Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Thoughts about the DAHA Fall Horse Show

Preparing for the Diablo Arabian Horse Association show in Elk Grove this weekend.  Have my lists, have put most everything I’ll need for the show in the camper or brought it down to the ranch and put in the trailer.  Which brings me to last weekend.  Sigh.

Since I’m writing this blog to track my progress I can’t just put good things down, right?  Much as I’d like to think it’s all positive, in reality it truly isn’t.  Of course I can learn from mistakes.  I just have to learn WHAT the mistakes are first.

Saturday I went down to the ranch for the weekend, with Sharon.  Todd was out of town so I wasn’t going to be able to get any lessons in, but I was looking forward to riding Blu.  I hadn’t ridden since the Comstock show on the 10th, and before that I just had the one lesson on the 3rd where Blu was challenging me a bit.

And it continued on Saturday.  Sigh.

Sharon and I decided to get the chores done first.  We went through the trailer and got everything as organized and ready for the show as we could.  Sharon isn’t going to be at this show so it was a bit sad for us doing all this prep knowing she wasn’t going to be there to enjoy the fruits of our labors.  I’m still not sure what it’ll be like without her there.  Heck, I got back into showing because I had so much fun with her at her shows.  Ah well.  I digress.

Once the chores were done it was time to saddle up.  I put the saddle on Blu and went to cinch it up and he pinned his ears, hunched himself and turned to look at me.  Now THAT was odd!  He’s not done anything like that before.  Hmmm.  I loosened the cinch, checked for sores or stickers or what have you and didn’t find anything.  I cinched back up and he looked at me with a testy eye again.  Hmmm.  So I put him on the hot walker like I usually do, and he and Nazz walked around for about 20 minutes.  Loosened up, warmed up a bit, I was able to tighten the cinch without issue. 

Sharon and I mounted up and proceeded to work our horses.  Blu was very good.   We did yielding exercises first and when we were ready we did some jogging and walking and transitions into the lope on the right lead.  (Todd had asked me to focus on the right lead.)  Blu was great.  He had some nice transitions into the lope and got the correct lead each time.  I think we probably got three or four transitions down, both directions, before Blu just stopped.  And when I mean stopped, it was just that.  I squeezed and clucked and asked for the jog from the walk and he kind of hopped to a stop.  Ears pinned.  I tried turning him left, right, whatever, and the most he’d do was go backwards.  This continued in fits and starts for a little while.  Sharon was helping out by giving me pointers and she finally suggested that I just work him at the walk and do leg yields to relax us both down and accomplish something that was working.  So we did and after about 10 minutes of that I decided to stop on the most positive note I could think of.  I talked to Sharon about it, trying to figure out what was wrong.  I told her that each time I’d squeeze or kick him he felt funny in the belly.  I couldn’t put my finger on it, and said I was probably imagining it, but with the cinchy behavior earlier and this, I wondered if something was physically wrong.  I unsaddled him and walked him over to a turnout and let him go to see what he’d do (he did have gut noises so that was good).  He walked 10 steps and peed!  “Ah ha” I thought.  That was it.  I’d not let him stop while we were working so he never had a chance to pee.  Kind of hit myself in the forehead and chalked it up to that, fairly content that I’d found the explanation.

Sunday Todd called to check in on us and I told him  I’d “broken” Blu!  Luckily he laughed.  I told him all about the ride Saturday and he agreed it could be that he had to pee and that he (Blu) wouldn’t associate the behavior with me, just with the fact he had to pee.  So I was in a positive frame of mind when I saddled Blu up and he wasn’t cinchy this time.  Yay.  I mounted up and walked around doing leg yields at the walk for a while.  No problem.  But when I asked him to jog he stopped.  Again.  Huh???  What in the world was going on???  Sharon was watching me and said I was leaning forward (a bad habit of mine from my Hunter Pleasure days) and that I needed to lean back.  I tried.  Really I did.  I tried everything I could think of.  Nothing worked.  I could get him to walk but he wouldn’t walk in a straight line, he’d dive to the inside.  We did endless circles.  I kept wondering if he thought everything was about going into the lope.  Once he actually did take off in the lope (on the correct lead) though I was just trying to get him to jog.  I couldn’t figure it out.  Sharon was standing in the middle of the arena watching me and she came up to me and we were talking and she checked the cinch and looked at me and said “you could drive a truck through that cinch.  At least with all his moves you know you’re well balanced since you’re still on top!”  (or words to that effect.)  Ha.  Looking for the positive.  We decided to have Sharon get on Blu.

