Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Yes, this IS an obsession!

Okay, I am sure that the folks that read my blog (only because you are board! LOL) may not know much about drag racers and their names (I only know a couple myself). Most of you do know however, that my hubby drag races. So, I get to watch it on TV at home. I do enjoy watching it with him, and my favorite racer is John Force. I have recently compared myself with John as after he finishes his run he is just FULL of adrenalin. It is fun to watch him when they interview him after a race. He is loud, and very hyper when he talks. You can just tell that he still loves what he does after all these years (about 25 of them). So I have had to apologize to some folks when I talk about sorting. I get loud, hyper and just reved up. I get all "John Force"y. LOL

I attended a private clinic Saturday morning with a small group of ladies that are beginners such as myself but very much serious about the sport. It was so fun and Summer was really on. We each even got to do a run with the pro/instructor. And that was real fun.

When I got there, we all saddled up and warmed up in the deep sandy arena. Summer was a running walk fool and it was fun to watch James (instructor) watch her go around the arena. He started asking me questions about her different gaits and how I learned the difference in each one. I just told him it took me about 2 years to tell the difference as she has about 9 different gaits, from dog walk to gallop and everything in between.

We had a real good 2 1/2 hours. It was me and 4 other beginners, and another lady (a rating of 4 sorter) who kind of acted as an assist for James outside the pens when we had questions while he worked with a team in the pens. I just got so much out of it.
Sunday we went to the arena and I started off not doing to well. I guess I had other things on my mind. One of the pro guys named Pete said he would run with me early in the day and we got 5 in. So, either he made me look good or I made him look bad! LOL But my theory is, if a pro runs with a beginner, they know what they are getting into. LOL Later in the day, I ran with Starla and we got 5, then my last run I went with Cynthia and we got 4.

**********************Connie and I waiting for the words, "flag is up"

Not bad as I did get about 9 runs in that day. A few were busts right away, so that is probably why I was able to go so many times. James was there and was giving us, that went to his place Saturday, side line instruction, which I thought was just super cool of him to do.

*******************Summer and I bringing one through the hole

*****Once you get the calf in, you got to turn quickly to guard the hole.

*************Connie guarding the hole while my calf and 2 bad ones come to her

************************Summer and I in the hole

I really tried to put into use everything that he taught. There were a few times I caught myself making a mistake and I would try to correct it before it was a major boo-boo.

I think my major issue is getting to fast and trying to hard for my level. I think I am getting ahead of myself and my abilities at this point. I know I need to back off a bit and learn more. Just quit getting so dang excited! I guess I just watch those pro-am folks and the speed they go at and I think, "I can do that!" But, Summer is not ready for that and I need more learning. James said that two things that Summer needs to work on, and that they both would come with time and experience is, seperating the herd when there are a bunch standing together, and if too many come at the hole at once while we are guarding it. He said she get nervous. And I know that, cause while he can see it, I can feel it. But, he said, she is very responsive to me and that could be why she is doing what I ask her to do. She may be nervous on those two issues, but she is doing it. Her strongest issue I think is, once we get our calf between her and the wall, she is all business.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Is this an obsession or what!?

Just thinking about sorting gets my adrenaline up! What is it with this sport?

I went again this weekend. Met my friends, Cynthia, Emily and Robin there. Even rode with a lady named Connie. It was her first time. So there was someone there newer than me! LOL

Summer and I got 5 runs in. We could have done 6, but after our 5th run, I quit on a good note. Our 5th run was with Cynthia and we got 5 calves in. I got 3 and she got 2 and she was working on her 3rd when the buzzer sounded. I was so happy. I thought we only got 4 in and I turned around and we had gotten 5. I hollered I was so excited and shouted to Dennis, "We got 5!" LOL I know, I know...might have embarrassed myself a little, but I just can't believe that Summer is starting to pick this up. I know there have been sneers and remarks made about Summer and I. I have heard them repeated to me. But we are showing those few nay-sayers aren't we! LOL

Summer was gaiting real good in the warm up areas and when I was waiting in line for our turn, a cowboy came up to me and said, "You could get somewhere real fast on her can't ya?" LOL I guess he had been watching us, and probably trying to figure out what kind of horse she was. When I told another guy named Larry what she was, he said, "You should get a prize just for doing this on a Tennessee Walker. " LOL Guess they don't see to many of those around the sorting pens.

