Friday, October 28, 2011

Show Season Recap

I've been thinking back over the 2011 show season with Blu.  He's done such a good job that I have to remind myself that he's only 4.

Blu attended his first show in April (Rancho Murieta) where he got his first exposure to the "show experience."  I remember thinking about how young he was and how much I enjoyed just leading him around so he could see it all.  He was "hot" - snorting and wide eyed at everything while walking around.  Then he caught a cold and quieted down.  We'd hoped that would help in the future so he'd just remember the quiet part.  (I think it probably did.)

Then I took him to Santa Barbara for what would turn out to be his first time entering the show ring as a competitor - and it was an A Rated show.  He went in two classes with Todd riding and I couldn't have been happier with the experience.  You could tell he was totally green but it was such a good experience.

Then I got to ride him myself in a schooling show in July at Woodmyst Farms.  I was SO excited to be competing on him myself.  I learned a lot and totally enjoyed myself and Blu was a pleasure to hang out on.

Next was the Gold Coast show in Watsonville in August.  Like the other shows it was three days of classes but this time he was entered in classes each day.  Blu got his first blue ribbon with Todd riding.

In September he took his longest trailer ride, out to Carson City, Nevada for the Comstock show.  The way the show was scheduled we only showed on Saturday.  We got TWO blue ribbons - with me riding.  How crazy is that?

And the final show of the season was DAHA in October.  He had such nice rides with Todd and with me.  Blu and Todd got third in the big Open class and I got third in my biggest class, too.  Still smiling about that.  And it was pretty cool to hear compliments from other trainers, too.  Now I know what it's like for Sharon since she's been hearing compliments from other trainers about Nazz for years.  Pretty neat!

Now we're done showing for the 2011 season.  But the work isn't over.  We'll spend the winter training for 2012, Blu's final year as a Junior Horse.

I can't wait for next year!!!!!!!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Cal game with Andy and Becky

This weekend was spent clos(er) to home.  Saturday Ken and I drove down to visit our friends Andy and Becky in Berkeley.  Ken and Andy go to a Cal game together every year (and Becky and I usually go to the movies) but this year they included the girls.  Cal is playing this season at AT&T Park in San Francisco while their stadium is being redone.

The game's kickoff was at 4pm so it worked out perfectly for Ken and I to have a leisurely morning at home, hit the road at 10am and get to Berkeley by noon.  We then all drove over to The City hoping to get a decent parking place and find someplace to have lunch before the game.

We succeeded.

We parked right across the street from Hi Dive and our timing was perfect because a table for 4 opened up as we walked in the door.  They serve brunch until 2:30 and it was 1:45 - so we had a round of cocktails while we waited for the lunch menu to be available!  Their Mai Tai was delish.  Becky enjoyed a Lemon Drop and Andy and Ken had beer.  I'd recommend it for lunch if you're near Pier 28.  Especially the hamburger (I had the F-Line burger - with cheddar cheese, bacon, grilled onions and BBQ sauce). The BLTA was good, the fish tacos not great and the bacon wrapped prawn appetizer was ok, but not great either.  If you go, get the hamburger (and fries).

Becky and I waiting to cross the street.

We walked from there to the ball park and got to our seats just in time to watch the Bears run out on the field.

Becky and Andy - Cal fans

It was typical weather for San Francisco in October.  Beautiful, not a cloud in the sky, mid 70's and no breeze.  That's baseball weather for most cities.  But not SF.  It's Football weather here.  The temperature didn't really change until probably the 4th quarter and even then it was only a slight change.  No need for anything more than a t-shirt.

I even managed to get a picture of Ken and I at the game.

It's the first non-horse thing I've done in a while.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Sunday at DAHA

Just realized I didn't post about the last day of the show.  Guess my camera's death rattled me.  :-)

Sunday was anti-climactic.  We ended up scratching our one Championship class literally right before we were going to go in the arena.

The day started well enough.  I was up at 6am feeding the horses and had time to go back to the camper and actually eat breakfast (first time all show I'd gotten to eat breakfast - even though all it was, was cereal!).  I got back to the barn about 7:30am and had plenty of time to get Blu saddled and ready.  Todd got on Blu to warm him up and see how he was doing.  They had a nice ride so I brought Blu back to the barn and kept him in his stall, tied so he could eat and drink but not roll (he still had his show saddle on and we DEFINITELY don't want him to roll with the saddle on).  Todd worked with Laura and Echo (they were showing in the class immediately before mine) and I mounted up and joined them in the warm up arena two classes before my class was scheduled to go in.  However Blu was done.

He was tired and was balking when I was trying to get him to lope.  He just didn't want to, and while we don't normally let him get away with things, in this case it seemed the better part of valor to go with it.  Our number one priority this year was to ensure that Blu did not get scared or hurt.  We don't want to have him confused by anything if we can help it, either.  And having a struggle in front of the judge and a bad ride was to be avoided if possible.  It would leave a bad memory with Blu and since it was the last class of the show and our last show of the season he would have all winter to remember it and by the spring when we go to our first show we wouldn't know if he'd act up that way again.