Sharon riding Blu for the first time ever – doesn't she look tiny up there?!

He did the same thing to her.  She worked him for a while and was able to get him to walk in a straight line at least.  But it was totally frustrating. 

It makes me wonder about the show this weekend.  I’ve talked to Todd and he has been working Blu all week (and yes he pulled some stuff on Todd too) and I’ll be at the showgrounds early on Thursday so hopefully I can spend a lot of time in the saddle learning what I was doing wrong (I have to figure it was me asking him something he didn’t understand).

Regardless, I've come to terms with the bad weekend, talking to Sharon has made me remember that we (Blu and I) are both new to this, and I'm in this for FUN!  I think I'd forgotten that and was letting the rides get to me.  I was getting a bad case of the nerves.  But, remembering why I'm in this, I'm back to being excited about the show.

My folks will be there, my husband, and dear friends.  What more could I ask for?

I'm going to have fun this weekend.  (Thanks Sharon!)

Friday, September 23, 2011

Between shows

I'm finding out that in the weeks between visits to Blu there isn't much going on in the way of horse news.  One of the drawbacks to having a horse 3 hours away.

I spoke with Todd last night and he said Blu is doing well and he's starting to work him in the Bosel again.  While I doubt Blu will be ready to actually show in a Bosel next weekend, he should be ready next year, his final year of "Junior Horse" classes where he is allowed to show in either a snaffle or Bosel.

In case you're wondering what exactly a Bosel is, here's a picture of one of Todd's - it has no bit.

As the show season winds down, with only the Diablo show left for 2011, I'm wondering how the Fall and Winter will pass until the Golden Gate Arabian Horse Association's Santa Rosa show in March.

The DAHA show next weekend is "local" in that it is in Elk Grove, about 45 minutes to an hour from my house. I sent out the class schedule for the show to family and friends and was amazed at the response.   The number of people that said they want to come blew me away.  I'm most excited about my parents visit, however!  Mom and Dad have been planning their 50th anniversary cruise for 2012 and knew that they wouldn't be able to get to any of my 2012 shows.  Somehow they managed to rearrange their schedule to allow for a trip from Tucson, Arizona to Elk Grove next weekend so they can attend one of my shows.  I hope I don't disappoint them, though knowing them they'll be thrilled for me no matter what.  They're awesome.  (yep - I'm biased - but it's true.)  Mom's bringing her camera, too.  She's a shutterbug like me.  Well, I guess I'm a shutterbug like her since she's my Mom and was a photographer before I was!

In addition to my parents, Ken will get to see me show, Amy is driving down from Reno, Cherie from her new home in the foothills, and a bunch of my co-workers, too.  Heck, there will be more spectators than competitors from our barn!

Again - hope I don't disappoint, but alas, it is what it is as it's all subjective with a judge anyway.

Wish me luck!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Comstock Arabian Show in Carson City, Nevada

“Team Azevedo” enjoyed the day!

I took Friday off work and Sharon and I travelled to Carson City, Nevada for the Comstock Arabian Association's Fall Horse Show.  The show was a two day show, Saturday and Sunday.  We arrived in the afternoon about 10 minutes after Todd – good timing.  None of us had been there before so we got acquainted with the grounds.  The barn was unlike any other show grounds that I’d been to.  It was a large single barn with two isles and four rows of stalls.  We were smack in the middle of the barn.  The premium (a premium is a document with the rules and class list that gives all the info related to a show) indicated there were only 70 stalls and no groom stalls would be available.  But when we got there we found others who had groom stalls and because it was a fairly small show there were some stalls available including one right next to ours.  We went to the office and paid for an extra stall and were happy that we were able to.  We had a lot of stuff and it was nice to have it close at hand, rather than having to go to the trailer for everything.

