Sunday, February 6, 2011

Cold Weather Didn't Slow Me Down!

(Getting ready to sit in the ALQHA Booth during the Alabama Horse Fair)

January was busy to say the least!

Day to day activities such as going to the gym and doing schoolwork with the boys were challenging as they faced the tiredness of previous weekends and the preparations of the following weekends. The phrase “burning the candle at both ends” comes to mind! But what a blessing to be able to do all that I get to do! I love being able to stay home with my boys! They are fun to be with and teach me to be a better person on a daily basis! I am also blessed to have a hubby that understands my crazy lifestyle and hectic schedule and in laws that absolutely love being able to have the boys with them as much as they do!

New Years was celebrated at about 9pm and we tried to “bank” sleeping hours for the following month!We're such exciting people! HA!

On Monday the 3rd, I loaded Hayden up and went to ride at Mr. Tom’s who had another trainer there visiting. For 3 days I had the honor of riding and hanging out with Louis Hufnagel who currently resides in Texas! We worked on getting Hayden to move up under himself but in a relaxed way. I have had his head trapped at his knees so much that he hasn’t been able to do anything well but especially move his shoulders, stop and carry himself over poles. After 3 days we had made a lot of progress but we still have a long way to go! The biggest improvement was being able to feel that “hop” while he was loping signifying he was indeed carrying himself as well as moving up under himself the way he should. Louis also pointed out the same suggestion that Tom had a few months prior, to have Hayden’s hocks looked at. Both veteran trainers felt he wasn’t using them properly and that he may be hurting. Wonderful.

On Saturday the 8th, I took Hayden down to the Foley arena and rode before the action started for the first Boots and Bridles Show ( the 2011 show season. I had a fun time shooting there show and made the decision to stand in the arena so as not to miss any of the action! Of course this meant that I had the opportunity to BE the action if I didn’t watch was going on as I missed getting run over by mere inches! But what a fun group of people! It was the first time I had shot their show and I really enjoyed the grass roots feel to it! Took me back to my childhood! Here are a few of the shots from that day!

That Sunday I was supposed to shoot the Sandstone Equestrian CTC Show in Mobile but with the prediction of a bad super cold rain they moved it to Saturday and so I wasn’t able to do it.

The following week we saw record low temps and SNOW all over the state! But luckily by the weekend it was a bit milder as I was shooting the ACTHA ride at Golden Pines Equestrian Center in Perkinston, MS. Hosted by affiliate Toni Christopher it was an OUTSTANDINGLY well run 2 day event! ( The first day I shot as the riders were coming down a small incline. They also had an Ultimate Equestrian Challenge that I shot and was able to get a few decent shots there. The second day I shot at the first obstacle while folks were getting ready as well as the last obstacle, a jump up the bank! Half the battle of shooting these events is knowing where to be for the best shot. I am still learning this skill and appreciate the patience and encouragement from all the riders! Here are some of my favorite shots from Golden Pines.:

The third week was spent getting ready to ride on Friday with one of my favorite clinicians, Craig Cameron! You may already know he has his own show on RFDTv, “Ride Smart” and was the 2010 Road to the Horse Champion! Regardless of what he has accomplished though, he is a super genuine guy who loves horses, people and America! He’s a true American Cowboy! His clinic was easily the most entertaining, fast moving one I have ever had the privilege to ride in! (

For preparation for the clinic on Friday and then the Alabama Stock Horse Show on Sunday, Lisa and I took Hayden and Scout down to Steve Foley’s to work the flag that he has rigged up to move all the way around the pen. After working the flag and riding for a few hours, I noted that Hayden WASN’T stopping the way he should nor was he turning to the right very well or changing leads well that way. Panic set in and I decided since we were half way to Pensacola already that we might as well go on to Howard Finley’s to have them looked at. Howard is a very knowledgeable Equine Chiropractor and he has saved me a lot of time and money over the years! I told him what I had felt and seen that day with Hayden and what 2 knowledgeable trainers have told me. He proceeded to go over Hayden’s pressure points and told me that Hayden was NOT showing signs of Hock pain but DID show signs of Stifle pain. Wonderful. But he said that could also be related to TMJ issues in the mouth and sure enough when he tested the points he was clearly positive for that. How do we fix that? With an Equine Dentist. But not just any Equine Dentist; Dr. Tyler Dees DVM CEqDT. Appointment was set up for the earliest date: 2/4/11.

