Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Final Schooling Show of 2014

So, today was our final 'show' of the year. Yes, it was just a schooling show, but for under $100 per horse, I got to ride a few tests, take home some ribbons and accomplish a few personal goals...

Let's start off with Delight. 
She's, well, not always the most ridable. Obviously, she has a functional W-T-C, turning and stopping. For the average horse, she's a damn 'well broke' horse... But dressage is not cool with "The Average Horse". We want a powerful, submissive (read: willing to take direction), supple athlete. And of course, I want to be FEI, not forever stuck in the lower levels purgatory. 
Delight really excels in ridability
Also... Floating Pony!
Attainable? Yes.
Easy? No. 

I took Delight into 2-3 and out recycled 2nd level freestyle from the October show in Michigan (and the Coat returned!). Our 2-3 test had some, er.. communication issues. I asked for medium gaits, she turned into the toy soldier pony. In a slight over reaction to guidance, I half halted back from an excessively forward canter and she halted... Like a reining horse. 
Submission score took a hit right there.  

Ponies man. Ponies.  
(schooling at home)
 The freestyle, on the other hand, felt fantastic with powerful, up and supple moments. We didn't mesh with the music, since the 1/4 of the arena by the judge was just under water, so there were some on the spot edits, but it was up, forward and fun. And really isn't that why we do this sport?

And then there was Tilly. My goal with here is exposure, plain and simple. She has a tendancy to get slightly overwhelmed in some situations, but really she's 7. Time to pull on the Big Girl Pants and just Deal With It.
Our first warm up/test was... tense.
A pasture of cool, composed, well trained horses.
Or something like that....
 Literally, every comment on our 1-1 test says "Tense" "Quite tense" "Rather tense". Super.
But, despite some huge spooks and slipping and sliding through the mud we completed our test, mistake free but in so way the supple, willing, on the bit horse that she should be. Thank goodness for multiple tests...

So, three tests later, we reentered at A for 1-3 and it was a totally different pony. Gone was the rigid neck, crazy Arab look, replaced with a pony who is starting to look downright German for a 10% improvement in score. Go figure.
There's hope for the pony!

Oh, and lest I forget... guess who made her show debut with her first horse show?
My mom and the wonderful, unforgetable RC!
They've got this.
Mom and C-Buddy rode Training 1 and 2 and have now been bitten by the horse show bug. RC was a champ (aren't I so proud of my little homebred!) who powered through his tests as steady as ever.
This year? First show!
Next year? Qualify for the schooling show championships! 

Monday, November 24, 2014

No Shave November!

Now, if you are under the age of fifty, you've probably heard of No Shave November... It's pretty much a guy's excuse to go full lumberjack. Or hipster. Either way, it's not sexy. Not sexy at all.
Beards: Not sexy. Ever
Anyhow, in keeping with my rebellious nature I just cannot embrace No Shave November. And not just me, but my horses (and poodles, obviously).
Now, there are tons of things to love about Texas: the ability to knock out two shows before the new years, not having to shovel roofs (sorry, New York), an overdose of state pride. However, this lovely pseudo-tropical retreat leaves my ponies feeling like they brought the wrong wardrobe on vacation
See the difference?
 So what is the conscientious rider to do when every ride ends in a lathered, sweaty horse?

Shave them!

Be Forewarned: This is a picture heavy, super adorable and probably itchy post.

Scratch that. Very itchy. There will be little itchy horse hairs everywhere. I think I need to shower again. Maybe twice.

Since it was a lovely 60 degree day and the arena was still too wet to ride in so it seemed the thing to do by starting my day off with a pony bath.

Tilly is not impressed
Of course, my normal handy (lazy) front of barn area proved to be too wet me to continue my morning baths at that location. So we moved to our otherwise abandoned wash stall.

Bucky in all of his fluffy glory
Really, it's super handy... but we dumped a yard of lime in front of the barn door that leads to the wash stall... so you have to walk out the front door and around the side of the barn.
Tedious. But at least my feet dont get  wet and there is no mud. Win-win!

