Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Start with a list

The whole mix up on my part in the show dates kind of threw me a curve. I admit, it got me thinking, but it is also a good reason to double check, well enough in advance of when, where and what time you are supposed to be there. Planning is good and helps make everything run smoothly.

Knowing the show is about two weeks away, where do I start? I make a list of things I will need and things that would be nice to have, but aren't totally necessary. The type of show you are attending is a factor when considering this. This is a schooling show. They are fun, a bit more of a relaxed atmosphere, but we all want to look like we not only belong there, but like we hope to do well. Besides, this is a starting point of bigger and better things to come later on.

My pony has been getting worked and is coming into shape nicely. He is due for a trim so he will be getting one before the end of the week. Check the schedule of when your horse was trimmed or shod last and plan to have this done before the last minute. I like to have a week or more of 'flex time' before the show in case anything comes up and needs to be addressed.

Since we are only going for the in hand classes, I will be cleaning and oiling his bridle as well. Checking it for any thin spots, cracking, the stitching, the buckles, wear points, the bit for smoothness, etc. Not all that tough but maybe a little time consuming. While I have the oil and leather cleaner out... I may as well clean and oil my dress boots, on the chance that I end up showing in breeches and all.

I will need to go through the trailer and check for hoof polish and other supplies as needed. It is a good time to fold up, put away and clear out things I won't need or be using at the show. Horse trailer tack compartments can easily become a 'catch all'. It happens to a lot of them and ours is not immune.

Cleaning it out give me a place to change clothes, room for a cooler with drinks and snacks and makes everything easy to find. The way it looks right now? Well let's just say I'm sure ours isn't the only one and it's a good thing there is no competition or judging on the tack compartments of exhibitors horse trailers.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Back on track

A good friend of mine has been showing recently. For her area it seems they are winding things down and wrapping it all up for winter. She has hit a few small shows and done pretty well. She is happy with where things have gone, seen room for improvement and welcomed suggestions on ways to improve in hopes of doing better in the spring. Lucky for her, our show season is just getting started. She can relax and take notes so when spring time comes, she can come out guns a blazing and knock 'em dead.

I am planning to take my little guy to the schooling show next month. Funny that it will be here in what- two days? I had it in my mind that their September show was on the 19th. Good thing I just checked- it's not! It's on the 11th. Fast forward everything a bit there. I also downloaded a class list as well as filling out and printing the entry form. I like the kind you can fill out before you print. It saves a lot of trouble in misspellings and/or mispronounced names. No guessing if that is a 3, 5, 6 or an 8...

I like to print out 2 copies of the class list. One to keep in the trailer when you get there and one to keep with any ribbons you may win. I also like to make notes on the back- how many were in the class, any comments the judges may have had and of course, paired with the ribbon as a reminder of how we did. I also like to note on there- what kind of horses won. It's all good to look back on and see what you can fix and what to ignore.

Since the upcoming show date is right around the corner, I have to get after it and get everything in line. Starting with the trailer- the wasps have vacated the nest and I knocked it down the other night with the hose. I have to locate the little mans' bridle tonight and give it a good cleaning and a once over to check the buckles, keepers holes, straps and that everything is in place, in order, etc. I can't really show him in his driving bridle with the blinkers and all.

I also have to dig out my show clothes. Since we will be going into a halter class and a SHIH (Sport Horse In Hand) class, I have a few slight options. Almost two different dress codes in a way, but right now I have to try it all on and see what fits. That may be the one thing that dictates what I decide to wear. I haven't been in the ring since before the girls were born. This should be interesting. Better bust out the refreshments and lawn chairs...

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Mindless Musings

So the pony Kat has been getting a break. I have't done a lot with him. I pulled him out last week, dusted him off, tacked him up with the harness and drove him around like we have been doing it all along.

Last night I pulled him out to let him graze a little before turning him out. He's such a pudgy little booger, but he stood quietly snarfin up all he could as fast as he could, thinking I would take him aways from it. When I leaned over his back and started talking to him, he slowed down in his persuit of inhaling the grass. After a while I took him up to the front pasture and cut him loose.

