Monday, September 27, 2010

Wow!



The horse community is an extremely generous place! Are you coming to the 2nd Annual Fun In The Forest Trail Ride on October 16th to benefit First Descents? Its being held at the Silvermine Campground in Natchaug State Forest.

The prizes alone might be worth the trip. I might even ride so that I can win one :) Here is the list of donated prizes to date:

~ Equine Monitors sent a heart monitor, six hats and two shirts
~ Chaplin Farms is donating apples for lunch
~ Long Riders Gear donated three $10 gift certificates and coupons for all riders
~ HorseLoverz sent two halters, a fleece cooler and $5 off coupons for all riders
~ Farmvet sent four bottles of show sheen and four hats
~ Slypner Gear sent a gift card
~ US Rider sent two insulated totes and two regular totes
~ Best Shot Pet Products sent a shampoo, conditioner and revitalizing spray set
~ Griffinbrook sent a gift card
~ Deb's Special Treasures is sending two horse carvings
~ Farnam sent a really nice small gift bag
~ Riding Right sent a fancy Eurofit shirt
~ Protectavest sent five blaze orange tail bags
~ Finish Line sent a box full of product donations

Thank you everyone for your generous donations! I will keep you updated as more prizes are donated.

I am also still looking for lunch donations. If you have any ideas, let me know. And we will need volunteers. Look for an email in the next few days or check back here!

I am looking forward to seeing you on October 16th!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Top Ten Reasons To....

Attend the 2nd Annual Fun In The Forest Trail Ride!
A benefit for First Descents
www.firstdescents.org/
Saturday, October 16, 2010 at Natchaug State Forest in Eastford

10. Cool prizes - halters, gift cards, show sheen...

9. Fall foliage in Connecticut is beautiful!

8. Have you galloped on the airline trail? Its a blast!

7. Lunch is on us!

6. Chance to win a really cool First Descents wrist band.

5. Peaceful trails and good friends.

4. The only trail ride in Connecticut with a scavenger hunt.

3. Miles of trails - make your ride longer or shorter.

2. Did we mention the prizes? Shirts, hats, a Eurofit shirt...

1. Ride and raise money for a great cause, First Descents!

For more information email Stacey at stearnsiejr at yahoo dot com

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

VERDA 30





The Vermont Equine Riding and Driving Association (VERDA) hosted a 30 mile competitive trail ride (CTR) on Saturday, September 18th. I entered John and we rode up with my friend Megan and her son Burnie and their horses.

The VERDA ride is held in Springfield, Vermont and we had plenty of room to set up temporary paddocks for the horses. We vetted in and then had a potluck dinner with a bunch of the other riders.

Saturday morning arrived and we waited around for a long time. Several local horses came in that morning and we had to wait for them to vet in. I was a bundle of pure nerves at this point, part of it anticipation, part of it actual nervousness and part of it the urge to get out on the trail already. Patience is not always my strong suit.

I decided to ride alone at this CTR. At the first two CTR's, I rode with Megan and Burnie but John gets so competitive with Megan's horse, Minnie, that I ended up fighting with him a lot. At the NEATO ride in August I rode with another rider and it was a good training session for John, but I think ultimately he may be best off competing alone.

After the rider's briefing where we went over the trail I was a little nervous about riding alone. What if I got lost?

The drivers went out and then riders started filing out of ride camp and onto the trail. John and I rode out of camp at 9:20 am. We had to finish the 30 mile trail (two loops of 15 miles each) in five and a half hours, including a twenty minute hold.

For the first five miles John was very strong, but he listened to me. I trotted for the first ten minutes before I would let him canter at all (canter is his favorite gait). Riding alone was beneficial; usually our first five miles are a huge argument.

The trail was dirt road and some paved road for the majority of the first fifteen miles and the views were incredible. I decided to keep my pace pretty even, going about five miles every forty five minutes and coming into the hold after two and a half hours. I nailed the timing, coming into the hold after two hours and twenty eight minutes on the fifteen mile loop.

