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. Hmmm....how 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:

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

For the Girls

Have you ever wanted to ditch your life just for a little awhile? You know, the life where you're being driven to the point of insanity by the sound of kids yelling "Mommy!" and tattling on each other? Or maybe it's the intellectually challenged co-workers that are driving you nuts? Or maybe you always dreamed of what it would be like had you taken that job working on the horse farm after getting out of high school...

When you dream of ditching that life do you also dream of working with AQHA trainers or working AQHA shows? OK? Maybe it's just me....but if it's not just me, then I spent 2 weeks away from my life for you! That's right! You can live vicariously through me!

Are you ready to hear about our adventure away from home? Here goes!

I left home on the 8th of February headed for Jackson,MS. My "trusty" 2003 F250 packed for 2 weeks away from home! Keep in mind the planned activities were as follows:taking pictures,riding,and ring stewarding. So besides having 2 weeks of clothes for those activities in 30 degree weather, I also had to have my lap top,camera,displays,numerous pairs of footwear and hat cans! The back seat was full and I am pretty sure lifting the suitcase that was 100lbs.into the back seat is the cause for the pulled muscle in my back! But no worries-that's why God made Naproxen!

So the 5 hour drive up there went smoothly.Got checked into my hotel room and ate at Whataburger with the event coordinator(Thanks Lana!) of the show I was shooting the next day and then went to bed. Such a waste of the suite I was given too! No wild parties that it definitely could have handled! Bummer.

So the next day I reported to the Fordice Equine Center to take pictures of the Special Needs Horse Show/AQHA Equestrians with Disabilities Show.Wow! What a blessing and fun day! If you ever get to watch or volunteer for such an event,do so! It was a great day for sure!

So after the day was over and 600 some odd photos were taken it's time to hit the road 20 minutes up the interstate to Reunion Farm. But first I check into another hotel! Upon arrival to the farm I was greeted by Shon,Tom's assistant trainer. She gets wide eyed with excitement that I am going to be there 6 days and help them get horses ready for the Dixie National Quarter Horse Show! Either that or her expression showcased her bewilderment of why anyone would want to be away from home that long and to work your butt off for someone else! Who knows but this is my working vacation so let me live it! LOL!

Getting there at 5pm that night didn't leave me much to do except help tack and untack a few and then help with blanket check in two barns. Then it was off to find something to eat and call it a day!

The next 2 days were pretty much identical.Get to the barn at 7:45-8am and start saddling and riding horses. I was fortunate enough to ride 3 a day while I lost track of how many Shon and Tom had to ride! But I know it was a lot! I also started vacuuming the horses that were going to the show. With the temperatures in the 20's and 30's it was too cold to bathe so between grooming,vacuuming and spraying Hair Moisturizer (By Dr. Groom) on them we were able to make all the show horses fairly presentable! Both days ended around 7-7:30 that night and dinner with the McBeath family. (Thanks Holly,Suzy and Jeff!)

Friday am we were blessed with 4-5 inches of snow! It's not supposed to snow in Jackson! It was pretty but boy was it messy! I was asked to get to the barn early that morning to be sure to get pics of the snow at the farm.

After taking pictures of the snow,Tom,Suzy,Holly and I went to watch Holly's fiance Jeff Chapman rope in the rodeo at the Dixie Nationals Rodeo. That was a lot of fun! Calf roping is always exciting and I was also able to say "Hi!" to Zeb Chapman, an old college buddy who was also roping that day.(And yes it's weird to say "an old college buddy".)

By late afternoon when we returned to the barn,it was time to ride and vacuum a few and then a late dinner to end the day.

Saturday was a big lesson day for Tom and Shon with all the clients coming in for last minute guidance on Showmanship,Western Riding and Pleasure. I was doing good to stay out of the way and not get run over! It takes a lot of talent and coordination to maneuver a horse in a pen with 12 people riding and 3 horses lunging!I felt safer to just sit on "my" horse next to Tom and absorb as much as possible!

