Wednesday, June 27, 2012

On the up side of Sunny

Sunny and Thunder didn't lack for attention while I was gone.  My folks kindly took over the evening check & fly spray routine, and provided status reports.

I've been toying with doing this weekend's open show in Sioux Falls with Sunny, but I'm not sure we've had enough saddle time lately. I rode Monday and could definitely tell Sunny'd had a break.

Thunder supervised
Sunny wanted to go around with his nose poked out, and it took a while before he settled down.  Not helping matters, there was something of great interest and possible scariness going on out of sight over the hill in the cattle pasture.
Attention definitely not on me
Lots of mooing and baaing and loudness, answered with interest from the cows in the pasture across the road to the east.  As it turned out, the sheep had escaped into the cattle pasture and were celebrating

by bouncing all over the place, to the dismay of the cows.

 Every time we passed by that side of the field Sunny wanted to turn into a counterbent U so he could gawk.

I rode for about 40 minutes, working on bending and softness and did plenty of big circles and spirals through all three gaits.  Not much canter, but enough to pick up and hold both lead.  Pudgy as he is, Sunny was sweaty - so was I - it was hot! - but not puffing when we finished.

Mom hopped on for a few minutes, too and I got to catch her on camera for a change! LOL!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Having fallen off the map...

The bathrooms - yes, plural - are 99.9% done.  We ended up with extra paint when we finished the first one, so the downstairs got a new coat of paint, new mirror and light fixture, and we re-purposed the vanity, sink and towel bars from upstairs.  Two sides of the house have their first coat of new paint... Menards loves me!  And we managed to squeeze in a trip to IA to visit relatives.

In horse news, I decided to use expand my horizons and show Buddy at the Region 6 Arabian Championships in Lincoln last week.  I did the pre-show, too, as I needed a few more points to qualify so altogether I rode him in 5 classes, and Eric rode him in one.

It was hot, but the facility was gorgeous.  If you ever have a chance to show at the Lancaster Event Center, don't hesitate.  Big stalls, lots of good ventilation, plenty of warm-up space, and a good PA system.

I got down there on Wednesday afternoon, the day before the pre-show.  My "lesson" that evening with Buddy did not go so well. He was very fresh and ended up spending a lot of time on the longe line.  By the time I was finally given the okay, we did about 2 rounds of the arena and called it good.

I was thankful I'd had the okay from Eric to go ride him the week before while Eric and co. were at Region 10 in Minnesota.   I wasn't too worried about his antics - he did the same thing in Sioux Falls at the Spring Show.  And sure enough, when our first class was called the next morning he was in fine form.

We had a nice ride and scored a blue from one judge and a second place red from the other.  It was a confidence booster for sure - which I needed, since our second class resulted in  4th and 6th placings.

The ride felt good though, so I was happy.  The one thing I would have changed was Buddy's reluctance to stand in the line-up. 

Friday's first class was going great - until I bobbled a lead.  I'd no sooner fixed that than he spooked at the stands.  We top fived, but in a class of three, it was nothing to write home about.  And the line-up wasn't any better. Still, I was having fun.  And the second class of the day resulted in what felt like the best ride of the week  We top-fived again, but again, class of five horses, so our best thus far although plenty good enough to please me, wasn't quite impressive enough for the judges.  And he was awful in the line-up again... apparently, neither end was to his liking, so we walked in circles.

I seriously debated calling it a weekend with that class and just having Eric go ahead with him in Hunter Pleasure Open.  But...  Saturday morning I was the first rider of Eric's crew on deck to go, and with everyone focused on getting the two of us ready, we were both dressed and on our way to the main arena before I had too much time to think about it.

Good thing, too.  Our final outing was the Arabian Hunter Pleasure Select Rider class.  We made it to the main arena just ahead of a cats & dogs downpour complete with booming and flashing.  With minimal warm-up and the heavens streaming down, we nailed every transition.  Buddy was light and round and soft, and when we lined up I took C's advice and stuck us smack in the middle of the eight horse row.  Honestly, at that point I wasn't too worried about where we'd placed.  I just gave him his head and told him he was done.  And he was perfectly content to just stand there.

We ended up reserve champions.  So altogether we ended up with an armful of ribbons and one nice wooden plaque... 

Not too shabby for our first big show - LOL!  It was a long, hot, sweaty five days. Eric was incredibly patient and encouraging.  C, who grooms for him, is an absolute saint and was kind enough let me help so that I was able to stay too busy to get nervous and sick with it.  R and L and their daughters were wonderful, as well, offering assistance and encouragement.  Thanks to L and C, I had a proper English "bun of steel" and it was even comfortable.

Still not sure I'm sold on the whole showing thing, but I have to admit it was a lot of fun.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Lesson Day: Buddy indoors, and Sunny bends

The boys have been very content to be visited, fly sprayed, fussed over, and left to munch their grass in peace.  No riding this week, not even the in-the-pasture-with-a-halter kind.

Sunny channels his inner camel

And shows off his flexibility
 But the bathroom is progressing.  We have spent...

a lot of time...

Standing and sitting in the bathtub.

It's coming together
The four-footed supervisors were in and out to check our work and make sure we were staying on task.  We'll lay the last of the floor tile today, and then give everything a chance to dry before clean-up and grouting.

On Thursday, lesson day was chilly and damp.  We ended up indoors due to almost two inches of rain the day before leaving the outdoor still draining. 

Once again Eric had me focusing consistency and rate, but also on bringing Buddy's back and shoulders up.  He's still rolling over at the poll and getting behind the bit rather than actually engaging fully and getting soft and round when I ask him for more collection.  So... after some working trot and canter while Buddy had a break to walk, air up and stretch, Eric told me to see how far down I could get him to stretch.  Walking "on the buckle" with his head lowered would give him a chance to really stretch his back and neck out - a release from the collection I'd been asking for.   

To encourage him to stretch, Eric had me ask for an inside bend, and then as soon as Buddy softened and rolled over at the poll, release to him.  It took a few repetitions of bend, soften, release, but by the time we'd walked a few laps his nose approaching the ground and he'd really relaxed.

When I gathered him back up and clucked him back into a trot, Eric had me do the same thing trotting - inside bend, wait for him to soften, then release - to see how low I could get him there.  Once we went back to a normal working trot, when I asked Buddy to collect and engage, he was much softer. Pretty cool, actually - I'll definitely have to try it with Sunny.

By the time we called it a ride Buddy was sweaty, I was sweaty, and I could definitely feel my legs protesting. But it's a good sore, right? LOL!