Monday, September 28, 2009

So Close!

Well, we had our last cutting show of the year last weekend. It was a series of 6 shows that started back in April. I competed in the Green/Green class which is basically the easiest of all beginner cutting classes that there is. You don't even have to come out of a herd, they kick one cow out for you and you get to work for 2 minutes. You have the option of calling time for a second cow, but you only get two.

We've made it to all 6 shows of the series and I was leading the G/G class by a half a point heading into this last show. Half a point!!! You just don't get any tighter then that unless you're tied! I've been having some really consistently good work on the buffalo and the flag since the last show so I was pretty hopeful going into this last show. I was also really trying not to think about it too much. Certainly doesn't do anyone any good to be nervous!

Your run and score are also heavily dependent on the "cow gods", as we call them. Since you don't come out of the herd, you don't get to pick and choose which cow you get and you are stuck with whatever comes out that gate. It can be good and bad. I've had pretty decent luck all year and figured even if I got a runner, our work has been pretty solid lately so I didn't think I'd have too much of a problem.

I was wrong.

I entered the arena and they kicked a cow out for me. It just stood there, watching me come around to the back wall to push it up and start working. It was calm and seemed pretty laid back so I breathed a sigh of relief. We got behind it and started pushing it up and *poof* it was gone. I was able to keep her under control and never did loose my working advantage, but we did a lot of running. I called time with just under a minute to go. I was thankful they took some time to get the second cow out because Midori needed to air up a bit. Then the second came out. Head and tail up, wildly looking around. I thought it was going to turn around and jump right over that gate before I could even get to it! Crap!!! I got behind it and didn't even get a chance to push it up before it took off. We kept it under control for a little while but then I lost it. We stumbled thru one turn and it was outta there. Ran around, hit the corner and pushed right thru us on the wall. Damn. Loss of working advantage. I brought it up again and worked for a little while longer, then it did the same thing again. I did get it stopped on the wall but that little bastard literally pushed us out of the way, which meant I had another loss of working advantage, right at the buzzer. Blast!!!

I'm not sure if he was just trying to comfort me or not, but one of my herd help told me that it was just bad cows, that last one I got was absolutely unstoppable, nothing I could have done about it. I know the cows I got were a lot more challenging then most of the other cows that came out for my class (seriously, I watched them all, I'm not just feeling sorry for myself here!), but looking over the video (again and again and again and again) we made a slow turn both times and should have been able to catch the cow before he ever got to the corner. Oh well. I got a 63, came in 2nd or 3rd to last in the class of 10. Ouch.

The bright spot in all of this is that I still got a 63! In cutting, you start out with a score of 70 and the judges adds or takes away points as your run goes, marking different columns on the score sheet with +/check/-. The lowest score you can get is a 60. Loss of working advantage is a 5 point deduction. I had two. Meaning, if I wouldn't have lost that cow twice, I would have gotten a 73, which would have won the class. Bummer. When I looked at the score sheet I had +'s all the way across, which is really good! I think that's the first time this year I've had all +'s! I was pretty darn excited about that so I'm trying to focus on that fact. I had a good, solid ride, I just got rowdy cows.

Also on the positive side, I was far enough ahead of everyone else in the class that I still ended up in second place for the series. WOHOO!!! Rumor has it that there are buckles to second place. I won't know for sure until the year end banquet, which won't be for another month or so.

So overall, I'm happy with the day. Our practice run went well too, Midori does really well going into the herd and I really think she likes playing with cows. Next weekend we start the winter series. I'll just be doing reining again for that since I want to really focus on getting Midori broke and more finished for a while. Should be another fun series!

Macro Monday

My Macro Monday post this week is "The Lip". I believe I'm mentioned before that my horse has rather large lips. It's pretty comical to watch how far she can stretch them when there is grass just outside of her paddock fence. And when she snoozes they get really droopy and it cracks me up to play with them.

Her lower lip always hangs down further and gapes open and you can stick your finger in there and the skin is all dry and she'll usually just sleep right thru me flapping it around and making her "talk" and all sorts of silly stuff. She puts up with a lot from me! lol

In these pics the girls were taking their afternoon siesta at our last cutting show of the year. We'd already had our runs and were just waiting to watch some friends go before we took off. Even Sugar looks a little tuckered out in this pic.

Midori was just totally zonked out though. I was almost surprised she didn't try laying down. You can see how wild they are. The boyfriend has to keep a watchful eye on them so they don't run off.

Or not. Sug perked up when she realized I had the camera. She's a total camera whore. Looooves posing for me! :)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sunday Stills Challenge - Signs of Fall

Well, due to some technical difficulties, I'm getting this up a little late. Darn computers! Here are some signs of fall from my neck of the woods...

