Equestrian Life


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Going home!

I loaded Patriot on a fellow trainers trailer this morning to send him home. He is going to Salt Lake City to stay with Clifford Tipton for a few days, then to Kitty Lauman's. I will fly to Boise on Wednesday, drive to Enterprise, Oregon to retrieve my rig and then down to Kitty's for the weekend. Kitty and I are going to ride together on the trails near her ranch before I return home. Patriot gets to ride home with Ranger, the second place winner of the event!

I will miss the little guy, but I am going to use this time to catch up on my sleep. I hope to sleep peacefully for the next few days.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Fort Worth - Sunday - Adoption Day!

Last night, I did not sleep at all. I stayed late at the barn and hung out with Patriot. I was so scared I was going to lose him. I was happy and sad that nobody approached me to talk about adopting Pate. Maybe nobody wanted him? I was really emotional and started to cry.

I saddled him up and went down to the warm up arena to practise. They told us that we could show off our mustangs using some of the freestyle stuff we prepared. I worked Pate at liberty in the round pen and he was perfect. Sure, now you cooperate! I got on to ride and he rode exceptional and soft. Hmmm..

I was called to the adoption arena and when I got there, realized that I had forgotten my bidder card. Yikes! I asked if I had time to retrieve it and they said yes. I was not going to lose Pate today because I forgot my bidder card! I madly trotted to my stall and retrieved my card and loped back to the arena. In a panicked voice, I asked the auction crew how to bid and how to be high bidder. They told me just to tell the auctioneer that I wanted to be high bidder and how high I was willing to go. I told them, "As much as it takes!" All the horses that before us went for $2500 or less, so I felt confident that I could match that. My dad was willing to help out with the price up to that much. Thanks DAD!

Turns out I still had a few minutes and they provided a small warm up arena inside the main arena. I went in to ride and did a typical dressage warm up showing the crowd how soft and supple he was. I waited my turn in a panic, near tears.

I was given a couple minutes to tell the crowd about Pate. I told the crowd "That he was a fantastic horse. So fantastic, that I am taking him home!" Then the bidding war began, literally! All the people who were interested in Pate came out of the woodwork and started bidding. The price jumped from $1000.00 t0 $2500.00 in three bids. Then to $3000.00 and to $3500! As I trotted around the arena, purposely NOT showing him off, I was in tears, as I thought I was going to lose him. He was worth more to me than money, but I could only go so high. The bidding started to slow between $3500.00 and $3900.00. I heard the "SOLD!", but was not sure if I had won.

When I found out he was mine, I burst into tears and started shaking madly. I adopted Patriot, my little star, for $3900.00. I reached down and gave him a huge hug and struggled out of the arena in tears. I kept hearing people tell me congratulations and I thanked them. I had to sign some paper work as I exited. I was shaking soo bad that my signature was unreadable. As I left the arena, I was surrounded by the media, RFD-TV, Newsweek. They interviewed me as I was crying my eyes out. I could barely speak. They just smiled at me and kept filming. I went back to Pate's stall to many congratulations. My fellow trainers knew how badly I wanted him and they were happy for me.

Pate was the first horse in the arena to go for over $2500.00. He was not the highest priced mustang today, but he was MY mustang. I am soo happy to be taking him home! Many thanks to my fellow bidders for letting me!

Fort Worth - Saturday - The BIG Day!

The day is here! I head to the arena and start getting ready for the in-hand portion of the event. I don my new western outfit and we go over to the photo booth for some professional portraits. Don't worry. These were taken by my Dad. I'll post the real ones later!

Pate is in NO mood to work. He's grouchy, tired and irritable. As we warm up, he's taking pot shots at me with his teeth. This is not good. I am the 23rd horse into the ring. I can hear the cheers and Aww's as the previous competitors go through the course. The announcer keeps telling the trainers to "Memorize your course!" I guess many of the trainers are going off course. I am doing my best to remember it, not realizing how important that will become later.

