Posts Tagged ‘AQHA’

Horses Out and About

The ponies and I had a very productive and fun weekend!

We kicked off Saturday morning by heading to a lesson at the barn where I bought Coco when she was only a few months old. Her flat work has been going really well and I know she’s ready to jump, but I also know that I need some eyes on the ground to give me feedback to bring along a youngster. Being that this barn raised and trained her dam (as well as multiple half siblings), stood her sire, and two grandsires I value their input both as professionals in the hunter/jumper world, but also their knowledge of her bloodlines. They hadn’t seen her in person since she was a baby baby, so it was fun for them to see her grown up.

Coco handled the “new” place quite well. She looked pretty hard at some jump standards in the corners of the ring, but she didn’t say “no” to anything. She also handled the traffic in the arena much better than I would have anticipated. One of the down sides to keeping horses at home is that they don’t get much time in an arena with other horses. It took Sterling a year or two of showing before he stopped panicking about horses coming up behind him on the rail. I could feel Coco’s energy when horses would jump nearby, but she was never naughty.

We did lots of flat work, walked and trotted through some ground poles and ended the lesson by trotting and even cantering over a crossrail. The trainer’s feedback was that she jumps cute, even over such a tiny fence. She also really uses her hind-end into the canter transitions. Coco will definitely be a talented jumping horse, so hopefully we will get a solid base and get to start showing over fences next spring!

Pretty (and very sweaty!) Coco after our lesson.

 

The norm lately has been a lot of rain and random storms. Saturday night brought over 1.5″ of rain at our house! My horsey besties and I had planned a trail ride at the Trinity Trails in Fort Worth and we didn’t let the rain deter us! It was misting a bit when we set off, but it cleared up and turned out to be the perfect weather for a Sunday morning ride on the Trinity Trails. Plus the weather seemed to deter others from heading out so we didn’t see more than maybe 15 cyclists and that was it.

All of our horses thought the stripes in the parking lot were walkovers. It was funny.

It is delightful to live in (near) a city that is so welcoming to trail users. The Trinity Trails system has many miles of hiking, biking and horseback riding trails that allow you to ride right up to downtown Fort Worth. We got some pretty amazing photos!

This is Casey’s “but I want to eat all the grass not take a picture” pose! Downtown Fort Worth is in the backdrop.

Casey behaved really well. He looked at lots of things, but never spooked. There was a donkey on the other side of the river from us and he really talked to us when we rode by him! Thankfully we have Pablo at home because donkeys often scare the pants off of horses when they bray.

It’s so nice to have this much green grass in August. You wont hear me complain about the rain, that’s for sure!

Does your town have trails for riding, running or biking? Do you ever take your horse out?

Casey Goes to a Horse Show

This past weekend I took Casey to a Stock Horse of Texas (SHOT) show in Sweetwater, Texas. As I’ve mentioned previously, I’m hoping to sell him for Mom and thought a horse show would be a good way for him to get some exposure. I had never been to one of these shows before so  had limited expectations. I read the Handbook prior to going and watched some YouTube videos of the classes to have an idea what to expect. From my research I concluded that SHOT is geared towards horses that aren’t “show” horses, but are just ranch horses. Somewhere in the middle. The classes offered are: Ranch Riding, Ranch Trail, Ranch Pleasure, Reining, Working Cow Horse and Cutting. I entered Trail and Pleasure since I felt the most familiar and prepared to show in those classes without making a complete fool of myself or my horse.

The show was Saturday so we went Friday evening in order to get settled, see what kind of horse I had and check out the digs.

The stables were quite nice. All new stalls under cover. Casey settled in with his hay immediately!

I was immediately impressed by the facility. All arenas were covered and the coliseum was air conditioned. AC with horse shows can be a mixed blessing, though. I was relieved that we didn’t show in the AC because on super hot days (and it is August in Texas) going from the hot warmup pen to the cold show pen can give your horse a BLAST of energy!

Casey’s stall was in the same building as our trail and pleasure classes would be held. There were a few Big Ass Fans which seemed to really help keep the air moving.

I was by myself at the show and didn’t know anyone so I didn’t get any photos or video of us showing, by I can attest that Casey was really good! We showed in two divisions; Junior (horses 5 and younger) and Limited (a non-pro division). I did two divisions to get more arena time. First thing to go was the Trail. We were able to practice all the obstacles the night before the show so I knew going in that the only thing Casey was a bit worried about was the log drag. We had practiced it a few times at home, but he just wasn’t quite OK with it yet.

