Spare Me The Details - 2006 - 8 Years Old

Springfield, Ohio April 8-9, 2006

It was a cooooold weekend, thank goodness the facility is all indoors. They had the heat cranked up nicely, so it stayed comfortable all weekend. It wasn't a typical first show for Taylor, she actually behaved fairly well! We did showmanship on Saturday, placed somewhere in the middle of the pack. Sunday was amateur HUS - once again placed in the middle. The ride was fairly clean, if not totally smooth. We went ahead and decided to face the great equitation demons and enter eq...first time since Congress 2003! I have not shown this class since that disaster. Today was a great day for slaying dragons as we came out with a 1st and 2nd in eq...I was very proud of Taylor and myself!

Harriman, Tennessee April 14-16, 2006

Talk about opposite weekends! The temperatures hit 90 degrees in Tennessee, and Taylor decided to make this show her typical first show of the year, and act like a lunatic the first day. Everything in that arena scared her, even the people. Needless to say our rides on Friday were less than stellar! We didn't have to show Saturday so we used that day to work through the issues. Sunday rolled around and things fell together...finally! I had a super-smooth amateur HUS ride, and my Senior HUS ride was decent, if not quite as smooth. We ended up 2nd and 3rd out of 8 in amateur HUS, 3rd and 5th out of 8 in Senior HUS. The show was running late and I had an 8 hour drive home, so I opted out of waiting for the equitation class.

Edinburgh, Indiana May 20, 2006

After 10 straight days of rain, the sun finally broke through and we had a beautiful weekend. We started off the day with showmanship first thing in the morning (brrrrr...VERY cold for a morning in mid-May!)

We had a decent pattern. It was a complicated pattern with a lot of diagonal lines and pivots that had to be placed just right in order to be in line for the next maneuver. We had a very good pattern and nailed all of our elements, but lacked a little bit of sharpness, and placed somewhere in the middle of the pack in amateur showmanship out of 16. We had a 'bonus setup day' - you know, one of those moments where we trotted to the judge and Taylor stopped square...cool!

Amateur hunter under saddle went VERY smooth. IN fact, the entire weekend, Taylor was super quiet...nothing bothered her at all and she had low energy. Fun to ride, but I worry that maybe she wasn't feeling too well. Our ride in hunter under saddle was very steady and quiet, but Taylor moved a bit stiffly and really wasn't fluid in her motion. She has a chiropractor appointment on Monday, and hopefully he can loosen things up a bit for her.

We placed, once again, in the middle of the pack in amateur hunter under saddle. One judge placed us slightly higher (can't remember what, though!).

Equitation went better for us. Before the class, the judge asked us if we watched the other equitation classes, and if we could tell him the mistake everyone made in those classes. Only I knew the answer - they all ended on the wrong side of cone C! That gave me a boost of confidence, and I went in and did my pattern first. It wasn't the smoothest, prettiest pattern in the world, but we got all of our elements correct.

We did a simple lead change instead of a flying change (see photo to the right). It worked out for us in the end, as one judge placed us first out of 7. So....two eq classes, and two firsts...I am a lot more confident with this class now! I know I still have a LOT of work to do, such as catching my correct diagonal after the canter, and making smoother stops. Also on the agenda is to teach Taylor a flying lead change.

Shelbyville, Kentucky - May 27-28, 2006

Got there Friday evening, rode Taylor and she was OK, but a bit on edge since it was getting dark. We made a few rounds and called it a night.

Saturday morning had the HUS first, so I got there early in the morning and rode in the arena, she was great! I had a very good ride in my amateur HUS, placed 3rd out of 9 (grrr...couldn't scrape up one more!!!). Went in the novice eq (mainly because the ammy eq had a counter-canter circle and Taylor BUCKS at the counter canter), bummer there were only 2, but I won it LOL! Had a decent pattern. I then went in the open HUS and really shut her down waaaay too much. The judge liked to see the hunters moving big...my mistake, so I placed somewhere in the middle. Showmanship was god, got 3rd out of 9 (that dang one place outta the points again!).