For more information on Performance Horse Dentistry complete with VIDEOS! :

Knowing that my horse was not comfortable in his mouth, it made it challenging to be excited for the show. I debated pulling out of the clinic and the show but after a call to Dr. Dees decided not to. He said Hayden has had this going on for years. YEARS! I have owned Hayden for 3 years now in which time my regular vet has looked in his mouth 2 x a year for the last 3 and has NEVER indicated there was a need for dentistry. Common from what I understand since they only teach about 10 hours of dentistry in Vet School.

The clinic, as I mentioned before was fun and educating. We then followed Craig’s desire for Mexican food and all 30 of us caravan to a restaurant that would hold all of us. What a great time we all had!(Photos by Jamie Jordan!)

Since I am a second year Director with the ALQHA, the next day was spent in the Alabama Quarter Horse Booth during the Annual Alabama Horse Fair put on by the Horse Council. It was great fun to see old friends and meet new ones! The evening was spent at the Alabama Stock Horse Banquet where I was asked to take pictures of the year end award winners receiving their awards from special guest, Craig Cameron!

Sunday was show day and I already had it in my head that no matter what Hayden and I were going to do the best we could do that day! I knew his mouth was bothering him, I had not slept but maybe 4 hours in 2 nights and it was COLD and muddy! I’ll save you the play by play but our Reining class was our worst one ever (we did get our Flying Lead Changes though!), our cow work was FUN and we got the job done, our Pleasure and Trail was the best we’ve EVER done! (Thanks Louis!) Regardless, we now know what our home work is! But the best part of the entire day was the PEOPLE! I love the folks involved with the ALSHA! Plus all the friends that stopped by that were there for the Horse Fair! It was great to see everyone! I was surrounded by friends and THAT made the day!

(Taken by Toni Christopher)

(Taken by Susan Stack)

The last Saturday in January I left at lunch to go to our Annual Meeting/Banquet/Awards night for the Alabama Quarter Horse Association. That was a lot of fun! I love brainstorming ideas to make an organization better! Of course that means I sleep less because I can't sleep when my brain is running 100mph. but that’s ok! Lots of good things are happening for ALQHA this year!

Well! That was my January in a nut shell! February looks to be a little slower but definitely will be fun filled since the 14th-20th I will be in Jackson,MS. for the Dixie National AQHA Show!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

*BEST OF* and "Year in Review"

I have wanted to do a *Best of 2010*/"A Year in Review" blog to kill 2 birds with one stone so to speak! I have needed to update this blog but have been just a little busy.I have been blessed with my photography business taking off and I have had the privileged of working with so many AUsome people that have made this year AMAZING! Below are a few of my *Best of 2010* favorites from different photo jobs mixed in with my "Year in Review". Let me tell you it was no easy task to pick these out either!

"Amber&Drop" (Oct.'10)

First I have to tell you,I went to get my truck's oil changed a week or so ago and we had been 16,000 miles since our last oil change in June! WOW! That's A LOT of miles!So you know I have had one busy year! And yes-I know that's slightly over the mark of what they suggest for changing the oil in a diesel!:)

"The Jacket" (Feb.'10)

Since my last check-in here,Hayden and I haven't shown any but have schooled quite a bit including a trip back to Mr. Tom's. We also did a Working Cow Horse clinic with Daniel Hill that was very helpful with the "big picture" of how to do that class! In fact,since August(when I reached 500 hours in the saddle with Hayden,I have put about 110 more hours on him and only about 15 of those are trail hours!

Hayden and I at Daniel Hill's Working Cow Horse Clinic (Oct.'10)

"No Split Decision" starring Lacy Childress 2009 NBHA World Champ (July'10)

Although I haven't reached some of my riding goals YET, I HAVE accomplished a lot in another area! Since July 1st,I have lost 20+ lbs. and 2 sizes! The gym and the trainer there have been super supportive! They don't even mind that I have the horse trailer hooked up most of the time when I park in their parking lot! I know Hayden appreciates having 20 less pounds to carry too!I am hoping that 2011 will see another 20lbs. dropped and maybe that will help us even more with our riding goals!

"Francesca" (July '10)

Speaking of riding goals,I KNOW it takes YEARS to get a horse finished. But sometimes I need a healthy reminder of this! I want it now! But when I look back to where Hayden and I were last year in our training compared to now-IT IS AMAZING!I am so grateful to those that have helped us this year! Maybe with a commitment of monthly visits to Mr. Tom's, we can really improve in '11! You would think,right? We will see!

"Hello Pretty" (Nov.'10)

I am really excited to get back in the show pen in '11 too! I am wanting to go for Year End points with the Alabama Stock Horse Association. So my goal is to hit the 4 qualifying shows for that! I may even try my hand at a reining class or 2 at an AQHA show! Whew! Scary! So much to work on!

