Saturday, April 30, 2011

Easter Sunday

There were Easter Eggs hidden around the show grounds, and we even had a cute little Easter Bunny on our table at the barn.

We had some classes in the morning but mostly it was get-away day.  Everyone looked forward to getting home early on Easter.  However we also wanted to take the time to tear down appropriately so we’d have less work for setup at Santa Barbara.

Tear down is an organized dance.  Multiple people making sure that they’re putting things in the appropriate truck or trailer.  Taking things down in an order that makes sense for putting in the trailer, but also makes sense for packing into our trucks.  

And of course, tear down is sad because it means the fun of the show is done.

Once the stalls were all torn down and things were put away it was time to put the horses in the trailer.  Todd had me load Blu.  I took a couple mis-steps, since I’ve only ever loaded Cre in the past and he was an easy loader.  But two tries and Blu walked right in.  And once he was in, he patiently waited for the hay net to be tied up for him.  I patted him on the butt and we closed the gate.

All the horses were loaded, Todd was ready to go, so we waved goodbye to Todd and the horses and then we hit the road ourselves.

When I got home Bob and Toni and Ken all came out to help me unload.  Their help cut the unloading time drastically.  It was great. 

And to top it all off Toni cooked Easter Dinner!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Whose idea is it to get up at 5:45am on a Saturday?

Saturday morning was a repeat of Thursday except that I left Ken sleeping in the camper while I started the feeding and horse washing.  The filly was good about it – I led her over to the wash rack and got about half way through when Todd joined me and we finished lickity-split.  Sharon was handling the colt and filly in the halter classes this morning.  It was ATH day (Amateur To Handle).  She came to the barn dressed to show.

Again – my photography skills don’t do Sharon or the colt justice.

Once the halter classes were over Ken headed home to hang out with his folks who were up for the weekend.  And Sharon and I headed to the vendors to SHOP!

Since I’ll be showing Western Pleasure, and it isn’t something I’ve ever done before, I need to get show outfits.  Western Pleasure clothing is full of bling and can be very expensive.  Since I want to do this as inexpensively as I can I was delighted to find out one of the vendors Seriously Fancy sold consignment clothing!  I had been planning on having black be my chap color since it goes with everything, but Sharon had noticed a pair of chocolate color chaps and thought they would look really nice with my horse’s color.   Who was I to say no to trying them on?!

From there it was a matter of finding a top (or two) that would work with those chaps.  They were happy to show me a large selection of tops.  I think I tried on 6 or 7 different tops and even some show pants.  I ended up picking two tops, the pants, the chaps and a show saddle pad.

Shopping (and it looks silly in the photo but that's approximately how I'd hold my arm while showing.)

From there we walked over to the vendor Flanigan's to look at cowboy hats.  Wouldn’t you know they had a chocolate brown felt cowboy hat in my size.  And one of the best hat fitters around to make sure it fit me perfectly.  

A successful shopping trip.

I brought my new outfits back to the barn and shortly afterwards Ken and his folks arrived.   I had Blu in the groom stall again, and saddled him up so Todd could work him.  Toni and Bob each got to feed Blu a cookie and then we all stood at the rail and watched Todd ride Blu.  While we were watching, Uncle Al showed up, too.   (And that reminds me - I forgot to mention that on Thursday two of my lunch-buddy/co-workers came to see Blu (and me, I hope), too!)  It was so cool to have so many friends and family come out to visit.  It really warmed my heart.

Then it was MY turn to ride!  Yeah!

It was my first ride at the show grounds and I was really excited to mount up.  However, due to class timing Todd had to run over to the other arena so I was on my own.  Kind of exciting.  There were a few other horses in the arena warming up and Blu was keeping a close eye on them.  He was still nervous about other horses coming up on him quickly.  I didn’t want to take any chances with him (or me) having a bad experience so I kept him to a walk.  We did lots of turns, leg yields, and flexing and I tried to work with him and be mindful of the others in the arena (who wouldn't want a green horse to cause an issue for them either) and I think we did a pretty darn good job.  I rode for about 45 minutes and enjoyed myself the whole time (even during the brief sprinkles).

After the ride I did a quick fashion show of my new show clothing and then Ken and his folks headed home.

Sharon and I enjoyed a quiet evening at the barn.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Ken meets Blu

Today Ken is coming to the show!!!

How much better can it get?  We had no morning classes so we could actually sleep in.  I got up at 7am to feed and water the horses – had to bring a bale of hay from the trailer to the barn - but once that was accomplished and their waters filled (Blu continually picks up his water bucket and spills it in his stall here at the show - it's making for a lot more stall cleaning than necessary!  sheesh) I went back to the camper.  We’d both brought our Kindles and got a bit of reading time in.  Until our stomachs which point we laughed and figured it was time to get up.  The food vendor on site makes a pretty yummy protein breakfast burrito – we enjoyed having them fix breakfast for us.

Again, classes weren’t until the mid afternoon, so it made for a relaxing day all around.  Nazz was in fine form and didn’t need much work.  Grooming was fun and Laura, Sharon and Todd were all dressed up for their classes.

