Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Redsmom - Wordy Wednesday

It's already Wednesday! I can't believe it. I waited for my shoer way early in the a.m., he didn't show. I still got to work late. I become more sympathetic by the minute to those horsaii out there who juggle full time jobs, families and horses.

I am sooooo guilty of giving my former students and clients the stink eye when they told me they didn't have time to ride. Or didn't manage to get their horse shod.

"You just have to ride," I would say, "There's time if you make it."

HA! I say. Anyway, I humbly apologize to everybody out there who I made feel guilty because they spent time with their husbands on the week-end or went to a daughters soccer game instead of showing for a lesson. I get it.

Redsmom has been truly just getting out there and doing it. Which is 100% the best way to learn. Sometimes she's overwhelmed, sometimes she's proud, it's always exciting. This is what we all need to be doing. Just getting out there.

Also, I need some questions...If I haven't answered, please ask again, I'm a bit of a space cadet these days.

First Show

I drove my 11 year old nuts to get to the show early. We made it for about 10:30 a.m., but forgot the cameras. We had plenty of drinks, but no food. There was supposed to be a concession stand. I had potato chips for breakfast. At about 7:30 p.m. my daughter handed me a half eaten hamburger some kid’s mom had given her, thank God. I was too nervous to be hungry, anyway.

I decided on my familiar practice/working rig instead of the stiff new saddle I bought for my daughter’s horse which is pretty and has a tiny bit of silver. “No use putting on airs,” I thought. “We are what we are at this point.”

The weather was fabulous - it got up to about 80 and there was a slight breeze. I had a tank top for getting dirty and running around in. There was a print-out for reining at the sign-in. It was a booklet of the NRHA patterns and rules. The Show secretary (volunteer) had no idea about the pattern of the day.

There was no pattern posted at the gate. “Okay, I won’t panic, I’ll just go warm up.” The arena is at the park and there are a couple of cleared, grass areas for warm up. I went to the farthest, most remote and worked on loping Matty. He was perky and willing to run and run.

Mind you, he’s 23, a kid horse I bought for my daughter that turned out to have hidden depths which I now exploit. He was apparently once a barrel horse, has cow and reins like a dream (when he wants to). He is a grumpy old bastard with no patience for putting his head down and doing a 4-beat. When we trot and lope, we are going to cover some ground, by gum. I think we call that “scopey” in the hunter world. Big strides, but he’s smooth as silk with his extra-long back. The back is well-balanced with his long neck, though and he’s a big old rocky horse in his slow lope. He’s liver chestnut, with a bleached out mane and tail, by the way. 15.3 and butt high. Nice, dappled legs, bow legged in the back.

I put on boots, front and back. Bell boots in front, too. As I started to practice, I had some kind of weird thing going on where I couldn’t let go of the tail end of the reins with my left hand. I tried to hold it out. I tried to pinch my shirt. The hand persisted in holding the reins. I gave in and conceded those points were a goner for the day. We loped around until he settled, some. I walked him around the trailers, looking for friends to visit with. I don’t know that many front end people.

I took Matty back to my trailer, loosened his cinch and my daughter gave him water. Miraculously, he drank and drank. We usually have trouble with him drinking away from home. I had my salty potato chip breakfast and we watched trail. It is like watching grass grow. I joked to my daughter that Matty could do that class a whole lot faster than those front end horses. Loud-mouthed trainer, R___ M_____ had brought his whole school of lady robots and his umpteen daughters and granddaughters to dominate the field, but he was more subdued than usual. He wasn’t yelling out commands from the fence yesterday. Must have been on his meds.

I couldn’t sit still for long and wandered over to Ken Bird’s trailer. He’s a club board member, nice old fellow and flirt. From him, I finally found out that the reining pattern was to be NRHA no. 1. He had written it on one of the papers posted at the gate, but in my nervousness I didn’t see it. I was looking for a diagram of the pattern to be posted. Oh, joy was mine when I found it was to be good old no. 1. I checked our brochure to make sure it was the same and it was.