"Cow Horse Morning" (Nov.'10)

Besides riding Hayden and homeschooling the boys,I have also been ring stewarding AQHA shows pretty regularly as well.For me,it's like getting a clinic plus I get to meet such knowledgeable people!

Between photo gigs,shooting horse shows and rides,riding in a few shows and clinic and going to Mr. Tom's seems like every weekend I had something somewhere! I was starting to almost feel important!I love being busy especially with horses and horse people!

"Cowgirl Buckaroo" (Nov.'10)

"Chinks On The Grey" (Feb.'10)

"The Bride&The Soldier" (July '10)

Kathryn&Richard (July '10)

For 2011 I think it goes without saying that I HOPE to improve my horse and myself! I hope to also work with many more fascinating people and families!I want to distinguish myself as a Western Lifestyle Photographer!I want to master those lead changes! Ha! It gets me so excited to think about the possibilities and what the future holds!
Good luck to all of you in 2011! I hope it is prosperous,filled with passion and warms you from the inside out!

"Ring Around the Rosie" (June'10)

Until a later date-Keep a leg on each side!

Friday, October 1, 2010

It's been a LONG time,I know!

Wow! Where to start! So you may or may not have noticed that my last entry was WAAAAAAY back in June after our first show! It's been a busy summer though full of photographing,riding,hanging out with family,working out at the gym and ring stewarding.

So I thought I would update you on mine and Hayden's progress since the last entry!
We still have not mastered the flying lead change BUT he's got one when it counts! We went to our 2nd Stock show and got both changes no problem! Spins and lope overs? Well we're still working on those! We are better but at the show,mmm...not so much!
At the last show we did the working cow class for our second time EVER and with one hand since we are in the bridle! It was so much fun! Notice in the pictures to follow that I am smiling the entire time! Evidently that is my happy place!

I mentioned that I have been going to the gym. Since the first show back in June,I committed to at least 4 days a week in the gym and have lost 16lbs since May! I am down in inches too! I feel so much better and my core is so much stronger! I feel like it's helping my riding tremendously!

The 29th of August marked a mile stone of sorts as well! I hit 500 AQHA hours on Hayden! Then after spending 4 days riding with Mr. Tom and then doing a clinic and show, I now have nearly 550hours!

Oh you want to hear about what we worked on at Mr. Tom's? Well-boring stuff really but super important stuff too! We worked on getting Hayden to not lean on the bridle aka ME HOLDING HIM! This takes a lot of me driving him into the bridle and then releasing so he can find where he needs to be. We also worked on moving his hip over and getting him to relax when we did this. After 4 days the result was a much more relaxed horse that was balanced and actually had Rhythm and Cadence at all 3 gaits and wasn't leaning on my hands! We also were able to nail the lope overs a few times!

The other huge thing we were working on was getting Hayden to stand up in the bridle and not drop his shoulders. This will help our lead changes and spins especially! He's slowly getting more and more broke and I love being able to ride and learn from someone who is not about rushing to finish a horse! Mr. Tom knows it can take years to finish a horse to where the horse actually likes his job!

How about some pictures from our second stock show?! Thank you to Briana Belskie for taking these!

Until next time=keep a leg on each side!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Long Trip for Our First Show!

Since the weekend of Quarterfest,(6 weeks ago) I have been trying to diligently ride at least 5-6 days a week at the arena. We had been slowly introducing more leg yields at the jog and lope and working on moving the hips over in hopes that Mr. Tom would work with us on getting a spin and a flying lead change by the end of the summer. We also started riding with one hand (the proper way with one finger between the reins,too!) as well as lope overs and jog overs. The latter by the way,never did get really clean and always felt like Hayden was imitating Bambi on ice.

Along with riding him as much as possible I was also trying to put weight on him in the form of fat. Remember when I hauled him to Quarterfest (7 hours away) he came off looking like a race horse!? We have been pouring Nutrena's XTN,SafeChoice and Empower to him. The last week before I hauled him I added Alfalfa hay to his diet too! He looked good! He had also been separated from the herd in his own paddock and then the last week was pretty much secluded to his stall and the grassy round pen in hopes that he would be used to being by himself and would haul better. Another precaution we did was to give 10ccs of Banamine to him IV before he loaded onto the trailer (as per a vet's recommendation) and put a full hay bag and a bucket of feed and salt in his front of the trailer slot.

