Saturday, March 16, 2013

Back On Cows


Grace and I attended a sorting clinic today followed by a jackpot sorting. This is something I’ve been looking forward to for the last two weeks. It’s been far too long since I’ve had the mare on cows. I knew how much she loved it, but I had forgotten just how much I loved it. I believe I am on the cusp of one of those grown up moments where I might just decide to change my path when it comes to where I spend my horse show dollars. If I could sort cows every weekend right now I would. Horse shows – not so much.
I should step back for a moment and explain I’m not bashing horse shows here. I enjoy showing and it gives me goals to train towards. Horse shows - specifically multiday breed show formats are cost prohibitive and time consuming. I have a job that I find difficult to walk away from. I supposed I have some control issues I need to let go of so I can take more time off, but I actually love what I do at the office 50 hours a week. I currently have 180 hours of paid time off that I have yet to use. For the first time in my life my job is more to me than a means to pay the hay bill. I have entered the grown up world of the career. This week was especially intense at the office and included more than one 6:00am – 5:00pm work day. Luckily it was the first week of daylight savings time so I still had the chance to ride. By Friday afternoon my brain had turned to mush, yet I was still looking forward to the sorting clinic on Saturday. I cannot say the same for a horse show. I love shows, but there are times that they just seem like more work. Last year the only vacation days I took were for horse shows, which were more or less working vacations. I remember being mentally exhausted at the end of a 5 day show only to go back to work the next day. When the grown up inside my head adds up the cost of a multiday show, I am almost sick to my stomach. Entry fees and stall are only a part of the equation, trainer’s fees, fuel, food, extra shavings and a place to stay all add up. I am incredibly fortunate to show with a group that feeds me well and a trainer that shares her LQ trailer space with me. Still I have to wonder what the purpose of dropping that kind of money on a horse show is. Can I really justify the expense? These are the thoughts that have been bouncing around in my head since last August.
Today for 6 hours I forgot all about my intense week at work and I smiled to the point that my face hurt. The event was low key and the people I met were all genuine. The clinician did a wonderful job with the entire group, instilling confidence in everyone. My little mare was so comfortable being back on cows, she was very much in the zone. Grace locked in on each cow I pointed her at and didn’t let up until she either pushed it out the gate or time was up. Our team had the best round with 5 clean cows. The flow of that run was incredible. We were 3 man sorting and my team members and I came up with a plan on how we would round robin. We also talked to each other the entire time which kept us in the groove. Every time I get Grace on cows I see all of our arena work come to fruition. We are not undoing our training while sorting; we are actually using it. Grace was so light and soft in the bridle today. I rode in a snaffle and only had to guide her. She stayed calm and cool and she just had the neatest workman like attitude. There was no questioning me or sass, we were a team getting a job done together. I might enjoy horse shows more if we could follow a cow around the arena. Oh wait, I think that call that class working cow. Hmmmmm……..


Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Finer Points of Hair Care

Grace's mane and I are at a bit of a stand off. It doesn't look any longer to me than it did a the end of the summer. I wash and condition it weekly if the temperatures will allow. It looks beautiful the day after I wash it, but give it two days of pasture living and it is a frizzy muddy mess. I've braided it in the past, but I always took the braids out after a day because I couldn't stand how messy they would look at the top. I know all the reiners and barrel racers are doing it, but the messy braids bothered me more than the frizz. I spent some quality time with Google searching for long mane care tips and I learned that just like in human hair care it is all about the product. More than one long mane aficionado brought up Bio Silk Silk Therapy at the tune of $25 a bottle, which Walmart carried for less. I wasn't thrilled at the idea of spending more than $20 for my horse's hair product, but maybe if I added to the grocery bill my husband wouldn't noticed that I skipped buying toilet paper that month.

Then I lucked out! Right under the shelve with the high end brand name hair products where the "Compare to, Same As" hair products. I found SilkWorks for $9 and it promised to be just as wonderful as BioSilk. The instructions claim it can be used on wet or dry hair and can be used on skin. I tested it on my own hair first; it removed all tangles, gave it a silky smooth texture and tamed annoying fly aways. I then tried it on my skin, which absolutely loved it. I ended up back at the store a week later to buy my own bottle. Don't tell Grace that I used hers first!

For Grace's mane I've learned that she does better with the braids if I but them in after the mane is dry. If I braid it wet she shakes her head slapping them against her neck. I've always kept the top of the braids loose so the hair doesn't get pulled out. I add the Silk Works product to Grace's mane while it is still wet and then again to each section before I braid it. I like it better than Cowboy Magic Detangle and Shine. The Silk Works isn't sticky and it doesn't seem to attract dirt.

Here the braids are still going strong a few days later. I didn't feel the need to pull them all out. I've been told the the reason for braiding is to keep the mane from getting tangled. Grace's mane doesn't get the chance to get tangled because I brush it daily. I would imagine the braids will help it grow as it will keep me from obsessively brushing it.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Look Ma No Spurs!

I’ve been without my spurs for two weeks now and I’m pretty darn pleased with the improvement. I have a much happier horse who has become even more of a joy to ride. The first few days were rough; there were times when I felt like I was learning to ride all over again. The lope transition was especially frustrating; it seems my previous cue involved the  nailing my horse with my outside spur while popping her in the mouth with the inside rein. It’s a wonder that sweet mare doesn’t pile drive me into the ground. I can see now why she grunted and swished her tail going into the lope.

At my last lesson Sarah got on me about my inside rein. It was very busy; when I wasn’t hanging on it I was annoying my horse with it. I finally figured out how to use my leg where I thought I needed the inside rein. I am getting an idea of what it feels like to “bring the horse to the bit” as opposed to bringing the bit to the horse. I’ve also started fixing things at the walk. Grace tends to anticipate upward transitions by sucking back and lifting her head. I used to just push her through it up to the next gait, but now I take a soft square hold and push her up at the walk. We don’t jog until I have the quality walk with her back lifted and her shoulders up. The lope is getting there; I feel like I am being asked to chew gum, pat my belly, rub my head, and do algebra at the same time at the lope. Keeping my leg on is still counter intuitive but I am getting better. When I watch the video I see so many things that I could improve on, which is the point of filming my ride. Before I get too hard on myself I have to remember that I am doing this with no spurs and in a snaffle. I know one horse that is very happy about that.