Nazz was wonderful in his classes.  He rode so nicely for Sharon it was a pleasure to watch.  You can tell how much he enjoys it when they’re riding together.

Todd on Nazz

Once the classes were done for the day I could focus on the fact that soon Ken would arrive.  I was so excited for him to see Blu!  I put Blu in one of the groom stalls and worked on him just like I would to prepare him for a class.  I wanted him to look his best, of course.  I enjoyed brushing him, and it put a nice shine to his coat.  I didn’t go so far as to prep his hooves, but it was a close call.  And I didn’t take his tail out of the protective wrap it was in (the wrap keeps the tail clean and helps it grow long which looks great when it’s out and flowing for a class).  So there are still some things I can do next time Ken sees Blu that he hasn't seen yet.

Blu is sleepy

I kept an eagle eye out for Ken and when I saw the MINI drive up I think my grin went ear to ear!  I hadn’t seen Ken since Wednesday morning.  I missed him alot.

About the first thing I did (ok - the second thing) was escort him to the groom stall so he could meet Blu.  I was probably acting like a kid showing off her dress – turning this way and that, enjoying the “oohs” and “ahhs.”

Blu was on his best behavior, too.  Ken said he looked really nice and I breathed a big sigh of relief.  He likes him! He likes him!!!

I pulled Blu out of the groom stall and walked him around so Ken could check him out in the sunlight and walk around him and pet him.  Oh yeah, and feed him horse cookies!  Cre always knickered at Ken when he showed up because he knew a cookie was soon to appear.  I have a strong feeling Blu will realize the same thing really soon.

Once the show and tell was over it was time to relax. We sat at the table at the end of the barn and watched the goings-on and caught Ken up on everything that had been happening.  We went to the main arena to catch some of the Friday night Futurity Halter classes and watched others do what we’d be doing in the morning.  Then we decided were hungry and with the four of us it was a very easy decision about where to go for dinner.

Samurai SUSHI!!!  A Sushi boat was more than we were able to finish, but we gave it a valiant try!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Horse shows are not vacations.

The day started at 5:45am.

The sun wasn’t up yet but we had the two babies to get ready for their halter classes.  That meant the white filly, Eclipse, needed a bath.  In order to be able to have them ready in time we needed to start at 6:00am.  The poor girl was shivering by the time we were done, but we dried her with towels and put a cooler on her (a robe type blanket).  We moved on to the colt Denny.  He was body clipped so his cleanup and dry time was much shorter.  We had them both spit shined by 7:30am in plenty of time to get to the classes.

Denny and Todd

Eclipse and Todd (I definitely wasn’t on my “A” game taking photos at this years show.  It’s become secondary to horses – so I apologize for the photos.)

When the halter classes were done our morning was complete.  We could relax for a while before getting Nazz and Todd and Sharon ready for their classes in the afternoon.

Todd pulled Blu out of his stall and saddled him up while Sharon and I were bathing Nazz.  When I got back to the barn I saw Todd riding Blu in the warm up arena and went over to watch.  Todd let me know that Blu “about split in two” when he got on.  I sort of wish I’d seen it, but then again, it’s probably a good thing that I didn’t.  This way I don’t have something to visualize.  Luckily after a bit of lunging he settled right down.

Todd working Blu (and you can see part of our barn in the background – the green drapes.)

Chillin’ – showing Blu it CAN be done.

While I was sitting on the rail chatting with Todd, Nicole walked up.  We’d emailed a bit over the last month and I knew she’d be at the show.  I was planning on looking her up so she could see Blu.  It was great to see her, and she said Blu looked good and that it was good to see him.  I told her how much I was enjoying my first month with him and that I was about the happiest person in the world!  She and Todd chatted a bit about Blu’s progress and I think she was happy with it.  I’m glad.

In the ad for Blu Nicole had said “he will be seen” and she was right.  We had multiple people come up to us and ask about him during the show.  Of course that means that Todd’s comment when he first saw Blu will also probably prove true - that it could be a good thing or a bad thing, since the judges will notice him too and might spot mistakes more easily.  But I’ll think positively.

 Laura in the warm up arena

Finally it was time to get ready for Nazz’s classes.  Figuring the timing for horse shows is an art, or a crap-shoot, depending on how you look at it.  You can get a VERY vague estimate about what time you’re actually going into the ring if you estimate 8 minutes per class.  Sometimes you get lucky (if you call it that) and get the first classes of the day so you know exactly what time to be ready (like this morning with the babies).  But the performance classes are usually a bit later in the day.   We’d figured about 2 ½ hours after the break for the first class and were just about right.

It’s fun being a groom – especially for Nazz – he’s got a great mane and tail and his coat is shiny and soft.  He looks good without all the primping – but after the grooming he looks SMASHING!

Nazz was in two classes – Todd rode the first and Sharon the second.  Nazz did a great job and I got goose bumps watching.