Pate and I try to enter the ring, but he balks a bit. The gate crew give me a bit of assistance and we are in and ready. The crowd is AMAZING. There is literally 2000 murmuring people sitting all around us. It's standing room only. Camera's were flashing everywhere. WOW! I have shown at some big places, but this took the cake. I can't even describe the feeling.

We have to walk in, nod at the judges (who are sitting INSIDE the arena) and walk over a series of poles. We make it through that without nicking the poles. Nicking is a 1/2 point deduction. We walk straight through an "L" and then back out to the left. We then pivot 270 degrees to the right and trot to the next cone. So far we are doing good. We then have to pick up all four feet. Pate stands for all four then begins to walk off. Jeez. I quickly stop him and continue on to the walk over brush boxes. No problems or nicks. Then we load into a stock trailer and he follows me right in. I get applause for this, which surprises me. Didn't all the horses load before me?? The final part was a trot through a serpentine series of cones, RIGHT next to the arena wall with about 5 camera men and 20 people leaning over the wall. Pate enters the cones well, then spooks at a cameraman and bumps into me. Ugh. Whew! We are done with Part One.

I head back to his stall to give him a short break and get some lunch. I watch a bit of the competition and see MANY of the trainers going off course. I'm surprised.

I then go and tack up Pate to warm up for the "Horse Course". He is stiff and fighting me. He refuses to get off my right leg and throws his head around. Just great! I feel sorry for him, but ask him to try and maintain his composure. I am draw 18. As we warm up, my dad comes over to tell me that I am 9th going into the Horse Course! There is a 6 point spread between 1st and 10th place. I have a chance at the Top Ten! Many of the trainers received zeros for the first portion because they went off course. Now I know why they kept announcing "Know your course!"

We enter the arena, I am unmounted. I have to get on and lope down the arena wall, past the judges who are sitting inside the arena on the wall. He lopes, but on the wrong lead. We then have to stop at the cone and pivot 180 degrees and lope back down the wall past the judges again and around the end of the arena by the gate. He lopes, again on the wrong lead. As we go by the gate, he balks and I have to get after him. He kicks out at the whip. We then have to continue to lope around and through the center of the arena and do a simple change and then lope to the other end of the arena. As we pass through the center, Pate spooks at the bridge, hard to the right and back toward the gate. What the?? He nearly unseats me. I hear the sucking in of breath from the crowd as they think I am going to come off. No way Jose! I have to circle around and try again. I give a big "Yee Haw!" and the crowd laughs. This time he goes, but is stiff and uncooperative. I hear a lady in the crowd yell to me "You ride 'em, Cowgirl!"

We then have to stop at a cone, pivot 90 degrees and trot into a box and stop. We then have to pivot to the right twice, 360 degrees and then twice to the left. Pate nails this. Then we trot out of the box and through a serpentine set of two panels. He goes wide, but makes it through. As we exit, we must lope only two strides and stop in front of the bridge. Yeah, right. Pate's not ready for this yet and we just trot. We trot over the bridge with no hesitation and I shrug and throw my head back. The crowd laughs hard at this, because they are expecting him to balk at the bridge again. After the bridge we trot over a series of poles and into an "L". We then back through the "L" to the right and trot out of the ring. The crowd roars and cheers me on with support and praise.

I felt the weight of a horrible ride and the loss of a Top Ten finish, but I praise Pate for trying. I am immediately surrounded by the media and they interview me. I don't remember what I said. The cameraman, who had been watching me for the past few days expressed his surprise at Pate's performance. He said. "What happened? He's usually SO quiet?" I explained that he was really irritable and it was the first time he was alone in the ring by himself. Pate's always needed a little moral support from his fellow equines and he felt really alone out there.

It turns out that when we circled after the spook, we were off course and received a zero for the whole test. That dashed our Top Ten hopes. Oh well. Maybe people will not want him now that he showed his hinney! Big smile!
I put Pate away and went to watch the rest of the event. After a short break, they called all the trainers to the warm up arena for the Top Ten list. I congratulated the winning trainers and went back to settle into my seat for the finals. I spoke to a few trainers who expressed that their horses were irritable, as well. It was like someone went through the barns all night banging on pots and pans. The horses were just fried. Quite a few people approached me to tell me that I had a great seat and I rode well. I thanked them, feeling better about our performance.