But once again, I can't wait until this weekend. Now don't get me wrong. I ain't giving up on trail riding. She is too good at that to let that go. I just feel that I have such a willing mare that it would be shameful not to let her try new venues.

So her resume' is this to date:

Trail horse

NATRC Safety Horse
***Rides Double

Competitive Trail Horse
***NATRC - several
***TTC - 1
***STC - 1

***LD -1 (but we ain't stopping at 1!)

***2006 Stock Show
***2007 Driving her cart behind the longhorns in the stockyards

***since 2006
***Endurance Distance Drive 2007

Ranch Sorting

More to follow, God willing...

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

More Ranch Sorting...

I tell you...I am really digging this sport.

Maybe I watched too many westerns when I was a kid. I have pictures of me dressed in cowboy gear when I was little. I was standing next to my grandpa and my granny took the picture. On weekends on channel 39 (which is now a latino channel), it was cartoons until noon and westerns the rest of the day. Bonanza, Raw Hide, Gun Smoke, The Rifleman, etc...It fed my dreams to someday have horses and ride. Ride the open range and herd the cattle home. Head 'em up and move 'em out! LOL

Well, I've done a lot of trail riding (that is the open range part I guess), now I have the urge to herd the cattle home (or in the case of sorting, put 'em the other round pen LOL). Last Friday I met some of my friends at the arena and we had a blast. As soon as Emily gets the video uploaded to youtube I will have a video of mine and Summer's run with Cynthia and her boy Monte. If Doug can get a shoe to stay on Summer's right rear foot (horizontal crack), I will be going again this Friday and then to a sorting clinic next Saturday. I found out the clinician doesn't like anymore than 6 folks, so that will be a lot of good one on one with him.

Summer was real good this past Friday. She wasn't a ball of nerves. She was calm and did what I asked. I think the only mess ups were with the pilot(me) not communicating the right signals to ground control (Summer). LOL

Who knows how far this will go. Maybe this is just something I need to get out of my system. Maybe, secretly, it is just one of my things on my "bucket list" I want to mark off. Or maybe it is something I want to see if me and my non-stock horse can actually do. Who knows...all I do know, as long as we are having fun...then let's do it! YEEHAW!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Update on equines part three...My girl Summer.

*************************Cow horse in the making****************

Glad I only have three horses. Don't know if my typing could hold up to anymore! LOL

Here is what Summer and I have been doing. Cows. Well, not exactly cows. More like calves. Weanlings I guess you could call them. Anyhoot...Tracey and I had decided to try our hand at this thing called Ranch Sorting. Also called Team Sorting. You and a partner enter a round pen that is attached to another round pen. Forming a figure 8. At the center of the 8 is an opening the size of 1 panel. About 12 foot or so wide. This area is called the "hole", it is the area that you herd your calf through and try not to let all the calves or the wrong calf through. One person protects the hole and one sorts the calves. You can either rotate or keep your job the entire 60 seconds.

The calves have numbers chained around their necks from 0 to 9 and there can be 1 or 2 calves with no numbers. These are called "trash cows". They make the game harder. Trash cows cannot go through the hole at all. If they do, game over.

The first couple of times we went, we wore our helmets. I know, I know...people were looking at us like we just got out of an asylum. Especially since neither of us were on stock type horses either! LOL My biggest issue with the whole thing of why wear a helmet I guess is, if Summer trips, or moves to fast for me to keep up because she is frightened, etc...I come off, then I am in a round pen with 1000lbs of freaked out horse and 11 crazy eyed calves running all over the place. Including running over my head. I did let vanity take over last Friday night (our third time out there) and didn't wear my helmet. I got chastized by David and Patti. So I will be wearing it if I go this Friday.