I opted to do the Limited pattern first because it was a walk drag and the Junior patterns required a trot while dragging. All was well with the walk drag (which was in the shape of a figure 8 while dragging a log) until the rope got on the right side of Casey and we were going to the left. This causes the rope to pull on his rear end and he was pretty unnerved by that. We got it done, but it wasn’t pretty. Below is the score sheet from the Limited Trail. We were 116. You can see that we got pretty good marks until the log drag. Had we had a better log drag we probably would have been in the top 3!

We are at the bottom of this score sheet and ended up with a 69 1/2.

 

I thought our Junior Trail pattern was really nice, but evidently the Judge and I were on very different pages. The trot drag went better than I’d hoped, but it wasn’t great. Everything else felt rock solid.  The only thing I can attribute the penalties to was he may have touched the logs on the trot and lope obstacles, but I’m pretty sure he didn’t. I have a suspicion that Casey was a little bit too “show horse” for this crowd and the judge just inherently didn’t like us.

Junior Trail scorecard. Not so great, but not terrible.

 

I didn’t stick around to see the score cards for the Ranch Pleasure classes, but here is the recap. The classes were scheduled to go at the same time and I was first to go in the Junior and last to go in the Limited. One would think that the Junior would go first and the Limited after that. I stuck around the arena where the Junior was to go and was told by another exhibitor that they were looking for my number at the Limited arena. Oops! So we trotted over and in our class we went.

This pleasure was different from any I had done before. Usually everyone in the class goes in the arena together and the announcer calls gaits (walk, trot, lope, etc) and then the judge pins the class. The Ranch Pleasure had exhibitors go one at a time. You start to the right of the arena and exhibitors go one at a time. There are signs around the arena telling you what to do. This is my recollection of the Limited “pattern”: Extended Walk, Trot, Extended Trot, Lope, Stop and Reverse, Walk, Lope, Extended Lope, Trot, Stop and Back. Our walk was good, trot felt good, extended trot was happy, lope was smooth and nice, stop had Casey fall almost on his face, reverse was terrible, like he had never been asked to pivot before, walk was fine, lope was nice, extended lope was smooth and nice, trot transition was a bit bumpy, but not bad, stop and back was solid. Other than the stop-fall-on-your-face-why-cant’-you-pivot part it felt nice. This was the judge that REALLY didn’t like our trail pattern so I don’t have high hopes for how we did in this class.

The Junior pattern was basically exactly the same and we went a few minutes after doing our Limited pattern. Here is the overview of our performance: extended walk was fine, trot was very nice, extended trot was lovely, lope was awful, who knew the outside leg asked for the left lead and not the right lead CASEY?!, stop was better than the Limited, pivot was also terrible, lope, why do I have to lope again?, so that didn’t go well, extended lope was good, stop and back was fast (because we couldn’t get out of the arena fast enough). Definitely don’t have high expectations for much from this score card. Hopefully they will be posted this week and I’ll provide an update on Farm Friday.

Proof we were there, my shirt was popular and Casey is muy handsome.

I don’t know that we will do another SHOT show, mostly just because I don’t know that Casey is “ranchy” enough for this crowd. He definitely goes like a show horse. I could not have asked for a better behaved horse, though. The warm-up arena was completely wheels off and he never got flustered once. Sterling would have been in the rafters after 30 seconds. Casey didn’t spook at anything, he never didn’t try to do what I asked of him and he was generally fantastic. I really enjoy riding and showing him and may try our hands at an AQHA or Palomino show next. Whomever buys this horse will get a very solid citizen who is as pretty as he is sweet.

Catching up!

Hi! Things have been NUTS at the farm! This is a very brief update, enjoy!

 

Harriet, our foster from the Fort Worth Animal Care and Control shelter has finished her heartworm treatment! Only a week or so left of the meds and she will be ready to join her new family! If you’d like to adopt Harriet please let me know and I’ll help you make it happen. She is a suspected Corgi mix. She is probably the easiest foster dog we have had so far. She minds well, is potty trained, gets along great with other dogs (large and small) and she LOVES her person!

Harriet also has NO problem relaxing!