Blu in his stall - hanging at the back window

Once we were unloaded and settled in we saddled up the horses and Todd got on Blu first.  It was an interesting ride.  I think that after 5 hours in the trailer Blu was antsy.  He challenged Todd at every opportunity.  Blu was also a lookey-loo and spooking at things he’s never spooked at before, like a step stool, or the closing of a tailgate.  So when Todd was finished with Blu I took him off to the wash rack.  He was a sweaty mess and needed to be cleaned for the show.  While I was bathing Blu I thought someone else had come along and was splashing me because I was getting wet.  Nope - it was raining.  Luckily it was brief.  I finished bathing Blu and brought him back to the barn.  Todd and Sharon had finished riding Nazz and Sandy and Ed (who own Little E and flew into Reno for the show) invited us to join them for dinner.  They had a reservation at a steak house and we were concerned about being totally under dressed but the restaurant made us feel welcome.  We were all starving – Sharon and I hadn’t eaten since breakfast and it was 7:30pm.  The food was delicious! I had the Mahi Mahi with Pineapple Rum Salsa that was to die for.  We had a nice leisurely dinner and didn’t leave until 9:30.

We checked in at the Carson Station Inn & Casino.  Our room was very nice.

Because our classes weren’t until the afternoon we were able to get up at 6:30 and get ready as well has have breakfast in the hotel’s restaurant.  The Egg Sandwiches were yummy.  They served them with nice ripe tomatoes.  We knew that would be all we’d eat until dinner time.  Other than the cut up fruit that I brought, we had no other snacks and we never went to the food concession.

Our friend Amy, who lives in Reno, arrived in the morning to help out and support us.  It was wonderful seeing her and it is because of Amy that I was able to get photos of the show. Thanks Amy!!!  Sharon’s friends Hal and Helen also came to watch.  We had a great group of supporters at this show.

Todd was showing Little E in halter in the morning.  The show started at 8:30 and he was in the 3rd class of the day.  They won their class and were asked if they wanted to enter an Amateur Handler class so Sandy showed her filly and had a great time.  They got Reserve Champion.  The day was starting out on a positive note.

Sharon's and my classes were after lunch and we timed things really well so that we didn’t have a lot of standing around time.  We saddled up when Little E was done with her halter classes and went to the small warm up arena (tiniest warm up I’ve ever seen) and during the lunch break we rode in the main arena.  Blu was much better.  More like his normal self.  Yay!  No repeat of yesterday's antics.

  Todd on Blu

I mentioned the other day that the show has two judges.  One judge was for Region 3 (the Region I show in 90% of the time) and the other for Region 7 (The Scottsdale show in February is Region 7).  For each class that we entered there were two sets of results and two ribbons handed out.  Todd rode Blu in the second class of the afternoon -Half Arabian Western Pleasure Junior Horse - and had a very nice ride.  The Region 7 judge liked Blu and they got a first place!  The Region 3 judge gave them a second place.  In their second class (Half Arabian Western Pleasure Open) Blu was pretty fast but got two 4th place ribbons.  I was very happy with the rides. 

   Sharon on Nazz

The way the show was scheduled they grouped all the Western Pleasure classes together so there was an Arabian Western Pleasure Open followed by a Half Arabian Western Pleasure Open, and for each class it went that way.  Arabian class followed by Half Arabian of the same name.  Sharon and Nazz’s first class was the Arabian Western Pleasure Open -it was the class between the two Todd rode Blu in.  Nazz was a very good boy.  Sharon really rode smart and looked like a pro.  I was hoping she’d win, but both judges gave her 3rd place.   Turns out that was the worst that she did all day!  After that class it was time for me to get on Blu and get myself ready so I didn’t get to watch all her rides but I heard her name called for first place in one of her classes!  Yahoo!  I shouted and clapped from the warm up ring.  She had a couple more classes and got multiple 2nd Place ribbons.  A nice day for Sharon and Nazz!