To celebrate a great day showing we all went to the Mexican restaurant in Rancho Murieta.  Yummy food and good Margaritas.  Ahhh – a great end to the day.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Rancho Murieta Arabian Horse Show – Arrival

I’ve had Blu for a month now and was very excited about this weekend for lots of reasons that all put a huge smile on my face:

Ken gets to meet Blu.
Blu gets to come up to my neck of the woods.
My in-laws were coming up for Easter weekend and would get to meet Blu.
I only have to drive 45 minutes to see Blu.
Blu will attend his first horse show – as an observer.
I get to spend a four day weekend with my best friend and horses.

(Do you sense a theme here?)

The weekend was actually lots more than just Saturday and Sunday.  It started on Wednesday.  (Or if you count the packing it started the previous Sunday and continued through Wednesday morning.)  I drove the Truck Camper to work, parked at the back of the lot like I usually do when I’ve got the camper, and after work I drove out to the Murieta Equine Complex for the horse show.  (Actually there were 2 shows going on at the same time, one was a cow type event – roping, quarter horses, cowboys, that kind of thing – the other was our show)

My club (I can call it that now that I’m a member and have met the board members at the meeting a couple weeks ago – right?) puts on an annual (62nd) Arabian and Half-Arabian Horse Show and this is my 3rd year going with Sharon to watch her and be her show groom.  The first year we stayed at our house and drove out there each morning.  The second year we realized we could take the camper and stay on site and allow ourselves 45 minutes of extra sleep each morning.  That worked out so well that we did the same this year.  And we even stayed in the same site. 

The show grounds do have a dedicated RV campground which is generally full during big horse shows like this but it’s not close to the barns.  Last year Sharon arrived early and scoped out the area and spoke with the front office when she found some power and water hookups closer to the barns.  They’d given us the all clear for the site last year so this year the spot was still open – though some of the vendors had set up shop right next to it – and we took it.  I couldn’t have fit in the spot with anything but a Truck Camper (yeah Truck Campers!)  I checked with the front office again this year and they told me that as long as the vendor I was parked next to wasn’t bothered that it was fine with them.  So I introduced myself to the vendor and asked her if it was ok with her.  We were parked tucked into a corner, as far away from her as we could be and she had no issues with our location so we were very happy to be able to use the spot.  While my camper is fully self contained, it IS nice to have power and water at the site.  And though we didn’t have a sewer hookup which we would have in the other RV spots, it’s all about location, location, location.

Todd had arrived just minutes before I did and Sharon had made it an hour before.  Laura and her Mom had also arrived earlier and had their stalls all set up.  We were all in Barn 8 and had one whole row, plus one stall in another row.  We were right by the second warm up arena.  A nice location.

We unloaded the four horses (Nazz & Blu and the two babies, Eclipse and Denny) got them fed and watered and then began setting the barn up.

Barn setup includes putting up drapes along the front wall of the barn and covering the tack room, and groom stalls with draping – this is a form of advertising for the Training Facility.  It is also a place where all ribbons are hung.  I didn’t take a photo of the setup for this show – I totally forgot – but here’s a picture of me on a Morgan Horse named Danny last August in Watsonville – you can see the drapes I’m talking about on that barn.

As for barn logistics, we try to have at least one groom stall, preferably two.  The groom stalls are dedicated 100% to horses, for grooming, saddling and show preparations, and if we have multiple horses in back to back classes it’s really nice to have two groom stalls so the horses can be readied at the same time.  And then there is the tack room – usually just one stall.  It’s got our saddles, bridles, and our show clothing in it.  We use it as a changing room, also.

Once we had the setup complete we began exercising the horses.  I put Blu on a lunge line and lunged him in the arena next to our barn until Sharon had Nazz saddled and we were ready to go into the main covered arena.  Todd and Sharon rode Nazz and I walked Blu around the arena, letting him get used to other horses working around him, coming up on him fast, and hopefully having him realize it wasn’t a bad thing.  He was not at all sure about the English Pleasure horses that were all fired up and moving fast around the arena.  He’s got no experience with multiple horses moving fast around him so he was on high alert. 

Overall he did remarkably well and it was great to end the evening on a positive note.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Weekend Before Rancho Murieta

Saying it was a great weekend is getting to sound like a broken record, but it’s true.  I told Sharon that it seems that each weekend is more fun than the last.

Arriving at Todd’s started out with an amazing feat:  I merged onto 101 from 156 and looked in my rear view mirror to see a green MINI.  I couldn’t believe it – Sharon was directly behind me!  I waved like mad
and she waved back.  We had 2 miles to go to Todd’s exit and when we pulled into Equus Farms we got out of our cars and were just floored that we’d timed it so perfectly. 

It was totally cool! 

Todd was unavailable but Mike met us and welcomed us and caught us up on the horse news.  We lunged our horses then saddled up and just as I was going to get on Blu our friends Diane and Dennis showed up.  They’d really wanted to see Blu, and they really like him.  It was very nice to have them there.  I got on and rode him around at the walk and trot and he was absolutely an angel!  It was the first time I’d ridden him without Todd riding him first, let alone that he wasn’t there to tell me how I was doing.  But I think I did pretty well.  We worked on bending and leg yields and speed.   He wasn’t spooky at all, was taking his directions really well and overall made for a great ride.  So much so that I didn’t’ even realize I wasn’t wearing my helmet until I’d been on for 20 minutes.  I did have Diane get my helmet and I rode with it for the remainder of my ride, though.