 

Mickey had his surgery last week. The vet removed his broken toe and put a plate in his broken leg. He’s on 24/7 crate rest and has to wear a cone for two weeks. Life is HARD when you are Mickey!

See how hard Mickey’s life is?!

 

I lost my mind, again, and agreed to foster this “little” family. Mama is a suspected Wolfhound cross and no one knows who the dad to these little dumplings might be! Only time will tell, Jesse is a fantastic mama dog and so far all the puppies do is eat and sleep. I’m confident I will be second guessing my sanity in taking these kids in in a few weeks, but for now I’m smitten by puppy breath and squeaks.

Happy Mama dog with her litter. Doesn’t she look like a Muppet?!

 

Casey has FINALLY shed out entirely! It only took the poor guy until JULY in TEXAS to get rid of his Montana furry coat. We are going to a show next weekend, for which I’m pretty excited. I haven’t shown in a western saddle in over 10 years so this should be entertaining!

Here he is listening intently to whatever nonsense I’m telling him. Notice his beautiful golden coat!

 

Have a GREAT week!

Farm Friday 07.07.2017

Boot City and I both took some time off work this week to get some stuff done around the farm. Usually when we do this we get distracted and hardly accomplish anything on our to do list, but we did really well this time! Lots of gates built, arena sand delivered and some purging of Boot City’s metal collection.

Little Mickey is quite the snuggler. He has no idea that he only weighs about 5lb. He acts like he is a 70lb pack leader! So funny!

 

Casey is spoiled and gets 24/7 turnout, mostly because he is so well behaved and not a fat kid. He often has chicken buddies while he grazes during the day and the other horses are in their stalls.

 

Simon. Just because he is a lovebug and so cute.

 

It has become somewhat of a tradition for one of my hunt friends to host a gymkhana the weekend before the 4th of July. We were blessed with moderately cooler temps this year and had much fun!

 

I got a truck load of sand for my “arena” and the dogs and horses took full advantage of the sand pile. There was much dog wrastling and horses rolling!

 

It is never easy to see them go, but its time for these boys to move on. Boot City took them to the goat sale this morning. I always tell myself that they end up in a home similar to ours and get good lives.

 

What are you up to this weekend?

Going Western

I grew up riding western. I had a brief foray into rodeo events. I won my first belt buckle when I was 9 in pole bending at the Bill Pauley Memorial Rodeo. I won All Around for my age division at the same rodeo. I had a few nice, but safe, rodeo event horses before I was 12. Casey ran some barrels (not to be confused with the current Casey!). Chant Town was an OTTB or OTQH and he was a master of pole bending. Both horses were VERY old when I had them and went on to teach other kids the ropes in rodeo events.

My Dad was a cutter most of my life. I know he did some team roping and snaffle bit futurities, but all I remember him doing was cutting and helping friends and family move cattle whenever needed.

Dad cutting in Idaho on Athena Beau. Probably in the late 80’s or early 90’s.

 

As I got older my interest in rodeo waned and I got into showing Quarter Horses. I did mostly all around events including showmanship at halter, hunter under saddle, hunt seat equitation, western horsemanship, western pleasure and trail with a couple horses my parents had raised. When Jaguar was born he was first my 4-H project, but when we took him to a couple Quarter Horse shows when he was 2 some trainers made comments to my parents that he had the looks of a reiner. Dad was always ambivalent about the “horse show” events and more or less thought they were a waste of time. ESPECIALLY the English events. Therefore he was never particularly supportive of horse showing. Until I got bitten by the reining bug. Reining is an event that is derived from working cattle. You ride in figure eights going slow and fast, do sliding stops, and spins. Basically you are showing off how “broke” your horse is to do the maneuvers necessary to work cattle. The next step is working cow horse then cutting.

Jaguar becomes a reiner!

Jaguar was an awesome reining horse. He is extremely athletic and would stop SO hard. He could be frustrating in that he would stop hardest in bad ground (ground not good for sliding) and then not make much effort in really good ground. He could easily do 20 foot long slides. I showed him in reining from the time I was 15 until I was about 20. He developed a large bump on one of his knees that made spins in that direction uncomfortable. I also was finishing college so didn’t really have time to show. Dad let me go all over the western U.S. to show in reining events. I had a BLAST! The culmination was showing the AQHYA World Championship show. We didn’t do all that well, but it was really fun.

