Monday, June 27, 2016

Wow, it's been a while...

I thought it would be nice to add an update, after just getting back yesterday from a three-day reining show, the Northeast Reining Horse Association Independence Classic 2.

I'd gone to a show in April as well, and we'd done better than last year, so it was a good show (I like to get better at things I try, after all) but I never got around to blogging about it.

So... to summarize: 

I got personal high scores in the "Green Reiner" classes, one on Saturday, one on Sunday, of 68 and 67. "Perfect" is 70; though you can be "plussed" on some manoeuvres, you usually are "minused" if you're in my experience level.

Your ride is judged in pieces: each manoeuvre is given a score. You start with a 70 and then as you perform a manoeuvre it gets a mark: 0 if you did it right, according to the description in the rule books (so not marked down); "plus" some value (usually no more than 1) if you do it exceptionally well; "minus" some value if you obviously are aiming for the manoeuvre but things didn't quite work out right.  If you forget one of the manoeuvres, you go straight to 0 from 70; similarly, if you do something in the wrong order, do something in the wrong direction, etc.  There are also penalty marks for when you do the manoeuvre sort of acceptably but some part of it wasn't quite right.

For instance, I got a 64 in the "Ladies" class, but I would have had a 66 had I gone about another foot before initiating the sliding stop:  I got a penalty on the manoeuvre of -2. I made sure from then on to zero-in on the cones marking the three-quarter and half way points of the arena.

I was also signed up for "Prime Time Green Reiner" which is basically a subset class in a single larger class, you pay as if you're in a separate class but it's all part of the Green Reiner class. "Prime Time" is a euphemism for "Old Fart". 

So in the Saturday Green Reiner class, I tied for 4th (out of 22) in the regular Green Reiner, but got 2nd in Prime Time (out of 8, I think: smaller number of people to compete against). I actually won a few bucks for each (just under what I paid to enter them. :) )

In the Sunday Green Reiner, I was tied for 8th out of 21, but got 2nd out of 7 in the Old Farts part of it. So another bit of cash, just under $25 (again, almost as much as I paid to enter Prime Time). 

For whatever reason, they scheduled Green Reiner on Sunday to be the first class of the day (it's usually in the afternoon). The pattern for that class was one I hadn't done before. So between the fact that when I get up at 5:30 in the morning I'm not exactly a bright and shining intellect, and that I'd never done the pattern before, I spent some uneasy time visualizing it while in the warm-up pen.

A little aside about Cinchy-Poo and warm-ups. Briefly, he's against them. As far as he's concerned, we really don't need to expend any energy if it's not the class. So I tack him up, get on him, and get an aerobic workout for about a half hour or more trying to get him to not four-beat canter. 

He can even tell that it's not show time when he's in the show-pen during the time that it's available to everyone before the start of paid warm-ups. If there's more than one horse and rider in the ring, he just knows he doesn't need to work hard.

The first few times he did this, I genuinely believed he might be tired, so didn't push him... and ended up with a fire-breathing dragon when it came time to show. I've learned better... but boy is it tiring.

Anyway, back to the second Green Reiner class and the pattern I'd never done before:

In the past, the patterns I've had to do have all been "walk or trot in to the center, spin both ways, do three circle in each direction, then do U-shaped or down the middle run-downs and sliding stops, roll backs (turn around 180 degrees), then on the final run down, instead of rolling back, back up". The direction of the spins (first one  to the left or first one to the right... always ending up facing the judge), and the size/speed of the circles (big fast, small slow, big fast; big fast, big fast, small slow, etc.) would vary - though generally if the spins ended turning to the right, you started the circles to the right and vice-versa.

The first Green Reiner class was one of these - here's my run:

For the pattern above, you're judged on manoeuvres like this: 1: spin.  2:spin. 3: three circles in one direction then change of lead to the other direction. 4: three circles in that other direction, then change of lead to get to the first direction again. 5: run down to the sliding stop, then roll back. 6. run down to the next sliding stop, then roll back. 7: run down to the final sliding stop, and back up.