Find a pile of poop, roll in it, jump up, do a few acrobatic moves, take off at light speed and do several laps. He is such a clown. I had dumped the water tub so when he realized I was still within the fence with him, he came over and nudged me. Bumped me with his shoulder to insist I scratch his itchy spots. So I did, then stopped and stepped away. When he realized I had stopped, he looked at me like "WHAT? You STOPPED?" He stepped closer and nudged me again. It's a game we play.

Me- Scratch, stop, step back, stand, and wait.
Him- Look, step closer, nudge, wait for the scratches...

While I scratch him he arches his neck and bites the air. To the point you hear, Chomp, Snap, Chomp, Chomp, Chomp, Snap, Chomp. He makes faces too, but mostly he bites the air.

Aruba has gotten some time off too. I was waiting for the farrier to come, then it has become a pile of getting after other things that haven't been getting done. Life gets in the way sometimes. It happens to a lot of us. Playing a game of "catch up" makes you think how much you dislike doing ___________ so that's probably why you haven't for a while. But now it is twice the work and you dislike it even more. Talk about a vicious cycle...

I had her going in the long lines and then the last time, just as we were about to quit for the day anyhow, one of the rings came off. I have had the surcingle for about 20 years. It was about due anyways. Now we just switch over to using the saddle and keep at it. But she's been off for a while, so she will get turned out before we go back to work. Maybe a few days of just lunging.

There is a show coming up next month. I will be taking the little man, if only for halter and the sporthorse in hand classes. It will be nice getting back into the ring with him. He's a lot of fun to show and isn't FUN what it's all about?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Discriminating or demented?

Often in life I have said "Horses are not a hobby they are a way of life." For some of us they are. We live, breathe and think of everything for the horse. We often overlook things for ourselves in order to provide the best we can afford for our horses. It's craziness I tell ya. Pure craziness. But where does it stop?

A few years ago at the Scottsdale Arabian show I was introduced to the magic of orthotics. The $250 price was a bit steep for something that was off the shelf and not custom made so I passed. I found a store brand for a much cheaper price $10 and gave them a shot. They made a huge difference in a lot of things for me. My knees, hips and lower back no longer ached and I could stand for long periods of time again. It really gave me a good sense of insight into how a horse feels and moves when they are trimmed right and all the hoof angles are correct.

Lately I have been looking online for a new pair of boots. My current pair are seriously on their way out. I was looking at a few of the different websites and I happened to notice something. A lot of the boots are not 'balanced' looking. The toe sticks up a bit, the inside of the boot where the ball of the foot sits, is up or down and visa-versa on the outside... leaving the impression that the foot bed is twisted. Some of the boots it was really obvious, others more subtle, but it was still there.

My main question here is this. Knowing how much information is out there, how much has gone into studying the effects of how a horse is trimmed and/or shod and how it affects their soundness... Do the boot companies seriously NOT think we would apply the same balance issues to our own footwear?

I really like the looks of this boot

in roughout leather and if it weren't for the fact that mine would only look this nice for a short time, I may be so inclined to buy a pair. But this is a great example of what I am talking about. On the left hand side of the screen, (in the link) there is alternate views of these boots, scroll over them to view. The 3rd one down shows the boots from the front.

Look at the foot bed and notice how it seems to sit higher on the inside and lower on the outside? Go to the 5th one down, a view of the back of the boot. Look at the foot bed and how it sits in comparison to the shaft & heel of the boot.

Put a ruler up to the computer screen if you need to or scroll down and use the bottom of the screen as your straight line for a guide. Notice anything else? Like the narrow width of the heel area and how the shaft seems to widen out more...

Even the Ariat's in the $50-$100 price range seem to do this. The outside of the foot bed seems to sag and the inside tilts up.

At least this pair is straight through the heel area and the shaft of the boot.

The Durango's at $100, also had the same twisted problem and the outside of the boot seems to 'blow out' and lack some support.

There was one pair I liked until I looked closely at the heel of the boot. It was wedged towards the toe. Kind of like putting a wedge pad on a horse who doesn't seem to grow enough heel. In the horses' case you do it to balance things out and raise their comfort level. In the case of the boots, I'm not sure I have heard of anyone yet who can't grow enough heel to stand correctly balanced. ???

click on the picture for the whole thing.