At 4pm we were about to find out if the efforts were going to pay off! That's when he would be unloaded after a 3 hour bumpy 2 lane trip to Meridian where I was going to volunteer at the 4-h show.

After finally getting to Meridian up the mostly 2 lane,middle-of-no-where road,I unloaded and set up Hayden in a nice cozy stall right by the arena where all the action was going to be for the next 2 days during our stay. He actually didn't look too bad! He started to eat and drink immediately which was also a relief!

While he settled in,I went to check into a hotel room and unload my stuff. On the way back to the arena it was starting to get BLACK in the sky as a quick but heavy storm blew in.If I was going to ride,I was going to have to hurry up since I would have to saddle him at the trailer that was not out of the pending storm. As I pulled him out of the stall,I noticed he was in a cold sweat. Mind you it was easily 90 degrees and high humidity. A cold sweat was foreign to me so I chalked it up to nerves and went ahead and saddled him. We actually got into the arena before it started raining but as the temperature dropped and the wind blew the now hard,loud rain in sideways,Hayden was feeling suddenly energetic and I wondered if the ground and I were going to meet face to face!

Thankfully Hayden responds well to bending and flexing and understands that an energetic horse will see himself do many squares at the lope and rollbacks if he doesn't calm down soon! He was soon the mindfully,willing horse I loaded onto the trailer! As I walked him around to warm up though,he had actually DRIED off from his nervous sweat only to get all sweaty again after a pretty good hour and a half schooling session.

After his liniment rinse he was ready for bed but it was only about 7:30-8pm and people were still milling around getting their horses settled in. He wasn't sure what to think of all the activity. A before bed check at 10:30pm proved he wasn't too terribly concerned as he was out of feed,hay and water! Me:"Refills?" Hayden: "Yes please!"

The next morning at 7:30 he was saddled and we schooled until 9am when the 4-H roping was supposed to start. We were fortunate enough to be asked to help with the calves and steers so we scored them all out of the box and ran through the stripping chute a few times. Then we acted as honorary hazer and back up for any maverick steers or calves that failed to find the out gate in a timely manner. By 11:30a.m. we were in a full sweat and asked to go bathe (Hayden,not me!)for the next task of the day...

We then posed as a Pleasure Horse for the 4-H Horse Judging Contest. Hayden and 3 pleasure horses...hmmmm...interesting. But ya know what? I don't care what anyone says! He felt good! Sure he could have worked more from the hind end,but his head was down and we didn't pass anyone or run anyone over! We took all our leads and guided around in one hand like we've it done before! HA! We "survived" it is what we were told...

By the end of the day we had 8-9 hours in the saddle! We were both tired from it all and the heat didn't help.Gold Bond would be our friend the next day for sure!

FRIDAY (6/25)
Hayden was found passed out in his stall not caring about the hustle and bustle of the halter and pleasure classes that all the kids were getting ready for. He had eaten all his feed and had drank plenty of water so I just let him sleep without concern.Wonder why he was tired? LOL!

Personally I was envious.While Hayden was snoozing,I was called to duty as Ring Steward and worked with Glen Wells,an AQHA judge from GA. They couldn't have picked a more patient judge for those kids. He was great! He and I sweated gallons as we walked around kids,horses,ponies,and miniatures in the halter and showmanship in that arena. We broke for lunch at 1 or so for 20 minutes and then did the Pleasure,Trail and Western Riding.By 6pm,I handed the reins (clip board and radio) over to someone else since it was time for Hayden and I to make our way to Fayette,AL. for our first clinic and show with the Alabama Stock Horse Association!

After a 2 and a half hour drive on even more of Alabama's back roads,(thanks Garmin)we arrived mostly unscathed to the Agri-center in Fayette by 9pm and once again get unloaded and settled,trailer unhooked.Due to the bad roads and probably still recovering from the day before,Hayden was drawn up a bit.I went ahead and gave him another shot of Banamine just to be on the safe side and then headed to the only place open for dinner-McDonald's. Found our nifty,retro-without-even-trying,roadside inn and crashed after a shower and phone call home.

The clinic started at 8sm so most of us were all mounted by 7-7:30 and were ready to "get our learn on"! We were split into the Novice and the not-so-Novice groups with the latter partaking in the Reining Clinic hosted by Ed Wilson and the Novice's hanging out with Flo Nix to learn the Pleasure.

In the reining clinic,Ed asked right off the bat what it was we wanted to learn or work on. I of course,not being the shy one in the bunch,responded that my goals were to have a spin and a flying lead change by the end of the SUMMER.So we immediately started doing exercises for the spin. Turns out I haven't opened my opposite leg enough for Hayden to move into.What?..Rider error? No way! Ha!