After college and into adulthood living in Texas all I really wanted to do was jump. I got Jaguar back when he was 13 and I was in my late 20’s. In my head he was ready to retire so he hung out in the pasture until I met the fox hunt and he entered his third career (his second was doing all around stuff with my Mom in Montana). All the horses I’ve bought myself have been English horses for jumping and/or fox hunting.

Last fall my Mom let me borrow her horse, Casey (again) to use for fox hunting since Jaguar is no longer sound for riding. He was the perfect fit for a fill in. He was a great sport and did everything I asked of him, but he just is not an English horse. I much prefer riding him western. Mom wants to sell him now so I am legging him up to make some western videos and market him to the western crowd.  He is a super easy and fun ride.

 

 

My parents got me a custom made reining saddle made by Earl Twist when I was 17 and it is the most beautiful and comfortable saddle on the planet. Riding Casey brings back fantastic memories and then I find myself thinking I should get back into reining….. just what I need is another horse hobby! Especially after all the time, effort, energy and MONEY I’ve invested over the past 10 years to get into the hunter/jumper game. I’m sure Boot City would be ecstatic. Nonetheless, I’m definitely going to enjoy the time I have left with Casey and getting to dip my toes back into the western world for a little while.

Lovely day on Casey the QH.

My plan is to get back into reining later on in life when perhaps jumping isn’t safe or if I get burned out or I have the resources to do both. I didn’t keep a lot of my western tack other than my reining saddle and a handful of bridles. My parents had also gotten me a fancy show saddle made by Broken Horn in California that my Mom now uses to show her mare Foxy. It kind of entertains me because that saddle has a silver horn cap with my initials on it.

He looks so cute in his western duds! He still hasn’t fully shed out and it is HOT here so I keep his mane braided and off his neck.

I’m blessed to have and have had some really lovely horses!

I Love Horses

My name is Tara and I love horses. Supposedly that is the first step to recovery, right?! I can’t imagine my life without these divine creatures playing a major role and am so grateful I have the means and the support of Boot City to have them. People often compare the hobby of horseback riding to playing sports or golfing or other “similar” activities, but there is one glaring difference. If you own or lease a horse you are responsible for the care and well being of an 800+ pound animal 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, 52 weeks per year. It is kind of like marriage; you take a vow to care for them in sickness and in health.

So far 2017 has had it’s fair share of “sickness”, mostly in the form of injuries. Right, Sterling?

We like to selfie while on stall rest. Again.

Simon tried to pull his hoof off of his leg this spring, but miraculously was never lame. The injury looked really bad and made me kind of nervous so I haven’t been riding him. I want to let the hoof grow out more and he is really just a baby so the time off is fine.

Simon trying on a hunt bridle to prepare for what we hope will be his future career!

Jaguar is kicking it retirement-style. His hurt leg is noticeably off, but he’s happy as a clam out in his pasture with his buddies. He even trots and canters sometimes! I thought he’d be annoyed at being retired, but he’s taken to it pretty well. He still bosses everyone around, including the neighbor horses.

The handsomest 24 year old, grandson of Doc Bar, past AQHYA World Championship qualifying reiner, retired fox hunter, there ever was!

Coco (so far) is one of my “in health” horses currently. She has had PLENTY of “in sickness” over the past few years so she deserves it! We will make our way to a few more horse shows this summer as Sterling convalesces. Miles, miles and more miles are my goals for Coco this year.

Hanging out in her giant stall at the horse show. My favorite thing about Texas Rose Horse Park are the huge permanent stalls. It is so nice for the bigger hunter/jumper horses to not be stuck is some tiny 10×10 or even 12×12.

Last, but certainly not least, Casey has been the VERY best step-in hunt/whipper-in horse I could have asked for! He was a perfect gentleman all hunt season, enjoyed a few trail rides and now is FOR SALE! The plan had been to take him back to Montana, but Mom thinks it would be best for him to stay in Texas and have a busier job with someone who will appreciate him. Casey is one of those horses that you can truly grab out of the pasture, jump on and go and there is no drama. I know because we did just that 2 weekends ago. He hadn’t been ridden since March and I hopped on (with no lunge) and he trotted and cantered around like he was ridden yesterday. And he’s only FIVE! He’s got SO MANY great years ahead of him! So, you should buy him, or at least tell your friends to buy him. For reals.