Sharon and I finished up the ride by riding side by side around the arena.  I’d not used the whole arena yet and wasn’t sure how Blu would do so she stayed with me.  I rode first on the inside then we switched and Sharon took the inside and I rode the rail.  Blu was great and didn’t have any issues.  I guess I’m thinking he’s just going to be a goof since he’s so young, but he keeps proving me wrong.  THANKFULLY!!!

Sharon and I spent the rest of the afternoon going through the trailer to get ready for Rancho Murieta.  We basically went through everything, checked against our old checklist and organized it all.  We got a short shopping list together to restock things.

We went to dinner with Diane and Dennis.  We met at their house and Dennis drove us all to the Sushi Garden restaurant.  We feasted on Sushi and talked for 3 hours.  All of the sudden it was 10pm and we were exhausted!  Time flies when you’re having fun, of course.

Sunday we did some shopping – went to Ace Hardware in Prunedale (they are very nice!) and to the “brown barn” again.  We were stocking up on last minute show things.  When we got back to the ranch I lunged Blu and he was calm as could be.  Almost anti-climactic, but happy it is so.

We’d gotten everything accomplished that we wanted to and we felt comfortable pulling out around 4pm.  I got home about 7:30 even with a stop at Pea Soup Anderson’s to take a picture of my nephew Ryan’s Flat Stanley (with the help of a kind stranger) peeking through their sign.  (And yes, Flat Stanley got to ride Blu – and was safety conscious so he wore a helmet.)

Flat Stanley is peeking out from the big Chef

Flat Stanley is wearing his helmet while bareback riding

Flat Stanley hanging with Kathy and Blu in Aromas, California

Soon Blu will be up in my neck of the woods at Rancho Murieta!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

I’m happy

It’s Friday night and I’m home with Ken, getting ready for the weekend.  This is one of those “weekends at Todd’s” vs. “daytrip to Todd’s” AND it is the weekend before a show.  Put that all together and I’m really happy!

We’re starting to get a routine down.  Come home from work and enjoy the fact that it’s Friday and we have a weekend off.  We go to dinner somewhere that will serve Ken “a tall beer” and has a TV so we can watch the game.  We relax and enjoy ourselves.  Then when we get home I start to pack and plan for the weekend and chatter away to Ken about all our plans.  Normally if it weren’t a pre-show weekend there would be only a little bit of packing.  The Truck Camper is pretty well stocked for my ranch weekends (Oh how things change – it used to be stocked for fishing weekends.) and only needs a change of clothes and whatever food and beverages I’d need.

This week I’d been emailing with Sharon and she’d reminded me about the Horse Show Checklist from way back when and I finally got the old computer booted up and the list printed out.  It’s pretty humorous to read, and yet full of things I never would have remembered so many years since the last time I showed!  I’m not going to make any changes to it tonight, but am quite sure there will be lots of additions and changes by the time I come back Sunday.

I’m all packed and ready to drive to Todd’s in the morning.  Ken’s got plans to buy and plant a tree by the pool (to replace the Willow that fell last winter in a big wind storm), to replace the rubber bumpers on The Terminator pinball machine (he replaced the ones on Elvira last weekend), and to play baseball on Sunday. 

His weekend will be as full as mine.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Day Trip to ride Blu

Sunday was a day trip to Todd’s.  I got up early – 6:45am – ouch – that’s not right for a weekend!  I made Ken and I some breakfast and wished Ken luck in his baseball game before I hit the road in the MINI.  The drive was happily uneventful and I arrived about 10:45am.

It’s so wonderful having a horse of my own again.  I went directly to his stall and leaned on the door for a minute just looking at him.   It was very peaceful at the ranch and he was standing in the sun.

I pulled him out and put in him the cross ties and was grooming him when Sharon arrived.  His coat is handling the change in location and weather so far.  I’ve been a bit worried because I only have the one blanket for him so far.  The new shipment hasn’t arrived so I don’t have any other options for him.  He really enjoys getting brushed.  Though really, who wouldn’t?  He’s got some hair shedding out, and with all the different brushes I have he enjoys a massage.  I start with a soft rubber curry – basically it has little rubber nubs that are flexible, not hard like a hair brush – and I rub him all over his body with that - but not the legs - they're too sensitive for the curry.  I enjoy watching his lips twitch as I rub his upper neck and his withers and back.  I followed the curry with a shedding block – it’s hard to describe, but I'll try.  It's a grey block about the size of a sponge but it’s hard – like a pumice stone maybe?  And I think you can buy them to clean grills, too?  You rub it on his coat in one direction and it gently pulls out the loose hairs.  It’s amazing actually.  Once I’m done with that I go over his body with a soft grooming brush and finally his face with a super soft, horse hair brush.  Once all that is done I use the pick and clean his hooves.  It’s a great way to get to know all his parts, and find what scratches he’s developed since my last visit.  I put some Vetericyn medicated spray on the scratches.  Hopefully that will help him heal quickly and easily from the little marks he gets now that he’s in a stall with a paddock and has neighbor horses.  (I don’t mind the marks because I know he is getting to be a horse and play with his buddies.)