The finals were entertaining and surprising at the same time. All the trainers did a great job and I am proud to be a part of an exceptional group of people.

Fort Worth - Friday - Busy Day!

Wow! Today we are slammed! I signed us up for one morning practise where we worked the obstacles from the ground. Pate did ok, but was dragging his feet. He is tired and has lost weight from his long travels. He does not seem to be eating very well. I am worried about him.

I then rush off to a two hour trainers meeting where we ate lunch, met more of our fellow trainers, met some of the judges, discussed the patterns to be used in the ground work and riding courses. Man, the patterns are HARD! Much different than what they warned us about. Many of the trainers are stressed about the difficulty of the patterns, especially the riding portion. There is a ton of loping in the test and many of the horses are not loping yet. It immediately kills the chances for the more novice horses. Pate has only JUST started to lope out and I am keeping my fingers crossed that he lopes at all, much less on the correct lead! The competition will be Pate's 25th ride in total.

Much to our excitement, they announce that Chris Cox, 2007 winner of the "Road to the Horse" will be there to be the 4th judge during the finals! Cheers and whistles erupt! Many trainers were concerned about the lack of a natural horsemanship type judge, as the other judges were big time Quarter Horse judges. Needless to say, Chris was the only judges name that I recognized. LOL

The trainers get to ask only ONE question each about the event. ONLY one. I ask if the trainer has to stay on the inside of the poles during the in-hand back through the "L". The answer is "Yes!" Many trainers ask about the adoption and how to ensure keeping their horses. The answer is "Bid the highest". That does NOT make me feel better. I think I am more worried about that, than the event.

We pick up our official Trainer shirts!

We then head over for a group picture.

I then have to present Pate in-hand for his conditioning score. He stands like a trooper and gets a high score, even though I know that he has lost ALOT of weight in the past few days. The score puts us tied for 7th along with about 8 other trainers!

I start my tack cleaning process, get Pate tacked up for his two afternoon riding sessions. My parents arrive at the arena to help.

Pate works REALLY well in the afternoon. He is soo soft, willing and compliant. I practise our loping and some of the maneuvers I know we will have to perform. He is so good and I feel ready.

I give Pate a bath and get him all sexy for the big day, then hurry back to the hotel to change for the big trainer introduction party at the Cowgirl Hall of Fame. The introduce us to the backdrop of the song, "Save a horse, Ride a Cowboy!" It was a long party and they announced that next year the competition will be even bigger with 200 horses and $75,000 in prize money! They are also doing a second event with 50 horses starting in February.

Unfortunately, the food runs out before the trainers get a chance to eat, so a few of us head out to dinner. We swap training stories and worry about the riding portion of the event.

We head back to the barn to feed our horses, hang around and chat for awhile, then I head over to Target to buy a few fans to to attach to Pate's stall. It is hot and the heat is getting to him. I want him to be as fresh as he can be in the morning, but the heat is sapping his strength. Once again, I cannot sleep. I have to get up REALLY early and I too exhausted and nervous. I end up only sleeping about 3 hours.

Fort Worth - Thursday - We are here!

We finally pull into Fort Worth to begin our time here at the EMM Competition. I feel a strange mix of fear, nerves, excitement and panic. I am excited to be here and to have made it this far. I am nervous about what is about to happen. But mostly I am scared that I will lose Patriot on Sunday to a higher bidder. The marque outside the arena says it all!

We have to get unloaded, checked in, signed up for our scheduled practise times, and wash horses/tack. I introduce myself to as many of the trainers as I can. I am excited to finally meet some of the horses and trainers that I read about on all the blogs and web sites. They are so nice and welcoming, that I feel part of a great new group of people.

The place is huge and HOT! It's 109 degrees outside and we are sweating bullets as we unload the trailer and find our stalls. The stalls and warm up arena are all inside a building connected to the main arena. Luckily the main arena is air conditioned!

The main arena is huge. Several of the trainers are practising already. They have put trail obstacles out for us to practise on.