So, as I said, the better part of valor was to scratch.  Bummer, but truly I was 100% ok with it.

Suddenly I had the rest of the show "free" - Laura was in a couple classes with Echo and while they were in their classes Ken and I started work on packing up.  When Laura and John and Todd got back to the barn after her class Ken went to pack up the camper and the rest of us dismantled the barn.

We were finished with the show and pulled out with the trailer at 1:30pm.  A couple hours earlier than we'd planned.  And since this was a local show for me I was home shortly after 2pm.


The long days took quite a lot out of me.  It took me a couple days to recover.  Of course I still had to go to work.  Have to pay for this somehow!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Death Of A Camera

I suppose it's appropriate that my camera died in an entertaining way.  I'd had it sitting on the arena railing with the thought that I'd film a bit of Blu running around and kicking up his heels.  I did get about 5 minutes of video.  The last minute was the most entertaining, however.  (I use the term "entertaining" loosely.)

Hope you enjoy......

The final images from my Cannon G10 are witness to it's death.  By Horse.

I can only hope that I'll figure out soon what my next camera will be.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Saturday at DAHA

My boy Blu

I could have slept in on Saturday but Todd was showing horses in the Halter classes starting at 8am and I didn't want him to have to do all the prep alone.  So I got up and met him at the wash rack at 6:30am.  Yep, still dark out. And wouldn't you know it, the lights were out in our barn.  No other barn at the showgrounds.  Just ours.  Todd had his truck parked in the isle facing the groom stalls with his headlights shining in.  It helped a bit.

Little E and Easter were showing first thing.  Little E was in the first class of the morning followed by Easter a few classes later.  Todd was handling both horses and Little E's owner was also there to show in the Amateur Handler classes for both Easter and Little E.  I wish I'd gotten to see more of the halter classes but I was working on prepping Easter while Todd was showing Little E so I only got to watch a little bit once Easter was ready to go.  But what I did see was very pretty.

Todd and Easter trotting into the arena

What a beautiful mare

EF Easter Rose - Champion

Todd and Eclipse (Little E) - Champion

Both Little E and Easter each earned a Championship in their divisions.

With the day starting at 6:30am you'd hope that it would end early.  Nope.  Saturday was the longest show day I've ever been a part of.  The classes themselves went from 8am until 8pm and with Little E in the first class of the morning and Blu and I showing in the third to last class of the day that meant we were "on" for 12 hours, and adding a couple hours before the show and a couple hours after the show that meant it was a 16 hour day.  Ugh.

The Halter classes were over about 9:30am.  Laura was in a few classes in the morning with both her horses, Sebastian and Echo.

Sebastian in Arabian Western Pleasure

Echo in Arabian Hunter Pleasure

And Todd was riding Blu in the HA/AA Western Pleasure Open class before lunch - Class 125.  "Before Lunch" turned out to be 1:30pm if memory serves.

On the rail

Of course, it was worth the wait.  They were AWESOME!!!  I was standing on the rail with Ken and Laura and John watching the class.  Mom and Dad were on another rail taking pictures and videos.  I'm so happy there is video of the class.  I can watch it over and over again.

Todd and Blu in HA/AA Western Pleasure Open

I was on cloud nine when they announced Blu's number in third place.  There were some REALLY nice horses in that class.  Dad said there were 7 horses in the class though 8 were expected.

I think Todd was pretty happy with the results

 Hard to believe it's only been six months since I got Blu.  Todd has done an amazing job with this youngster.
I couldn't be happier

As I was hanging with Blu telling him what a good boy he was my friend and co-worker Jessica showed up!  She'd just missed getting to watch the Open class and I wasn't going to be showing for hours yet (though I didn't realize HOW MANY hours at that time) but Todd came back from a walk saying he'd post entered Blu in the Junior Horse Championship class.  It was scheduled for after lunch and Jessica was able to stay long enough to watch that class with me.

The Judge really watched Blu in the Junior Horse Championship class

They earned another third place in the Junior Horse Championship class.  What a day it was turning out to be.

Mom and Blu - what a great picture

Friday, after my classes were over, I'd been able to spend a couple hours with Mom and Dad sitting "on the berm" where they've got the tents and chairs for spectators and we enjoyed watching a lot of different classes.  That was the first time I've gotten to do that in a long time.  Saturday I spent my "down time" at the barn, sitting under the pop up looking at Mom's videos and photos from Friday, chatting with Jessica and hanging out with Ken.

Eventually I went to the camper to get dressed for my class.  I think I went there about 5pm.  Sigh.  Didn't realize I still wouldn't show for hours.

