Friday, May 1, 2015

Give a little back

ADT #2 was a lot of fun. I didn't compete, but I volunteered instead. As a competitor it is a good idea to volunteer once in a while to gain some inside knowledge of what goes on behind the scenes as well as what goes into putting on one of the events we enjoy. Besides all of that, you get to see everyone. The newbies in the sport, the in-between-ers like me and the people who have been at this longer than you have.

I worked the 'gate' in dressage at 'A'. As everyone went in I wished them Good luck. As they came out I told them Great job. These are things that can help settle your nerves and help you relax. A couple of people went off pattern. One woman as they came out said "That was all me." I told her "Honey, We've ALL been there. Welcome to the club. You're in Great company!" She really is.

We have ALL f'ed something up at some point. We have all made mistakes starting out. Some of us still make them now, just different kinds. lol

After dressage and cones we had a short lunch break. Then when it came time for hazards, I was elected to run the starting 'gate'. There were a few people who thought we actually did it in the order posted. Yeah, not so much. Jim was helping me out, meaning he brought the gator and somewhere to sit... He was also doing the safety checks. Some from afar, others closer in, but each present and accounted for. I learned some new faces to go with familiar names, new names and faces and familiar parts of both. Why is it in the horse world, we know people more often by their horse? You know, the woman who drives the chestnut with the big blaze... or the grey mini with black points... Yeah, her! I know who you mean now.

It was fun and I learned how to 'read' when to send the next horse in a way to keep things rolling smoothly. When it was all over and the last horse had gone, I talked Jim into driving the course on the gator. I am SUCH a bad influence! He acted like he was a bit hesitant, then he said to buckle the screen/net/door... I put the seatbelt on too. I radioed ahead that there was one more to go as we cruised towards hazard #1. We went thru the "In" gate and had NO CLUE where A was. Both of us looked around, seen it and Jim went into the Kokopelli Pipes to go thru it. We wound around to B, then C and decided we were doing Intermediate level so we finished up with D and E... As we came towards the "Out" gate, my friend Sharan was giving us the signal of shut it down- hand back and forth across the neck. Jim stopped just before the gate and she told us we went thru A the wrong way. We had E'ed out. Then the woman with the stop watch told us time was still ticking because we hadn't left the hazard yet. We bombed out in a BIG way!

So you can all see by that, there is FUN to be had at these events, whether you're competing or not. Sometimes it is more fun Not competing. The stress levels are waaaaay down. And the driving club folks? We take Really, REALLY Good care of our volunteers. Lunch, gift bags and a raffle for fun prizes, just for being there? Booyah! Sometimes you also get a T-shirt.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Touch of Class (Part 3)

Shadow and I went thru the starting line at a swift canter. As I lined him up for cones 1, 2 & 3, he picked up a little speed. The cones were set up so they led you right into Gate A of the Hazards. Coming out of Gate D, you were lined up for the next set of 3 cones. Although I had not walked the course at all, it just flowed and Shadow and I whipped our way around it.

Into Gate A at Hazard 1, straight thru B and out between the barrel and the wall to make a right hand circle back around to go thru C, then out A to make another right hand circle to go back in thru D. Out thru A to cones 4, 5 & 6 and into hazard 2. There were times I felt the cart sliding thru the turns and as before with Kat, I found myself standing on the rails of the cart, leaning my weight over the wheels to keep them on the ground.

Hazard 2 was two left hand circles. In thru A, circle around and thru B, circling around thru C, out thru D and turn left for the next 3 cones. Going thru cones 7, 8 & 9 I felt Shadow picking up speed, but since there was a slight curve to the right to make Gate A on Hazard 3, I had to slow him down. Problem was, he didn't want to. Shadow was having a blast out there too!

We made it thru Hazard 3 and I let him go whizzing out and thru cones 10, 11 & 12 because Hazard 4 was simply two right hand circles. One circle going in thru A, out thru B, widening it to go in thru C and come out of D with a straight shot to the finish line. Once we made it thru D I leaned forward and let Shadow go. I didn't have to push him or encourage him much, Shadow just dug in and took off. Once we crossed the finish line, I heard the people in the stands start to cheer. I let him make two laps of the gazebo while easing back on him to slow things down. He had done his job and as we came towards the stands I leaned forward and said "He did all the work" Peggy announced our time of 2:00:39, the fastest time and we were the winners. The cheering and clapping got really loud right about then.