I practiced on foot for Mrs. Dee, my daughter’s horse’s trainer. (Mrs. Dee Senez - first female jockey in the state of Texas and inductee of the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame. Sweetest, most patient teacher of the kiddies on the planet. Her husband, Mr. Tutti, was away berating some poor jockey somewhere in North Louisiana at a race track where he’s running 2 or 3 TBs). She threatened to put a spade bit on me to settle me down. She is 70 something and was trying to take a nap underneath her goose neck in a chair.

I got back on Matt and took him to practice no. 1 in the back field, again. Bear in mind that this “field” has a bunch of trees, bushes, and a sign that says, “No horses beyond this point!” which makes a good stopping post. But it is mowed and relatively flat between the obstacles. We practiced a tiny version of the pattern .

The lead changes were going great, but then poor Matt stumbled on some roots on the ground and spraddled his back end. He held me in the saddle like the reliable old kid horse that he is. I thought I might have lamed him, but he was okay. He’s a tough old boy and didn’t even limp, so we walked the pattern after that. He moved up into a trot, so he was okay. He wanted to lope some more. I made another circuit of the trailers, put him at our trailer and loosened his cinch. He drank some more water!! And then dozed patiently.

Some back-end people started to show up, so I visited. Back-end people brought interesting horses of all shapes and sizes. Teen aged girls showed up followed by lanky teen aged boys in their wake. Front -end progressed in a painfully plodding manner. I chain-smoked a pack of cigarettes and drank gatoraide. I plodded back and forth to the restroom. I tried on my chaps and took them back off. I changed shirts lying down on the truck seat. I jammed my hat down on my head and put on lipstick.

Funny insert here. I decided on Friday that I couldn’t wear my ancient western shirt, so I went to the Western Store at 5:50 p.m. They close at 6:00. The cranky old broad that runs the store tried to sell me a plaid shirt. She always tries to sell me a plaid shirt. I’m not into plaid. I bought a black one with white trim. But, when we got tho the show, the lady judge had on a plaid shirt. I laughed to my daughter and said I should have listened to the cranky lady at the western store. Anyway, I felt I looked the part once I was in costume.

I rode Matt out to the field one more time. I saw kids spinning their horses like crazy. Our spins were for shit for the day and I accepted it. Finally, they announced the number order for reining. There were 6 people and I was last. I didn’t want to be first, but I would have given a toe to be second and get it over with. I talked the drag tractor operator’s ear off while we waited. My daughter’s friends continually asked me if it was my turn yet. I managed to answer them sweetly and be thankful for their support. My daughter gave me some gum and told me it was calming gum. I believed her.

Our club just started having reining, so it is an open age class with no points. The first entrant was little girl about 9 on a front-end plodder. Nice little horse. Nice little girl. Obnoxious father. She blew the pattern right away. Her father yelled out the pattern from the gate area. I tried not to be pissed. I’m sure the judge, up in the little open-air watch tower, could hear him as well as I could.

That one was bad enough, but the second kid was this guy’s other, much younger daughter on a much slower front-end horse. I tried to smile indulgently at the cute picture they made. She had no clue as to the pattern and wandered around the arena for 10 or 15 minutes, I kid you not. I thought I was going to die. The father kept yelling out instructions. The little girl, about age 5, ignored him completely and proceeded in some imaginary course, the logic of which eluded me completely. Every once in awhile she would stop in a random area of the arena and do something. I couldn’t figure out how we were going to know when she was finished.

I was exploding inside. I silently wondered whether there was some kind of time limit on these things. I spit it out my “calming gum” and smoked another cigarette. I put my forehead on the horn of my saddle. Matty watched the grass grow and wished he could have some.

