Saturday, September 18, 2010

Looking for Improvement

It's been three weeks since Mercy got hurt after being chased down by Starlett. The swelling in her leg is most likely gone, but every now and then I think I can still feel some there. She has been trotting sound in straight lines, but ask her for any lateral maneuvers and she gets a slight head bob going. This past week I was directed to try riding her at a walk for up to 20 minutes. I got a few rides in, but we mostly just moved from grass patch to grass patch. I am going to have the vet out again this coming week to see if we can pinpoint the location that is causing the most problems for her and to discuss some possible rehab options.

Until then, we are trying to stay out of the rain and trying to stay positive.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Decision Time

August 15th had arrived. Actually, I had forgotten about this show until 2 or 3 days before it was scheduled! I missed the pre-registration deadline so I had to just show up a little early and register at the show. The show started at 7Am... they pushed the start time up because at their last show they had so many participants that it didn't end until 9PM!
I actually almost decided not to go. The weather was suppose to be near 100* that day and the venue, Bridle Trails State Park, was located close to 2 hours north of us. This meant we needed to leave by 4:30AM at the latest to make it there in time to pre-register and have time for warm up. Plus, we had never been to this facility! We wanted extra time, just in case. I also hadn't practiced reining at all since our last reining show last May!!! Between work, injuries, truck issues, and the lack of a decent arena, we hadn't done much other than spins in the pasture.
Anyway, I decided to go. This was the show that would decide if Mercy and I were going to continue reining. If she was absolutely not going to have any of it, and if it was no longer fun for me, then I would never ask her to do it again. I decided that this show was going to be the one to decided it all the day our vet came out and did the x-rays. Reining is hard on horses, both beautifully conformed and not, and if Mercy was ouchy or not having fun like I did, then I was not going to push it ever again. She could just trail ride.
Luckily, Mercy loaded right up and we were on the road on time. We were worried about parking because it has always been said that that facility had little of it. In fact, the reining club had parking attendants there at 6AM to make sure every one's rig fit. We had no problem finding BT and there was plenty of parking, at least at that time in the morning.
I jumped out and quickly unloaded Mercy while my mom headed over to the show office to turn in my papers and check. I didn't bathe Mercy the night before (again) because she sleeps in sawdust, which sticks to her no matter what. So why? I groomed her really good, tacked up, and headed over to the warm up pen to get a closer look at the grounds.
After walking through the trail that leads from the parking area to the riding arenas, I saw that there were actually three arenas. There were two warm up arenas and the main arena. I climbed aboard Mercy and headed into the warm up arena attached to the main arena. I took my time asking her to bend and flex, maintaining a calm mind and attitude. After trotting a few circles of various sizes, I noticed that the main arena was open to the riders to warm up. Bonus!

We were able to carry that light feel into the arena even though giant umbrellas, banners, and announcers systems were all going up and causing lots of distraction. Mercy was easily able to pick up her leads and not once did she threaten to buck. That nice calm warm up really does prepare Mercy to lope off smooth and easy.

We loped to the left for a while and then switched to the right. We completed maybe 2 full circles and then all of a sudden there must have been 20+ riders in the arena! I am so glad to have a horses that can be loping circles in one direction and not even blink an eye when someone loping in the other direction basically rubs stirrups with us as we pass each other. We switched to the left one more time to check out our lead changes and then took a break in the center of that circle. I spun Mercy each way a few times once she aired up and then guided Mercy out of the arena. It was almost time to show and I need to change clothes still! Mercy was sporting her new red and tan zig-zag saddle pad:

They packed in the trailers like sardines, but no one had an issue with it. I just tied Mercy up to the end of the trailer so she had plenty of room to maneuver, if necessary.