Here's a picture of Mom helping me put on my chaps from Friday - While it is possible to put them on yourself it sure is a help if someone else does it for you.  The contortions you have to go through to reach the zipper behind your leg while avoiding the fringe are hard.


By the time I was up in the saddle on Saturday for my one class the sun was setting.  We worked in the warm up arena and I kept watching the sky wondering if I was going to be riding in the dark.  Then they made an announcement that the final classes of the day would be moving to Arena number one which was lit.  Oh boy. I've never ridden Blu under lights, and haven't ridden him in that arena at all.  I was wondering how it all would work out.  

Turns out it was 95% fine.  

One drawback of the dark was that it was about impossible to get any photos

Blu went right into the arena at a beautiful jog and as we got to the end of the arena we went through the first big lighted area and I saw Blu's and my shadow and wondered how he'd do.  Fine.  Of course.  What a level headed horse I have.  It didn't phase him in the slightest.  Now I can check off "doesn't have a problem showing under lights."  We picked up the lope from the walk perfectly.  Ahh.  Heaven.  I was half way through the class and NOT wanting it to end.  I had a big smile going.

The only bad part of the class happened when the judge wasn't looking (thank goodness) - right as they were asking for the lope in the second direction, I'd released Blu's reins to allow him to go into the lope and right then, on our left a person on a bicycle rode right through the lights right next to the rail.  Now I'll have to say that I don't truly remember it as bad, but I do remember letting out a curse (gasp) loud enough that I looked over afterwards to see if the judge heard/saw.  And I don't curse a lot in the saddle.  So I know it had to be fairly bad.  When I'd left the arena after the class Laura and John were both telling me they thought I was amazing to stay on and ride through "it" and Todd said Blu's head was as high as mine and that I was a good rider because I rode through it like nothing happened.  I'll say that I did get Blu into the lope as soon as I could.  Probably only a stride or two later than I should have been.  And that Blu was nice and calm as we rode by the judge.  Ahhhh.  I made it!  We had a nice hand gallop and I was able to slow him down into the lope when they asked, too.  We did everything right.

We lined up at the end of the class and I was at the end of the line, closest to the rail where Ken and everyone was watching and I looked over at them and SMILED and gave them a big thumbs up.  I was so happy.  I didn't care how we did in the judge's eyes, I though we kicked butt.

Turns out the judge thought we did pretty well, too.  I heard my name called out for third place (there were 6 in the class I think)!  YAHOO!
Can't beat that smile

Though it's been a long day I'm all smiles

 I think it was about 8pm at this point.  I'd missed dinner (I wasn't hungry when they were serving the Spaghetti dinner at 6pm - I was thinking about my class and actually we all missed out on the sushi dinner we were planning on but since they were having a free spaghetti dinner those that were hungry did get to eat.) but I didn't miss cocktail hour.

John and Ken in Silky's

Brookside Equestrian Park where we were showing has an on site pub called Silky's (named after Silky Sullivan the Thoroughbred race horse that was famous for come from behind wins) and a bunch of us went there for cocktails.

A great way to end a long, very successful day.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Friday at DAHA

Friday dawned early - well, the sun didn't come up early, but the alarm went off early.  The show started at 8am and Blu was in class number 3 with Todd up.  That meant that I needed to be at the barn at 6am to make sure Blu was still clean (I'd bathed him yesterday) – he wasn’t - his legs needed to be washed again (brr) and to get him groomed, saddled up and ready for Todd. 

I was able to get all my prep work done and Laura got her horse Echo ready (they were in class 6).  My parents showed up before 8am and Amy and Cherie were there in time for the first class, too.  It was looking to be a good day.

Todd mounted up and worked Blu in the warm up arena.  I started smiling early and I don't think I stopped the whole weekend.

One of the little things about showing with a trainer who rides my horse is that it sometimes takes a bit of coordination to get our "colors" right.  Western Pleasure means the women wear "bling" and the men wear simple western shirts.  But trying to coordinate between the blanket that goes under the saddle pad to match Todd's shirt and my shirt (and if Sharon were in the show, her shirt) can take some work.  Luckily for this show there was enough time between classes that I was able to unsaddle Blu and change saddle pads.  So, I started with Todd's saddle pad that matched his teal shirt.  Then I switched to my red pad that matched my red shirt.

Todd and Blu at the end of the Novice Horse class

Todd and Blu were in class 3 - HA/AA (Half Arabian/Anglo Arabian) Western Pleasure Novice Horse and they had a very nice ride.  They got second (out of 3) and we were happy with that start after the issues we'd had over the last week.  For me, I'm still thrilled when he beats any other horse (small of me, but there it is).

We went back to the barn and I changed out Todd's saddle pad to my red pad and mounted up.