I also like this pair of Justin's for $120, but from the front- same thing.

Then there's these boots for $170- same thing.

They are kinda fun and funky looking. With the right outfit... whatever that may be?

Nice thing about Sheplers, you can shop by price range. I looked through the boots listed in the $200-$300 and Over $300 price ranges. I can honestly say there were quite a few boots that caught my eye and made me think Wow! and a few other things too. But not so much in a good way or because I liked them.

Now I realise, these are only photos of one boot. I also realize camera angles may either play up or down the intensity of the amount of 'twist' in the actual boot photographed. The pair you try on and buy, may not be 'tweaked' like the boot in the photos. But unless you look at them closely in the store when you try them on- maybe they are all like that. To the boot makers- if this is the best you have- why take photos like this of your work? Not a good way of representing your company, is it? Are the footwear companies making their boots & shoes this way to help other businesses along? My ________ aches so I will seek comfort through chiropractors, pain meds, etc..... Do they hope we buy unbalanced for our own feet, yet we expect balanced feet for our horses?

Where our own comfort and 'soundness' comes into play, our shoes make a huge difference in how we stand, how our weight is distributed and how long before we sit down complaining of soreness, achy joints and "Oh my aching feet!" Equine events are usually known for long hours of standing around, miles of walking to the trailer, concession stands, entry booth, bathrooms, the in gate, stand on the rail during the class, run up to the judges stand, back and forth, back and forth and it never fails, whenever you need to get to one- it is at the other end of the showgrounds from where you are. The right pair of shoes will either make or break you day. Keep that in mind the next time your farrier comes out to trim or shoe your horse.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Roll the DICE

The other day when I was going out to work my horse, (or was it the pony?) I thought of a simple thing to make sense of the way I try to make everything I do, COUNT!

None of us have unlimited time during the day to get everything done that we'd like to. None of us have countless hours to do as we please and hope someone else will take care of the ___________ for us. But there is something we can do to make quick work of what may seem like an endless, loathsome chore. Getting something done that will leave us time for more enjoyable things- things we actually WANT to do...

Stop for a second. Remember to take a deep breath and 'Roll the DICE'.

At horse shows this works for riders, grooms and trainers alike. Anyone who has been to a show to compete or assist a friend, knows without a doubt, a horse show can be a grand display of organized chaos at it's best. Hurry up and wait. Everyone is doing things at a fast pace, trying to squeeze it all in, stuff it, pack it, cram it all together and do as much as they can to be ready for their class... Get the horse into the ring, the gate closes and now the pressure is all on the rider/handler/driver.

Once the class is over you can go back to the barn and feel the sense of 'let down'. Everything has slowed down, everyone is relaxed, you can breathe again, maybe laugh a little. The pressure is off now so you joke around some. It's sure a lot different feeling, isn't it?

One way you can change how things go throughout the day is to take a deep breath and Roll the DICE. Make every move you make, count!

Calculated-Confident and

DICE for short if you will.

Be Deliberate in what you do. Pay attention and make 1 stroke of the brush instead of three to clean the same area. Dip your applicator into the hoof polish and swipe it around the coronet band letting the polish run down the hoof covering as much as it can in one pass instead of smearing it up and down, around and around leaving streaks...

Make Intentional movements and strokes. Do things to attain a desired affect not willy-nilly and hap hazard. Did you mean to put this on there that way or did it just end up like that?

Calculated movements made with Confidence provide better results. They just do and not by accident.

When you start being Deliberate, Intent, make Calculated moves with Confidence, your work becomes incredibly streamlined and Efficient. You accomplish a lot more, a lot faster, with greater ease and ability. You gain a new level of pride in your work, the endless daunting tasks, seem to get done in no time at all and you are free to go do fun stuff sooner.

Rolling the DICE works for riding too. Take a deep breath, Roll the DICE and apply it in the saddle. Make clear, Deliberate, Intentional, Calculated & Confident, Efficient cues to your horse. You might be amazed how they respond. Enjoy it. You will notice you're smiling because you can't help it.

People around you may wonder what's going on. Tell them you gamble a lot, take a deep breath and Roll the DICE.