I brought Blu to the arena and lunged him for about 20 minutes.  It went much better than that first time.  I’m not the most coordinated person in the world (that’s being nice) and I’m guessing Blu probably did most of his lunging in a round pen before this, so I’m learning what commands work best for the both of us.  I’m quite sure I’m not giving him the commands he’s been used to in order to turn and stop, so it’s been kind of a dance.  But I know we’ll get it sooner or later.

Todd rode him for about 30 minutes talking me through everything he was doing.  And then it was my turn!!!!  I have been looking forward to this day for weeks.  Because he’s so tall and, while I made it up on him from the ground on that day at Nicole’s, I didn’t want him to have issues with me trying again so I wanted to see how he’d do with a “dude launcher” (a term I learned from Tom Carter at Deadwood Outfitters  – my favorite place in the WORLD).  I stepped up and down the mounting block a few times; he tried to nibble the step, and basically showed no fear at all.  So up I went.  Piece of cake.  Blu stood there like a champ and I could feel the grin splitting my face. 

Yep, we “fit.”

Sharon was there to video the ride.  The wind was messing with the sound on the video but I’ve edited it and added that horrid music to cover it all up.  (I really have to download some music so I’ve got something other than the “sample” music to put to my videos.)

We walked and practiced turning using leg yields and rein pressure.  We moved into a jog – well, truly a trot – it was a bit fast, but not as bad as I’d imagined it would be.  It was about the same as Cre’s trot, and probably smoother.  I can sure feel the promise in his movement.

We continued to work on turning and a bit on slowing his speed.  But the main focus of this first ride for me was to get to know the feel of him and for him to get to know me a bit.  I wasn’t trying to make him go in straight lines, and we were doing left and right turns and using only a part of the arena.

I was very happy and grinning ear to ear.  That ride made my drive home delightful.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Horse Clubs

In order to compete in the Arabian Horse Association shows you need to either be a “Competition” member or pay a $35 fee for EACH show you compete in.  Depending on the number of shows you compete in, the cost benefit is best if you become a member.  And to make things sweeter, if you become a member of a local club you get an additional discount.  So when I signed up as a Competition member I also signed up as a member of the local club, the Arabian Horse Association of Northern California  (AHANC).  

And because I’m a curious sort (yet am shy) for some reason I sent an email to the club asking for additional information about the club.  I was thinking they might tell me…heck…I don’t have any idea what I thought they might tell me.  But I got a response within 24 hours from a gentleman named Rik welcoming me to the club and inviting me to their meeting on April 6th.  I received another email the next day from Laura also welcoming me and inviting me to the meeting.

It was to be held at a Mexican Restaurant in Elk Grove, about 45 minutes from home.

Again, not sure why but I responded that I’d be there.

On April 6th Laura emailed me apologizing for the late notice but let me know due to multiple illnesses the meeting was rescheduled for April 11th.  I thought it was really nice of her to remember I was going to go and to let me know the meeting was rescheduled.  It showed organization and thoughtfulness and I truly appreciated it.

I really did go.  I met about 10 very nice people, all very welcoming.  The meeting was all board members and was mostly about the show they put on once a year.  It’s the Rancho Murieta show on Easter weekend that I’m bringing Blu to so he can get familiar with showing without the pressure and stress of actual classes.  So now I have a few people that I’ll recognize while I’m at the show (and a few of them said they recognized me – I’d have to guess it’s from seeing me while I’ve been with Sharon at all her shows for the last couple years.)

At the meeting it was nice hearing about what prizes they’ll be giving out to the winners, and that they’ll be having a Barn Party Saturday night and an Easter Egg hunt on Sunday morning, as well as a root beer float event one of the days (don’t remember which) and all the other things they’ve got planned.

Now to see if I remember names when I get there!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

High water came….

I drove the camper home last weekend with very little issue.  The weather cooperated for the most part.  And the weekend was looking promising for my Saturday day-trip.  But I got to work on Monday to find out my co-worker Robin’s husband Tony had passed away unexpectedly.  The service was planned for Saturday.  So of course I cancelled my trip to see Blu.  You realize with things like this that life get sorted out in importance.  While Blu is a huge new part of my life, so is family and friends.  There was no way I wasn’t going to Tony’s service.  And Sunday was Ken’s opening day for baseball – one of the few baseball games I’d get to watch this summer.  So on Tuesday I called Todd to let him know I wouldn’t be there on Saturday.  And things happen for a reason.  They truly do.  When I spoke with Todd he let me know his friend had passed away on Monday and he’d be busy on the weekend, too.

So we all spent our weekend remembering friends and knowing what was important in life.