Then we started the exercises for the lead changes. Simply put,Ed showed us how to leg yield to the left as we lope left then on the straight away,swap legs and lift the right rein. Hayden accomplished this our first time and even swapped in the rear first! Ed asked me how this was accomplished and I simply told him I had moved his hip over! I guess all that slow work has paid off! I was super stoked!

After the reining class we swapped and I went to learn how the Pleasure Class goes.This is less exciting than the reining for sure but definitely important!
After lunch we schooled the trail course out in the sun and nearly died of heat stroke! Ok! Maybe that's a little drastic but it was definitely hot out there!

We finally made our way back into the arena to practice on the flag for the Working Cow Horse and then worked a live cow on the fence briefly. Hayden remembered everything from last summer with the Hydrabull and the refresher course at Quarterfest with Mike Major. Now if only we had worked on how to make the cow go down the fence and do circles! Those parts remain a mystery to me!

The worst electrical storm came through with lightening hitting close and often all around us! This made getting to the trailer to untack and back to the barn a lot more interesting! Nothing like making a mad dash and sliding stop on the lake of slick,red clay at your trailer! As I swung off I nearly slid to the ground! Normally I would tie up my latigo and girth before taking off Hayden but in this circumstance with lightening hitting,I just threw that 40lb. saddle into the trailer to clean up later! Hayden wouldn't be getting bathed until later either!

After 8 hours in the saddle during a hot,sticky June Alabama day, I was ready for a cold shower and dinner!Luckily I was asked to join Chad and Anna Smith for Mexican and we made our way to the air conditioned eatery in town.

Dinner was filled with great conversation and not so great Nachos Supreme.But I digress since this isn't a food review blog is it?!

Hayden was fed and bathed which meant it was time for me to get back to the hotel and shower before getting a good night's sleep! I was going to need it!

SUNDAY (6/27)
The show was scheduled to start at 9am with the Open Cow Horse Class first. Although I have seen the class before and have even scribed it a few times,I have NEVER actually done it! Not even in a lesson! So I figured I would watch a few of the other Open riders first....NO SUCH LUCK! I was drawn to go first! Great! So I asked around to some of the veteran Cow Horse Class folks for a brief synopsis of what to do!

My first cow comes out and it's the slow cow from the day before and it wasn't moving any faster today. So after trying to get it to move this time with no success,I asked for a new cow. The second cow shot of out of the pen like it had just been shot out of a cannon! I felt like we boxed it no problem, and then it shot out off the fence towards the middle of the arena! Not having ANY experience I thought the right thing to do was to make it look like we were taking it down the fence.It turned to go back towards the herd and we raced it back before it could make it to the fence. So then I worked it down the other side of the arena,turned it back and proceeded to circle one way and then the other. This is when I heard someone yell from the outside the pen and I thought they were yelling at me. I stopped since I thought I had worked the cow enough...turns out the yell wasn't for me!Great.No whistle was blown and I had no idea how I did at all...

Thanks to Stack/Belskie for the photo!

Next was the Trail and Pleasure Class that were run in the same pen;the Trail Course set in the middle of the pen and the Pleasure was done on the rail around it. The Trail course consisted of the following obstacles/maneuvers: gate,jog serpentine,bridge,side pass,back through L,jog overs,lope overs and figure 8 drag. Hayden did them all but could have been a little smoother in his approach to the drag.

In the Pleasure it's all transitions on the rail from extended walk,jog,extended jog,lope,stop,roll back,lope,extended lope,trot,stop and back. Hayden wasn't bad but could have been smoother in his transitions...

Finally the last class for us was Open Reining! We were to execute Pattern I from AQHA. It had been 15 yrs or more since I had competed in reining and Hayden had never done it! We just learned how to do a Flying Lead Change the day before where we used 2 hands. Today we would have to adhere to the rules and use one hand. Gee. No pressure!

We went in and jogged to the center. Hayden didn't like the thought of being in there by himself and I could feel him want to drift back to the gate where everyone was. We came to a stop and paused. Spun 3 times to the right.Paused.Spun 3 times to the left.Paused.Picked up right lead and circled 2 fast circles.Took a deep breath and cued him for a leg yield to the right then asked for the left-and GOT IT! At this point it was ALL I could do to not squeal in delight and make a high five motion! Circled to the left 2 large fast circles.Cued for the leg yield to the left,then cued for the right lead-AND GOT IT!!!! Yes ma'am! Took a deep breath and blew it out getting ready to run and slide and roll back.Executed perfectly,picked up left lead run down the other side of the rail,slide stop and roll back right. Right lead to the other side,sliding stop and back up at least 10 ft. and then paused to show completion. WHEW! We got our flying leads! We stayed on pattern! YAY!