Sunday was awesome - had a killer ride in the amateur HUS and moved up a place to second (half point, yippee!!!). Went in the amateur eq this time, had a hand gallop (love those!), Taylor was very well-behaved and we got 2nd out of 8 (another 1/2 point, yippee!). Then I went in the open HUS - my classes were ALL back to back, so we never left the arena! I had probably the best ide of my life until the 2nd canter. I was just cruising, had the reins thrown away and was loving life, and Taylor decided that the heat and the three classes in a row were too much and she just BLEW! She leaped into the air and started bucking and leaping. Of course I had no reins, so I spent most of my time snatching at he reins trying to pull her down. This was all behind the judge's back, and we almost got away with it, but she turned and caught us JUST as I set her down and cantered off again. We finished the class without another incident, but obviously that dropped us to the bottom LOL! Showmanship wasn't much better, we nailed our pattern until the last element - the turn and a quarter...she got a little ahead of me and felt the lead shank and totally overreacted, threw her head up as if I had yanked on her...grrrr....mares! But all in all it was a good show for us.

The best thing was Taylor handled that arena without any problem...she was a bit looky at first, but stayed in the bridle the whole time. I was very proud of her. And no, we didn't ride across the grass LOL...everything stayed on the sand (including the eq patterns). It kind of forced you to stay towards the rail. The gazebo in the center was weird...if I were the judge I would sit in it and stay out of the sun, but they stood out on the grass. The gazebo did give you a nice chance to train out of sight from the judge LOL....I tried to aim my 2nd direction canter transitions behind it.

Check out this arena!

Frankfort, Kentucky June 22-25, 2006

This week started off HOT! My truck overheated on the way down to Kentucky, my trailer got a flat tire, you name it! I haven't shown at Lakeside Arena since this same show in 2003, and it was nice to be back in familiar surroundings. Taylor was a little wired when we arrived, and she took quite a bit of work to get her settled down (not being worked in several days probably had a lot to do with it!). My first show day was Friday, I started the day with hunter under saddle, equitation, and finished with halter (ugh!) and showmanship.

Amateur Hunter Under Saddle went fairly smooth. She stayed very quiet and willing. She didn't move the greatest - her feet are a bit long and she was very tight and a little body sore from the trailer ride and the workout from the night before. We placed in the middle of the pack, which is where we belonged. Equitation went much better. We had a nice novice amateur pattern and won it under both judges! I went into the amateur equitation...it had a two-track in the pattern. Figures! used to practice two-tracks all the time and they were never asked, so I haven't worked them in a long time. Never fear, Taylor came through and did a very nice job. We ended up 3rd and 4th in amateur equitation.

I was forced to go in halter to qualify for circuit awards. Luckily the halter classes were free to those who entered riding classes, but it still bothers me to pad the class and make some easy points for the halter horses. We proudly held down last place and second-to-last in amateur mares 3 and over! Showmanship went well, placed second under both judges in the novice amateur and placed mid-to-high in the amateur. This was the debut of my new showmanship outfit that I designed and had made for me! It needs a few alterations, but it is very eye-catching and memorable, which is what I wanted.

Saturday was showmanship and halter only. As usual, we placed at the bottom of our halter classes. Showmanship went well, though not quite as well as the day before.

Sunday was Hunter Under Saddle and Equitation.Taylor was feeling much better under saddle. We had a great ride in the amateur HUS and placed 2nd under both judges!!! There was some good competition at this show, so this was quite an accomplishment for us. After the class, I was very surprised to hear that I had won the circuit championship for amateur HUS. Very cool! We won our novice equitation again under both, and won the circuit in that class. I opted not to show in amateur equitation because Taylor was getting a bit wired. Being as she was already a bit sore, I opted to give her a break.

I was packing up to leave and found out that Taylor and I had won the reserve circuit champion all-around amateur! that was very exciting for us...we won a nice lettered sheet (that is a 78"...too bad my horses wear 82" and 84"!!!).

Here are some pictures of my new showmanship outfit. I had sent the deposit in a week before Pasta needed her $2400 surgery, so needless to say I am scraping to pay for it now, but it was well worth it!

Check out her braids - gorgeous job done by the great Patrick Lee, braider extraordinaire.

Winfield, WV - July 1-2, 2006

What a HOT weekend (and why do I sound surprised, it is July, after all!). I love showing here...everything is so much cheaper and the people are much nicer. Saturday started off with showmanship. We had to back around a cone and end up lined up to trot straight at the judge. Taylor dove inward on her back much more than I had anticipated, and we ended up way off center, which killed out placing. Oh well, there's always tomorrow!