Third, was the little boy, about 11, who wins everything and doesn’t talk to anyone. His parents were the ones who made the motion to start having reining. He did well. His spins were really good. An older lady went next and did real well. A teen girl went next and did the best. They all paused before turning back when they did their rollbacks. I vowed to show them the correct way to do this.

Finally, it was my turn. I was glad it was No. 1 because you get to enter loping. I figured I would look more in control than having Matty prance in on a tight rein to a starting point in the center. I forgot to look at the judge. I was running in from the alley as soon as the last girl was clear. I was at the center cones by the time they finished announcing my name and number. I noted this with some chagrin as I bored down toward the far end.

3/4 of the way down I realized my crazy left hand was holding the horn. I let go. I sat down. I looked up at the trees and sky. I’m glad I retained something from all those lessons, years ago. “Look UP! Don’t look at the ground,” came to me naturally. I also retained, from majorette days, the ability to talk like a ventriloquist through a clenched smile. I glanced at the cones out of my periphery without turning my head (also a skill from marching band).

I kept up a steady dialog of instructions and encouragement with Matty. “Okay all the way down to the end straight, straight, straight, good good good now rollback and lets go straight straight straight now rollback again good good. The old SOB rolled back and ran like a champ. No head tossing, no acting stupid. So far, so good. Back to the center cones, remember to say whoa and then pull. Sit down, say whoa, pull. We stopped. No slide, but clean and pretty straight. He had been fighting me on backing up all day. He didn’t fight me in the pen. To my utmost relief about 9 steps put us past the center cone. Good enough.

Here, I remembered Mugs advice. I briefly took account of my pounding heart. I breathed and rearranged my reins. I thought about where I would put my legs. I pulled him right for the spins. He wanted to go really slowly. I kicked and pulled and tried to move him a little forward to help. Not too good. I felt like I needed to stop and gather my thoughts before doing the left spins even though I don’t think you’re supposed hesitate there.

Mugs’ advice came to me, “Ride softer than usual, not harder.” We did 4 1/4 left tiny circles. I stopped, facing the bleachers. I felt a surge of confidence. I breathed and smoothed my reins.

I thought about my left canter departure. I picked up my left rein with my left hand and put it back down. I gathered my reins in my right hand. I looked up higher than the bleachers. I fogged out the people - I didn’t see them at all. I kicked with my right foot behind the girth and kissed. We were off, Matty rocking that big neck down and pushing.

I looked up at the trees. I saw my path. It was sand colored with the hoof prints already made. “Okay, biiiig circle,” I told Matty through my clenched smile. What a nice lope he gave me. Fast, but not too fast. He came in for the smaller, slower circle like he had done it all his life.

Then, he lost a little momentum. He trotted a stride. I popped him with the rein ends before I had even thought about it. “There go the points, I thought, oh well, put on a good show for the fans, anyway. Look like you know what you’re doing and it will be alright.”

He picked it up. We did our second large and fast. I missed the dead center of the arena and didn’t start my left circle until I was 1/4 of the way back to the left fence.

I told him to change leads. I kicked it. I felt the lead change. We were golden. The second set of circles was perfect. I looked at the trees and sky. The path was there in little hoofy prints. I thought about how close we were to being finished. We crossed over again, closer to the fence than the middle, but we changed leads.

We huffed around the top of the circle which passed the in-and out gate. Matty tried to slow near the gate. He started to roar like a snoring husband. I kicked and kicked with every stride. I thought about Mugs’ description, “Gaining speed with every stride,” on the run down. I said to Matty, “Faster, faster, faster faster.” He sped up, though I felt him wanting to quit. In about 4 of his giant strides I saw the center cones out of the corner of my eye. I sat down. I said “Whoa.” I pulled. He stopped, paddling forward a little bit. No slide.

I was leaning forward patting his neck before I thought about it. I sat back and paused there, “Hesitate to demonstrate completion,” I thought. Too late for that, I thought.

We turned and walked to the gate. It was over. I was proud.