Horses and trainers are arriving by the boat load. The media is every where! RFD-TV, Newsweek, Western Horseman, and National Geographic!

I get settled in, tack up Pate and head for the main arena. Pate just walks in like he had done it many times before. He gives a little start when he sees a person standing on the rail above him, but then just settles into a nice gait and works well in his practise. I signed him up for his three practise sessions back to back, in order to give him enough time to settle in, warm up, work the obstacles and cool down.

I put Pate up for the night and head to the hotel, since I was sharing a ride, but I was wishing I could stay around to meet the other trainers and watch them work.

My parents arrive and come and get me for dinner. They give me their rental car and I drop them off at their hotel. I have trouble falling asleep and I am awake until 2 am.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Last stop before the end of the line..

Well, we have made it to our last destination, Oklahoma City, OK, before dropping down into Texas. We were told not to arrive at Will Rogers Center before 8 am on Thursday, so we are hanging out at one last overnight stop.

I wanted to send out a very special Thank you to Jaime and Cleve of Cross Country Boarding in Augusta, KS. Pate and Chance stayed at their very nice facility last night. I highly recommend this facility to our fellow horse travelers! Jaime, we really appreciate your generous donation of our overnight fee! We will be back again next year!

Since our last few days traveling have been short, we have had a fair bit of time to ride and play. We took some time this morning in Kansas to school more water and I worked with Pate and a tarp.
Vixen and I are so glad to have taken this time with our horses. We have seen much of the back roads of the USA, passed through or visited 8 states and have enjoyed getting to know each other. We are also excited to say that we have ridden our mustangs in 5 different states in as many days! Our boys are getting quite the passport!
We are only two days away from the final event. Once we arrive in Texas tom morrow, we will have two days to school in the actual arena that we are showing in on Saturday. This event is actually MUCH bigger than I had originally imagined. The trainers have a media party on Friday night and we are getting wind of a trade show for shopping at the event. The final trainer count is 82 participating trainers and horses. Wish us luck as we try to make the top ten.

Monday, September 17, 2007

On the road again..

Vixen saying Good Bye!
Jamie, Kindle, Pate and Chance

Vixen loving on Chance at a rest stop

Well, Patriot and I, Vixen and Chance and Vixen's husband, Ryan are on the road to Texas! We left Washington on Saturday, travelled through Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming and are now in Colorado. It's been a long few days and Pate is acting nervous. I think he senses that his Mom is getting nervous. He's doing ok, but is not eating as well as I had hoped. I will have to learn to control my nerves, as Pate reads my emotions very well. I'm glad I decided to travel with him instead of shipping him and flying down.

He has bonded with Chance and now they are like glue. Well, actually, Pate is glued up to Chance, but Chance could care less about Pate! LOL Looking forward to splitting them up in Texas. NOT!

I can now recommend a couple of nice horse B&B's to visit if you are travelling from Washington to Texas. Let me know if you want their names.

We have tried to exercise the boys every night, but being cooped up in a trailer for three days tends to make two young bay mustangs very spunky! Yeehaw! We at least had a chance to take a nice relaxing trail ride today.

We have a few more days before we arrive in Ft. Worth on Thursday morning. We will be stopping in KS and Oklahoma City, before dropping down into Texas. I will post road pix and more updates as we get internet access.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Time is short..

Pate has had the last few days off, as I pack and prepare to leave for Texas on Saturday. I will be gone for 14 days. Preparing my business for my departure has taken a fair bit of time, as well as planning for farm care of my 8 other horses and 5 dogs.

First, I will travel to Oregon and hook up with another EMM trainer, Vixen Barney. We, along with her husband, will travel together, for 6 days, as we take our time. We have hopes to stop and ride along the way at a few of our country's parks.

I have to admit that when I was traveling home from the show on Sunday, I was crying. I am rather sad at the thought that I only have a few days left with this wonderful horse. I credit this rather emotional behavior to why I am NOT a professional trainer. I get too attached! LOL

I read the other day that Kitty Lauman is offering Ranger's potential adopter continued training until Ranger is more "finished". I wanted to throw that offer out there for Pate, as well. He can come home with me for more training, if desired. This is, of course, only if he does not come home as MY horse! LOL

English show pony takes Blue!