Not sure what I was thinking here, but it must be my "game face"

I love this photo - heading into the morning light on the way to my first class

My stomach was doing a little bit of fluttering but really wasn't too bad.  Looking back I can say that I truly did get back into the right frame of mind for the show in that I was there to have fun.  I wasn't positive that Blu wouldn't stop dead in the class or have other issues, but Todd had spent some time with me yesterday and again Friday morning working me through the possible issues that I might run into and gave me the knowledge I needed to feel confident that I would be able to work Blu through whatever he put at me.

Turns out Blu wasn't perfect but I was able to work him through the different things he tried (moving off the rail when I didn't want him to, going too fast, etc) and made it through the class with me on top.  (That's something I've been joking about for months, that my goal is to come through a class without coming off - thus "on top.")    

I'm heading into my first class

The judge is taking a look at us

Blu looks so handsome.

Both the first and the second classes for me on Friday were classes I am happy are finished.  I remember after completing the first direction of the first class thinking to myself that I just wanted it to be done.  Sadly I don't remember exactly what went wrong, but I do remember asking him for the lope the first direction and Blu turned into the middle of the arena but the judge wasn't standing there so I wasn't in jeopardy of running him over (though Dad delighted in my response when, after the class was over, he said "you almost ran over the judge" - Thanks Dad.).  I knew after the first direction that I wasn't going to place well in the class, and that freed me to school Blu for the second direction. 

 Here's a video Mom took of the second direction of the first class

I got third out of three and was still smiling.

My second class had more horses in it - five - and I still didn't have a great ride, but again, had fun and ended the class with a smile.

Lope first direction

In the lineup of the second class - happy for the first place winner

I love my horse

We were done with our classes before lunchtime.  I took Blu to the wash rack and gave him a bath.

Amy and Cherie hit the road (they were so positive and uplifting throughout the day it was wonderful) and I spent most of the rest of the day with my parents watching different classes, helping Laura when she needed it, and generally relaxing.  I rarely get a chance to sit and watch other classes in a show, so it was a nice change of pace.

Ken arrived in time for us to go to the Show sponsored Mexican Fiesta dinner.  After dinner we hung out with Todd at the camper and watched as Angus and Annie played with Todd's 13 week old Jack Russell puppy Cooper.  They got along surprisingly well considering the size (and age) differences.  But I must say Cooper was brilliant - when he wanted to get away from our dogs he just went under the truck.  Angus and Annie are much too big to get under there, so he had the perfect "time out" spot.  

Now we know Cooper and Angus and Annie get along great.  As did everyone at the barn.

Day one of the show down, two more to go.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Thursday at DAHA

So - how did the show go?  After my worries from the prior weekend, confessing to Todd that I'd "broken" Blu, and knowing I was going to my first show without Sharon, it actually turned out pretty well.

On Thursday I'd driven the camper to the office so I could leave straight from work and I was able to get out the door at noon and with a stop for gas I arrived at 12:45.  Todd had gotten there at 10am and had the barn mostly set up.  Laura and her husband John got there about an hour before I did.  By the time I got there it was really just the final touches to the barn that were necessary.

Early in the setup

Our main focus was getting the horses ready.  It was 95 degrees and we were all (horses, too) sweating bullets.  Todd definitely had to work during the week to "fix" Blu but when I saw them on Thursday I thought they looked great.  I wasn't sure how it was going to go with me up, but Todd thought it would be fine.   He had me get on and we worked through some issues.  Turns out I had been giving Blu conflicting instructions last weekend and he didn't know what I was asking which is why he wasn't doing anything right (at least in my mind).  Todd got me through the issue and I was feeling more confident about the possibilities for the show.

Todd worked all the performance horses in the main show arena.

Thursday was going to be my only night on my own - Todd and Laura and John had all gotten hotel rooms and I was staying in the camper.  Ken was joining me Friday.  I'd gone to the show office earlier to get my number and make sure all my paperwork was in order and while I was there I met Coke, the Show Manager.  When I'd asked where my site was she offered to take me there in her golf cart.  I hopped in and on the way she introduced me to the owner of the facility.  Bill was riding everywhere on his bicycle and when he found out I had a truck camper he smiled and said he had the perfect spot for me.  Turns out he was right. 

 It was in a nice grassy pasture, fenced and close to our barn.

Mom and Dad called to let me know they'd be at the show in the morning and my friends Amy and Cherie called about 5:30 and said they were on their way from Reno and would probably go straight to the hotel.  But about 9:30pm I got another call.  The girls decided to come straight to the showgrounds and stay the night there.  The only problem?  They were lost in the showgrounds and didn't know where I was.  I got out in my pajamas with my flashlight and phone and started walking towards where I thought they were.  It probably looked pretty funny to everyone else in RVs watching me walk around with a phone to my ear, but eventually we found each other.  All was well.  We hung out by the camper for a while catching up but since I had an early morning coming I hit the hay about 11pm.