At this point I am on cloud 9 and shaking from the excitement! I got off Hayden and hung around to watch a few more runs and then text Mr. Tom to share the news!Texting is so hard when you're shaking!

The results would not be posted for a few more hours so I had plenty of time to bathe Hayden down and get hooked up and start getting ready to go. I also had time to visit with some of the great people that are apart of the AL Stock Horse Association. The group is small but growing fast and I hope the family atmosphere continues to stay the way it is! Everyone was so supportive of one another! I have not felt that kind of camaraderie in a long time!

Finally just before 4pm after the horse trailer was hooked up and loaded,I found out that I had actually placed 3rd in the All Around for the Open Division! Our FIRST show! I was dumbfounded! It made the trip home that much easier since I was on this natural high!

RECAP for the trip

660 round trip miles

3rd in the Open Division All Around

15 bottles of Gatorade
20 bottles of Water

24.5 hours in the saddle

20 new friends made

Granted this is just our first show of many but I feel like we have come so far since we've started this journey! And just in the last 6 weeks our focus and drive has paid off! No doubt the trips to the gym doing ab workouts the last 4-5 weeks has also helped! Just learning how to focus and block out everything else has been a huge help to get this far! Learning how to relax and breathe has proved important too!

I think it's safe to say Hayden and I have entered a new level to our journey and I am super excited to see where the next level will lead us!

Thursday, May 13, 2010


The first weekend of May, I was fortunate enough at the last minute to take Hayden to AQHA's Quarterfest and ride in a few clinics with Mike Major!But first let me tell you about our trip up!

Murfreesboro,TN. is about 6-7 hours north of us. No problem. Hayden has been hauled from Canada to Arizona to Colorado to Alabama and all over this state! However,in all of those travels that I am aware of,he comes off the trailer looking like a greyhound with a drawn up heave line. He still eats,drinks and poops with no change. Doesn't holler and carry on and seems fine except for that one detail. No matter how filled out I get him at home,he looks thin by the time I get him to where he's going! Going to Quarterfest was no different. We even popped him every am with a tube of electrolytes to no avail.

Thursday afternoon after we had him settled in, I rode him around in the outdoor arenas where our clinic would be. Hayden rode around and worked great! No issues and he seemed to be comfortable and relaxed. Even with blowing banners on fences!
Friday morning was our first clinic with Mike Major,Working Ranch. There were 13-15 of us and we worked on boxing cows for the 3 hours, with Mike stressing that your horse be soft in the face and responsive to the Whoa cue and be able to back up willingly and straight! Hayden does this no problem so this clinic was pretty easy. The cow part I was worried about since we hadn't worked the hydrabull since Oct. and haven't worked live cows since September! But Hayden was great! All the hydrabull practice was the key!I was tickled to death!

The awesome and amazing Mike Major:

After lunch was Ranch Cutting. Although we've done the one Ranch Cutting in Sept., it was ONLY one! But Mike was patient and a great teacher! He had us rotate around and work at herd holding as well as turn back positions! Hayden was SUPER again! We were able to work 3 sets and unfortunately Chuck only got a few pics of our 3rd set when Hayden was sore and tired and the cows were DONE! But that's ok!
I was tickled that Hayden did so well! He really wanted to work those cows!

Hayden during our 3rd set of Ranch Cutting (BHC Photo credit):

I was able to talk with the very talented and personable Ken McNabb while there.I asked him about Hayden's traveling habits and the drawing up.He suggested I put him on Nutrena's Empower and see if I could get him fatter than I think he needs to be so that when I haul him he has a little in reserve so to speak. We picked up a bag the next day! Photo credit:BHC)

I let Hayden have Saturday off and I hand walked him in the am and pm.Of course this was also the day the heavens fell open and flooded Nashville and surrounding areas! All the clinics were moved indoors and sessions were cut to one hour.

Sunday morning I was able to warm him up in the coliseum but he hated the rail and could not get real comfortable. He really likes the outdoor pens better!
Our only clinic that morning was Ranch Riding. We were supposed to be working on extending and shortening the jog but Hayden was not settled and Mike suggested I just lope him around to help him get settled. And lope we did for what seemed like forever. But we guided around there with no problems. Didn't run over a soul!