We did our twenty minute hold in a field with everyone else. It was kind of helter skelter with horses everywhere. John was fussing a lot because there was so much activity, so I didn't sponge him off too much. He pulsed down to 60 and they said to put more water on him even though he was in the parameters. I sponged him down a bit more but with all of the horses around he was fussing so I trotted out for the vets and got back on the trail. We still need to work on group activities and John staying focused while there is a lot of commotion.

After twenty-two minutes in the hold, I headed back out on the trail for the second loop. When I got to the trail for the second loop, I realized I had made a big mistake. The trail was mostly woods trail and it was tough (footing wise - rocky etc) and technical (lots of changes in direction and not a wide trail). John is not a big fan of woods trail (ha-ha, great trail horse that he is, we need to practice woods trail at home) and the footing made it challenging to go fast. We also got to some places where I lost the trail because I could not see the next marker and had to look around for it. On one of these occasions, John decided to make his own trail. Luckily I closed my eyes at the last second, and took quite a few tree branches to the face. For those of you who were at VERDA, this occurred somewhere between the "four to go" and "three to go" markers.

As we rode along through the really tough trail, usually at a walk, I berated myself for holding John back on the first loop. There were many times that he had been willing to trot and I had walked him, trying to keep the timing on my two loops even. When we could, I trotted and cantered, trying to make up time, but according to my watch, I was slowly losing the game.

The VERDA ride was also five miles longer than our previous three rides. When we got to the "five to go" marker you could see the confused look on John's face. He was probably thinking, "we should be done, where is ride camp?" I could tell he was tired and I was pushing him hard whenever there was decent trail to make up time. John put his heart into trying and really gave me everything he had. I was exceedingly proud of his effort.

Finally I gave up and decided that we would be late and I would take the penalty points. Making time was not worth risking injury to him or souring him on the experience. I got lost again right before the "two to go" marker and thought I was on the wrong trail. Luckily a group of other riders came along and I let them pass so I could follow along. Using them as motivation (John was tired enough he did not care about racing them), we kept alternating trotting and walking, keeping the last two horses in sight. John was interested enough in keeping up with them that he walked with purpose. I found that riding alone, he did not have other horses to motivate him and I had to work harder at the walk to make sure we were walking and not ambling leisurely along in the woods.

We got back to ride camp and crossed the finish four minutes late, which meant four penalty points. I jumped off and took John back to Megan's trailer to cool him off. After twenty minutes we had our pulse check. He was still at 52 (supposed to pulse down to 44) but considering the pace of our last two miles, I was glad he pulsed down to 52! His respiration was at ten, which was great.

We headed over to vet out. His trot outs were much more subdued than his trot ins and he lost a point. This is an improvement but I still need to practice more at home. He lost another 1/2 point on the skin pinch, he needed to drink more water on the trail. I think I need to give him more electrolytes and again, he needs to be sponged more. I need to practice that at home too. He lost a point for opening up an old interference. I know where that happened, I felt it when he spun and dove through the trees between the "four to go" and "three to go" markers. Again, we will be practicing woods trail.

At the end of the day, he scored a 91.5 and was in a tie for fourth place. But I was really happy with him and the effort he put in on a tough trail. The mistakes made were mine and I feel bad about that, but I hope that at our next CTR I will have improved many of those areas! The pictures were taken by Megan, three of the different views we saw and John relaxing after the thirty miles.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

My Week at First Descents




I attended First Descents Camp 44 (a whitewater kayaking camp for young adult cancer survivors) in Glacier National Park from July 4-10th. This was my second year at First Descents and although my schedule was really busy, I decided to make time and go again. That was the best decision I have made this year.

Several of my fellow campers and staff from First Descents Camp 32 last year were also attending Camp 44. There were many new faces to meet and laugh with again. At camp we all get a nickname, mine is Giddy Up. It is amazing that you can spend a week with people and become such close friends, without ever knowing their real names!