  Kathy and Blu

I rode Blu in two classes.  My first class was AAOTR (Adult Amateur Owner To Ride) and it was fun.  I think it was the first time I rode at the Hand Gallop (faster than a lope) in a class.  If it wasn’t I can at least say it was the most memorable.  We’d been spending so much time getting Blu to slow down that it was weird to ask him to go faster.  I was cruising him around at the lope when they called for the hand gallop and I looked over to Todd who was standing at the rail and he was motioning me to go faster.  So I kicked it up a notch.  It was totally fun!  Blu got both his leads with no problem at all, too.  And had a nice jog.  The only real bobble was when we were coming into the line up at the end of the class Blu thought I was asking him for a lope.  So there was a bit of a spurt, but nothing bad.  Both judges gave us 2nd place.  Our second class was Novice Horse – I was competing against other horses who hadn’t won 3 blue ribbons.    The ride was great.  He picked up the correct leads, he had a nice jog both directions and he was solid in the hand gallop.  I had a big smile while I was riding, it was so fun.  And now I have to check the rules to make sure I can still show in the Novice class at the DAHA show in a couple weeks because we WON our class!  Both judges placed us FIRST!  I got TWO blue ribbons!  Awesome!!  I was on cloud nine.  So, just like the Maiden class that I can’t show in anymore Novice is now also one of those I can't show in any more.  Blu now has 4 blue ribbons to his name!

Some of the ribbons Nazz and Blu won Saturday afternoon.

Our class was the last one for all of us - our day was finished.  We packed up the trailer so in the morning Todd would be able to load up the horses and hit the road early.  We went to Red's Old 395 Grill for dinner.  A whole crowd – table for 8 – and we all enjoyed good food. If you’re ever in Carson City I recommend stopping here for a bite.


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Best of the West Rib Cook off in Reno

Mmmmm Ribs!

Ken hadn't been to the Rib Cook off in Reno in years.  I've never been and it sounded like fun.  It also sounded yummy, so Friday night I made a reservation at the Nugget (amazed we got a room for one night at the Nugget - the sight of the rib cook off) and arranged with our wonderful pet sitter, Sue Stack, to come hang with the animals while we were gone.

On the drive to Reno we saw more horse trailers and truck campers than we've ever seen in one day.  I don't know why there were so many horse trailers, but the truck campers and all the other RVs were on their way home from Burning Man.  We could tell by all the white dust on the vehicles.  A dead giveaway.

Parking at the Nugget was a challenge.  The traffic was understandably heavy and roads were blocked off.  The signs for all the parking lots were full and even the valet parking said it was full.  We drove in circles and finally asked a security guard at one hotel parking lot what the secret was for getting a space.  She told us we needed a room key.  Ah ha!  So Ken and I tag teamed it.  I drove into the line for Valet parking and registration and Ken went inside to register and get our key.  He was able to stand in line with probably 30 other people and get back to me with a key before I'd made it more than a hundred yards in the car.  When he got back to the car he said we couldn't check in yet because the room wasn't ready yet but when he told the hotel clerk that we couldn't park without a key she gave Ken a blank key.  Voila!  We drove back to the lot with the helpful security guard and she recognized us (the MINI is fairly memorable I guess) and when Ken showed her the key she let us in.  Success.  We were parked.  We brought our bag to the bell desk and went in search of RIBS!  We didn't have to go far.

Walking out the door of the casino onto the street we're immediately overwhelmed with smoke from all the barbecues   Ahhh....we breathed deeply and enjoyed the smells.  We were both of the same mind in thinking that we wouldn't visit any of the rib places that we have at home, like Kinders, Back Forty, or Armadillo Willy's.  Why waste our time with something we've had before when there were so many others we'd never get any other way?  We also planned on only ordering one "sampler" from each of the places and sharing it.  A sampler had three ribs - Ken would have two and I would have one.  That was my compromise for Weight Watchers.  We didn't waste stomach space on pulled pork sandwiches, beans or rolls either.  We were going for Ribs, and Ribs alone.  It was the perfect plan and we stuck to it.  

Even when we waited in line for 45 minutes at this year's Peoples Choice winner we only got the sampler.

The "Porkinator" sounded truly yummy but we stuck with their ribs and topped them with Jamaican BBQ sauce.