I drove Shadow out the gate and back over to JoAnn. She knew he still had it and as I jumped off the cart, I went up and hugged the little guy. He had done an awesome job and we both had fun out there. As quick as that it was over and we needed to tear things down, getting it all moved out of the arena for the next classes. We all thought it went rather well and talking to Jim later, he said the people watching were thrilled watching me go thru it so fast. I told him "That's what is exciting, that's what they want to see. You gotta give them what they want and that's exactly what we did."

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Touch of Class (Part 2)

With the last class finished, ribbons handed out and horses out of the ring, we set up the last Obstacle, #3 consisting of jump standards and ground poles, dropped some cones on the ground in place, slipped the numbers and letters on things and we were set to go. Peggy, Jim and I headed into the gazebo in the center of the ring to watch, announce, time, judge and keep 'score'.

First up was JoAnn Souza with her mini who's name escapes me. I think it was Shadow??? Peggy was announcing and explained how there are two levels, training and expert. Training level can go no faster than a trot and expert they are allowed to run. JoAnn and Shadow cruised thru the course, with a little cantering here and there and turned in a time of 3:19 and change. Next up was Ann Kosin with her mini Joker(?) and they completed the course with a bit more cantering and turned in a score of 2:43 and change. Then it was time for Lisa Schultz and her mini to try their luck. Their time was also in the 3 minute range and speaking to her afterwards, her mini was getting squirrelly on her every time they headed into a cone or gate in front of the wall. He wasn't too sure about that.... Next up was Kelly with her mini and as she was coming in, I seen another club member Bretta had climbed on a cart and was warming up.

As Kelly finished up her course I made my way down out of the gazebo and over to the gate. Jim asked Peggy- "Where's she going?" As Bretta was getting ready to come in the arena, I made my way out and asked JoAnn if she still wanted me to drive the course? "Sure!" So as we quickly exchanged my hat & sunglasses for her helmet and the reins, I asked her the important question- "Does he run?"

Shadow and I got a short chance to figure each other out as Bretta went thru the course. She hadn't really walked it, just help set it up, so she managed to get lost at one point, but found her way back on course and completed it in a little over four minutes. Before we knew it, we were up.

I found out later from Jim, that as I made my way into the arena, he turned to Peggy and said "Thank God she's last!" I don't know if he was expecting me to crash thru it and tear stuff down or really ramp things up and get the crowd going but the 3 of us had a good laugh about it. As we came into the arena, Ron asked me which level we were doing? I told him, "Whatever the horse wants to do- we're doing that." We entered the arena, I saluted Jim and as he put his hat back on I seen him shake his head almost as if saying " Oh dear Lord here we go..." He blew the whistle, Shadow and I made a circle around to pick up speed and went thru the starting gate at a swift canter.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Touch of Class

Over the weekend the AMHA- American Miniature Horse Association and MHAA- Miniature Horse Assoc. of Arizona hosted their 28th annual Touch of Class Miniature horse show. Since a lot of people who are in the driving club also show their mini's in hand and fine harness, a couple of the members spoke to the show staff and offered to present a Darby during the lunch break for entertainment, but also in hopes of drawing in some new members for both the ADCS- Arizona Driving & Carriage Society and the two mini clubs.

Back in December at the ADCS club Christmas party, volunteers were asked for to help set up, drive and take down the course. We would have an hour to do it and hoped there would be enough time to get it all accomplished. Of course I volunteered to help. Having done the jump crew for a few years at the Arabian show, this was right up my alley.

Jim designed the course with a little help from the Souza's and I and it included 12 cones and 4 hazards with 4 gates in each hazard. Driving it, the course was 3 cones and a hazard, 3 cones and a hazard and so on. Originally I was asked to drive a mini and not only help organize the course, but compete too. We never really worked it all out and then the morning of, I forgot my helmet so nothing more came of it....