So far, Summer has gotten a calf everytime. Now, is she doing it willingly? No. LOL But she is doing it. I can still feel the tension in her body, but she is trying desperately to please me. And for that I am grateful. I hope that with more time, she will become more relaxed. I am really enjoying this. I need to find an instructor with cattle/calves and take lessons. I have one in mind that lives in Crowley and is absolutely wonderful. He mostly does cutting, but I have worked with him at the AHA show for the past two years and I think he might give me some instruction.

As of yet though, I do not have pictures. If I go this Friday night, I will try to con Amanda into coming out and taking pictures.

Mostly I am doing this for fun and just to say I did it. But it really is fun. I don't know why I like it so much but I do!

Update on equines part two...Hansom Hank.

*********************So good he ought to be in print!*****************

Well, Hank and I had been getting ready for our first driving show. I admit, the closer it got, the more nervous I got. Had I been taking Summer I would have been fine. I know how she reacts to new situations. But Hank...I have never driven him off the property and never driven him in a situation I was about to take him in. On the good side however, it was an Arena Driving Trial, not a Combined Driving Event. You do basically the same things, but in an arena setting. So it is more controlled for green horses and novice drivers.

I had been driving him quite a bit and felt pretty good that he was going to at least not kill us. And I was right. However, there were a couple of times I was very glad I had a helmet on. (smile)

We left Friday morning (July 24th) as it was a one day show in Tyler, TX at the Texas Rose Horse Park on July 25th. It is a very lovely place. VERY "fru-fru". You saw no one there with a western saddle on, only English riders.

Once we got there we unloaded and got the ponies comfortable in their stalls. After a brief rest and a look around, we took turns harnessing and hitching up for each other. We got June off and then Barb helped me with Hank. She didn't harness her pony as she is kind of my instructor and wanted to help me. I have to say, Hank was a pretty good boy. There were a lot of things there that were kinda scary to him, but he handled it to my approval. They were going to do the dressage test outside as they thought the indoor arena might not be big enough. But my oh my, that ground was horrid! It was WAY to rough. But, Hank was wonderful. We imagined where the letters were (as they didn't have them out yet) and drove our test. Barb was very proud of us. I told her after we were done, if he didn't place at all, I was very proud of his results just on Friday. He calmed down and respected my reins. After we unharnessed, I helped her harness her pony and off she went.

After everyone tried to drive on the "dressage field", it was determined that it was WAY to rough by everyone. Even folks driving horses and large carriages. The show manager and some other volunteers measured the indoor arena and thankfully it was plenty big enough for the dressage tests.

It was a little hard sleeping Friday night. My mind wouldn't shut off. What is nice about driving shows is, your horse is comfortably stabled in a nice barn and you are housed in a hotel room. So not like what I am used to doing CTRs! LOL

We got up and headed to the farm at about 6:15am. Barb's test was at 8:10am, June's was at 8:30am and mine was at 10:35am. I harness up about 9:30 to warm him and settle him down. At 10am was my safety check on my harness and cart.

At 10:35, we entered the arena. I actually dressed up a bit and was thankful that I was wearing a vest with my sateen shirt. It was hot and I was sweating like crazy! We entered and I drove him around a bit. As we were fixing to pass the judge, she asked me if I was ready, and we started our test. I tell you, I couldn't have been more proud of him. He looked like he had done this a 100 times. He executed every thing I asked. If he was crooked or anything, it was pure driver error. Once we completed our test, all I felt was relief. With dressage, it is like golf, the lower your score, the better. Barb and June always seem to get low to mid 50's. So I was hoping for a 60. I would have been thrilled with that. About 2 hours later, they posted my classes scores. Would you believe, I got a 47.4! OMG! There were 5 ponies in our class and Hank and I came in second! Once again, I cried. We accomplished something neither of us had done before. Now my thoughts were of the obstacle course and the cones course. All I had to do was try and run a clean course. This means, don't knock any of the tennis balls off the barrels or cones.

Once our test was over, I unharnessed Hank and put him up. I changed into shorts and a t-shirt for the next two events. I had about two hours to rest and get a bite to eat.