Then it was time to whip out the clippers!
 By the time I finished with half of Tilly and all of Bucky, my elbows were buzzing and i was covered in hair. Not my own.

Why only half of Tilly, you ask?

Because I'm freakin' creative. And honestly, I kind of assumed what could go wrong?
 So I took a quick lunch break and made a stencil out of a manila envelope. Like a boss...
I taped the stencil onto Tilly's unclipped butt, and let the fur fly!
It's all about the bass
Now.... wait for it....

Brace yourself. 
For So. Much. ADORABLE.

Ready? Are you really?


Encouraged by my success, I had to find an appropriate stencil for Delight.
I mean, the Blackfish cannot do bout sporting bows and hearts. That's just not her. And there's a distinct possibility that she would buck me off just for offending her. It's a risk.

So the list began.
Bows? Adorable on Tilly, but Deli doesn't want to be a copycat.
An Orca? Perfect! But too tricky for an amateur body clipper like myself. And no one else would get it...
A shamrock? Celtic knot? Blah.
 So, in the spirit of the season... And for ease of application, Delight earned some Christmas Bells!
Not quite as vivid as the chestnut
 All in all it's not too bad of a look, if I do say so myself.
Now I need to see if I can get a picture of the clip jobs out in the sunlight.

And now I need another shower. I feel itchy again just thinking about all over again. So many tiny itchy little hairs!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Thanksgiving Comes Early

Well, here at Chez Alison, the family is spread out all across the country. Well, less so now that I'm back at Texas, but you get the point. When we all come together by sheer happenstance, we make the holidays happen when we want them to. Like today, for instance, is Thanksgiving for us. Suck it Traditional Thanksgiving, we have out Christmas carols starting 5 days early.
When this kid is in town... Shit gets real.

And it's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas.

I was originally going to type something up in response to a forum post asking if anyone regretted bringing the horses home... but tis the season to be thankful and really, I have no reason to be all negative anyway.. .which kind of tied into my original post so I'll just continue to expound on it.

I love love love having my horses at 'home'. I cannot think of a better way to live than to be able to sit out on the porch sipping coffee while everyone eats breakfast.
Not a bad view, amiright?
 Sure, there are no days off. Horses need to eat, be turned out, stalls cleaned, brought back in and fed again. Fences need to be fixed, arenas need to be dragged, yards need to be mowed... There are easier life style choices, to be sure. There are no days off- not in the rain, snow or when you have a 104 degree fever- Horses still need to be fed. The logistics behind planning a vacation or night out are not easy... Thank again my most significant relationship is with a little white velcro poodle named Bacon, so its not like I spend a lot of time out on the town anyway.
"I cannot stay out after dark!"
 Of course there are much less complicated ways to keep your own horses. Some horses live outside (I've heard rumors); some don't get grain daily, let alone twice daily; Grass arenas are simple and easy to maintain... But that's the perk of having your own place: you get to keep your horses in exactly the manner in which you want. Want a different blanket at ten degree intervals? Done. Want Pookie out only in perfect weather? Done. Want turnout boots/flysheets/SWAT applied/ the rain dance done before turnout out the Bucastan? You can make it happen! All that limits you is time and money...
Now, I have had some pretty nice boarding situations. Maybe not high dollar, but good personal care and a descent riding space. Then there have been the situations where the care was not as advertised and I had to be out every day to make sure that the Ponitas were still alive anyway. Having my Ponitas at home is a cheaper (because the Family already owns the land) option with that guaranteed peace of mind that only comes when I have total and complete control over my horses.