The lunch break wasn't until after class 44 and we were told it could be anywhere between 11:30-12:30 or as late as 12:30-1:30, so most of us arrived around 10:30 so we would all be on hand and able to help organize things to get it all in the ring and set up in as little time as possible. Set up almost Always takes longer than tearing things down. It was almost 1pm by the time they were on class 30. A few of us had slipped out to the food vendors over by the hunter-jumper show going on outside. Some of us coming from hunter-jumper backgrounds, lingered a little to watch what we could as we made our way back to the Equidome.

After finishing our lunch and discussing our plan of setting up, we flagged a lady down and asked where we were in the schedule, if there were any scratched classes and how much longer we were looking at? They were on class 33 with classes 35-40 all being scratched with no entries, so it was getting close. Since the remaining classes were all halter & in hand, I asked if we could begin setting up our obstacles and cones on the far end, hoping to give us a little more time doing so. With the green light to proceed- everyone came in the arena and started moving fence panels, cones, barrels, poles, fake trees, jump standards, putting up numbers and letters and knocking it out. A couple of the drivers started walking the course- or at least what there was of it so far.

There had been a steadily growing number of people in the stands and thru the last few classes and the announcer kept saying to stick around and watch the ADCS presentation. Personally, I think setting things up while the other classes were still going on, helped to pique the interest of everyone in the stands of "What are they going to do????"

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

In the books

Another CDE is in the books, over and done. Although I sat this one out again like last year, the girls and I did get to go watch at least a few drivers whip through the cones course. We also got to watch the awards after the cones and speak to several people we always enjoy seeing. Even though the sun was out, the wind was blowing and it was dusty. but for some reason, when you were inside the main tent, the air was still and calm.

It seems a lot of the people I know, won their classes and were happy with not only the results, but more so how the horse performed. I didn't hear of anyone E'ing out so that was good! and another lady I met at Dale Creek last fall, had her first CDE with her pony and they did really well. Well enough in fact that she didn't realize how well she had actually done. While she not only won her class, she thought she had the best dressage & cones for her class. She actually had the best overall dressage score for her level and the best overall cones score for her level respectively. Not a bad haul for the first big show with a new pony. Her husband is a good man and has a wicked sense of humor. When I asked him to extend my congratulations to her, he responded that "There will be no living with her after this"

Another competitor was in third place going into cones, but when it was all done, she had won her class as well. She was happy as well as surprised and said, "It just goes to show, it's not over until it's over." No, it's not. Which is why you always compete right up to the end and give it everything you've got. You just never know.

One thing I didn't see there was the big orange semi belonging to Gerard Paagman of Ideal Harness. Trust me, you can't miss it and he has a LOT of stuff inside, begging to be purchased and taken home... He's also a really nice guy to deal with and takes the time to speak to his customers to make sure you get what you need, it will fit properly and everything will work like it should.

Of course I had to hunt down Gary and speak to him... He did well and won his class too, driving a pair of black Morgans. It as good seeing him and then we had lunch with Jim the cones course designer & JoAnn another competitor with minis. She won her class too, so that was cool. The girls got a ton of compliments for their hair and we heard a lot of "Oh my gosh. They're really growing up." As it is, they may be 'gators in training, until they are old enough to take the reins and compete on their own... Scary thought, I know. But when the day comes, if driving is what they choose to do, I may be the one taking the back seat on the cart and being their 'gator. That would be all kinds of awesome!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Time off & time out

After our last performance at the ADT, I have been thinking about a few things in regards to the horses and mostly where Kat is involved. He deserves some time off. He's been good, done his job and put up with a lot from me as far as my driving styles for work, pleasure and competing. He needs some 'down time' and he certainly deserves a break.

His failure to fire at the ADT is uncharted territory. He's never done that and I'm not sure what the root of the problem was. There was no change in diets, routine or anything else that might make someone say, A-Ha! That's it. So I'm not sure what's up with that, but maybe he is a little burnt out on the whole game.

So then, what to do? What to do?