First off, we have all of my pots and hanging baskets drying out, turning brown, dying...

Though that may have more to do with me being in "fall mode" which does not include watering plants. Oops!

Our ponies are all shedding their nice, short summer coats and getting a little fuzzier...

They are also getting very hair chinny chin chins. Atleast before they got clipped for the show this weekend!

And is it just me or is there really way more of these guys hanging around in the fall time? They seem to be every where! Ick!

The leaves are starting to change...

And a sure sign of fall at my house is mushrooms. There were a bunch that popped up when we had a week or two of cooler, cloudy weather, but of course the last week has been sunny and hot so they all disappeared, except for these little guy. We really do get quite the variety of mushrooms all around our house in the fall though.

Happy fall to everyone!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Hibernating Already

Well, as I've been trying to make my rounds and get caught up on the regular blogs that I read it sounds like the general consensus is that this time of year is just darn busy! I know I've been pretty busy lately, getting summer stuff wrapped up, getting going with boot camp, trying to take advantage of the nice weather while it lasts, soaking up as much sun as I possibly can while it's here. I know it won't last me thru the winter, but a girl can try, right?

I've got a long list of Summer Projects that I really wanted to get done this year, but just didn't happen. I'm trying to figure out how many I can squeeze into the next few weeks. It's not looking promising.

I still owe my friend a trail ride that I promised her for her birthday. In March.

We still don't have stalls. That's all I'm going to say about that.

My main issue, however, is that I'm already going into hibernation mode. I can't seem to help it. I got sucked back into the black hole of reading and it may be next spring before I come out of it. I guess I'm already preparing myself for another long winter. One thing that I really loved about last winter (quite possible the only thing) was how much reading I did. I loooove to read. I really haven't read much in a really long time, like years, but last fall I got sucked into Twilight and it was all down hill from there. I read a lot. I can't even remember how many books I plowed through, but I know it was quite a few. Probably atleast a dozen, and I read some of them twice. It was fabulous! I tried to keep my nose out of books this summer so I could ride my horse, do laundry, get some yard work done, maybe tackle a project or two around the house, you a responsible adult. It's so hard to be productive when all I want to do is finish whatever book I'm in.

The weather was pretty nasty around here for a week or two: cold, gray, rainy...I think that was what got me thinking about hibernating. I couldn't help it. After a crazy hectic summer, I was perfectly happy to grab a book, a blanket and my fleece yoga pants and park my butt on the couch for a bit. The weather has cleared up again but I still seem to be in hibernation mode. I'm still perfectly happy reading, though I do feel a little guilty when the sun is out. Ok, a lot guilty. I've discovered that reading in the rocker on the porch or stretched out on a blanket in the backyard to soak up some sun while I'm reading does help with that guilt though. Still not getting anything done, but atleast I'm enjoying the nice weather while it's around.

I've stocked up my "to be read" shelf, it's good and ready for winter. Amazon makes it WAY too easy to order stuff, those butt heads. And then the free shipping with a qualifying $30 purchase = trouble! I love free shipping. And those bastards even send me emails with suggestions of books to buy based on what I've ordered in the past. The nerve! So many books to read, so many other things I should be doing instead!

I'm also really looking forward to reading Twilight yet again. I'm thinking if I start it around the beginning of November, I should be able to get through it just in time to go see New Moon. I'm excited for that movie! I'm trying not to be because I really don't want to be disappointed, but it's really hard because there seems to be a lot of hype surrounding it. I hate hype. I would really rather have low expectations going into a movie and come out totally enamored, then be let down from listening to all the hype. I may, just possibly, be planning to be a total Twitard and go see the midnight opening night show. Maybe. You didn't hear that from me.

In other news, boot camp is going well. I've been so busy with other things and since we still don't have an arena at our house (another epic fail for us this year) I haven't been getting a lot of saddle time on my own, but our lessons are going very well. We're making progress. Midori is getting more responsive and I'm getting better about not being such a control freak. I know, I Control freak?!? Who'da thunk it?! lol

We have one more cutting show for the summer series. I'm hoping it goes well! I would like to end on a good note. After that I'm really going to focus solely on our boot camp. The winter series starts the weekend after our last cutting show. I plan to do the reining portion again. The boyfriend is still deciding if he wants to do reining or cutting. Or both. Since I won the rookie reining class I was in last year I have to move up to the next class. It is still two handed, but requires flying lead changes. I'm not expecting anything out of the series this year as I've got some pretty stiff competition. The classes are $12 and it gives me an excuse to get on my horse and have something to work for all winter. I plan to use the series as a way to measure my boot camp progress. That is all. I certainly wouldn't mind winning, but that's not what it's about for me this year. I'll have to bookmark that statement and keep referring back to it after every show. ;o)

Other then that, I think the summer craziness seems to be winding down. I'm looking forward to fall and all it's glory and hoping the sun sticks around for a while. I'm excited for pumpkin flavored anything, hard carmelled apple cider and all the brilliant fall colors. I really do love fall.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Boot Camp!