In this unfamiliar-to-me pattern it was walk or trot to the center, then start circling to the right immediately, small, big, big; change to the left and small, big, big; change turning to the right again, go to the end of the arena, run down the middle past the 3/4 mark, sliding stop, roll back to the right (towards the judge), run down the middle again past the 3/4 mark, sliding stop and roll back to the left (again, towards the judge), run down the middle past the 1/2 mark, sliding stop, back up 10 feet... and then, while facing the exit door of the arena, spin to the right four times, stop, spin to the left four times, stop.

I was convinced I'd forget the spins, since they were "out-of-order" in my mind and as I said, I'm not exactly a sharp tack early in the morning.

But I didn't, amazingly. A few people zeroed (as opposed to 70) because they were so used to end a spin facing towards the judge, they just automatically kept going past "4" to 4 and 1/4, then going off by more than 1/2 a spin when they didn't readjust to the point where they were supposed to start and stop and do 4 the second time again.

My run:
So all in all, I consider this a really successful show. I won about $67 (ok, I spent about $150 on entries, but I did at other shows too, with nothing to show for it. :) ) We had good runs, better than ever. 

Cinchy-Poo, who I'm really getting to like more and more, was a Very Good Boy. He's definitely started to understand that I'm his human (and the jealous posturing between Tico and him can be epic when I have Tico on the cross-ties that are next to Cinch's stall). Despite some of his nippy ways - which I've reduced considerably by channelling the mouthiness into "kisses for carrots", which may not be intuitive, but it works, and he's much gentler than Tico when he does it - he is a cool horse with lots of personality.

He got lots of carrots, apples, bananas, and oat-and-honey granola bars, and was told he was a Such a Good Boy all weekend, I think he was pretty pleased as well.

Friday, October 9, 2015

A Fine Ride

I had a lovely ride on Cinch last night. A lot of times when I go over there after work, between work insanity and rt 3N traffic (Northern MA-NH people probably know what I'm talking about) I'm as jittery as a meth junkie... but yesterday I was relaxed. He was *up*, but it was fun.

I had left work about 15 minutes early, picked up a chocolate cake at Demoulas (their cakes are surprisingly yummy) as a good-bye gift to our barn manager, and took back roads to finally get there around 6:30.

I should have organized it sooner, but with a number of people off at the Quarter Horse Congress earlier this week, things just didn't gel.

I'd bought a big cake, and though I'd tried to get a few more people to come over, the workday logistics didn't work. We couldn't wait until today, because Sydney's last day is today, a half day. :( She's moving back home to Maine for personal reasons - we all love her and are going to miss her.

Anyway, Sydney, the barn owner Frani, my friend Angel and I ate cake,  and she still had 3/4 of a cake to indulge in for breakfast and during the morning. It was a really good cake. :)

After that, and feeling a bit bloated (I wonder why?) I went to see Cinch and Tico, having decided to blow off riding, just clean them up and spoil them a bit. It was getting late, and the barn closes at 9.

Once I started brushing Cinch though, I thought... what the heck?

I tacked him up and as we walked out into the indoor Angel said, "He's probably going to be a bit goofy - remember, he hasn't been ridden since Sunday." The trainer had also been out at the Congress, so Cinch hadn't gotten any kind of work for a few days.

Well, last Saturday was a similar "first ride in a bunch of days" situation (I'd missed that Thursday, they'd gone out to Congress on that Tuesday) and he'd spent most of our first canter circle boinging along like Pepe Le Pew before he settled down. Just a teeny bit of pent-up energy.

I'm happy to say that I felt quite safe despite the somewhat unorthodox forward motion - I kept his head away from his ankles and he just canter-boinged happily until it settled to a plain canter.

Last night I figured that was a possibility...and when I got on him it was definitely to sit on a horse looking to stretch his legs.

The thing about quarter horses: they are built for impulsion.  They have super-duty rear-ends, and Cinch's maybe bigger than most :)  They aren't really built for suspension typically, but Cinch - unlike Tico - has quite a bit of that as well.

So, after barely settling into my western saddle, he was off. We powered around that ring in a very extended trot, which was actually pretty easy to sit as long as I let my back do what it needed to do. It felt so much like we were doing a "dressagy" trot rather than anything approaching a western jog, I thought... I'll ask him to leg yield.