Mike and I talking before the Ranch Riding Clinic (Photo credit:Dee Goodwin):

Next was the Stock Horse Competition with Curt Pate and Mike Major judging. It was just for fun so I tried not to feel pressure but when they said we had to ROPE the CALF,OMG! Panic set in! Hayden hates ropes and I have not roped anything but the dummy off of him.

First we had to open and shut the gate,trot a figure 8,lope right lead circle,box cow,track cow,stop cow,then rope it. No problem,right? HA!

Hayden didn't want to by himself in that pen so he tried going back out the gate.
Then,I failed to close my figure 8 and only made it a serpentine.Followed by not closing my circle.But my cow work was excellent,(they said) and we were commended on our STOPS! (YEEHAW)

I have never handled one of those 50ft. ranch ropes before (with a breakaway honda) so my attempt was an honest one but with no experience to back it up we didn't catch! BUT HAYDEN did GREAT! So the little roping of the dummy helped but probably not as much as helping de-rig steers for Homer and Kaston did! Thanks Homer and Kaston!

So Quartefest was a success for us in my opinion and I hope to attend next year too!

This week the boys and Chuck were gone so I was able to really put some hours on Hayden! We rode 2 hours on the trail on Sunday with Lisa. An hour and a half of schooling at the arena with Jane on Monday,a 4 hour ride at Blakeley with Deb and her sisters on Tuesday am and then 4 hours of working the roping pen later that night. LOVED it!

We received a "curriculum" from my riding mentor last week too so Monday's session was devoted to introducing some lateral exercises to Hayden in hopes that we will be ready to start our Spins and Lead Changes when we go up to ride with Tom again. He did great! We worked on moving his hips while at all the gaits while still keeping a relaxed forward motion and keeping his face soft. Did I mention he did great!? LOL! We even had a great little stop where we ended the day's session! BTW-does anybody else get excited to see big ole' sit down spots in the dirt!? I go so far as to take a pic of it with my phone and post it on FB! I'm crazy like that! I can't help it!

At the roping pen,we worked the de-rigging chute,tracked steers,pushed steers back up,and then Kaston and Homer worked Hayden on the skid dummy! He did pretty well for his first time. Then I sat on him and roped the skid steer. It went. Homer sent a calf dummy home with me to practice on so next week we are hitting it hard!June 26th is our clinic and then show with the Alabama Stock Horse Association. My goal is to comfortable enough with the rope to actually rope the calf instead of circling there. We will see!

This weekend we are working at the Hangout Music Festival so Hayden gets the weekend off. But Monday-IT'S ON!

PS-Hayden had a birthday this week! He turned 6 on the 8th!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

What's Been Going On

So it's been over a month since my last post. A LOT has been going on around here!
For starters I've been taking a few pictures for some beautiful girls and their families! Second, American Poet,Tena Bastian and I have been conspiring to work on a few projects together! And finally, I made a HUGE decision to sell 2 of my horses!

Last year at this time I had 5 horses boarded and only owned 3.I had a few lesson clients as well. This year,I only had 2 boarders and inherited a horse and with the rainy weather,lessons were WAY down. I had more expenses than income and I wasn't able to feed let alone care for the horses I had! I HATED that feeling! Not to mention the guilt that went along with it! Was I putting my family in danger? I knew I was adding more stress to myself for sure! And I hated the feeling of owing my feed store money! That's not how I roll!

So I made the HARDEST decision I have had to make and decided to sell both Winter and Bullseye. Both who I have started myself and raised here. Winter who was 9 had been here since he was 18 months old and was bought and boarded here by my OB/GYN.He was the horse we knew we could put anyone on! He was the one who my non horsey hubby would saddle up and go out and ride by himself on! I trusted him with my 4yr. old! He was just the best horse ever! Then Bullseye of course,I waited 3 yrs. for him to be born! He'd been here since he was a month old and when it came time to wean and halter break,it was the non horsey hubby who took it upon himself to bathe and clip for the first time and begin the leading process since I was on bed rest.He was my oldest son's horse and was fun to ride!Beautiful bay tobiano to boot! I decided to enter them both into my friend's registered horse sale in Meridian,Mississippi and I had 2 weeks to get them ready,i.e.,hair coat better,in shape and riding tuned up. Having 4 geldings to ride was hard for me to decide who to ride and I always would rather ride Hayden so these guys were put on the back burner.