I froze my butt off on Sunday and got sunburned – what a combination.  But I really enjoyed watching Ken as starting pitcher in his opening day baseball game.  And I took pictures of him in his Giants uniform – complete with Barry Zito socks!   Ken did a great job and I’m so glad I was there.

Since Ken’s first game in the NABA league I’ve been the team’s scorekeeper.  I showed up at that first game with my own score book as way to entertain myself – not knowing if other wives would be at the games (or if we’d get along).  I’d perfected my knowledge about how to score games many years ago when my parents got Ken and me a 20-game season ticket package to the Giants (when they were at Candlestick).  But this Sunday I’d been thinking I’d just be watching the game.  However as the game was about to start, Ron (one of the managers) asked me if I wanted to score the game.  What the heck.  I said sure.  It’d be one of the few I’d be able to do for the team.

So, all in all, it was a very nice weekend spent with Ken.

Friday, April 15, 2011

More learning what it’s like to have a young horse

I’ll preface this post with the fact that last Sunday night when I’d gotten home from my trip I’d unloaded the camper, gotten laundry started and was finally ready to settle down onto the sofa to relax for a couple hours when, as I sat down, my back went “pop!” and I knew I was in for a “bit” of pain for at least a week.

Thus it was a week later and I really wanted to get on my horse, but knowing my back wasn’t 100% (ok  - it wasn’t even 50%) I chose to watch Todd and learn some more.

Todd lunged Blu.  Remember last Sunday and my “fish on!” comment?  This Sunday was even crazier!  Blu had 3 days with no chance to get out and run around.  So when Todd had him at the end of the lunge line he went all out!  Check out these photos.

Heck, even the video is crazy fast – but somehow when I watch it now it just doesn’t seem as fast as it was in real life.

Once he’d gotten the kinks out I brought him back up to the barn and saddled him while Sharon had a lesson.  I wish I’d gotten to watch her lesson more because she and Nazz are just amazing and it is so TOTALLY cool to watch them and hope that someday I might get close to how they’re doing. 

When their lesson was done I brought Blu back down to the arena and Todd got on.  Already, only one week later, there was a huge difference!

Blu didn’t get all “humpy” this time.  Yeah!  Todd was able to walk, trot and canter him.  He worked on getting him to take the right lead in the canter.  And he talked me through what he was doing.  I was thrilled when I’d be able to spot what Todd was asking Blu to do.  I could determine when he was trying to keep him going, or when he was holding him back to keep him from going too fast.

I wasn’t able to see much difference in his speed, but it’s only been two weeks, and I'm learning what to recognize.  As it was, I was happy that I could recognize what Todd was doing (most of the time).

I don’t really know how long Todd spent on Blue since time flies when you’re having fun.  But I feel like I could see what Todd was doing, and I looked forward to when I could get on Blu myself.  But since my back wasn’t 100%, and the wind and weather weren’t ideal, and there was no reason to rush things, I didn’t want to blow the weeks Todd had put in by getting on Blu too soon and taking the chance on not handling something perfectly.

So I contented myself watching Todd and learning.

Next week I’d get on.  Come hell or high water!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Weekend at Todd’s

During the week the weather continued to be poor.  I check the weather in the SacBee and on my Droid app, and the news.  Always keeping an eye out and realizing that it always seems to point to rain on the weekends.  What’s with that?!  Let it rain during the week when I’m at work!  Sheesh.

So of course, it was clear Monday and Tuesday and Todd was able to work Blu those two days.  But he wasn’t able to work him the rest of the week. The weather turned and it didn’t look promising for the weekend.

Sharon and I proceeded with our plans because a little rain wasn’t going to stop US. 

We arrived Saturday about 11am to find Todd with a growing houseful of guests.  It was a very sad occasion.  Todd’s friend who lives in the guest house was in the final stages of cancer.  His family was coming to visit. 

Todd was pretty busy, the weather wasn’t cooperating, and it all added up to a non riding day.  Back when we kept our horses at Moss Beach we used to spend many an hour cleaning stalls.  It really allows you time to think, and to clear your head.  In this case, even though it is usually something handled by Mike, Sharon and I spent Saturday afternoon grabbing the wheelbarrow and pitchfork and cleaning our boy’s stalls.  For me it gave me another opportunity to get to know my horse.  And gave him the chance to get to know me and know that he can keep eating, or whatever, while I’m in his stall with a pitchfork.

Maybe you have to love horses as much as I do to know how peaceful an afternoon like that can be?

When we’d done what we wanted at the barn, Sharon and I decided to go shopping for horse stuff.  The “brown barn” (aka L.A. Hearne Store) in Prunedale was our destination.  Two weeks in a row we’ve managed to find ourselves there.  Sigh.  The suffering! 

I got Blu a “Jolly Ball.”  Why?  Every day since Blu’s been at Todd’s his grain bucket (that hangs over his stall door) has been everywhere BUT on his stall door.  The first weekend I’d found it in his stall both days.  This weekend I was finding it in his paddock.  And Mike said he’s had to pick it up from his paddock too when he was cleaning.  So it seemed Blu would enjoy some kind of toy.  This weekend I decided to get him a Jolly Ball and I tied it to a rope hanging from the ceiling in his stall.  It wasn’t there 30 seconds when he started to play with it.  (Sorry the video is sideways.)