We'd eaten at three rib places and were getting full.  We weren't ready to stop, of course, but we needed to see if our room was ready so we took a break and went into the casino.  The room was not ready.  Sheesh. I think it was about 3pm at that point, and check-in was supposed to be at 3 but the desk agent said it was their busiest day of the year.  This was obvious because the line for first time reservations (meaning the one Ken stood in line earlier) had to have 150 people in it.  It went all the way to the bar.  Since our room wasn't ready but the Giants game was on we grabbed two just vacated seats at that bar and watched the Giants give up 3 runs to lose the game.  What timing.

I sent a picture to my brother while we were in line at Awesome Aussie Australian BBQ.

We went back out to the cook off and tried a fourth rib joint.  Then we walked around the craft fair but that wasn't very exciting.  A whole lot of booths that didn't interest us, except one place that sold metalwork from whom we bought a metal bug for the garden.

About 4:30 we went back into the hotel and our room was finally ready.  It was a non smoking floor but we walked in our room and it reeked of cigarette smoke.  Ick.  Of course, so did the casino.  But since it took us so long to get the room we opened the windows and let it air out and went to the Tiki Bar (the one with the giant fish tank - can't remember what it's called) and ordered a Scorpion!  

It has been decades since we drank one of these and that was with 6 people drinking it.

Blue Oyster Cult was on stage at 7pm so we brought our unfinished Scorpion up to the room and ate at two more rib joints while listening to the Cult play.  They were on for a little over an hour.  I'm not a big fan but Ken is and he enjoyed it.  Though he said they didn't play enough of their own songs.  They did covers.  Not that I knew what was theirs, anyway!

The sun set - with beautiful color in the clouds over the signs of two of the places we visited.  The Checkered Pig wasn't my favorite.  Though we both wondered if, after eating at 6 places they were all running together.   We'd certainly eaten our fill, so maybe it wasn't fair to compare anymore.

We were full, had truly enjoyed ourselves and there was nothing bad that happened - but you've got to wonder what they were expecting with this on site...

We did play casino games for a while and Ken won a bit - enough that we came home with money which is always a win in my book!  We went to bed early and got up early.  We wanted to make sure we didn't get stuck in Memorial Day/Burning Man traffic.  We didn't.

The weather at home was perfect and we hung out by the pool enjoying the end of Summer.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Getting ready for the next show

Saturday morning I drove the MINI down to see Blu.  The drive was uneventful, the best kind, and I was at the ranch by 11:30am.  Sharon and I had some things we needed to accomplish in addition to getting a lesson.  We went through the trailer to make sure we had everything we needed for the show next weekend.  I brought down my show saddle and blankets and such so they could all travel with Blu.  During our lesson  Sharon and I rode together and we each had our challenges, which made for learning opportunities.  We can’t always have the awesome rides that we had last weekend.

Blu would challenge me every once in a while by not doing what I asked.  Which then makes me show him that when I ask he should do as I say because I’m not kidding.  It means I had to use my legs a lot.  It’s a war of wills, to see who will hold out longer to get their way.  I won.

We were in the saddle for a while, too, which was lots of fun.  Though since Blu is young we can’t over work him because younger horses, like kids, have shorter attention spans, and we don’t want him to get bored or dislike what we're doing.  We want him to continue to have fun and be a happy horse.

When we finished our lesson we finished up the trailer packing and we headed home at 5pm.  A good day all around.

So, what show are we going to, you’re wondering?  The Comstock Arabian Association’s Fall show in Carson City, Nevada.    Whoo hoo – road trip!  Of course it means since we’re crossing state lines we need to get our horses a Coggins Test – and wouldn’t you know they’re good for 6 months and the one I had done at Blu’s pre-purchase exam expires on September 7 – two days before we arrive in Nevada.  Grr!

This show is a two judge show and is being held for two Regions (3 & 7).  If you win and earn points it makes you eligible to compete in each region’s annual show while only riding in one class.  Actually I guess it would make more sense to say that while you’re riding in one class, there are two judges standing in the arena, one for each region and they each judge you and you could get a first place by one judge and a third place by another judge and you’d come out of the arena with two ribbons, a Blue and a Yellow and you’d get points related to each placing by the specific judge for that region.  If the Blue was from the Region 3 judge you get points for a first place in Region 3.