As soon as I cleared the alley I got off and loosened his cinch. Matty got hugs from my daughter and me. He put his ears back at this public display of affection, as usual. He got unsaddled, watered and hayed at the trailer before they even announced the winners.

The teenage girl got first, the older lady got second, the annoying boy got 3rd. I got 4th with a 67. I beat the two grade schoolers with the obnoxious father. I was just proud that I didn’t make a fool of myself.

I congratulated the winners that I saw on my way to the secretary’s desk. My daughter dragged me up there to get my ribbon. I loved Matty before, but I love him even more, now. We showed them what an old barrel horse can do!Not only did Matt do all that for me, but he also carried my daughter through quads, stake race, poles, straightaway barrels and arena race.

Her new horse is at the trainers. I reserved Matt for barrels. He was still prancy and full of piss when I got back on him at 10:00 p.m. Good thing I didn’t do the jackpot, though because although he burst out of the gate like a bat out of hell, he flubbed the first barrel. There is a stupid shadow at that arena that always spooks him. Must remember to run left first there. He still hauled ass through 2 and 3 and back to the gate. What a guy.

This morning his reward is tooling around my front yard eating my lawn. He just passed the kitchen window, snorting happily. Too bad I have to give him a full bath, today. He hates that, but he will be happier without a saddle mark sunburn. Anyway, just had to share this with someone who would be interested in my small saga. We are going to the only cow clinic I can find in April. Can’t wait.

Every country-boy looking guy I meet I ask them whether they have any cows. I’m trying to get the nerve to ask my hay man if I can chase his cows one day. He has 2 little ones born in January that ought to be ripe for chasing in a few months. Since Ella’s horse is still at the trainer, I might take Matty to team penning next Friday. Its actually just sorting even though they call it penning around here. In fact, I think I will do just that.


Albigears said...

Loved this story. I felt like I was there. Thank you!

My QH mare turned 25 yesterday. I've had 24 years with her. I did a tribute to her on my blog. The oldies really pull at your heartstrings, huh?

SunnySD said...

Don't know why this made me sniffle, maybe it's that kind of day. But lovely! I can just picture it all in my head in living color, right down to the meandering-pattern girls and the plaid-shirted judge. Thanks for sharing, Redsmom!

Anonymous said...

Loved the story! Congrats on your good run and good horse. Do you have a blog, Redsmom?

onetoomany said...

Whoo, reading the waiting parts made me nervous! I can totally relate to all the jitters and impatience. First show of the season is coming up on the 10th and I am for sure not looking forward to the nervous parts.

Little Bird Lucy said...

Hi Mugs and Redsmom,
Thanks for the post today, it was a great read. I ride English but love to hear about "the other side". Redsmom- I've looked at your blog before and am so glad that Matty has worked out so well for you! He sounds like a great guy! I am considering showing this summer for the first time in my life in the "puddle jumpers" class here, I totally get your nerves. The thought of showing makes my knees knock!
Mugwump- If you have a chance would you mind posting what my next step with Tucker (speeding up the pluggy horse) would be. Thanks so much for all your help, I know you are very busy.


Char said...

Congratulations Redsmom! Way to ride it like you stole it. Matty sounds like one in a million.

Fyyahchild said...

Thanks, Redsmom. It's nice to hear someone else's inside voice at a show to know I'm not the only one. :)

mugwump said...

GoTuckerGo - Where are we at? Catch me up - I'm old, tired and forgetful

crochetyolelady said...

Redsmom, that was a GREAT read, and I found it entertaining as well.!

autumnblaze said...