 There is certainly something to be said for having an arena all to myself and being able to schedule your day around when the weather should be nicest.... And with only six horses at the moment, the barn work takes about an hour (not including the semi-annual chores like spreading the manure pile, or fertilizing or cutting and stacking hay). That leaves plenty of time for me to get three or four horses worked in a day and then teach a few lessons.
Have I mentioned how nice it is to have a mother with the same passion for the farm life? This way if someone needs a day off, the other one covers the chores. And let's face it, it's nice to see someone else who actually enjoys this lifestyle so I don't feel like a total anomaly.
Perk: Farm poodle loves his life!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Soooo.... this is Awkward.....

You know when life gets really really busy and you kinda sorta forget to call that guy back who you kinda sorta saw a few times?

Well, this blog is like that. And you guys get to be that guy. Harsh, I know. My bad.

So very much has happened since October.

I shipped Bucky to Texas after the championships. He loved it.

I closed up my house, painted GTT on the door (yes, that's a seventh grade Texas history reference...) and got the heck outta the Yoop before Snopocolypse hit. We all knew that it wsa going to hit and turn the area into a wintery snowy wonderland that kills Dressage Queens. It's happened before and this time I was not going to haul through it.
You can suck it, Snow. 
So yes... Here I am, back home sweet home in the lone star state. 
Farm poodles, hard at work. 
 I drove down with only two ponies in tow and about fifty bales of hay. Oh, and those poodles (of course). The poodles are loving the weather. it's not cold, there's no snow... poodle heaven!
 The ponies have assimilated nicely. Of course, they know all of the horses on the Texas Headquarters from last year (and RC and Bucky still don't get along). So there are six horses in four pastures/paddocks/pens. It all works out as long as Bucky goes out with a pony. He does love his ponies.

Who can blame the guy? I have  soft spot for the little monsters too...

Of course when this cold front blew through last weekend/this week everyone blames me. Uh, guys... I'm here to escape this weather.

And honestly, I knew better than to complain, I'l take 30 degrees and cloudy over 15 degrees and snowing any day... I keep my weather app on both Texas and Michigan locations just in case I ever feel the urge to complain about anything. It could be worse. There could be snow...
A jacket? really?
 And now, while I plan my next post... just so no one misses me too too much..... I leave you with some quarter horses...



Friday, October 31, 2014

And the Best Part about Halloween is....

The Costumes!

Of course, had it been any other time and you answered "candy!" you would be 100% irrefutably correct... However, I'm going somewhere with this so just take a deep breath and follow me down the rabbit hole!

Anywho, I've been semi-crafty all friggin' summer .There were windchimes, boxes, painting, etc, etc. So when the fall schooling show was announced in Escanaba in October with a costume-friendly-freestyle class, I was so in.

Until I realized that ti was on the same weekend as the championships. Then I was so very sadly out, I emailed the organizer my regrets and wished them luck... Only to have them tell me that it'll be moved to the following weekend to accomodate the Championship-goers. Which was me.
The freestyle was back on!

Coming up with music and choreographing was no big deal. Honestlym I'm pretty good at that kind of stuff (thank you ten years of drill teams). Costuming was the harder part...

Now, sewing is something that I have never done. Ever.
I did not take home ec. I took welding and home improvement and repair where I learned to rewire shit and fix a leaky faucet... Because, I assumed, when would I ever need to learn how to cook or sew? Seriously.

In hindsight, I'm still glad that I didn't take that class.

However, I decided that ti was time to try my hand at sewing, in my quest for a non horse hobby, to create a little costume to go along with my roughly edited music and fan-freaking-tastic choreography. I mean, since The Blackfish will have had a good week off while I'm in KY showing Bucky, I was really kind of leaning on my costuming choices to carry this freestyle.

I found a little pattern in Walmart that I LOVED and gave a nod to my favorite design aesthetic. How hard could it be? Seriously... 8 year old indonesian kids can sew up designer labels that people pay big bucks for, surely I can whip up a costume that will be only viewed as I trot/canter/buck on by the meager dressage audience. Surely.
Where are the sleeves? WTH, Alison...

It took me about three days of cutting, sewing, lining and hemming before I actually believed that I might have created something AMAZING.