The week started again on Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park. We learned (or practiced) the wet exit, an essential skill if you happen to be upside down in a whitewater kayak. I also practiced a couple of t-rescues. I like the t-rescue better. When your kayak flips upside down, if you bang your boat and wait, another boat may come up to you and you can grab onto their boat and flip yourself up. I spent a lot of time upside down at camp last year and became very good at t-rescues. I practiced a few t-rescues with "Bad Santa" but the water was cold (okay, I am a wuss) so I spent most of my time on Lake McDonald practicing paddle strokes.

This year we were able to paddle down McDonald Creek and I was really excited to see McDonald Creek. We were chased off the lake by a lightning storm last year. On Tuesday we went out on real moving water. The big difference I noticed in myself this year was that I was a lot more relaxed in my kayak. This was very helpful as I spent considerably less time upside down. On Tuesday I did flip on one eddy line (where the current of the river changes). I waited a really long time for a t-rescue (my counselor did not know me or my capacity to sit still under water so she was waiting for me to wet exit) and when I was finally t-rescued, a gallon of water came out of my nose (according to my fellow kayakers). But even after that, I was calm and happy on the river.

Wednesday was alternative craft day. We paddle Class II and III rapids on the Middle Fork of the Flathead River in tupo duos (hard shell kayaks for two people) and IK boats (inflatable kayaks) for two people. Alternative craft day is always one of the most fun days of the week. I went in a tupo duo with Casper, one of my counselors from last year and had a blast paddling with her. I also went in the IK boats with several of my fellow campers.

Thursday we were back in our kayaks on a slightly larger river than we paddled Tuesday. My big achievement was that I did not flip over once :) But I also had a lot of fun. At the end of the day, the staff was talking about what to do on Friday, our graduation day. Should we paddle an easy river? Or do we go back to the Middle Fork of the Flathead River and get totally challenged by the river?

We went back to the Middle Fork of the Flathead River for our final day of whitewater kayaking.

I flipped over twice right off the bat. Once I went over a rock and leaned the wrong way. T-rescue, thanks Iceman. Then we were in swirly water and I stopped paddling. T-rescue, thanks Iceman. Was I a little nervous about the day ahead? I think so. We hit the first set of rapids and I started calming down. I picked challenging lines (not always on purpose) and got through the rapids in fine form. Some extra time spent working on eddy lines with Iowa on Thursday had proved very helpful as we eddied out after rapids.

We arrived at a big set of rapids. I forget the name, but there were three ways through it. Left, right or center. Iceman said that there was a big hole in the center rapid and that it would probably flip us (the campers) over but it would spit us right out (it would flip us because of our inexperience). I did not want to try it, but my friend Stryka did and I thought, why not? I followed Tush, one of my favorite counselors from last year, down the rapid and into the hole.

And immediately flipped over.

Tush told me to hang out if I flipped but my first thought as I was underwater was, I need to get the hell out of here. That’s never happened before; I am usually pretty comfortable underwater. Then I looked around. The water was crazy and angry. I decided to hang out, at least I was in my kayak. If I did a wet exit, I would need to swim in that angry hole. I waited for a long time (my friend Patch said it was 24 seconds - this is all on video and he counted).

Finally I felt something. I started a t-rescue and heard Tush say, "don't flip me over!" I continued the t-rescue and Tush said that I had t-rescued off her paddle. Fortunately, I did not flip her over! My paddle was not in sight and we were headed for another hole so Tush sent me on my way and I hand paddled out of it. At that point I ran into Patch, who gave me his paddle and went and got mine.

The rest of the rapids passed by without any underwater activities :) It should probably be noted that Stryka flipped in the hole in her kayak too and Bubbles flipped in her IK boat while trying to avoid my upside down kayak. I have not seen the video of my "carnage in the hole" but the staff said it was the best camper carnage they had seen in awhile.