The show started at 8AM sharp. And it was already almost 80*. We were draw 4 in our first class- Beginner A. I didn't practice much before the class. I wanted to take this class slow and just use it as a schooling class, taking it seriously but if she needed to spook at something or act up then it was fine to break pattern to fix it while it wasn't a real pattern. Here's how it the modified pattern went:
Left spins : -1/2
Right spins: -1/2
Left circles: -1/2
Lead change: 0 and penalty: -1
Right circles: 0
Stop: -1/2
Back: -1/2
Our score was a 67.5! She did great actually. We had no reason to break pattern so I made the effort to improve upon certain maneuvers throughout the run. I wanted to make our large, fast circles just that. Large and fast. Same with our small, slows. Mercy was actually pretty lazy and getting her to move out was a challenge. We got the penalty on the lead change because she didn't change. I had a hard time getting her to trot and try the lead again, so by the time we got the correct lead we were already almost all the way around the first circle...
Anyway, we ended up tying for 3rd out of 7 exhibitors! What a great start! We headed back to the trailers to get some water and take a break. Our next class was more than an hour away. I tied Mercy up, gave her the last of her hay, and headed back to the arena to go watch the other exhibitors. On my way there I took some pictures of the grounds. Here's leaving the parking area to the arenas, the log you have to cross, and the trail:

Here's the first warm up arena looking out to the main arena, grand stand, and club house:

To the left is the other arena we used for warm up and some used for lunging:

Here's the seating area and club house:

After taking a few pictures of the other riders, I headed back to the trailer. The morning light was still low and glowing, so I snapped a pic or two of our saddle. It seems way to simple, but I love it:

Since our first class went to well, I made the mistake of not taking the time to warm Mercy up for our second class- Beginner B. I honestly thought we would just go into the arena and do our thing the best we could. Well, Mercy had other ideas. Those two or three lope laps around the warm up didn't do much for her. I will let our score speak for itself:
Left spins: -1/2
Right spins: -1/2
Right circles: 0 and penalty: 2 1/2
Left circles: 0 and penalty: 4
Left rollback: -1
Right rollback: -1
Stop and back: -1
With a total of 59.5. Ouch. I honestly don't know why I got so many penalty points on our circles, but we did. My mom recorded the whole run and I just don't know enough about the scoring to comment anymore on it. I do know what happened on our rollbacks though! Mercy forgot how to stop! LOL! It didn't help that we were pointed toward the arena gates when we needed to stop, but that's not a good enough excuse. Then, she refused to do a rollback. It was more of a walk in a large circle, then eventually trot into a trot. Argh! Mare! We ended up with 8th place out of 16, so we didn't come in dead last, but it sure felt like it.
So, instead of going back to the trailer for another break, she got to work for her break. The warm up arena not attached to the main arena was empty so we headed over there and worked on our stops and rollbacks. First I just worked on getting her to stop without me having to rip her head off. once she could stop off my voice and seat pressure, we took a short rest in the arena. When I asked her once again to stop after our break, and she did, I added in the rollback. And guess what? She was right with me. We didn't have to work on that very long and she got the hint that we not here to goof around.

By the time we were done in the arena, it was almost time for us to go into our next class- Beg. horse/ Non-pro rider. We were draw 6 and had to quickly do a few practice spins because we were up next. Good thing I wasn't too worried about that maneuver. Here's how we did:
Right spins: -1/2
Left spins: -1 and penalty: 1/2
Left circles: -1/2
Right circles: -1/2 and penalty -6
Right rollback: -1/2
Left rollback: -1/2
Stop and back: -1/2
And another score of 59.5. I still don't know what happened on the right circles to rack up that many penalty points. Some day I will have to show the video to someone who understands this more than I do. Her stops and rollbacks felt amazing though! I was so pleased with her change! I even lost my hat during the run and she could have cared less. Thank goodness!
After grabbing a hot dog for lunch, at 11 AM, we packed up and headed out. One hour south of BT it was over 95*! I am so glad I ride the morning classes! The rest of the riders and workers were real troopers!
So, except for my first class, our scores were not very good compared to our May show. Well, at least there wasn't any improvement in our training. Oh well. I knew that already. Mercy never really acted out at the show, so unless I get absolutely zero riding time this winter and spring, I plan on reining in the future with Mercy. I will keep you updated on her injury progress and future fun!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Another Delay...

I honestly have no motivation to blog right now because Mercy got hurt two weekends ago, but I thought I would write a quick update. Basically Star attacked Mercy while they were in the pasture and in the process of her trying to get away, Mercy fell. When she got up she was lame on her front right leg. It swelled up pretty good and was obviously painful. It has now been 10 days and she is still on paddock rest, but she is no longer getting bute daily or having to be cold hosed. Those are great signs.

Anyway, I will get around to writing up about the reining show from last month and should have it up this weekend.

I'll keep you updated.

Hope everyone had a great Labor Day weekend!