And so he did - from one side of the ring to the other, big strides, big movement, lots of suspension, lots of impulsion. It was a blast!

After about ten minutes of that, I brought him back to a walk, and we did more western-type stuff. Our canters still started out zoomy, but no extra bounce to them.

I really think some of my dressage-riding friends would have a blast on that red horse of mine.  Anyone want to drop by, bring their (wide-tree) dressage saddle, hop on the big boy and see what he's got?

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

And, Photos From the Show

Both of us looking intent.

I've told him a bunch of times, and it's true: it's a good thing he's cute.
Just look at that face!

A little pas de quatre. :)

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Northeast Super Slide-In show... And done for the year.

Another fun reining show, though I never managed to beat my best - this one the Northeast Super Slide-In. When I flubbed the pattern in the first class and zeroed (my own fault, I'd skimmed the description of the spins and made assumptions) I entered Green Horse.

I also went shopping in Kathy the tack lady's trailer (Kathy Toomey Burgos on Facebook), and picked up a gorgeous emerald green show blanket, and I bought a 1/4" Wonpad, too - it's perfect for under a show blanket, not too thick, not thin like a back-on-track blanket. I really like it. She will run a tab for you, and gives good discounts - I got the pad for 89.95.

 Anyway, in Green Horse with the green blanket, we got a 62.5, so were moving in the right direction. :)

The next day was a Green Reiner class first thing, this one I got a 60... Cinch, who is usually a spinning machine, decided that it was just too early to do that thang... our spins sucked.
Cinch BigBootay taking a mid-day nap.

I wanted to do better, and entered Green Horse for that day. Bryan said he'd hop on Cinch a bit before the class to tune him up a bit, and I went shopping in Kathy's trailer again.

I found some cute little skull-decorated spurs, with just a little more to the rowel than my plain-jane spurs had (which were essentially dimes), and a pair of blue and black skull earrings, all to match my skull and crossbones Elvis-collared show shirt I bought at the last show.
The spurs. The nail polish helps hide the dirt under my fingernails. I'm not very good at applying it, though.

Even though the skulls on the shirt had one blue eye and the earrings were blue, I used the green blanket on Cinch - it just was that pretty on him.

I rode him a bit in the practice ring, then Bryan came in and got on him, and made him mind a bit more.

As an aside: one of the best things about Bryan as a trainer is, he doesn't "tune up" the horse in the practice ring by yanking him around in spins, or whaling on his sides to back up. He still gets the results he wants, but the rough use isn't part of his repertoire... and it was in a few of the other trainers'.

One in particular, a woman, was pretty bad - the poor horses looked miserable as she yanked and kicked and muscled them into pretzels. And another one NEVER SHUT UP, berating the kids she was coaching, and half the time telling them to do things  that were abusive and often contradictory. I commented to another older guy, as we were both sitting on a bench in a corner "I'm too old too put up with that kind of shit." And he said "I'd take my kid and horse out of training with any trainer ever acted like that with them." I'm really surprised the kids weren't in tears. I mentioned that to a friend of mine, and I think she said that at some shows they have judges watching the practice ring to make sure none of that crap was happening, but we didn't have them. :(

Anyway, I hopped back on, went to the pen, and we didn't do too badly, and though the run was a little zippy, our spins were *much* better. :) We got a 63.

During the day, the chiropractor who comes to the barn every so often to adjust our horses, and who has a horse in training with Bryan, arrived. We didn't want to do Cinch just before his class just in case he got a bit sore from the adjustment, but he got a nice adjustment afterwards.

One of the funniest thing I've ever seen: Bryan and his girlfriend Jenny have an Aussie, Rosie. Jenny was having her horse Star adjusted just before Cinch, and we were all sitting there watching as the chiro worked.

He brought out his mallets to work on Star's spine. He held one to the vertebra (brum?) and hit that mallet with the other one.


Rosie jumped up, whining piteously, and running in circles. We all, including the chiro and his wife who was holding Star, looked at her, surprised.

He turned around, moved a bit up the spine, and *WHACK*

Rosie, whining, was beside herself now, running back and forth, looking at Bryan and Jenny like "WHY ARE YOU ALLOWING THIS???"

