getting close to 6 anyway and we had a trainer meeting scheduled.

We all headed to the exhibition hall to the trainer meeting.  We got our goody bags with our shirts and our patterns for the classes including the order of go.  I was 19th to go for the pattern class and 19th to go for the compulsories.  I was draw 11 for the conditioning and draw 11 for the trail course.  I was a little disappointed that I wasn't sooner, but it worked out fine.  I also found out that I was chosen to receive some grant money towards my adoption of Oakley.  I got $250 to go towards her adoption.  That made me feel a little more confident about being able to take her home.

After the meeting I made sure Oakley was fed and watered and headed home to try to get some sleep.  I think I was in bed by 9:30 and up at 1 am with an upset stomach.  I had to take some stomach relief medicine in order to get back to sleep.  I slept until about 4:00 and then I got up to get going.

Friday morning I made it up to Madison by 5:45 so that I could ride in the arena at 6:00.  Again, it was too many horses in a small arena, but we made it work. I knew Oakley needed to be really warmed up if she was going to do the things that I asked of her.  7:30 came around and we all headed back to the barns.  We met with the judges at 8:00 for a walk through of the pattern.  They explained some things to us and revised the pattern slightly since the arena was so small.  

The pattern called for us to enter at the sitting trot, two track to the left, trot straight, two track back to the right, extend the trot, stop, back a minimum of 5 steps, pivot 90 degrees and lope off to the right.  Do 1 large fast circle to the right, change leads, do 1 large fast circle to the left, do 1 small slow circle to the left, change leads, do 1 small slow circle to the right, stop, pivot both ways, exit at the trot.

I watched the first contestants and then went to the barn to get Oakley ready.  I had to get on her back to get her at least warmed up at the walk.  By the time it was our turn to go I felt pretty good.  I knew many of the Mustangs were having trouble with the tent, but that hadn't bothered Oakley this morning.  I think the crowds were also getting to the horses.  I entered the pen when it was my turn to go and asked Oakley to trot off, she started off in a pretty jarring trot and it wasn't very soft, but we got the job done.  Her two tracking wasn't very good and she tossed her head when I asked for the stop, but she backed nice enough.  Her pivot was quick.  We loped off great and her first circle was probably her best.  It had been my intention to break Oakley down and ask for simple lead changes, but as I went to slow her she grabbed the bit from me and powered on through.  I just asked her to move her hip over and she did a really bad flying change which was late in the hind.  Her transition to the small slow circle was good, but the circle itself was more like an egg shaped mess, again she decided to do a flying change into our last circle.  I brought her to a stop and pivoted her both directions.  We trotted out, and I felt okay about how things went.

The compulsories went okay, but I had had about enough at that point, and so had Oakley.  We rushed through them.  I headed back to the barn so I could unsaddle Oakley and put her blanket back on... it was cold out! 

This post is getting way too long.  I will continue it tomorrow!!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Just a few more days...

Horse Fair isn't far now. I just want it to be over with. I am ready to get on with my life and give Oakley a break. My plans are to adopt her back and put her out to pasture for a month or two to let her go back to just being a horse. I am going to disclose all the information I have on her on her stall and before the auction so hopefully people will keep the bidding down and let me keep her. I can't imagine too many people will want a horse that is cold-backed and hot like she is.

She is still progressing, but every day we start at the same point where she clearly isn't happy about having me on her back. She works through it and gets down to business, but I don't know how to get her over the first 5 to 10 minutes of attitude at the beginning of our rides.

I was talking to Jessica Davis and she told me that we are always given the horse we need, not necessarily the horse we want. Oakley is both for me. I wanted a small, dark, athletic horse. Perhaps that type of horse just comes with a spitfire personality like Oakley's. If I can get her to actually work for me she will be amazing... and in all honesty, she is making me a better trainer. She is helping me to control my emotions, which was a goal of mine for the competition. Emotions really should be left out of horse training. Anger comes from frustration, and I have gotten past being angry on the back of a horse just because I can't figure something out. I have learned to stop and think, be more creative in approaching what I need to do in order to get my point across to my horse. I am still frustrated about certain things with Oakley, but that's only because I don't have all the solutions yet, but they may come in time, and I am not angry at her for being the way she is. I am still learning though and I make mistakes too, but hopefully I am prepared for the horse fair and the competition.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Do you miss me?

Well, if you don't come here for me, then you must at least be missing Oakley. A lot has happened since my last blog post. I have been riding only in the dressage saddle, and the first time I put it on things were pretty bad. Oakley is not a fan of the feeling of closer contact that the dressage saddle offers. I am uncertain as to whether she is afraid of being pinched as was happening in the western saddle or if she is sensitive somewhere else due to other issues. Ulcers have crossed my mind. Then again, it's only at the beginning of our rides that she is touchy. She works really well after she's had some time to warm up. Maybe I need to call her bluff? Maybe it's not a pain issue... I really wish they could talk sometimes. Then again, I can't imagine Oakley would have too many nice things to say about me, haah.

The competition is creeping up on me. Just about a week away. My stomach is already doing flip flops. I am not going to accomplish all of my goals with Oakley, but I hope to at least be able to conquer all the required obstacles in the competition. Hopefully she'll be having a good couple of days by the time the competition rolls around. It's tough to say with her.

I will keep plugging away. I'll be sure to update when I know my schedule for the Horse Fair. We find out our order of go at the trainer meeting next Thursday.