The girls want to ride. Period. True to his Welsh pony nature, Kat loves them and allows them to fuss over him while he just. soaks. it. all. up. They hug him incessantly. Want to brush every last inch of his body and could care less that he's shedding right now and it 'snows' brown hair with each stroke. He's always been that way. When he was a baby and still intact, my daughter used to go in his stall with a hoof pick and clean all four of his feet, brush him, dote on him and he absolutely loved it. Obviously he still does... The other night I caught one of the twins hanging off his neck with her arms wrapped around him in a big hug while she had both legs wrapped around his front legs to 'boost herself up'. He looked at me and blinked as if to say "I love this! They're awesome! Where'd you find them? Can we get more????"

So the first order of business was to get them boots. What they picked out is sparkly, pink and covered in bling. Nothing I would ever wear, but it's what they wanted so that's what they got. And damn are they cute wearing them! They also needed socks to protect their legs. A two pack each, one pink pair with horses and a blue pair with horse shoes. Jeans- they still fit into a few pairs from before, but sooner or later will outgrow them or wear them into shorts. Helmet? I still have the old one that my daughter used when she rode as well as mine and the spare I bought for having a navigator on the cart. They can use these until I find the perfect helmets for them so they're covered in this department as well.

I have asked them at different times if they want to ride English or western. Since they don't really understand the whole concept yet, I phrase it so they can. Do you want to jump or do you want to barrel race & chase cows? First they both want to do one, then the other, then it's split, then they swap and somewhere in the mix they want to be jockeys and race, so around and around it goes... For now, they are just happy to be ON a horse. No matter how big, small, spotted or not- they are thrilled that they even get to ride. I can remember that feeling.

They hold the reins while I lead Kat around and have done everything at a walk as if they were born to be up there. Both girls have let go of one rein and put their hand on their hip, then their head. Then both hands on their hips, then on their head and all the while Kat walks sedately on like a champ, never missing a beat and happy with his new job. As they progress and start to move up, then I will encourage them both to try everything- dressage, jumping, eventing, trail, saddleseat, western pleasure, barrels, penning, sorting, roping, driving, whatever, whenever, wherever, just give it a shot and see if you like it. When they figure out what they want to do, then that's what we will do.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

ADT #1

The ADT has come and gone and I have been kicking this post around in my head for a while now. Bottom line- little man wasn't firing like his normal self and we didn't exactly do so hot, all things considered.

He warmed up well enough, almost as to what is typical for him. Nothing exciting, soft on both sides, stops, turns, responsive, no fussing, no calling, nothing out of the ordinary. So when it came time to go into the ring and Kat to start his "I'm so done with this bullshit" behavior as expected, you can bet I was a bit surprised with what I got instead. He was flat and pretty much a deadbeat, throughout. the. entire. test. WTH? He just had no energy and no desire to be there, let alone, no fire under him to do anything.

Our lengthened walk? I don't recall any lengthening going on at all. None. The lengthened trot, same thing. He extended a little, but for what it was? he may as well have been doing a collected trot and only picked things up to his working trot. He just had nothing to give and wasn't putting out much effort at all. Our score was a 50. something and while it wasn't one of our best scores, it certainly wasn't the worst either. It definitely reflects that he just wasn't feelin' it.

Cones wasn't much different. Although I had him all decked out in new gear of leopard print everything- polo's, saddle pad, sleeves on the breastcollar & breeching strap and even included a helmet cover for me complete with ears (Oh yeah, it Rocked!) and wore a matching tan shirt & pants, our mantra for the day of "Channeling our Inner Cheetah" was a complete 180 of our effort. Little man wasn't channeling shit. The wind blew hard, pretty much all morning and they couldn't put balls on the cones, but the volunteers and Jim were able to tell when you hit one. We hit 4 of them! Kat just had no intentions of going fast and after whipping him once to wake him up and snap him out of his funk- he bucked and made it clear he wasn't going to be laying down any quick times on the course. All righty then.

Obstacles later on was the same thing. He had gotten plenty to drink, taken a leak, munched on his hay and hung out at the trailer, and was perky enough just being around him, but in harness he still wasn't up to it. He was flat all over again. No enthusiasm, no flash, no sizzle and definitely no pop. He wasn't giving it his all and I wasn't about to push him. He wasn't feeling it so there was no reason to ask for something that he wasn't willing or going to give.