Boot camp has commenced. I decided last spring that as soon as drill was over this season I was going to begin intensively working on getting my horse really darn broke. I want her light, responsive, soft, supple as well as doing flying lead changes, spins and stops. I'm sure our backing and roll backs can be improved upon as well, among other things. I want her to be able to do all of that framed up and on a loose rein. I want to feel like I deserve to wear my "Reining Champion" buckle, not laugh at myself when I put it on because I still cannot do a flying lead change, which, to me, is part of being a reiner, like needing oxygen is part of being human.

So as soon as drill was over mid-July I got to work. At first it was just working on my own, when I could manage to get on my horse. It was a busy few weeks so I didn't get as many oppurtunities to ride as I would have liked, but when I did I thought about where I wanted my horse to be and what I needed to do to get there and worked on it. I made progress and I was happy with it.

While I do love drill and it was very instrumental in getting Midori to where she is today, it has seemed lately that it is a little counter-productive to getting where I wanted to go with her. I had always drilled with Midori. With the exception of our end of the season break from mid-July to Labor day and holiday break from Thanksgiving to New Years and a hand full of skipped practices here and there, I've drilled Midori pretty darn faithfully every single Sunday for the whole 4 years that I've had her. I don't regret it. Not one bit. I think drill horses are amazing athletes and some of the most rock solid horses out there. But I am to a point where I want to really fine tune Midori and it needs consistent, dedicated work. I can't just forget it for practice every Sunday. I don't think that's fair. So I made a deal with myself that as soon as drill was over this season I would begin boot camp. And I did. I even enlisted some help and I'm pretty darn excited about it.

There is a trainer at the arena that we ride at. I finally got up the nerve to see if she could fit me in to her seemingly very hectic schedule. She found room for me and I had my first lesson in years last week. It was great! While I was a little disappointed that we ended up working on spinning and flying lead changes, I was still very pleased with the difference I could already see in Midori's responsiveness. I was amazed. It didn't seem like we had really done a whole lot, but I could definately feel progress was being made.

I feel like there are a lot of holes in our training, steps that we skipped, building blocks that we missed. I'm also aware that most of the "issues" we are having with progressing like I want to are just my lack of knowledge and experience. I've already gotten Midori further in her training then I thought I knew how to. I have to admit, I'm pretty darn proud of the little horse that I've made. Of course she's just a rock star in her own right, so I've had good help in the matter. But back to the holes....I wanted to kind of go back to the beginning and fill in those holes and gaps and work up from there, which is why I was disappointed that we ended up getting to work on flying lead changes on the first lesson. I did mention to the trainer that I'm doing the winter reining series, which starts in one month, so I'm sure she registered that and realized it's crunch time. Or maybe, and this is my reaching for the stars here, she just figured we are more ready for the big stuff then I feel like we are. I guess time will tell. Ultimately my goal is for my horse to be as close to a finished reiner as we can get with our limited resources, both financial and available local trainers (good trainers are hard to come by around here) and I'm just happy to have someone helping me learn how to reach that goal.

So for now I'm pleased with my new trainer. She is nice and seems to know what she's doing well enough. I'm happy to pick her brain for a while and it's way better then continuing to flail around on my own. I'm excited to see how we progress this winter! My next lesson is tomorrow and now that I've had over a week to digest the last one I've got all sorts of questions I want to ask and things I need to understand better. I'm excited. Progress is being made!

Sunday Stills Challenge - Rule of Thirds

Well, I hope I'm getting this right. I love the rule of thirds when taking pictures and thought I had about a million pictures that I could use for this challenge in my archives (I had a super busy week this week so I didn't have time to get any new pictures). Of course once I started looking thru my archives I realized that I really do still center most of my pictures. I was a little disappointed in myself. ;)

I did find a few that I think qualify.

I have always loved this picture. It is jrosey and my bff Sarah trail riding down by the river on a beautiful fall day.

This is another one of my faves of the boyfriend. He was taking a walk while they were dragging the arena at a cutting show.

And a snowy branch draping over our hitching post last winter. I think I was trying for the rule of thirds here, but it's kind of right in between being centered and thirds. The snow is mostly in the top third and the vertical post is mostly in the left third. Mostly. I suppose I could have cropped a bit, but I like it just the way it is.

And then we have the ominous cloud picture with the ground and trees in the bottom third. Or bottom quarter. Close enough.

To check out more Rule of Thirds pics go thru the comments here.