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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, May 31, 2017

Always Learning

Now this is just my opinion, but with horses you never stop learning.  At least, if you have an open mind and are willing to learn you keep learning.
(actually, that goes for life in general)
This is why I look for articles to read, take some equine related classes, take lessons with a few different people, go to clinics.  I know some people are hesitant to go to clinics or lessons if they don't know the person, but the way I look at it is if you learn absolutely nothing and it's an absolutely awful experience (and how damn likely is that) you'll at least learn what doesn't work for you.

Anyhow... one of my boarders rented our arena to host a barrel racing clinic this past weekend.  I got a spot in the clinic, which was with Andrea Udal.
Now some may remember I rode with Ed Wright the last few years.  His style was really working for me and Lefta, but I just couldn't quite seem to get it going with Frosty... at least without Ed, with him it may have been a different story.
I have to say that when at the very start of the clinic Andrea said she knew some of us had rode with Ed but her style is completely different I had a few doubts.  I shoved them aside though and sat down to watch the morning group, listen, and learn. 
The main difference I saw, and later rode, was that unlike Ed's 'jockey like' position up over your horses first ribs, Andrea wanted us to sit deep and drive.  However they both want a horse to move around a barrel "in 4 wheel drive" and they both want a horse that is shaped in the turn.  A smooth, flowing turn is fastest and can put you in the money even if your horse isn't very fast was my take away.
Which is funny because that's what I had been thinking to myself just a few days prior.  I had been thinking of Lefta's last run.  How she isn't really running hard between barrels yet, but her turns are just so darn nice that it's helping her start to clock better.
Back to Frosty though... I have only had him a year, but what I've noticed, is he can be a bit of a freight train at times (at least for me).  He's a nice horse, and he knows how to be soft.  But sometimes he just gets a bit frazzled and needs to blow off steam.  Or he'll go into a run and it's like he's thinking "you just sit there, I've got this" and while he may have it some, we are a team and he needs a bit of guidance at times lol
Working with Andrea I found some drills that helped him relax, made a small change to equipment and holy smokes... he was soft, relaxed, focused, and still craving that turn :D 
Fingers crossed for good things this season!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Maybe I'm biased...

... but she's gorgeous! 
Lefta, May 2017 photo credit @imagesbyRoman
Once in awhile I'll catch a glimpse of one of my horses, in person or a photo, and almost need to pinch myself.  I grew up without horses but was determined to have one someday.  Never in my wildest dreams did I think I'd own horses of any real quality though... all I wanted was a horse even if it was just a "scruffy backyard" one. 
The above pic of Lefta was taken by my newest boarder (AK), who is a fledgling photographer (imagesbyRoman), I stumbled upon it on Instagram days after it was taken.  It was taken at my place during a jackpot we were hosting.  I had tied up Lefta after her run and gone to grab Frosty for his turn.  AK had stopped in and snapped a few pics, and yes I have her permission to share this :)

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

I Swear I'm Still Here!

Really!  I've been reading everyone's blogs, just haven't seemed to find time to post on mine.
So what have we been up to...

I joined the Northwood Farm winter Facebook challenge, with Lefta, and for the first time in the three times I've signed up I completed it.  Had to have some very quick rides (honestly it kinda felt like cheating lol) and had to ride multiple times on a couple days, but we made it.  Finished up our last ride at a jackpot which I thought was kinda fitting ;)
 Frosty had the winter off after cutting his heel.  I won't lie, I was a bit hesitant to get on him this spring after so much time off but he's been a total gentleman *knock wood*
My little Christmas present filly, who was supposed to be halter broke when I got her and she wasn't, is taking a long time to come around.  You just cannot get on her right side or touch her right side.  Yesterday she discovered that being brushed with a curry is a FANTASTIC thing, as long as it was on her left :/
Lefta and I have made some progress on getting her softer in the face, thanks to some tips from my farrier (he shows in cowhorse and rode with us for a bit one day)
A friend is putting some rides on Odin, he's still green and he and I are just at a point where we're stuck.  The plan is to take him to a clinic in June and work with him some more then put him up for sale.
One of my boarders (and a friend) is possibly going to take Voodoo to some barrel jackpots, he's a good confidence booster (despite being a total a-hole at times lol)
And miss Sarita gets to grow up some more this year and then goes to the trainer next spring!


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Umm, it's March?!

It may not seem like winter is over, especially the last few days... cold set in and a blizzard, yay Saskatchewan weather :/   I just hope that counted as March coming in like a lion and it remembers to go out like a lamb!
It is however getting to be the time of year to take ponies that were either lightly worked or had the winter off and start easing them back into the real world. Voodoo has been ridden once or twice since December, Frosty was off due to his heel injury but has had three rides in the last six or so weeks, Lefta has had about a dozen rides since January, and Odin... poor Odin has had no rides. And he won't know what hit him - he's going to get legged up because he has a Tilley clinic in June.
I've also signed up for two barrel clinics, going to try to see what works for me now that Ed isn't here to put up with me and set me straight :(   Andrea Udal and Shannon Blakely, both of which are being held at my arena. So far I'm not sure which horse will be used. In the meantime, I'm going to try to get riding as much as March allows. The goal is 3x/week but we'll see how the weather cooperates! But judging from the pic below it's definitely time to work on our fitness!
Someone *ahem Lefta* has wintered well

Friday, December 23, 2016

A Christmas Win!

Usually Hubster is IMPOSSIBLE to buy for but this year, this year I came across the PERFECT gift when I saw this on a friend's Facebook post:

I messaged her immediately and sent a deposit. Hubster has wanted a longhorn skull for quite some time now and up here they're not just something you run out and get.  I was 100% certain he hadn't bought one for himself lol
KB (the talented young lady that put this together) brainstormed back and forth with me on ideas and I settled on browns and sandy colours with some turquoise.  The main feature I wanted was my brand in the centre of the skull.
The other day KB messaged me that it was done and sent me a pic, it had turned out even better than I had hoped :)  A few days later we met in the city and she dropped it off for me.  I was so excited to give it to Hubs that I literally jumped up and down.  And yes he got his Christmas gift early, I just couldn't wait! (plus I couldn't think of a suitable hiding spot lol)  To say he was surprised and loved it is an understatement.  Pretty sure I banked some serious wife points on this one ;)

finished product
It is an absolutely fantastic feeling to give someone a gift that you are truly excited about and know that they'll love.  It's even better when you are receiving a pretty great gift yourself* but you're more excited about what you're giving :D
* I received my gift early as well, a 2016 red roan filly!  I'll fill y'all in on Shine in a later post :)

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?