Loved this. :)

Mugs... I'm sure I'll have questions again soon. However I'm going to rave once more and thank you. Gator and I are going beautifully - my instructor was blown away last Sunday. :) She was amazed at the movement in my hips sitting the trot/cantering. Out of worry, I'd lock my lower back, hips followed suit. I was actually rating his speed at the canter! I've never done that effectively (to his credit he really knows how to use his rear end) but she was amazed at how athletic HE is this lesson. I think I'm really getting out of his way and I am having SO much fun!!! Also, our last few trail rides have been incident free - even through the area I got tossed and came on here in a tissy. I think the same squirrel tried to rattle us... he flicked an ear and I laughed. So we've been going farther and longer distances. :)

mugwump said...

Autumnblaze - How cool is that. Don't you love it when your instructor watches you with her mouth hanging open? Of course it used to kill me when I'd have one of my students blow me away and then say "I learned this from the guy at the feed store." Oh well.

Little Bird Lucy said...

So far we've worked on stepping into walk/ trot when asked. He usually does on a light squeeze, occcasionally I have to give a little kick to get a trot. Not really a problem anymore. Yay! We maintain our walk/ trot until told otherwise. Yay! :) It is not a forward pace, but rather I'm gonna plug along and if I thought you wouldn't spank me I would have stopped 5 minutes ago kinda thing. But, he's moving and I'm not flapping around up there begging him to go. As far as cantering, he will step into it within 5-6 steps most of the time. One problem I have had recently is he dives in when he feels me bridge the reins to jockey smack his backside to get moving and my riding instructor is afraid if I let him do that and don't correct him for it immediately it will become a problem. She suggested if he blatantly trots through my canter cue to make him stop short and ask him again. What do you suggest? For this reason I haven't worked on this a lot cas' I didn't want to mess it up. I'd like him to move along a bit during walk/trot. So now how do I get him to increase his paces? I liked the sound of increasing their speed with each cluck you had mentioned.He is already easier to ride and I am grateful for your advice.


Lisa Grayson

Esquared said...

Awesome story, I've never shown but you certainly make it sound exciting. I have an oldy too, he's 39 this year and still blows past everybody else on the trails in a slightly out of control manner. Your Matty sounds a lot like him though probably a bit better trained :)

fuglyhorseoftheday said...

I love to hear about the old guys still sound and feisty and competing! Thanks for sharing that.

Laura crum said...

Redsmom--I really enjoyed your story. Great writing, as well as fun to hear about you and your good old boy.

Beasley the Wonder Horse said...

Hay! You said you wanted questions. I put a question in somewhere and I'll be darned if I can't find it now. You don't automatically get a notice if someone add something to an older post?

Let me try to find it.

Redsmom said...

Thank you all for reading and posting such nice comments. I am humbled tht you enjoyed my story. My adventures with Matty continue and I will keep you all posted. I have an old blog, mostly about my crazy horse, Dude, but it has pictures of Matty.
I will start updating it again.

Horses Are Our Lives said...

loved the story. yes, you definately go to your team penning with him! enjoy him and just ride!

Shanster said...

Fun story!! Thanks for sharing!

mugwump said...

Pines4equines - Get notice when somebody adds to an old post? Can you do that? I just cruiose through once in a while...

Redsmom said...

Here's a good blog entry with some photos of my daughter riding Matt. The lady in the photo is my mother, Ella's grandmother. Notice Ella has her offside boot off and her sock toe is showing in the riboon pic. LOL.

LuvMyTBs said...

"I loved Matty before,I love him even more now.

Aren't the older horses just the best!! I LOVE the golden oldies as they are usually so kind,bombproof and ready to show the youngsters how it's done when you need them to.

Here's to our mutual love of old horses,Sam Elliot and Robert Duvall!

moosefied said...

I really enjoyed your story, Redsmom. I know nothing about your discipline; well, I know a tiny little bit; but you write very well, and made your experience vivid and immediate. I could feel the anxiety and the efforts to calm oneself, too.

Andrea said...

Hey Mugs, a few of my friends thought I should see about submitting a post I just wrote for Wordy Wednesdays about my first horse, a gelding I lost exactly five years ago yesterday. Check it out... maybe if you think it's worth it I'll submit it!

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