Poor Casey’s biological clock stayed on Montana seasons so he didn’t start shedding his winter coat until JUNE! When he would get hot and it was wet, well, he would roll in the mud to cool off.

No, horses are not just a “hobby”. I can’t put them in a closet and forget about them until the next time I want to “play”. They are my lifestyle and I love every second!

Resurgence of an Addiction

It has been established on this blog that I grew up in Eastern Montana. I was an extremely fortunate child to have been born into an already horsey family so my love of the equines was developed at a very early age. Both my parents grew up with horses, both for work and for pleasure. When I was born my Mom was into barrel racing and my Dad was into team roping. Not surprisingly, I was on a horse as soon as I could hold my head up and sit up by myself. I definitely had inherited the horse gene and couldn’t get enough of them.

My first foray into organized horse events was as a barrel racer. My parents got me a saintly old Quarter Horse named Casey. I’m confident Casey carried many little girls and boys around the cloverleaf pattern before he came to our house. He wasn’t at all fast, but that was just fine. I didn’t have, and still really don’t have, much of a need for speed. He was safe and kind and put up with the shenanigans that a little girl does to her horse. I put glitter on him. I braided his hair. I brushed and brushed and brushed him. All of the signs were there that I would ultimately not end up being a barrel racer.

When I was old enough my parents signed me (and my brother) up for 4-H. 4-H is a program that teaches kids leadership, humanity, responsibility and a myriad of other life skills. Most importantly, it has a horse program. You couldn’t start the horse program until you were 10 years old and I was counting down the days! In preparation for entering the horse program, my Mom and some of the 4-H moms from our club signed up for a riding clinic conducted by the trainer at Diamond N Ranch outside of Billings, Montana. I have no idea how they found it or why they attended, but the rest is pretty much history. This was our introduction to the Quarter Horse show world and it didn’t take long for me to be hooked.

My second AQHA show horse: Hesa Black Associate

My second AQHA show horse: Hesa Black Associate

I showed Quarter Horses all through junior high and high school and even a little bit during college. I did all kinds of different show events from Showmanship to Western Pleasure to Hunter Hack and finally Reining. I loved every second of it, and now that I’m an adult and I can appreciate what my parents did (paid for!) to allow me to show.

My first real English horse (the taller one on the right) and my cousin on a horse that my parents had for a few years.

My first real English horse (the taller one on the right) and my cousin on a horse that my parents had for a few years.

As a kid I would voraciously read any and every horse book and magazine I could get my hands on. This is where my obsession with English riding was born. My Mom got me lessons when I was about 10 with a lady in my hometown who had supposedly ridden English at some point and later I did all the English flat classes and some jumping at the Quarter Horse shows. It just wasn’t the same as what I read about in Practical Horseman or Dressage Today. There wasn’t a dedicated jumping trainer anywhere near my hometown, so even though I did do some jumping I know now that I pretty much did so horribly wrong!

So, here I am as a (mostly) self-sufficient adult with the means to combine my love of horse showing with learning how to properly ride a horse over jumps. I posted about going to my first USEF “A” rated show back in February. This spring I was able to make it to four more shows in Tyler, Texas. Originally called the Tyler Four. I felt like I was home again. Granted, when I was showing I felt like a 12 year old kid learning how to do things correctly, but it was so satisfying to be back in the show pen (that was to see if Caitlin reads this, I’m supposed to call it a show ring). Sterling is turning out to be an absolutely delightful partner in the hunter ring. We didn’t clean house with blue ribbons, but we (I) steadily improved and (mostly) didn’t make the same mistakes repeatedly.

You know it's an addiction when you don't mind horse boogers ruining your perfectly nice shirt and still going in public with said horse boogers on your shirt.

You know it’s an addiction when you don’t mind horse boogers ruining your perfectly nice shirt and still going in public with said horse boogers on your shirt.

We have a few weeks off from showing now that it is about to be blazing hot in Texas, but I can hardly wait to start again. In the meantime we are doing lots of work on the flat (no more unsupervised jumping) to make him and me stronger. I even joined a horseback rider focused boot camp for 60 days to make my core and my stringy legs stronger for when we are back in the show ring. This is in addition to torturing poor Jaguar with posting without irons. No pain no gain!

Being a horse show horse is a LOT of work and VERY tiring.

Being a horse show horse is a LOT of work and VERY tiring.