The chiro whacked once more, and they had to take Rosie away. We all laughed for about 5 minutes. She didn't act that way with any other horse, only Star.

While Cinch was getting his adjustment, the "Northeast Classic Reiners Class" was going on. The qualifications were, having been an NRHA member 20 years ago (though not necessarily still a member) and being over 55.

We could usually hear the sounds of people hooting and cheering a bit during the show back at the stalls, but as a faint background noise. Suddenly, there was a cacophony - cheering, hooting, just all kinds of noise. I figured it was some one everyone liked, and I sure wasn't wrong: it was Kathy the tack lady... competing for the first time in ten years... well, let me let her tell you about it, since I didn't witness it first hand:

"I have been in the horse industry in one form or another for 45 years. Yesterday afternoon was probably the most memorable and fun experience I've ever had. I showed at the Northeast Reining Horses Association in the Classic Reiner Class. It was the first time I was back in the pen after 10 years and the first time on a horse in three years. The crowd was amazing! I have never felt so much love in my entire life! Thank you all! I also like to personally thank Martina Morrell for getting me through the pattern successfully and to Amber Jewel for letting me use her great Horse Chexy. Words cannot even express how I feel!"

If you want to see a bit more about it, search for her name on Facebook (Kathy Toomey Burgos), people shared photos to her timeline.

I did get to see the rest of the class after Cinch was done, and I can tell you, I have never seen such a great crew and had so much fun watching an event, ever. I was hooting and hollering with everyone else.

Yesterday morning, I had one last class, another Green Reiner. After our zippy performance the day before, I wanted to take this one slow. I did - but too slow, basically too slow to get a decent stop and slide. It was a more complicated pattern than I'd done before, with a run-in first, and I didn't go off pattern. So, bad stops, a couple of -1/2s, and a score of 62. Oh well - I now have something to work on for the off-season.
Cinch really did not want to get up Saturday morning.

I stayed for a few hours longer, but then packed up my stuff and headed home, since I didn't have any classes at all today. We could have stayed for the futurity, but Angel (who went to the show even though she kept her horse home) and I were ready to leave. Cinch stayed behind, but he'll get a nice rest before he travels home himself.

Oh - one of the judges owns Cinch's daddy Backcinch. Small world!

And I forgot to mention - one of the girls who came with us couldn't bring her reiner, he's lame - so she brought and competed on her Haflinger pony. Cutest thing!

I got the video of my rides, but I need to edit it down: he put my runs for all 5 classes together into one long video; I'm going to break it down to the individual videos. Meanwhile, the photographer posted the photos. Some are cringe-worthy, but I'll probably be buying a few:

Photos from the Super Slide-In

Monday, July 20, 2015

How could I have forgotten the sheep?

The Big E Fairgrounds are quite large, and there's often more than one activity going on during any given weekend. While we were there for the reining show for instance, there was also a dog show and a sheep show.

The brother of one of the young women with the Crystal Farm group was showing his sheep, and their mother was there to help him. Much to Kate's consternation (she's a teen... need I say more?), a bunch of us went over to say hello, and see what a sheep show was like.

I could not have imagined in my wildest dreams the reality that is a sheep show.

First of all, the sheer noise of it was overwhelming. I'm not sure how many sheep were there, but I'm pretty sure they all had something to say.

Some of them were wearing fly sheets.

Oh, and be careful where you walk. Maybe sheep aren't worse than horses in that respect, maybe there were just so many sheep in that confined space that it just seemed like there was not one bit of the floor that hadn't been peed on or pooped on... but holy mother of god, that was a lot of poop and pee.

Given that, it wasn't nearly as smelly as I might have expected... there was ventilation, the exhibition hall they were in had windows that could be opened.

Figuring out what they were being judged on was another puzzle. The people showing the sheep (they seemed to be mostly teens or young adults) held them, the judges walked around and chose some out of the lineup, there'd be more shifting around, the judge would choose some more... but what the criteria was, was a complete mystery to me. I asked Kate's mother afterwards, and she said it was mostly judged on grooming, and though some used professional groomers, her son did it himself, a fact of which she was quite proud.