About 45 minutes before my next event. I was hurried by Barb to tack up and get ready to enter the arena. I knew I had awhile before my turn, but did as I was told because I had never done this before and didn't want to do anything wrong. Well, due to hurrying and tacking up, it seemed to upset Hank. When I started driving him off, he was REALLY acting up. To the point, I couldn't stop him. This actually scared me because he has never acted like this before. He wanted to canter so I did my best to keep him at a trot, but still couldn't stop him. I drove by the barn and hollered to June that I needed Barb, there was something wrong with Hank. When Barb came out to the field we were on, I took him straight to her. She told me that I was tense and to calm down. That he was feeding off of me. I told her that he has never acted like this before. Then she checked his mouth as he used to get his tongue over the bit. Well guess what? His tongue was over the bit. He was trying to get away from the pain. It must have happened when he was fidgeting with me bridling him. Once we corrected the problem, he became my sweet boy again. But during this whole incident, I was so thankful I had my helmet on!

About 25 minutes after this, we entered the arena for our obstacle course. We didn't haul butt, but we ran a clean course. Both June and Barb were eliminated after their obstacle courses. Barb did the wrong course first and June did a letter backwards. So I was relieved when I was told that I was safe.

About 1 and 1/2 hours later was my time up for cones. Barb is a dear friend, but once again, she was trying to rush me to re-harness and hook up. I told her not yet. I told her that I was just as anal as she was about doing my equine things on time, but Hank is not the type of horse that you rush. And I was right. I re-tacked him and hitched him and then just stood in front of his stall and let him watch the action. He was so relaxed. When I saw the person that was ahead of me head for the arena, then I started that way as the cones only take a couple of minutes to do. Well, we ran a clean cones course. I did go over my allotted time by 3 seconds so received a -1.5. But I was okay with that. For every tennis ball you knock off is a -3. I'll take the 1.5 over even a single 3 any day!

The others that scored a higher dressage score than I did, needed to make up for it in the obstacle and cones to try to knock us out of 2nd place. Well, they didn't succeed. Some of them hurried and received several faults compared to my little -1.5. And Hank and I took home a second place ribbon and some great memories!
Thanks for reading!
BTW. forgot to mention, no one in my class was eliminated, so I was competing against 5 other large ponies the entire time. Way cool! (big grin!)

Update on my equines...It's been awhile! Chompers...

Let's see...Well, first off, my mini man, Chompers, is officially broke to ride and drive. As a 14 year old stallion, he had never done either. He did his first birthday party pony ride at his previous owners house. Her name is Nancy and her grandson had turned 5 and was having a big party. I offered to bring Chompers for riding and my friend June brought her mini named Jarret for cart rides. The kids had a blast and both ponies were perfect gentlemen. We couldn't have asked for better behaved ponies. After it was over, I had to admit to Nancy that, that was Chompers first time as a riding pony. She said she figured, but knew Chomps had a good temperment and was a good boy. I was real proud of him. Here is a picture of him giving a ride to Rylan.

*****************My mini man being a perfect little gentleman*********

The rest of the following week I spent training him to drive. Near the end, you always need help from second or third parties as you can't do it all by yourself. When it was time to show him the cart, June helped me. He could care less. Barb was our main assisting person, but when we were ready to drive him, she wasn't at the farm. So June and I slipped the shafts in the tug loops and just let him pull it around with me driving from behind the cart and her holding his lead rope. We didn't hook him as if there was an emergency, he would just slip out of the cart.

Once Barb got to the farm, we hitched him up and I ground drove again from behind the cart. We only did this for about 5 minutes and then all agreed it was time! I was so excited! I know Barb and June will let me drive one of their many ponies. But I wanted to drive MY pony! So we headed to the out door arena and I got in the cart. They had two lead ropes on him and they each got on either side of him. Again, in case of an emergency. After we did once around the arena. June took off her lead rope. Barb lengthened her rope and gave me all the control of him. After another time around. We agreed it was time for me to take the controls. She let go and he drove off like he had done it all his life. I admit, I cried. I am not a trainer, but I felt such an accomplishment at teaching another one of my kids to drive. Here is a picture of our first solo drive:

**********************Isn't he just the cutest thing!******************

He is still very green of course. Still has a lot to learn, but hopefully next year, he will be ready for his first show.