Hunter Under Saddle went awesome. Stacey got 2nd out of 8 in the Senior HUS to earn us a half point...working our way towards those elusive white papers. I topped it off by winning the Amateur HUS out of 9 with a great ride. I was thrilled!!! Immediately after this class was the novice amateur equitation. We had a decent pattern, but blew through our stop at the cone and ended up 2nd out of 3. Immediately next was the amateur equitation. Taylor was hot and tired, so you know what that means! In the middle of our pattern when I cued her to canter, she squealed REALLY loud and started bucking! I did pull her down into a trot in time (and even nailed the correct diagonal). Our railwork was a mess, and we got last place.

Sunday started off even hotter than Saturday. I laid down a super nice showmanship pattern, one of my best all year. All the elements were perfectly straight and connected seamlessly. We didn't place as well as I had hoped - 4th out of 8. Oh well, those are the breaks! Stacey once again got 2nd in Senior HUS (only 4 more points to go!). I got 2nd in our amateur HUS class, and laid down a very nice pattern to win the nov. am equitation. I opted out of the amateur equitation today since it was a pattern without stirrups and I had a feeling I would need those stirrups pretty badly after yesterday's mishap!

July is out for me due to real life (and work) getting in the way. Next on the agenda is the Kentucky State Fair in August.

KENTUCKY STATE FAIR AQHA SHOW - August 8-9, 2006 - Louisville, KY

This is a show where everything was working against us! Taylor hadn't been worked in 3 weeks, I personally hadn't ridden her since Winfield over a month ago, and to top it all off, 2 weeks ago she bruised her front soles while running in the hard pasture. We spent all of Monday and Tuesday working on her feet trying to make her comfortable...so needless to say she didn't get ridden at all. It was crazy of me to even consider showing Taylor after she had 3 weeks of zero riding, but you know me...I am definitely crazy!

By Wednesday morning (our show date) her feet were feeling better. She still wasn't moving as fluid and big as she normally does, but her limp was gone. Amazingly, she actually behaved in the classes (maybe because she knew that bucking or jumping would re-hurt those front feet???).

We ended up with an armload of ribbons for the day, though very few points (numbers were WAY down for this show...what a bummer). Showmanship was pretty good in the morning - we did a very smooth novice amateur pattern and ended up 2nd and 4th. In amateur, she stepped out of her pivot, but we nailed the hardest part of the pattern which was a tight back around a cone, and ended up 4th and 5th. Amateur hunter under saddle went well, placed 2nd under both judges. Unfortunately, there were only 4 in the class (can you believe only four in an ammy HUS class???). Senior HUS was fairly smooth, 2nd and 4th in that class. Novice amateur equitation was a decent pattern, though we did our lead change a bit late and that hurt us - 2nd and 4th in that class. I went back in the amateur equitation class which had a much more difficult pattern (hand gallops, lead change, 2-point position at the trot, etc.). We did better on this pattern, ended up first under both judges...sadly there were only 2 in the class! Taylor waited until the very last class of the day to win me my ballcaps and a new halter for Corky. The halter is red...yucky looking on Corky so Taylor will inherit it and Corky will end up wearing one of Taylor's old halters from past Kentucky State Fairs (I have 4 of them put away :-] ).

All in all it was a good show. I was relieved that Taylor was sound enough to show, disappointed that she wasn't 100% in her movement, but overall pleased with her attitude and behavior. LOL, I sound like a parent, don't I?

Stacey giving me some last-minute advice before amateur showmanship.

The twins get to spend some time brushing Taylor...and all three loved every minute of it!


Well, it was a good show for what little we were able to show. Remind me yet again that I should never ever travel 5 hours to a show that does not have an indoor arena or covered pen!

Saturday we started the morning with Amateur Showmanship. We had a killer pattern, very smooth and correct. Good enough...we won the class! I felt very good - the first win for my new showmanship outfit!

Next came the Amateur HUS. Taylor still doesn't feel right. She is just not striding out, and is quicker-legged than normal. I am worried that her front-leg problems may be more than just stone bruises. We did average in that class, placed in the middle (though we did have a very nice, quiet ride!).