I would be remiss if I did not mention my fellow campers at First Descents. I cannot begin to tell you how great it is to spend a week with other young adult cancer survivors who really "get it." They have walked the same path I did and know the same fears that I am so familiar with. And honestly, compared to many of my fellow campers, my cancer journey was a cake walk. Don't get me wrong, it was not fun and I hated chemotherapy, but in the big picture of cancer, I got off pretty easy. The friends I have made at First Descents are friends for life. They are wonderful people and I am truly lucky to have them in my life. Through email and facebook we are able to keep in touch and I really hope to see some of them in person before camp next year.

You may be wondering, how you can help out with First Descents? There are two easy ways:
1. Visit www.firstdescents.org and click on "Donate Now"
2. Attend the 2nd Annual Fun In The Forest Trail Ride in Natchaug State Forest in Eastford on October 16th. All proceeds benefit First Descents!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Foxhunt!




On Saturday, I trucked John over to Tyrone Farm in Pomfret for their Introduction to Foxhunting clinic with Tanheath Hunt Club.

When I pulled into the driveway the place looked like a ghost town. No one was there. Registration was supposed to start at 8:30 and I pulled in the driveway at 8:28. The last time I attended an event at Tyrone Farm I got there at 8:35 and the place was a zoo. I was slightly perturbed that I woke up early on my day off and then they cancelled and did not even tell me (pre-registration is required for all of their events). I waited a few minutes and a few horse trailers pulled in from Rhode Island. They were there for the foxhunt too. Yippee, we're hunting, just running late.

After coffee and a discussion with the hunt members about the history, rules, dress code etc of hunting, we unloaded our horses and tacked up. Warm up in the trailer area was pretty low key. Anne checked everyone's tack for safety and then we broke into two groups and headed out to the fields to practice riding in groups.

John was totally unimpressed that we were trotting in a circle around a jump, following other horses. He really wanted to take off at a gallop, pass all of the other horses and find the trail that he was sure we were supposed to be riding. I was able to convince him that galloping down a trail without the group was not the plan for the day, but it took a few minutes and we put on a bit of a show for the rest of the riders in our group.

After practicing riding together on the trails, we joined the other half of the hunt and we all waited for the hounds. When the hounds (never to be called dogs - a mistake I made several times) arrived, John visibly relaxed. It was almost like he said, "Oh, okay, there is a purpose to this, other than annoying me." He was quite interested in the hounds and soon we were off riding through the field, following the hounds as they followed a scent.

Melanie had set up a drag hunt for the hounds to follow and we did a loop. There were several young hounds in the group and one got a bit confused at one point and lost the pack. She came barrelling past us (had totally looped back around the trail) and all of the horses in our group jumped, but John was very interested in watching the hunt staff work the hound back to the pack.

All in all it was a lot of fun. I had always wanted to try foxhunting and I may have to go again!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

2nd Annual Fun In The Forest Trail Ride



Area Equestrians Gather To Raise Funds And Enjoy Local Trails

The 2nd Annual Fun In The Forest Trail Ride will be held on October 16, 2010 at the Silvermine Horse Campground in Natchaug State Forest in Eastford, Connecticut. Last year our trail ride was a huge success, sixteen riders raisied over $750 for First Descents and many riders are returning this year. This year we are adding an optional scavenger hunt for riders.

The trail ride is a benefit for First Descents (www.firstdescents.org). First Descents provides whitewater kayaking and other outdoor adventure experiences to promote emotional, psychological and physical healing for young adults with cancer. I attended First Descents in 2009 and 2010. Both of my camps were at Glacier National Park in Montana. Stay tuned and I will blog about this year's camp. All donations to First Descents are tax deductible, and the money raised at the trail ride is used by First Descents to send young adult cancer survivors to camp.

