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:

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'!