Novice Amateur Equitation went well...I had the smoothest pattern that I've had all year. Taylor made a mistake she never makes - took the wrong lead on the rail! We must have gotten away with it, because we won the class. Oh well, I will accept that gift as payment for all the times I have been screwed in the show ring LOL!

We went back in Amateur Equitation. Just as we walked up to the cone to start our pattern, the heavens opened up and it pouredrain. I am talking a downpour! We actually did a very good pattern considering the rain was pelting us. I was very very happy with Taylor - she could have used this as an excuse to get fired up, but although she was not happy about the rain, she held it together for a nice pattern. We didn't place very well, though...but more important to me was the fact that Taylor listened to me rather than what she wanted to do. I am feeling a tiny bit better about showing equitation at Congress now (although I am SURE we will get our butts stomped!).

Unfortunately it stormed all afternoon, then again the next morning. We loaded up and left by 9:30am, so we didn't show at all on Sunday. I am letting Taylor rest her feet for about 3 weeks until our next show. The vet is coming out yet again tomorrow to check her...fingers crossed it is nothing major!


It's been a long break for us in between shows. We have been dealing with this mystery lameness of Taylor for several months now. What we thought was sole bruising ended up to be a spur on her coffin joint. We had her injected, and it has been taking a long time for her to feel better.

She has moments of feeling good, and then moments where she is limping. Luckily, this weekend she seemed very good, and felt good. At first she acted a bit sore Saturday morning, but then came out of it was was playing on the longe line and acting like her normal self. We went into amateur showmanship and had a great pattern, very smooth and connected, and won the class! This made point #25, which means we are officially out of novice in showmanship. I didn't do hunter under saddle just in case she was sore, we just did the amateur equitation. I think it was one of my best equitation classes ever - the pattern and the railwork went smooth and even and it felt like a 'machine' ride! We won the class, and I was thrilled!

On Sunday, Taylor was feeling and looking great. Our showmanship was good, though we didn't fully complete our turns, and ended up 3rd. We went into amateur hunter under saddle, and had a great ride (though our canter transition to the right was a little ugly) and got 2nd. We had a wilder ride in equitation - when the pattern said 'hand gallop' we really galloped! But the judge must have liked that, because we won the class. I am feeling a lot more confident after two great days of showing.

I brought Taylor home so I can ride and prepare for Congress in just 3 weeks!!! I can't believe it is that soon.

Novice Amateur Showmanship

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

We started off the morning with Novice Amateur Showmanship. This is my last novice showmanship class EVER, since I have pointed out this year...so I hoped to make it a good one!

We started off the morning with Novice Amateur Showmanship. This is my last novice showmanship class EVER, since I have pointed out this year...so I hoped to make it a good one!

Starting our pattern - we trotted in a diagonal line to and around the cone....

We did it - ended up straight in line like we practiced! Next, we stopped halfway to the judge and performed a 360 degree pivot.

This is where our mistake happened. Taylor made the most elementary of mistakes - stepped out of her pivot. I don't think she has done this all year, probably has not done this in several years! She wasn't being bad or misbehaving, she just got a little off balance (the ground was pretty churned up from 7 splits of exhibitors doing a 360 pivot in the same spot) and took about a 6 inch step with her pivot foot. It was just a mistake...we all make them (including our horses)

After the pivot, we walked straight to the judge and set up. Taylor was OK on the set up, moved a foot briefly at the beginning but put it right back. She was fascinated by the crowd of people watching her...normally showmanship doesn't attract quite that much attention at the shows! After the inspection, we did a 90 degree pivot...

...and backed up past the cone. Taylor's back was fairly straight. The back with her is always iffy...it's usually straight but sometimes if she isn't concentrating on me, she will drift one direction or another. This time I kept her attention focused (as much as I could).

After the back, we trotted away and out of the arena.

One small mistake in a class of 200 means you don't get called back. Oh well...at least Taylor behaved and did most of the pattern accurately!

Watch a video of our pattern

On to our next class...amateur showmanship....