Horseback riders from Connecticut and Massachusetts have already registered for this year’s ride. Each rider is asked to pay a $20 entry fee for adults and $10 for riders under age eighteen that goes directly to First Descents. Riders who fundraise for First Descents are also awarded prizes. Fun awards are given out to: youngest rider, longest distance traveled, first to register and top fundraisers. This year, awards will also be given out to scavenger hunt winners. Award donations have been received from: Equine Monitors, Long Riders Gear, Chaplin Farms, HorseLoverz, FarmVet, Riding Right, Slypner Gear and US Rider.

Equestrians interested in joining the fun on October 16th can contact Stacey Stearns at (860) 377-6314 or sfstearns@gmail.com

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

One of my favorite things...bits


I am a big fan of bits. As a 4-H kid, I loved studying the different bits and memorizing their names for the hippology (horse science) contest.

It probably comes as no surprise that I have a wide variety of bits to use in my horse's mouths.

I don't ride John regularly in his driving bit (the bit I used on the last competitive trail ride). It is a stronger bit than I would like to use (a medium twist with a Dr. Bristol) but I really like to stop too. So I use a stronger bit during competition and train with a milder bit in the hope that someday, we can compete in a milder bit.

I usually ride in a smooth D-ring snaffle at home, but when I got back from Rhode Island all of my D-ring snaffles were on other bridles and I was feeling lazy.

The Waterford bit was hanging on the wall and I love that bit. I think it looks cool (I call it the bubble bit - see the picture at the top of the post), its neat to hold, it just fascinates me. I bought the Waterford for Rose, never used it on her, but thought it might be appropriate to try on John. Horses cannot grab hold of the Waterford like they can on other bits and become heavy in the bridle.

I put the Waterford on John's bridle and rode him in it a few times. He was not overly impressed with the bit, but he was not awful either. I thought he was probably grumpy because he couldn't grab onto the bit.

The other night I was re-reading Jessica Jahiel's book, "Choosing The Right Bit" when I read a section that mentioned to watch out for the width of a bit, if a horse has a small mouth, a thick bit can be uncomfortable.

Hmmm.

None of my horses have what I would call "large" mouths. But maybe John was bothered by the size of the bit? Or maybe he was bothered by the fact that he could not grab the bit and gallop off.

Its been a bit crazy and I did not have a lot of time to spend playing with bits so I switched John's bit back to a D-ring snaffle and hung the Waterford back up on the wall. Someday soon I will put it back on John's bridle and check the fit, I still like the idea of the Waterford!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Elephant In The Room

I guess sooner or later I have to blog about my cancer update, so I might as well make it sooner.

As I mentioned in the 411 post, I had my one year post chemotherapy scans in April. A scary prospect (actually I was very nervous) but everything was fine. Dr. A is off to research sickle cell anemia for the next four years so Dr. B will oversee my case with help from Andrea, my nurse practitioner. As Dr. A said, I am basically on autopilot.

The first port removal surgery was scheduled for May. I was considering a 25 mile ride three days after they scheduled it, so cancelled it. Janeen (in charge of scheduling for Dr. W - my surgeon) scheduled the next one for the end of June. Three days before I left for Montana and my whitewater kayaking trip with First Descents. For awhile I thought I could pull that one off, but in the end, I didn't want to be the girl at camp who just had surgery. So I cancelled it again. I knew July was shot so I told Janeen I would call her back when I could find a couple of good days.

My next scan was in July, two days after I returned from Montana. To my great disappointment, Dr. A did not graduate me to scans every six months and instead requested that I stay on a three month schedule for my entire second year of remission. It’s more annoying than anything else. Every three months, I am reminded that I had cancer. And then I get three trips to the hospital to make sure I remember (one for blood work, one for the scan, and one for the post-scan follow-up).

I had my scan and then three days later went back to Farmington to see Andrea for my results. I was pretty confident that the scans were clean and didn't call the day afterwards for the results this time. The stress does start to diminish! And although my scan gave us nothing to talk about, my visit with Andrea was extremely informative.

Andrea was very surprised that I was still being scanned every three months. I said, "Maybe it’s because I was Stage IV and Dr. A is more worried about me relapsing." Andrea said, "You were only Stage III, didn't they tell you?" Wait a minute, back up! Apparently when Dr. K at Hartford Hospital messed up on the bone marrow biopsy and told me I was Stage IV and then Farmington fixed biopsy results, no one told me that I was really Stage III. They were probably more worried about getting rid of my cancer then telling me what stage I was. Now, I had all of the staging information and could have figured that out myself when I knew it was in my bone marrow but never did. Honestly when Andrea told me that I was only Stage III I was elated and felt like ten years had been taken off my life. I don't know why it was such an incredible weight off of my shoulders but I wish I had an appointment with Andrea two years ago where we had nothing better to talk about than recapping the past!

Andrea also said that I could go back to work the day after my port removal. "Piece of cake, get it out."

So I did.

The surgery was August 24th. I got a morning surgery this time. No more ten hour marathons in the pre-op room. My nurse arrived and my friend (and nurse from the port insertion surgery) had told her to take good care of me. My anesthesia resident arrived; she used to live on my road. Then my surgical resident arrived, we showed horses together in 4-H as teenagers! It was great to have Jill there, I had not seen her in years but a familiar face in surgery is very comforting! Then Dr. W (my surgeon) arrived and explained the procedure. Piece of cake. My anesthesia doctor arrived and a good friend of hers has Hodgkins right now so she was very glad to see that there is light at the end of the tunnel. My anesthesia resident came back and I was surrounded by six people, her comment was, "you are the most popular patient in surgery"

They did not actually put me all the way under during surgery. I heard them talking, I felt pressure as they stitched me up and at one point when they were talking about me bleeding I opened my eyes and tried to look. All I saw was the blue cloth they had over my head. But I did ask Jill about the bleeding later on. It was just around my stitches, nothing to worry about. I was coherent enough to move myself off of the operating table and after half an hour in recovery walked out of the hospital. And I did go back to work and milk cows the next day. Jill told me to take three days off but Andrea said I could go back to work the next day. In hindsight, I should have taken Jill's advice! Jill also gave me a prescription for a pain killer but I never had it filled because she said if I used it, not to drive a car. I tried Tylenol but discovered that Advil is much more affective for serious pain.

And that’s it, one of the most boring cancer updates of my life and I love it! My next scan is in October and I also meet with Dr. B after that scan. Andrea said that I could ask him about the every three month scan and that he might graduate me to every six months. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that he does.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Tweaking the CTR Training


I was going to write a blog about cancer today and where I am at with it. But that just did not feel very inspiring! Instead, I will update you on the ups and downs of training a horse for Competitive Trail Riding and what John and I are currently working on.

The first ride, Leverett in Massachusetts in May, was a blast. John loved it but he was very fast. Leverett is a good first ride because the trails are not too bad. There was a lot of dirt road and moderate hills. I rode him in his driving bit, a twisted Dr. Bristol. But he was very strong and ended up with minor bit rubs around the corners of his mouth and we lost half a point. We lost the other half point because he only pulsed down to 46 (he is supposed to pulse down to 44). Our score was 99 out of 100.

The second ride was at Green Mountain Horse Association in Vermont in June. The ride covered a lot of mountainous terrain. John was still very strong and as we went careening down one mountainside, him with the bit between his teeth, I decided we still had control problems. I had put a gentler bit in his mouth, a slow twist Dee ring snaffle and he took full advantage of that. He scored a 97 out of 100 on that ride, losing 1 1/2 points for not pulsing down (this time he was at a 50 as he got very distracted watching horses coming in along the dirt road) and 1 1/2 points for change in gait from the vet ins. John thinks the vet ins are in-hand classes and he was absolutely awful at the vet in at GMHA. It was in the pavilion and he bucked, snorted, cantered and put on quite a show. At a vet in that is a very bad thing.