Sale time came,April 3rd,2010.I have never cried so much as I did the 2 weeks leading up to the sale and then the day of the sale there were more water works. I hated being put into this situation but I know a lot of other people are worse off than I was so I kept trying to look at the positives! Bullseye went to Arkansas to work on a cattle ranch and winter went to someone in MS. to be a trail horse. Hopefully they will be enjoyed and loved as much as they were here. Hopefully they will be used to their potential and given opportunities I wouldn't be able to afford to give them here.Hopefully the love and training they received from me will keep them safe and loved for years for years to come...

The highlight of the sale was having Tom McBeath,my riding mentor and super trainer friend, ride Bully for the first time in over a year. When he had seen/ridden him last (Jan. 09) Bully was in a snaffle and not guiding real well and pulling through the bit. This year I had started riding him in the correction at the beginning of March and he was guiding super well and handling great! He would stop on a dime and lope off with his head down and was light and soft in the face. Tom seemed impressed with his progress and it made my day. Bitter sweet but sweet none the less.

Now that I am down to only 2 horses here,I am hoping to be able to not only continue to train Hayden with out the guilt of having to ride two others,but be able to afford to show and do clinics with him! I also am excited and relaxed in the thought that now I can give Jay the retirement he deserves! So far I have been able to ride Hayden quite a bit more and have been lunging Jay to slowly bring him back into riding shape.

Last week I found out I was going to be able to ride in a stock horse clinic with Mike Majors at the 2010 Quarterfest in Murfreesboro,TN in a few weeks! Also found out that there's going to be roping involved! HAYDEN HATES ROPES! So Tuesday night, I took Hayden to my new friend's Homer and Brenda Colman's place and Homer helped me get Hayden used to the Buford. I then had the job of using Hayden to de-rig all the steers that he and Kaston roped all night! By the end of the night, Hayden felt like he had a job and he was a lot more relaxed with the rope!

Today I lunged him for 20 minutes and then we just walked around throwing the rope in front of him and recoiling it.He finally was more relaxed about it all and I felt like we have accomplished quite a bit! Now for me to start roping the dummy!My goal at Quarterfest is to simply NOT make a fool out of myself!

Until next time-keep riding and blazing those trails!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Alabama Stock Horse Clinic

Don't hate me because I was able to sneak off yet again to do something "cowgirly"!

Monday my friend Lisa and I took off with my 2 boys in tow at 6am in hopes of being in Montgomery by 8.We almost made it on schedule and got there at 9 by the time we stopped for fuel and a bathroom break!

When we arrived,we saw that there were about 20-25 riders and two clinicians riding under the covered pen of the W.O. Crawford arena.Pretty good turn out for a Monday! It was chilly under the pen's cover so everyone was bundled up in layers and the warm breath from the working horses could be seen in the cool air.

B.F. Yeates and Brian Sumrall,both from Texas were the clinicians and although I couldn't hear them since there were no microphones,they looked to be having the students jogging slow circles all around the pen.

Soon I met the man in charge of the whole thing,Tommy Fuller. I have previously never met the man except for being his friend on Facebook! He came right up to me and said he knew my entire name!He said he's been keeping track of me... Scary huh?

Tommy is the president of the Alabama Stock Horse Association which is an affiliate for the American Stock Horse Association.This was my first time to attend anything they have put on and I was intrigued. I had planned on mainly watching and listening but Tommy heard that I had taken my camera and asked that I send anything I took to him for promos. about pics for exchange for the next clinic? And thus I became a working girl rather than just a spectator!

Tommy said I could have full run of the place and stand where ever I wanted so that i could both hear and take pics.But to be honest-I was scared to get in the way of B.F.! He was near 80 but I think he wouldn't hesitate to run a girl over!

Soon the riders split into groups with half of them staying with Brian to work on reining and the other half going out to work with B.F. to work on Ranch Pleasure. I followed the latter because the lighting was much better out in the outdoor pen!

The boys were turned loose for the most part and Carson attached himself to AL ASHA director Tony. (I can't remember his last name and he's not on FB!)

Anyways,I was super excited to be able to listen to both of these fine horsemen! They taught all the same stuff that I grew up listening to as well as what my most recent mentor (Tom McBeath) teaches: "Slow down.Slow your thoughts in order to slow your movements.Don't spur just to spur or yank just to yank.Guide your horse rather than pull.Lift rather than pull.Ask and wait...Set your horse up for success....Ride them to places rather than on the rail..."

All great stuff and it was very validating to hear it from these experts!

Sadly I was not able to stay for the entire clinic since I had to trek back home 2 hours and do barn chores but what I was able to watch was great!

For a great article on what the Alabama Stock Horse Association is all about:

To see more pics from that day: