Wednesday, June 30, 2021

June horses: Guaranteed

Diana owns two horses: Stealth and his younger half-brother, Guaranteed.
Prior to this year, I'd ridden Guaranteed only occasionally and always with Diana. My impression of him was that of an athletic, well trained but bland mount. I liked him okay, but much preferred opinionated, quirky Stealth.
That changed last January. Diana went to California for a couple weeks and asked me if I would ride both boys while she was away. I was happy to oblige, but neither of us thought to warn Guaranteed. He  was absolutely dumbfounded when I saddled him up and took him for a ride without Diana present. He could barely walk a straight line, and it was all I could do to get him pointed down the trail. He got better as the ride went on, and I thought we were golden, but no. On our next ride, he went from confused to sulky. Although he was well behaved, he made it clear that this was unacceptable to him, and he was ready for his mom to come home. 
Fortunately, the third ride was the charm. For the first time ever, I felt like I got to meet the real Guaranteed. It turns out that he is every bit as interesting and fun to ride as his brother.
I've ridden him many times since then, both with and without Diana. 
This month, we took our relationship to a new level with our first solo ride.
Diana has been encouraging me to do this for a while, but I wasn't sure we were ready.
As we turned away from the barn, Guaranteed wasn't sure either.  I channeled Diana and told him to, "Get up there!" After that, we were just fine.
Up the hill. Down the hill.
No one ahead.
No one behind.
No one as far as the eye could see.
We trotted and cantered and crossed the river multiple times.
I can't believe I used to think this was a boring horse.
It's such a privilege having horses like Stealth and Guaranteed in my life. Thank you, Diana, for sharing your boys with me.

June horses: Stealth

When Stealth was younger, he and his owner, Diana, competed in a lot of endurance races. 
Sometimes - usually in transitions between gaits - his left stifle would lock up. Although it corrected itself pretty quickly, his vital stats would shoot through the roof, and he'd get eliminated at the vet check. On the advice of her vet, Diana started giving him monthly hormone shots. Between that and his eventual transition from race horse to trail horse, Stealth hasn't had a problem with his stifle in more than a dozen years. In fact, it's been so long since it happened, Diana never thought to warn me about the possibility.
A couple weeks ago, Mary Jo, Karen, Therese and I decided to skip our usual morning ride in favor of an evening outing.
I rode Stealth and he was his best self - alert, forward, responsive and enthusiastic.
The light is different in the evenings. 
Our usual trail - which I know so well - looked different, magical.
It was truly a picture perfect ride.
Rides like that should last forever, so instead of getting off when we got back to the barn, Karen and I took our horses into the ring. We did a little trotting, but Stealth was eager. He stepped into a canter, and he felt so good, I decided to roll with it. We made a lap of the ring without incident. Then I felt him get just a little unbalanced behind. I sat down in the saddle to ask for a trot, and his whole back end fell out from underneath me.
I bailed off, and he was standing on three legs, head down, nostrils flared in pain. It was his stifle, of course, but I didn't know that yet. I was sure that one of my biggest fears had come true, and I'd broken someone else's horse. It took ten minutes for him to put his foot down, then another ten before he bearing any weight on it. Fortunately, after that, he got better quickly. By that time, I'd talked to Diana. I knew what had happened, and I knew he was going to be okay.
I've ridden him several times since then. We've trotted, we've cantered. He's fine. I'm fine. We're all fine. Thanks for the scare, old man. That was far and away the most memorable ride of the month. Let's not do that again.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Never say never

I recently took part in a fun group project. Erin Corbett commissioned Anne Field, Maire Lanzafane and I to create a complete Argentine polo set-up for her amazing new polo pony by Melanie Miller.

As you can probably guess, Anne made the doll, Maire made the saddle pad and I made the tack. 
For the most part, the tack was a more detailed version of the prototype I made for Breyer back in 2014,
The most complicated part - by far! - was the overgirth.
Anne sent me a piece of the fabric she used to make the doll's shirt, plus some 3/8" grosgrain ribbon that matched reasonably well. Ideally, I would have used the ribbon for the overgirth, 
Unfortunately, the 3/8" ribbon wasn't actually 3/8". As much as I wanted to make it work, it just didn't look right.
I tried to source narrower ribbon. When that was unsuccessful, I moved on to Plan B. 

Nichelle Jones posted a do-it-yourself bias binding tutorial back in 2018. At the time, I thought I would never use this information... Well, never say never!
It turns out that bias binding is surprisingly easy to make, and even though it barely shows in any of the photos, I'm pleased with that overgirth.
That was a fun project. Thank you, Nichelle, for the behind the scenes assist, and good luck to Erin and her polo pony at BreyerFest!