Patriot and I stayed overnight to participate in a schooling show at Black Raven Stables on Sunday. Since Pate has a more forward moving trot, I thought it best to enter him into the English classes. I dressed him up in my dressage saddle and bridle and entered into a few flat classes. I think he looks rather cute as an English show pony, dont you?. So did the judge, as she pinned him Blue in the Green Horse class! He also took 4th in the walk/trot and 5th in the Novice class. I was so excited that he did so well that I forgot to take a picture of him with his ribbons!
I had also signed him up for a few western classes, but dropped them when he became tired from the morning classes. He did well and I did not feel it necessary to push him after Saturday's clinic and the English classes.
Later, he showed a fellow show participant, Cindy, how to work liberty. I showed Cindy how to to work Pate off of the line. Cindy was so excited that she got her own horse out and we worked for a while in the round pen.

Trail clinic

On Saturday, Pate and I headed north to Black Raven Stables for a trail clinic taught by Trail Judge, Jackie Davenport. We signed up for the Novice class with hopes to practice obstacles with a critical eye watching.

Pate found the multicolored poles and configurations a challenge, but lived up to his nature by trying really hard to do his best. Jackie, an Arab trainer, was very impressed with Patriot and how far he has come in the short 90+ days. She also said, "You can see it in his eyes, He just ADORES you!

While I have never shown western trail before, I was intrigued with the technical aspects of it. It reminded me of a time I used to jump 4'-9" fences. The words stride, balance and chip were all words and concepts I was familiar with and therefore related to quickly. BUT, trail is not easy! Pate has a more forward trot than a western pleasure horse and we had to figure out how to slow it all down to what seemed like a crawl.

While the work we did on Saturday was more technical that what we will be asked to do in the challenge, it was good experience. Pate was required to stay in his frame properly over the poles and bend through his ribcage while trotting through "L's". I am proud to say that Pate was the only novice horse to carry a trot the "L's"!

Friday, September 7, 2007


I have been asked recently what my training style was...old skool, natural horsemanship, English, Western, etc. Well, I have to say that it is a combination of all of them! I am a trained dressage competitor and have schooled horses to the FEI levels. I have jumped up to 4'-9" fences and evented for years. I team penn, ranch sort and trail ride. I use all the skills I have learned through the years and have enhanced my training "tool box" with the natural horsemanship techniques of John Lyons, Pat Parelli and Steve Rother. But mostly, I seek new and fun ways to teach my horses how to be riding partners that are happy with their job.

It is important to me that I do not over face my young horses and push them too fast, too soon. So I mix things up and do a combination of arena riding, trail riding and other fun stuff. I have been extremely lucky with Patriot. He has accepted all of my requests with a happy heart and an eagerness to learn. He surprises me all the time! This time, he surprised me with cows!

Last night, Patriot and I went ranch sorting. Luckily, twice a month, a local trainer arranges to have cows brought to the fairgrounds for sorting and I signed us up! I did not go to be competitive, just to expose Pate to cows and ride him in another arena. You never know what they are going to surprise us with in Texas. After all, it is cow town!

You may all get tired of me saying this, but Pate was fantastic! He's got COW in him! He walked into that pen, right up to the backside of a cow and bit him on the butt! LOL The cows started moving and he followed. After a few minutes, he started tracking a cow and taking my guidance on how to push one. Not long after, he was reading the cows and starting to cut them off. I was amazed! I have a few cow horses and I enjoy riding a horse that is cowy, but who knew! Pate, my little gaited...cow pony! While it is going to take more than one night to turn him into a penner, he has it in him!

Pate also took his first official dressage lesson this week. He thought that the two tracking, leg yields, and shoulders-in movements were challenging physically, but all good work outs always are! Think of dressage as body building for horses. Imagine a horse doing tummy tucks and lunges and you will understand why these skills are a challenge. This was the first time my dressage instructor has seen Pate and complimented me on how happy he is to be doing his job. I am happy he is happy!