There were a lot of what I can only call grooming stations scattered within the hall - about 3 1/2 feet long by about 2 1/2 feet wide, they were little platforms that once the sheep were attached to the tie-down on it, had a lift that brought them up to a comfortable level for the clipping/grooming to commence. There were a lot of sheep on those things, and they all seemed a bit affronted, and vocalized their displeasure.

An uoccupied grooming station to the left front.

These photos are just a tiny corner of the whole exhibition hall. I didn't even take any photos of the classes and the judging.

I think I lasted about ten minutes in there before the assault on all my senses was just too much. I have no idea how those people stayed there the whole day.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Second NERHA show, July 4th weekend

Long story short: it was exhausting, but so much fun!

Cinch and I were better together than at the last show, and I really feel like we're getting to be a good team. We had nice warm weather - well, it was kind of hot and muggy, but better than the freezing temps during the April show - and the sun was shining. People were all in good holiday moods, it was wonderful.

We arrived early Thursday afternoon, got the trailers unloaded and the horses settled in. It may sound like not all that much, but I'm talking eight horses. Before they can even come off the trailer, the shavings need to be laid down in each stall. Then once they're off, water buckets and hay bags filled. Then all the supporting racks, bins, and trunks unloaded into the temporary tack room, the saddles, bridles, saddle pads, etc, following.

After that. and then the evening paid warm-ups, we all went to our respective homes-away-from-home (I shared a room with Angel again) and crashed.

Friday, the first class doesn't start until after noon, so there were more paid warm-ups in the morning. Before they start, the pen is open for people to go in en-masse; the paid warm-ups are time to go in alone, get the horse used to the pen and make sure there'll be no issues.

Angel and I had opted not to get up at the crack of dawn to ride before the paid warm-ups, instead getting there slightly after the crack of dawn. The Tack Shop lady, Kathy (she pulls a trailer full of cool western horsie stuff around to the shows, and is about as nice as you can ask for) was there, so we did some shopping ahead of time - I bought a pretty saddle blanket, and eyed the belts. I'd promised myself a more "blingy" belt if I scored above 60 in the show in April, and then I'd done it. So... but I couldn't make up my mind. I walked away with only the blanket.

Meanwhile, I'd bought a matching bridle and breastcollar from the same people who made my saddle, and  I really wanted to get them in time for this show. It came down to the wire: they were finished on Wednesday. I was going to just wait until the next show, but then I got the bright idea to ask the NERHA people if I could get them shipped to the showgrounds.

The answer was yes. YEAH! I contacted the Continental guy, told him yes, gave him the address, and he shipped it out, to be delivered on Friday.

I didn't really think about the fact that July 3rd was pretty much a holiday for everyone, given that the 4th fell on a Saturday.

There were shipping boxes sitting outside the NERHA show offices so I was feeling pretty good... until I asked them if there'd be any more shipments.

"How was it shipped?" she asked.

"USPS" I replied.

"Oh, they won't deliver inside the show grounds, only UPS and FedEx will do that. And I think the main office here is closed."

Oh, crap. I wish I'd known that. :(

On the off-chance that it was not closed, I decided to wander around the grounds looking for the main office. It was quite surprising how many people had no idea what building that was in.

But meanwhile, I did stumble upon a warehouse which contained these:

So it wasn't all bad.

There was a lady mechanic working on a truck in this space who knew where the offices were. They were closed. A kind security guy even let me in on the off-chance that the Post Office had left the box inside the door and someone else brought it inside... but no.

Oh well. It wasn't like I *needed* to match. It was a disappointment, though.

Since the classes started at noon, we did get on a bit before that. It turned out, our draws (along with another lady from our group) were all consecutive - I think 13th, 14th, and 15th, if I remember correctly - so we were in the practice arena around the same time.

This was my run in ladies.

Not the worst ever done... but lots of room for improvement.  And my own "personal best", so I won't bitch.

I ended up with a 65 1/2.

The thing with showing along with a crew of people - some are showing in more classes than others. I was showing in three classes the whole weekend: Ladies on Friday, Green Reiner II on Saturday, then another Green Reiner II on Sunday.

That left a lot of down time, even with watching everyone else's runs, helping to feed and water and hose down horses, and otherwise hanging out at the Big E grounds.