Blingin', part 1
Two days later, I had embellished it with enough flair for an off broadway production.

Screw the freestyle, I'm going to ride All of my tests in this baby!
This is why Ponies buck....

For the full freestyle, please click:

 Enjoy with your speakers up on HIGH!

Trick or treat!

Monday, October 20, 2014

2014 USDF Championships.... Part 2

Show Time!
Well, since the whole point of this practically cross country drive was to show…. You would think I grabbed it with both greedy little hands.
But I rode one test a day for four days. As did Courtney. It was the easiest, most relaxed show ever…. 600+ other horses nonwithstanding.

Because Prix St Georges is so much easier than 4-3, I chose to ride PSG for my open show rides, saving 4-3 for my championship ride only.

For those of you who haven’t read it, Fourth level test three was designed by monkeys on LSD. The canter work has no rhythm and is increadibly haphazard. It’s a silly ridiculous test.
Anywho, my Thursday open show ride was easily the most accurate that I have ever ridden.  We scored a respectable 64, and I honestly don’t remember the placing or class size.  Sorry All.

My PSG championships ride was on Friday.
 Dun- dun- DUN!
Prophetic fortune cookie....
We were forward. We were powerful. We were on the very brink of control!

We might have continued our extended canter through our turn onto the centerline. We had one break in the pirouettes where I half halted a touch to hard for a canter-walk-canter pirouette transition. Other than that little flub it wasn’t a terrible, terrible test. Considering that there were ponies gleefully running through the Rolex water hazard within sight, we kept our shit together.
Cause, let’s be honest, Bucky identifies strongly with the cart horses.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention it that the National Drive was held on the same weekend.

Anywho, We earned a 65% for our less than totally-accurate-but-powerful test. And ended up 17th/50 horses. Top half! Yes! My whole show was already a success!

Saturday’s ride, also PSG was easily my best. We were less spastic, more accurate and mistake free. And we actually won a large Open FEI class! Which, of course, I treated with the dignity and blasé expected of established professionals….

That's a $1000 coffee cup, folks!
Or not.

By Sunday, let’s face it… We were all exhausted. Whoever invented four day horse shows was obviously attempting to kill the entrants. By day three the enthusiasm and adrenaline has worn off, by Day four it’s sheer perseverance. And it was our fourth level championship class.
Bucky was (slightly) tired. I was tired. But we pulled off a mistake free, if not spectacular test. We may have had moments that went full-cart horse. You never want to go full cart horse….

But we earned a ribbon! In a 30 horse Open Championship! SQUEEEEE!!!

See? See that ribbon?
SEE IT?!?!

UDSF Championships... Part 1

So... It's been a hell of a month so far. But I'm back, faithfully chronicling my horse showing saga....
Smoke detector lying on the sink.
Super legit.

Unlike the fateful Kentucky Championships of 2012, nothing went categorically and catastrophically wrong. Whew.
I had reliable and trustworthy pony  sitters at home, the truck and trailer(s) all made it to KY and back to their respective destinations. The weather held for all of my tests (not so much for Courtney's... but that's the risk you run at horse shows).

Who does this?
The seat doesn't fit the toilet!
I broke the drive down into two days, overnighting in Columbus, IN at a nice little horse motel. Bucky settled in quite nicely after his 13 hour trailer ride where in we only had to wait out on Tornado Warning. Easy, right?
The poodles and I settled into a Motel 6 one exit over. Good news is that is accepted dogs, no questions asked. Bad news is that it was just a touch shady. In true Horse show tradition, wherein my family tries to counter balance the decadence of high powered show horses with slummy hotels.  So far I've survived.

Alison, Up your game. Seriously. 
Since I stayed nice and close to the Horse park, my Day 2 drive was only 2.5 hours. I made it to the Horse Park by noon. Of course, I beat my mother and my sister there... because, why not?

 The tack stall was set up.

The horses were settled in.

The Dog Party had commenced.

Its Show Time!