After GMHA I took John back to the ring and worked on a lot of transitions, maintaining the same rhythm in the trot and really getting him on the aids and listening to me. While I had a lot of fun at GMHA there were a couple of moments where I was thoroughly unimpressed with his behaivor and I knew those were training lapses and ultimately my fault.

Our third ride was sponsored by NEATO and was held in Rhode Island in August. This was the first ride we went to that did not have stalls so John spent the night in an electric fence paddock. In the past he has been known to let himself out of electric fence by taking the handle we use to open the fence in his mouth, lifting it off the connector, slowly backing up and then gently putting it on the ground. This naughty behaivor seems to be in the past though! I have attached a picture of him camping in Rhode Island. We got our worst score to date at this ride (94.5) but early in the ride, I decided to use this ride as a training ride and rode the last twenty miles with that mindset. I put the driving bit back in and added a martingale. And I spent most of the ride walking and trotting. I did let him canter a bit towards the end because after twenty miles of walk and trot he was getting testy. This proved to be fatal on the pulse down (a 56!!) His pulse at the hold halfway through was a 42 though, so I know that he can pulse down, I just have to find the right combination of trot and canter and improve my timing! The NEATO ride was great for many things though - he listened to me and did not grab the bit and go out of control at all. He let another horse lead (something he had not liked to do on the other rides) and he let horses pass us without trying to race them. I was really excited about all of those accomplishments! Our vet in and vet out behaivor still need work.

What are we working on before our next 25 mile Competitive Trail Ride? We are still schooling transitions and working on control. We have made a lot of progress but I know that canter is his favorite gait and he loves to go as fast as he can. And I have indulged that tendency more often than not, and now I have to fix that! We are also working on maintaining a steady trot over long distances. I want to practice vet ins and our major goal is to pulse down at the end of a ride to 44!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Secret's First Horse Show




I made so many "I will update more on this later" comments in my 411 blog, I am not sure where to start!

I will start with something fun. I took Secret to the Tolland County 4-H Fair on August 8th for her first horse show. Other than trips to the trainer and one cowboy mounted shooting clinic with Tim (my younger brother and her owner), she had never been anywhere.

Tim and his friend Alex came with me as grooms. Both boys are seniors in high school and were super helpful. I told them they could help me at a horse show anytime they wanted!

Secret got off the trailer at the horse show and calmly started eating grass. I took her for a walk all over the ring we would be showing in and she took everything in stride. I was very surprised.

Not knowing how she would behave, I got on very early to warm her up. She was fabulous in warmup. At one point during the day a loose horse ran up to her. Another time, a rider was dumped off of a pony right near us and she handled both situations great!

Her classes were okay. At times she thought misbehaving was a group activity :) But she never did anything terrible and always came back to focus. Overall I was very pleased with her.

The most interesting part of the day was the trail class! I had to go back to work and we were pushing the time frame a bit so I rode right over to trail after my last ring class and went in. I had a vague idea of what the course was but made up my own class as we went along. The mailbox was no problem. When we got to the cross rail (I did know we were supposed to walk over that) Secret said no. I said yes. She looked at it for a minute and then used the ground poles and flower boxes as stairs to climb up and over the cross rail very daintily. She did not knock over the jump! For the water hazard (a blue tarp on the ground) she said no and I let her get away with it. The blue tarp was a little strange! The two pictures at the top of this post were taken during our trail class.

Overall it was a lot of fun and a good "first horse show" experience for Secret!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Lakota Book Drive

Thin Line Performance Saddle Pads has partnered with the Lakota Indians on a special project to bring back their rich history with horses. Read Thin Line's blog here:

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If this link doesn't work - copy and paste:
http://thinlineglobal.com/blog/

and consider making some donations to the Lakota Book Drive!