Saturday morning, I had a long wait before the draw for Green Reiner would even happen, I was bored.  I was back at Kathy's trailer looking at things again,  I was back looking at belts.

The thing about Kathy's trailer: it's not the TARDIS. Even if there are things that you like,  it isn't guaranteed that they'll be in your size. So I found this belt, my size, kind of pretty.

It had a bit of bling, and some bead work in an Aztec pattern.

I liked it.

But some of the bead work was pink.

Not a brassy neon pink (I actually kind of like in your face pink) but a pale, almost white, pastel pink.

I'm so not a pink woman.

Except that my socks were pink that day - that was just what they came in, ya know?  Oh, and my underwear that day was pink - not pastel, thank goodness, but definitely pink.

Oh, hell.
There's a lot more beadwork... I just wanted to also include the bling factor.

So I bought the belt. I've been wearing it nearly every day now, the pink is growing on me.

Saturday afternoon, and  Green Reiner II was posted. My draw was last.

I could get all emo and say something like "worst wait EVAH!" but it wasn't, really, It's just, with twenty-eight people in front of you,you're trying to figure out when to start getting your horse ready so you won't be sitting on him too long - it was kind of hot, after all. At around draw 14 I started to brush him and tack him up; Bryan wanted me on him around draw 16 or 17 so that I could do some work in the warmup ring before it was time for my draw.

By the time draw 24 came around, Cinch and I were both sweating, and I was really having to work to get him to move. I finally just moved out near the gate to park him in the shade.

I probably timed it badly - I'd started too early. At that point I wasn't really focusing well,  I made lots of mistakes in that class - reflected in my score - 60 1/2.  Oh well.

I decided not to purchase that video.  Maybe I will after I've forgotten about all my screw-ups. :)

Sunday, Green Reiner was in the afternoon again. Sunday morning, I visited Kathy again.

Maybe her trailer IS the TARDIS: looking at the show shirts - which I'd done every day since we got there - one I'd not seen before called out to me:

Kathy, the enabler, encouraged me to try it on:

Skulls, Elvis collar and cuffs, how could I resist?

Yes, I bought it.

So, Green Reiner. I was not last draw - actually, about 2/3 of the way, but not last. I was rocking my new shirt, and new belt, Yup, feeling pretty confident.

Cinch and I entered the pen. Within about 30 seconds I thought I'd blown it: I overspun the second spin. So I figured, what the heck, let it rip. It's hard to tell watching this, but it sure felt like Cinch was moving pretty fast.


Despite being only slightly in control at a few points (you're supposed to look like you're in control) I did OK. Apparently I'd come close, but hadn't overturned by over 1/4 of a circle, so I got a score: 64 1/2.

Watching it again, I didn't actually look that out of control. Maybe it was better than I thought. 

Once everyone had done their classes, we packed up horses and tack and headed home. Angel and I took a scenic route - Google Maps had warned of a bad accident and back up on the Pike - but it was a pleasant end to a very tiring weekend.

I'd hoped to get Monday to recuperate, but I ended up driving back to Springfield to pick up my box - the alternative was for them to return it to sender, and I was having none of that. 

So I'll have matching tack at the August Show. Which is a four day show. I'm not sure if I'm going to survive.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

I Just Had to Share

It was a good lesson, and a nice bareback ride on Tico afterwards out in the back field, where he saw a turkey and *didn't* over-react. More geese families were seen as well.

But this was the highlight of the day Silly Cinch:
To explain. I was bent over next to him picking out his hoof, when I heard "pop-pop-pop-pop-pop!" behind me. This was happening. My phone was in my back pocket. The rest is history.

Here are some of the geesies. I didn't get the cutest ones because I was riding bareback and didn't trust Tico to not decide to bolt:  two adults, the first one waddling over across a dirt road to the pond, right in front of us. It was followed by about 5 little fluffy babies. The other adult was still in the tall grass - we could see it's head and neck and part of it's body - but was just standing there... until the grass started rustling, and little gray heads popped up and out onto the dirt road, one by one...

You can actually see the dark heads of the other family we ran into on the other side of the pond, in front of the front-loader.