All the clients who were there that day washed there own horses' tails and legs and coated them with Show Sheen so it would be easier for us to clip on Sunday. Of course there were still a few that we had to wash but it was still a lot easier with the help of the clients! Shon and I thought about ending that long day at dinner at Red Lobster (to celebrate my birthday a few days early) but then ended up going back to the barn to clip a few horses so we'd have less to do on Sunday! It was great to have some girl time even if we did work late that night! It was fun stuff!

Sunday was an easy day! A few lessons for Tom and Shon with the folks who weren't there on Saturday and then Shon and I clipped the remainder of the horses. It was nice to be able to help Shon and hopefully take a load off of her.We tag teamed the horses with her doing their faces while I did legs. I gots skills! This was also the day that we had to make sure the trailer was loaded with all necessary items to set up stalls for 28 horses. That's right! 28!!!! Tack,grooming supplies,buckets,hay bags,hay,feed,supplements,BLANKETS AND HOODS, etc.for that many horses is no easy chore to pack!

It made things easier too that Sunday was when Suzy,Jeff and Holly went to the fairgrounds and got all the stalls ready.All the stalls had to be cleaned out and re-bedded,buckets hung,etc. The backs of all the stalls were wrapped in plastic in order to block the wind.It was supposed to be in the low 20's at night!Plus they had to hang the red drapes,signature color of the TMc barn!

Monday morning was, well a Monday morning! Shon,Suzy and I loaded the first trip of 4 horses at 7am headed for the fairgrounds.Got them there,unloaded and then Suzy and I headed back to the barn for another load only this time I had planned to follow in my truck so I would have it.Well my truck had other plans.It wouldn't crank. Dead battery.After Suzy jumped me off, and I let it run for awhile I figured all was good.I ran an errand for Suzy in Madison and then headed to get fuel.Noticed the gauges weren't working.This can't be good.I left the truck running while I went into the store to pay for my fuel and it shut down. I asked someone for a jump,had it running while I called hubby (5 hours away) and it shut down again!Nice.Aren't you glad you're living vicariously through me?

Through this whole ordeal,I kept thinking about how Tom the "Master of Whoadom" would react.I am pretty sure it would be calm so that's how I tried to stay. "It's no big deal" I kept telling myself, which is what Tom says a lot! So I picked up a book that needed starting after calling hubby again and letting him decide what he wanted me to do.Calm and rational works every time! Long story short,Chuck's company had a crew of guys working in Jackson. They came and took me to get new batteries and ended up taking my truck home that night. Well almost home.It had to be towed the last 100 miles or so.I ended up using Tom's truck and hubby sent his truck up to me via another co-worker so it all ended ok! Calm and rational. Remember that....No.Big.Deal. I was back to the fairgrounds and lunging and vacuuming horses at lunch!

Tuesday was much better than Monday and it involved taking one of Tom's help to the Urgent care to have her feet looked at. Plantar Fasciitis diagnosis and some new shoes and we were back to the fairgrounds for more chores,lunging and blanketing. This might be a good place to point out that there were 28 horses.All of them wore at least 3 blankets and 2 hoods! The owners wouldn't be there until Wednesday and Thursday so it was up to us to check all the straps and make sure everyone was warm enough but not too warm!After helping with 28 my six at home seemed pretty easy!

Wednesday (Happy Birthday to me)I was able to leave my post as assistant stable girl and became "Ribbon Girl"! Sadly there's no superhero suit to go along with this as there should be! This position is highly underrated on the responsibility pole! But alas it was just for the Working Cow and Roping events and most ropers could care less about a silly old ribbon! I know. Shocking! But it was a super fun day and I was able to hang out with some cool chicks! (Monica and Christy- you girls rock!)Later that night Kim,Mary and Robert (part of my peeps at home!) were at the show and took me to dinner for my birthday! That was more special to me than they will ever know!Thanks again guys!

Thursday was the beginning of my Ring Stewarding responsibilities. I worked with 2 guys who are super good at this role,George Kane and John Crabb. They wired us up like Secret Service! I know! Cool,huh!? I was able to work with fine AQHA judges and individuals like Gene Parker,Joe Carter,John Dean,Russ Smith,Pam Scott (whom I love!) and Carla Wennberg.I was in horse knowledge heaven!And the fellow ring stewards were fun to work with! I feel like I made lots of new friends at every turn,from all the committee people and MQHA directors!Everyone was great to work with!Fellowship with other horse enthusiasts is great for the soul!