I’m still learning about points but from what I understand you get one point for each horse you finish in front of, assuming you place (meaning first through fifth place are the only ones who get points), and if you are first and there are 7 horses in the class you get seven points and if you get third place with 7 horses in the class you get 5 points.  The Arabian Horse Association tracks the points and you bank the points so that in July (when Region 3 Regional’s is held in Reno) you can enter as many classes in that division (Half Arabian Western Pleasure in Blu’s case) as you have points for where each class “costs” 3 points.  So, if I have 12 points I can enter 4 classes.  I believe we can also enter a class if we got a First place, since Blu has a first place, regardless of how many points he ends up with, he can enter at least one class.

Whether my understanding on points is correct, I don’t know.  I guess I’ll find out more if Blu accumulates more points.  Let’s hope so!

I didn’t get any photos from the trip but I couldn’t put up a post without any photos so here are two that crack me up each time I see them.

How’s this for bubble wrapping the boy?  Since he now lives in a stall with paddock he has access to other horses and manages to get himself mysterious little scrapes every once in a while.  The fly mask protects his face and the fly sheet protects his body and the vet wrap on his tail protects the tail.  At night he gets a different set of blankets which include a neck cover (an no fly mask).

This was from April when Blu was at the Rancho Murieta show and was taking a rest.  I remember thinking it was going to be one of the best chances to get a photo of the markings on his belly.  You might also note the wet bedding and the blue water bucket on it’s side.  He’s gotten better since April but he was knocking over his water bucket multiple times a day and soaking his shavings.  I was constantly changing them.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Sydney doesn’t like horses - who knew?

Ken and I traveled together this weekend.  Since his baseball season is over (bowed heads) he decided to join me for one of my “Weekends with Blu.” 

To start the weekend we had to complete our first Fantasy Football draft of the season.  Friday night at 6pm our family and friends league (Burrito) had an online draft.  It’s lots of fun because there is a chat room along with the draft so we were interactive.  This league is extra fun because our two nephews joined the league last year and came back again this year.  They’re totally fired up about fantasy football.  My brother even drafted from Australia.  It was Saturday morning Down Under.  For me, I’ve been so busy with horse things that I’ve done very little football preparation, unlike past years (I’ve been playing fantasy football for 9 years).  This draft was going to be interesting because there are quite a few new players and with the lockout it altered a lot of tried and true plans.  Only time will tell how it went because I usually have a great draft but then my teams turn into the “all injured team” once the season starts.  But maybe I’ll break the jinx by starting with an injured QB (Payton Manning in the 5th round) and he’ll get better.

Saturday morning we got up at 6:30 and enjoyed a nice breakfast.  The camper was packed up and ready to go with the exception of the cold food.  We transferred it all from the house fridge to the camper fridge.  Which reminds me, we’re having issues with our camper fridge YET AGAIN.  We have a “thing” about camper refrigerators.  Our Six Pac had a bad Norcold fridge that we had to get repaired (we bought the camper new and the fridge died just after the warranty ran out) and we bought our Host in February 2007 yet by August 2007 when we drove out to Ogalalla, Nebraska the Dometic fridge went bad.  We had to stop in Park City, Utah to buy a cooler for our food.  We got it repaired under warranty and it had been fine since then.  Until now.  When I was down in Watsonville for the show I thought it seemed a bit warmer than it should.  I’ve got a thermometer inside and it was showing low 40’s rather than low 30’s.  I hoped it was an anomaly but when I brought it to Camping World for some other maintenance I had them check the fridge.  Wouldn’t you know it’s got a “weak cooling unit” and they said our warranty wouldn’t cover the repair until it broke entirely.  I’m now in a waiting game.  For this weekend Ken and I brought a cooler for the truly perishables like meat and beer but left the sodas in the fridge.

Sydney in her travel carrier between our seats

Anyway – back to the trip.  We brought the dogs and parrot with us.  When Sydney travels it’s in her travel carrier, on the seat between driver and passenger.  The dogs ride in the back seat area with the seat up and lots of dog beds for padding.