Monday, June 28, 2021

Why the Chicken Crossed the Road results, part two

There were five divisions in Danielle Feldman's Why the Chicken Crossed the Road Photo Show: Everything Else Performance, Western Performance, English Performance, Creativity Challenge and Halter. Today's first post was all about the halter and Creativity Challenge classes. Now it's on to the regular performance divisions!

Everything Else Performance opened with a Scene class, which was won by my good girl, Maeve.
That was followed by a Regalia/Costume class. Shalimay was my highest placer with a fourth place finish. After that, there were two harness classes. Harness is not my strength, and I had to dig deep to create these entries.
It was worth it, though. Dun Up Purdy placed sixth in Pleasure/Fine Harness and second in Working Harness/Combined Driving. 
My other all-around horse, Theodore, won the Parade...
and Showmanship classes. 
Dun Up Purdy was fourth in Showmanship and also in Other Performance.
I figured both of them had to be in contention for the division Championship, and sure enough, Dun Up Purdy was named Reserve Champion to Lisa Smalley's Frederick. Boy, am I glad I end entered those harness classes!
Western was next. Dun Up Purdy started strong with a fifth in Cutting/Roping,
and second in Extreme Cowboy.
He didn't win any classes, but he placed in most of them. All those points added up to a Western Championship.
Onto English! I won three classes in this division: Hunter/Jumper with Flying Phoenix,
English Games with Dun Up Purdy...
and English Rail Class with Hy Society Silver. I had some other good placings, but not enough to get a division title. 
That's okay. I didn't need it. With two division Champs and a Reserve, Dun Up Purdy was the Overall Champion of the show. It just goes to show, there is a formula for success in the performance ring. Show one horse in every class and make every entry count. Of course, luck helps, too!
Thank you for holding such a fun show, Danielle. I really enjoyed it!

Why the Chicken Crossed the Road results, part one

Friday was the results show for Danielle Feldman's Why the Chicken Crossed the Road Photo Show.

Because this show was held on Facebook, entrants already knew their individual class placings. Those were announced in real time, as each class was judged. Halter results came first. The classes in this division were huge, so I wasn't expecting much. Imagine my surprise, when several of my horses received good ribbons, including first in a foal class with one hundred seven entries!
The second division to be judged was the Creativity Challenge. The first class was Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road? My answer to this was, "Free Breyers"! It was good enough for fourth place.
The best way to win performance championships is to show one horse in as many classes as possible, and to make every entry count. There were twelve classes in the Creativity Challenge, and I showed my old horse, Dun Up Purdy in nine of them. This one is Raining Cats and Dogs. He placed first in this one. My other entry, Hollywood Lassie, was third.
To make Dun Up Purdy's entries more memorable, I decided that all of them would include chickens. This one is Time Flies When You're Having Fun. I like the concept of this photo, with its long shadows indicating a long but good day. Sadly, the execution is not quite up to par. It placed fifth. Jennibray and Love N Stuff also showed in this class and placed third and fourth respectively. 
In addition to chickens, all but one of Dun Up Purdy's Creativity Challenge photos featured a "horse girl" and a "chicken guy". This one - which was entered in Ignorance is Bliss - is titled "Ignorance is Bliss/Love is Blind/My Boyfriend Helped". It placed first, just ahead of Olivia's back-to-back double bareback horror show.
Dun Up Purdy's entry for It Takes Two to Tango was essentially the same set-up as Time Flies, just shot in different lighting and from a lower angle. It was third in this class.
For No Such Thing As a Free Lunch, I got out all the dolls that had ridden, driven and led Dun Up Purdy throughout this show. I added a lot of ribbons and food for everyone except poor Purdy. This was good enough for fifth. Beep's sandwich thief photo placed third.
The next class was Can't Judge a Book By Its Cover.  I really love tiny books so I was super happy to win first and second with Dun Up Purdy and Tucker.
I didn't get my act together for Don't Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth. The only Braymere entry was an old picture of Love N Stuff. Fourth place.
The horse girl and chicken guy made it official in Look Before You Leap. This placed second.
I chose "Putting the Cart Before the Horse" for the Choose Your Own Adventure Idiom class. This earned Purdy his fourth blue ribbon of the division.
Tell Me a Story was a collage class, so of course, I made a collage showing using my photos from this division plus a couple extras. I bet Danielle was getting pretty tired of my horse girl and chicken guy, but she still placed this second.
The last class of the Creativity Challenge was I Made This. Since I did not make Dun Up Purdy, he sat this one out. Instead, I showed a picture of Bubbles with a stack of Braymere saddles, a NaMoPaiMo bag and a snail. Another blue ribbon!
This was a really good division for me. I entered every class, and I made each entry count. I was pleased, but not surprised to learn that Dun Up Purdy was the Champion of the Creativity Challenge.
He also received one of the coveted "Good Egg" awards for going "Above and Beyond" with all his chicken entries. Hurray!
The next post will cover the English, Western and Everything Else Performance Division