Friday night was the Freestyle reining! Sitting on the back gate was my perch of choice and although my butt was sore for many days afterwards it was worth it to be that close to all the excitement!

Saturday I ditched the horse show for Tom and Suzy McBeath's last sale at the Dixie National.It was an emotional day for the family for sure.After helping get buyer numbers assigned,I helped run tickets to the sale office from the block for Monica and Laura.Fun girls to work with! Anyways,between running tickets,I was persuaded to take pictures! It was a beautiful day outside for sure! Here a few that I snapped!

By Sunday,after stewarding in the morning, I was just about ready to go home except for that DRIVE home.Two weeks is a long time away from the ones you love.It was an amazing experience to be able to work next to some of the best in their fields of expertise.I was sad to have to say good bye to my new friends but thank goodness for Face Book!

I hope you enjoyed reading about my adventure! It helped me in my journey to compete too since not only did I get to school with Tom and Shon but I got to watch and hang out with the folks I am going to eventually compete with...hopefully!

Keep smilin',ridin' and dreamin'!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Living the Dream.Well Part of it anyways!

November and December were filled with training on the trails with my girls,photography shoots, a trip to Vegas and of course the Thanksgiving and Christmas Holidays!

Now it's January 2010. This month has been amazing already and it's only half way through! I shot an ACTHA ride in MS on the 2nd. Met some amazing folks! Just returned from the Annual ALQHA Banquet last night and although I couldn't stay for it's entirety, it was a lot of fun too! Of course I met even more amazing folks there as well!

For a moment, let's flashback to 1985 when I lived in California from the ages of 10-18,my bedroom was covered in horse pictures from the AQHA Journal,and other stock horse publications. I hung out with Quarter Horse owners and finally bought my own AQHA gelding,a red dun by the name of Mateo Buck.I never showed in the registered shows. I was lucky enough to show in 4-H and a few Open shows in the timed events, but it was difficult to do much at all without the support of show parents. So I quietly worked in the background and soaked up all I could from the people I looked up to.They were quite a handy bunch for the most part too! But the point is, I have always loved the AQHA. The history, the grit,the versatility and the people. Sure I owned and showed Arabs a little bit as well but the AQHA was still near and dear to my heart.

Fast forward to the year 2000. I found myself working for Bartlett Ranch fitting sale fillies and halter breaking. I LOVED it! I was in heaven! Even managed to get a mention and picture in the 2001 May issue of America's Horse,AQHA's exclusive member magazine! I though I had hit The Big Time!

Present Day: I have married my sweet heart and gave birth to 2 boys. I have joined ALQHA to log my hours in the saddle,ridden on a few AQHA rides,ring stewarded under 6 AQHA judges at 3 AQHA shows,ridden with an AQHA Professional Horseman a few times,and have set goals to eventually compete in AQHA's VRH classes. Whew! And now ladies and gentleman, I am officially doing something I never dreamed would have happened: I AM ON THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS for ALQHA!

It's strange! I didn't want this position but have been asked for over a year to do it by officers and other board members. On the way home last night I had 2 hours in the truck by myself to think about this.What was I scared of? FAILURE! I hate failing and so many times I just refuse to try. I don't like this characteristic in others so why was I willing to accept it in myself? Time for me to BUCK UP!

My grandparents were great at serving! I always admired this trait in them and so did many others. They were passionately involved in a few organizations and made a difference. I always wanted to emulate that! It's such a great example to my boys and maybe,just maybe I CAN make a difference!

To the ladies who PUSHED me into this position I am grateful for the opportunity to TRY! To the others on the board and members of the ALQHA I hope I do not let you down.To my hubby and boys,thanks for understanding why I may be gone a little bit more often...and to the 10yr.old me: LOOK what we're doing!!

So I will end this entry with this: In 2010 if you hear the sound of opportunity knocking or feel that nudge from God,JUST DO IT!

PS-I also have been published for the first time! My picture "Fancy Cowgirl" starring Miss Lena Hernig is on page 140 of the Jan/Feb issue of the Palomino Horse Breeders of America magazine! She's also Miss August in their calendar! Go 2010!