Once we’d gotten our shopping fix (which included a stop at the Ace Hardware to pick up a front door mat for the camper – we were tired of trekking mud into the camper in all this rain) we called our friends Diane and Dennis.  We’d not been to their ranch yet so we grabbed the opportunity and boy are we glad we did.  Their place is GORGEOUS!  10 acres, a barn (with rubber mats in the center isle – it’s a nice touch and I have to remember that if I ever build my own barn), lots of paddocks and pastures (they dug every fence post themselves), a dressage court, and a house that is mostly windows and looks out over it all (and a mud room with a ½ shower that is perfect for washing feet or – DOGS! – and a drive through garage that fits a truck with gooseneck horse trailer attached.  Holy ….um… cow!).  Wow!  It’s an understatement to say we enjoyed a great tour, meeting their horses, birds and dogs and spending a couple hours with them.

After a grand afternoon we went back to Todd’s.  We checked in with him, and since he was quite busy, Sharon and I took ourselves out to dinner at Jardine’s (again).  They were so great last weekend and they were so nice to us we just HAD to go back.  (oh yeah – and we had to have their salad dressing again!  YUM!)

Since we’re quite self sufficient in my camper, Sharon knew that bringing DVDs could be a great idea.  She brought a selection and gave me the pick.  I’d never seen “The Day the Earth Stood Still” – the 1951 version NOT the Keanu Reeves version!!! And with the rain pounding on the roof, the wind howling, and cocktails in hand, it was delightful!  But when that movie ended it wasn’t enough.  So we popped in “The Queen” with Helen Mirren.  (And in that “small world” theme I pointed out that we were at Santa Barbara showing our horses in 1997 when we found out Princess Diana died.  Actually I remember that I was walking into Nancy’s parent’s motorhome after a day showing and her parents told us Diana had been hurt in an auto accident.  We found out later that day that she'd died.  That is one of those day’s I’ll remember forever.)  And coming back from that walk down memory lane…..

We chatted and eventually fell asleep – and as usual in the camper we slept great!  (They should market Truck Campers to insomniacs)  We slowly awoke on Sunday morning to blue sky in the skylight.  Though I wondered out loud if the blue sky was only where we could see out the skylight (it was).

Yeah!  We’d be able to get the horses out!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Weekend at Todd’s with Sharon and Nancy

Was the weather going to cooperate with our plans?

We regularly have “weekends at Todd’s” where Sharon and I and sometimes Nancy drove down on a Saturday morning and stayed in my camper and came home on Sunday.  This weekend had been planned months ago, and it just happened to coincide with Blu’s first weekend at Todd’s.  Nancy was driving up Friday with her horse Cabbie and I was driving down Friday after lunch.  Sharon had plans that evening but didn’t want to miss out so she came down Friday night late, after her event was over.

Nancy and I managed to arrive within about 30 minutes of each other, around 5:00.  Fairly amazing since we each had 4 hour drives!  I arrived first and of course immediately ran over to see Blu in his new home.  He looked great.  But I’m biased!

I noticed right off that his nose was a bit pink.  One of those side effects of having a paddock vs a box stall.  He was standing in the sun and got sunburned!  Poor guy.  So we’re keeping him covered in sun screen as his nose gets used to the sun.  I guess I should buy stock in sunscreen.

No chance to ride that night.  It had rained my entire drive and was still raining that night.  Nancy and I enjoyed a nice dinner with Todd and then went off to the camper to catch up while waiting for Sharon and listening to the rain hit the camper roof.  So there we were, chatting away when the knock sounded at 10:30pm startling us!   Yeah! Sharon was at our door.  The “Three Horse-kateers” were together again, and all of us with horses again!!

Saturday we’d planned on taking a trailer to a covered arena in Salinas if the rain continued, but the rain stopped mid morning and we were thrilled to be able to use Todd’s arena!   I pulled Blu out of the stall, groomed him, and learned that I should act around him as I would an older horse.  This will allow him to 1) get to know me and 2) get to know what it’s like to be a horse and what’s expected. 

I learned what it means to lunge a young horse, too.  My previous experience was with Cre – a horse I thought could be wild n crazy at times, but really, now I know he was pretty darned GREAT.  Let me just say that one should never let a horse that you’re lunging get going in a straight line.  I started with him going around in circles on a long line in something like 30’ circles.  But twice I almost lost him.  He got going in a straight line, and if you can imagine trying to keep up with a horse that is running pretty darned fast, you can imagine what I was experiencing – in my mud boots on a wet arena no less.  And since Sharon and Nancy were also in the arena on their own horses, it wouldn’t have been fun to have Blu loose.  Luckily it worked out.  I yelled “fish on” a couple times, probably let out a curse word or two as I thought I was losing him, but overall managed to get his kinks out. 

Most of them, at least.

When Todd got on I learned what “humpy” truly means.  Todd mounted and started to walk off when Blu hunched his back and did a small bit of crow hopping (picture four stiff legs and a bent back while hopping up and down) but I didn’t have my video camera going so there’s no recording.  I guess I’ll just have to remember it.  Two hops and Blu settled down and work through his lesson.  I was able to video a lot of it and have spent the time since then reviewing the video to learn what I can.

Sharon and Nancy both got to ride and have a lesson.  Saturday was a great day for my first full day with Blu.  The rain started again that night but we still had some great entertainment.  Friday was Todd’s birthday and we had pretended to not know.

However during the week we'd been planning a surprise.  Sharon set dinner reservations at Jardines de san Juan after talking with the owner and setting up the surprise.  It went off fabulously.  When we were done with dinner, the waiters all came out with a cake, and the gifts we’d brought (and hid at the front desk) and cards and the employees all sang Happy Birthday (accompanied by a Harp, no less).  Surprise!!  We got Todd! 

We weren’t going to get another chance to ride on Sunday.  With the weather storming again Nancy, Sharon and I all headed to our homes.  Driving the camper in windy stormy weather isn’t a lot of fun so I wanted to be sure I was giving myself plenty of time.  Regardless, I knew I’d be back the next weekend with Sharon.

That called for more patience.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Blu’s first week at Todd’s

Todd called me about 8pm Monday night to say that Blu trailered very well.  He never felt him move.  A nice solid rider.  Yeah!  And Blu will probably be happy because it’ll be a while before he trailers alone again!

I tried really hard not to be a pesky client calling every day to find out how he was doing.

Really hard.  I made it until Wednesday.

Todd let me know that Blu was truly green broke.  I think he used the term “green as a gourd” which caused me to laugh.  From Todd’s conversations with Nicole he knew a few things to keep an eye on.  Mounting was one thing.  Since he’d only had a dozen rides or so, mounting was still new to him.  I was starting to get an idea why Nicole walked alongside me when I first got on Blu. 

The first couple rides were probably interesting for Todd.  What we've figured is that Blu came from a barn that was all indoor, with a 12x12 box stall, and he was ridden in an indoor round pen or arena.  Because he was a trainer’s horse (vs a client’s horse) he probably didn’t get worked as much as a client’s horse might have been.  Compare all that to his new situation.  He’s now in an outdoor barn, meaning his stall door (a ½ door) faces a covered aisle and he can stick his head out the stall and look at the other horses in the aisle.  His stall has a paddock, so he can be outside if he wants.  And Todd’s arena is an outdoor arena without a cover.  It looks over a valley, other paddocks, bushes, and such.  “Eye candy” as Todd called it.  Lots of things for Blu to look at.  And of course, he’s in a new place, has new people coming to see him, feed him, ride him. 

Anyone would be a bit antsy.

Todd told me he was a bit “humpy” which I didn’t totally understand until that weekend when I watched him ride.  And he was fast.  He didn’t have a lope yet, he was still cantering.  And for clarification, a canter is a much faster version of the lope.  Riding English I used to canter.  Now that I’ll be riding Western I’ll be loping.  Similar to the Trot vs the Jog as they are English/Western also.   Basically the Western movements are much slower and have lower movements so they are smoother to sit (ideally).

But since I’m very new to Western riding as it pertains to showing I’m sure I’ll be learning more and may even look back on this post and laugh at myself.  Who knows!

So, week one Todd let me know was spent riding Blu, getting to know him, and working him slowly, so as not to frighten him.  The goal will be to keep Blu happy, and not scared.  A scared horse is much harder to re-train than to keep him from getting scared in the first place.

My next conversation with Todd was more about our plans to come down that weekend.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Red White N Blu's info

Blu’s Pedigree:

                                                Ben Rabba

Sire: Robby (Arabian)

                                                Ohadi Abbie
Red White N Blu                                            Rad-Sor

Dam: Ginger (grade)

Born April 20, 2007

Blu’s Dam Ginger (with another cute foal)
From conversations I had with Nicole during the purchase process and from Blu’s papers I was able to find and contact his breeder, Liz Alward at Summerwind Farm.  She sent me some photos of Blu’s Dam, Ginger, and gave me a small bit of history about her.  She told me “His dam was an absolutely awesome BIG gorgeously marked sabino paint mare that I got from WI.  She was obtained by some Arab folks in Wisconsin from a farm where elderly folks lived and the man died.  Never could find papers.”

I’m really happy to have that background and the photos.  When I bought Cre his owner had given me his “baby book” so I had pictures of him as a foal and as a yearling as well as photos of his Sire and Dam.  It’s nice that I can have something like that again.  And putting it here is fun, too.

I need to do some research on his pedigree.  I knew all about Cre’s pedigree.  And since the only horse that is in both pedigree’s is *Raffles from the 1920s it’s really all new for me.  Todd knows Aurab – he’s in his yearling’s pedigree, too.

Since I love research it’ll be fun to find out more.