I parked the camper in my usual spot next to the barn and got Sydney set in her usual spot on the table looking out the window.  She likes to watch what’s going on….usually…..

After saying hi to Blu I asked Todd if he’d be able to give Ken a lesson anytime this weekend and he replied “how about right now?”

Ken was a great sport because many months ago I’d asked him if he’d be interested in taking a lesson.  Something he’s never done before, though he’s ridden my horse Cre and a number of horses up at Deadwood over the years. He’d said yes at the time, and I’ve not forgotten it.  (Though I’ll bet before the lesson he’d wished I had.)  Todd pulled out his mare Easter and saddled her up.  He and Ken walked up to the round pen and Todd started with the basics.  I sat off a ways and watched and took some pictures and videos.  I don’t think I stopped smiling the whole time.  It was pretty cool to watch because Todd used motorcycle terms and I could tell when Ken got a concept and got Easter to go where he wanted her to.  His posture changed part way through the lesson, too.  He sat back and looked relaxed.  He had Easter walking in serpentines all around the round pen and eventually Todd had Ken ride her out of the round pen and into the arena continuing to turn her any way he wanted, stop her, and back her up.  

When Ken was done he had a genuine smile.  I was grinning ear to ear, too!

Sharon and Bill pulled in with Rocky in the trailer while Ken was having his lesson.  Bill was next up with his lesson while Sharon and I worked on getting the trailer ready for the Comstock Arabian Horse Show in a few weeks up in Carson City, Nevada.  We needed to organize the trailer and Ken helped, too.  

How do I know Sydney doesn't like horses?  When I lead Blu to the arena or hot walker we had to walk past the camper window where Sydney hangs out.  As I lead Blu to the hot walker I heard her start to growl.  She normally only growls at the sight of gloves or tubes.  So to hear the growl come from the camper was a big surprise!  We shut the blinds after a little while because each time a horse would walk by the window she'd get upset.  We want her to enjoy the trip as much as we do so we didn't want her experiencing any extra stress!

Sharon had her lesson after Bill was finished and she and Nazz looked wonderful.  He was going so slow and smooth, it was a joy to watch.

Then it was my turn.

We worked on flexibility exercises and leg sensitivity exercises.  I moved his head to the outside of a circle while keeping him moving in the opposite direction.  For example, if I was walking in a circle to the left his head was facing out, to the right, while still walking to the left.  And vice versa.  We did this at the walk and at the jog and when I moved him into a jog I probably got the stupidest look on my face.  I swear I was riding a different horse!!!  His jog was so SLOW and smooth I literally got goosebumps and the hair on my arms stood up.  I still thrill to think about it.

We worked the exercises at all three gaits: walk, jog and lope.  His lope is improving, too.  He is still struggling with the correct right lead, but getting better at it.  And I am too.  I’m able to tell when I’ve done something that will cue him into using the “easy” lead rather than the correct lead.  For instance.  I realized once when he took the left lead I’d tried to keep him going in a straighter line by touching him with my right leg.  He interpreted that as a prompt to lead with his left leg.  Just the tiniest bump on my part and he grabbed the opportunity.  But I’m happy that I realized what I’d done to cause it. 

When the lessons were all done and the horses groomed and put away we relaxed on the lawn and played with all the dogs.  Sharon and Bill brought their two Corgis, we had our two Ridgebacks, and Todd had his new puppy, Cooper.

We barbecued Hot Dogs and Hamburgers for dinner and had an early night.  Todd was off to a Quarter Horse show early Sunday.  He was taking two horses – one in Halter and one in Western Pleasure.

He came back to the ranch between the Halter classes and the Western Pleasure classes since there was a long break and Sharon, Bill and I grabbed the opportunity to squeeze in a group lesson.  It was short and sweet.  The horses were again great.  Ken watched and took some video of me and Blu.  It’s fun to see how things are progressing in these last 5 months.

I put a few clips from the video together.  Not perfect, but a great ride.

I bathed Blu when the lesson was over and since Sharon and Bill were about done too, Ken and I decided to hit the road for home. It was the earliest departure I’ve ever had on a Sunday.  Noon.

Best part about that was that we got home in plenty of time to hang out in the pool and enjoy a cold beer.