Amateur Showmanship

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

I hadn't practiced much of the Amateur Showmanship pattern. This pattern called for a large curved backing maneuver and I didn't want this to screw up our straight back in the novice class. We did about 45 seconds of backing practice out on the concrete outside of the show arena before we went in. The rest of the pattern was fairly straightforward...but the novice class taught me that nothing can be taken for granted when dealing with horses!

We started with a beautiful setup at the cone, and trotted off to the second cone.

Here comes the tough part - backing in a curve to the left (a blind backup!) and ending up centered in between the two cones.

We ended up about 6 inches off center. I was pretty happy with that - that's a lot better than I thought we would do! After the back, we trotted halfway to the judge, stopped, and performed a 360 pivot. Taylor nailed it this time! After the pivot, we walked to the judge (ring steward) and set up for inspection.

We had one of those instant setups. Taylor only had to move one foot about an inch and she was perfect. I love it when she sets up herself! After inspection, we did a 90 degree pivot and walked away and out of the ring.

6 inches off center is enough to knock you out of world-class competition. I was happy with how we did, with so little practice on that element of the pattern. Taylor stayed so well behaved, even with the cheering and clapping going on in the arena! That alone is a GREAT thing!

Watch a video of our pattern:

On to equitation......my last class....

Novice Amateur Equitation

Saturday, October 21, 2006

This was the class I had worked all year towards. Many many days of working out to become stronger and many many practice sessions all alone after work every day. I was determined to remove the memory of the debacle of the 2003 Congress equitation class (click here for the story). I have not shown equitation since 2003 until this summer...I wasn't mentally ready to tackle the class again until now! We were in split #2 out of 5. Luckily (thanks, Ken!) we were able to be first to go in our pattern, so Taylor didn't have to stand around getting antsy.

We started off with an extended sitting trot to the first cone. I pushed Taylor into a nice working trot...no cheating western jog for us!

We picked up a left diagonal at the first cone and continued trotting to the second cone. I had a good feel for her stride and nailed the correct diagonal without looking...yes! This was something I worked on a lot - picking up my diagonals right at the cone just from feel. I generally am good at my diagonals, but you know there are always those moments where you just make mistakes or nerves cause your brain to malfunction! Luckily tonight wasn't one of those times.

At the cone, we did a 180-degree turn on the forehand to the right...nailed it without moving the pivot foot (Taylor was trying to make up for her step on the pivot in showmanship!).

After the turn, we trotted to and around cone 1 and in between cone 1 and 2. The trick was stepping off into a trot from the stop, and picking up the diagonal immediately without looking on the first trot stride. This was also something we worked a lot on. I did so much of this at home, I actually could tell which diagonal to prepare to take by the way Taylor's muscles moved in preparation to trot off!

At the second cone, we picked up a canter on the right lead, and cantered to the third cone, stopped, and backed.

I was very happy with the pattern. It wasn't perfect (the canter depart was a tad early, and our stop was a bit sloppy) but all the parts I worked on fell into place and Taylor was excellent! Then was the long wait...waiting until all other horses in my split finished their pattern and they called out the finalists from the split. Waiting and waiting and waiting...and finally they made the announcement, and we did it! We made it to the finals!!!

Now came the tough part - mentally preparing for the part of the class that completely blew up on me 3 years ago. We had to complete the railwork and we had to do it cleanly. All I wanted was to have Taylor go through the railwork quietly and behave! It didn't have to be perfect, but it had to be totally under control and smooth. And I had to get my own emotions under control and stop remembering how it felt to get pulled into the center in the middle of the finals' railwork at Congress because my horse was bucking and running...

We trotted into the ring easily, and I could tell immediately that Taylor was in a good, responsive, quiet mood. I think I smiled the entire first lap of the arena! Soon, they called for everyone to do a sitting trot, and we trotted, and trotted, and trotted, and trotted...my legs were burning (thank goodness for all those workouts!). I was a bit irked at some of the competitors who slowed their horses down to a western jog to make it easier, and then hung out towards the center to be seen. That made it difficult to maneuver my big-moving horse around the traffic and still look steady.

Finally they called for a canter. We cantered for a while, and then it was down to a walk and line up. We did it!!!!!!! We made it through the railwork, Taylor was wonderful!

Though we didn't place, I left the arena on a high - it felt SO good to work towards a goal all year and then accomplish it! I was very proud of Taylor.

Watch a video of our pattern: