Punks Kid Rock is the registered name of my American Quarter horse gelding, Rocky. This blog chronicles our adventures together,
as well as stories from my horse past and, occasionally, a tidbit from my non horse life.

Monday, March 25, 2013

A Little Healthy Competition

A few posts ago, I wrote about my riding goals for the upcoming year.  Most of them pertained to doing an ACTHA ride, and well... I'm doing it!

Mother's Day weekend this year, I will be doing not just one but TWO Competitive Trail Challenges (CTC). One is on Saturday, and the other is on Mother's Day Sunday. My mom has decided to white knuckle her way through the weekend with me, and we are both very nervous.  I also have a good mix of excitement added in, but I'm pretty sure my mom is just scared to compete.

We are driving almost two hours to get there, and we're going up on Friday.  There will be capture the flag on horseback Friday night, and on Saturday they have a zip line you can do as often as you'd like for $5. I think the weekend will be fun and a great experience for all of us. We are practicing different obstacles to prepare ourselves as best we can, but I need some help.

I really want to be able to turn on both the forehand and the haunches, as well as side pass well.  However, while I can get decent turns on the forehand and haunches from the ground, I need help learning how to ask for them from the saddle.  Additionally, my side passing is... well, I can sometimes get a nice 3 steps in a row but not consistently, and I could use the help of someone who actually knows what they're doing.

The great thing is, I could easily take some lessons from Silver and probably do pretty well by the second weekend in May. The bad thing is that my money is running dangerously low, and just going to do the rides is going to stretch our income as it is.

Still, I'm thrilled to be doing my first ever *real* competition. I spent a lot of time this last weekend working with Rocky on not being scared of a plastic sled- he is consistent in his fears, and the sound/movement combination of a sled makes him very uncomfortable. A perfect desensitization tool!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Home Away From Home

Like many riders, my barn is my second home.  In past posts I've talked a bit about my barn owner/manager, whom I call "Silver" on this blog.  She is a kind, knowledgeable horsewoman who takes wonderful care of my boy.  When Rocky had to be on stall rest for 5 days, have his leg wrap changed twice a day for 3 days, and get two shots of penicillin a day for 3 days, she took care of all of it for me for free. I didn't have to pay anything extra for the additional care or for getting a stall when I pay pasture board. Besides that, she pays attention and will adjust feed to keep horses at a healthy weight, switch horses into different pastures to keep everybody safe, and will call me if Rocky seriously injures himself.

For Silver alone, I love my barn. She keeps the barn drama free; I have never experienced a nasty boarder at her barn, or missing equipment, or anything less than the care I would give.

The great thing is, there are more things to love about my barn than just the barn owner and her anti drama policy.  The horses live in pastures with shelter, automatic waterers, and round bale feeding. The fencing is brown wide electric tape with wooden posts.
This is the front pasture :)
There is a round pen, outdoor arena, and riding trails on the property. Every boarder also has a tack locker and saddle rack:
On the end is where winter blankets hang until use, lockers are labeled with boarder's names and each saddle rack has a place to hang your bridle next to it.  If you have read past posts, you've seen the arena:
and the round pen:

This is my Home Away From Home. 

And in case you're keeping track, Equestrian Question #8 of 30 has been answered, "A bit about the barn/stable you ride at."

Friday, March 15, 2013

I Got a Ribbon!

On my 8th birthday, I got to be in my first and only horse show.  In my first Equestrian Challenge Questions post, I talked a bit about about my first riding lessons as a child. They were with a woman named Patti who had a program called Horses for Hearts. I was about 7 years old when I first started with Patti, riding her Welsh Mountain pony named Snowball.
Snowball was round, white, and a sweetheart. She was patient and calm, and while she wasn't the most beautiful horse in the barn (she was pretty cute though), she made for a wonderful lesson pony. Not long before my 8th birthday, Patti asked if I wanted to ride in a show that she was attending with her other horses. She had room in her trailer to add Snowball, and thought of me.  

I was really excited, and leaped at the chance. I was also nervous, but Patti assured me that I would be competing for fun and not to worry about it. 

When I got to the show grounds, I had never practiced any of the classes I would be doing.  Before each class, Patti would talk me through it and explain what I was supposed to do.  I remember doing the "cloverleaf," which was really a barrel pattern but for kids.  I focused really hard on what she was saying and went over the swirling pattern over and over again in my head, wanting to get it right.  I got the pattern right but couldn't kick Snowball into trotting until we were headed for home.  She did pick up a fast walk! 

Other than the cloverleaf, I did a walk-trot class, egg and spoon, pleasure, and showmanship.  I was terrible at showmanship, I had no idea where to stand so I kept moving around trying to be in the right spot.  We did trot back into place nicely, and it was the last class of my day.  I didn't do particularly well in anything else, but I had fun and got a compliment on "my" saddle pad- which was turquoise! 

As I was walking around, I noticed some people had beautiful multicolored ribbons.  I was told that they were participation ribbons and they were given out from the registration table for those who asked.  I couldn't believe my luck- I could get a ribbon even though I didn't win anything! 

I carefully pinned my ribbon to Snowball's headstall and admired how pretty the colors looked against her white coat.  I didn't care that I hadn't won anything, I was just happy that I made it through the day and now had a lovely prize to show for it. 

When I got home, I hung the ribbon from my bookshelf where I could admire it. After much searching of the internets, I could not find an exact match to my ribbon- which I may try to scan in at some point.  For now, here is the closest approximation I could find: 

My ribbon is soft peach and blue colored on the outer two strips and the ruched part on top. The gold Quarter horse head is the same, as well as the blue center ribbon. The center ribbon on mine says, "4-H County Horse Show" and "Participation."  

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Equestrian Couture: My Old Jeans Count, Right?

As you may have guessed from the title of this post, our next Equestrian Challenge Question is for me to talk about my riding clothes, tack, and equipment.  I already listed some of this information under the page About Rocky, but I'll discuss it more in depth here.

I don't have a lot of fancy stuff for me, most of my money was spent on Rocky's saddle. Otherwise, I keep things thrifty (or try, anyway).  I normally ride in jeans, sometimes skinny Rockstar jeans from Old Navy to show off my cowboy boots.  I got my cowboy boots from the Minnesota State Fair, I needed a new pair because I wore my last ones out.  My mom took pity on me and got me and "early Christmas present."  They're Ariat Quickdraw Ladies' Western boots in Sapphire blue, seen here:
Also at the Minnesota State Fair, I bought myself a leather belt with barbed wire tooling.  They would personalize your belt for free, tooling into the back whatever you wanted.  I had them put ROCKY and KERI on the back.  I also picked up my first real Western belt buckle, a silver square with a galloping gold colored horse on it. 

I bought myself a pair of winter riding boots last winter, Ariat Heritage III insulated paddock boots: 

 They work so well, my feet sweat sometimes.  They also have enough traction on the bottom to be usable in the snow and ice, but not so much that they become sticky in the stirrups.  Along the same winter gear lines, I also have SmartPak Equine's Winter Overpant. I hate overalls, so these are a bit like snowboarding pants but with a synthetic suede full seat that keeps my butt from sliding out of the saddle- at least a bit!  They're windproof and waterproof, plenty warm, and I can fit a pair of pants under them. The sides zipper all the way up to the waistband and there are elastic bands to put around the bottoms of your boots to hold them down. (Stirrup pants, anyone?) 

Other stuff of mine:
-Troxel helmet in matte black.  I should probably replace it sometime soon because it's protected my melon in a few falls since its purchase, and I think you're supposed to replace them after every fall. Oops.
-Lunge whip with removable string.  I got the cheap $15 one from a local tack store. It works.
-Tack box that is a step stool and tack box in one.  It holds all my stuff, closes up and has a handle on top. Plus, if I need to see the top of Rocky's neck I can stand on it without having to go looking for a chair.

That's about it for me. On to Rocky!  Looking back at his Page, I pretty much described the important pieces.  A quick review, then:
Saddle: Circle Y Trail Saddle
Saddle Pad: Diamond Wool, round barrel shape in Mahogany color pattern.
Girth: Weaver leather felt lined Smart cinch with Roll Snug cinch buckle.

Headstall: Reinsman brand with clips so changing out bits is easy.
Bit: Reinsman Offset Dee 3/8" Smooth Copper snaffle. He likes to chew on it sometimes, I think he enjoys the copper flavor.
Slobber straps: Clinton Anderson's 2 piece with barbed wire design.
Reins: Clinton Anderson's mecate reins in black. LOVE THESE. 
Close up of his bit and slobber straps.
My old saddle, but you can see the whole bridle pretty well here.
Halter: teal blue rope halter, as seen in Rocky's picture on the left margin of the blog. 
Lead Rope: Turquoise nylon, my husband accidentally purchased a lunge line instead of a lead rope, so I cut the lunge line to size and melted the end. The rest of the rope was turned into a tug rope for Bear. Everybody wins! 

Friday, March 8, 2013

Wherein I do not Die, Although I Probably Should Have

I'm not positive when I fell off a horse for the first time.  I have had several falls, some painful, and one that I wish had been caught on video- and of course, no one saw it. Thinking my way back through the horse years of my life, my best guess for my first fall happened on a horse that wasn't mine.  The particular fall I'm thinking of (which was followed quickly by fall number two) was completely my fault.

During the sad, horseless years of my life from approximately ages 10-12, I got a small dose of equine every time my family went up to our deer hunting cabin.  About a quarter of a mile down the road from our cabin was a farm where we knew the farmers.  They had four horses at the time, and every chance I got I would take the four wheeler down the road to visit.  I bought brushes for the sole purpose of giving them a good curry while I was there, and with the dream that I would someday be able to use the brushes on my own horse.

The horses were amiable enough, and seemed to enjoy my visits.  Chantilly was half Percheron, half Quarter horse, and all solid bulk.  He was built like a small tank, with a neck bigger than my 11 year old torso and a back that was as soft to sit on as a sofa.  He was a mixture of fat and muscle, but kept a level disposition and a pretty face.  Chantilly was bay, with a white star and snip and large, kind eyes.  He often let me scramble onto his back, using a nearby rock or stump to give me enough height to make it over his rounded sides and onto his cushy back.

He accepted me without complaint, letting me lead him by his long mane into a position where I could get on.  You see, I never had anything on him, no halter, saddle, bridle- anything.  Yet I would sit happily on his broad back in the middle of his pasture, content to let him graze and meander so long as I had a horse under me. The other three horses were there, too, and I would sometimes sit on Holly, a half Percheron, one quarter Quarter horse, one quarter Appaloosa mare.  She was flea bitten gray with some dappling, a slightly less wide, little bit taller version of Chantilly.

On the day of my first fall, I had discovered a four foot high embankment in the pasture the horses were in. I was gleeful, knowing that it would be much easier to mount one of the horses from this embankment than it ever was trying to line them up with a measly stump.  Chantilly allowed himself to be coaxed over to it, and stood about a foot away from it, grazing mildly.

I was worried about that one foot gap, but it was difficult to push Chantilly closer without having him move once I was on top of the bank. I patted his back a few times, trying to make sure he knew that I was about to launch myself at him so he would be prepared.  He didn't appear to object.  I took a deep breath, and made my leap.

Let's just say I misjudged the distance.  I was used to having to jump as hard as I could, and then pull myself up, barely making it onto whomever was lucky enough to have me that day.  The embankment was much easier... too easy, in fact.  I threw myself straight over and landed on the ground on the other side of Chantilly.  I narrowly avoided face planting in mud by catching myself on my forearms.  Chantilly tossed his head and snorted in surprise, shifting his feet a little.  He did not, however, run me over.  I let out my breath and climbed back to my feet, giving Chantilly a few pats for not spooking at my tumble.

I reassessed the situation, chuckling a little at myself.  Chantilly was still obligingly standing next to the embankment, I was uninjured, and I still wanted my ride.

Up the embankment I went again, and again I rubbed my hands on his back.  This time, his ears went back when I touched him, but I figured he would be okay once I was on him.

I judged the distance correctly and made it onto his back, only to find myself on the ground directly behind him.  It happened so fast, I laid on the ground for several seconds trying to figure out how I had gotten there.  Chantilly had reared up while I was getting on him, and I had rolled/slid off the back. After I realized where I was, I quickly got myself away from his hind feet.

I was still, somehow, unhurt.  He easily could have double barrel kicked me as I fell right behind his massive hind end, but instead he was trying to convey (relatively nicely, given the circumstances) that I was no longer welcome to sit on him that day.

Being a horse crazy (emphasis on crazy here) kid, I tried to maneuver him into place at the embankment again but he wasn't having it.  He deliberately walked into the middle of the pasture where there were no stepping stones of any kind, and gave me disgusted looks when I half heartedly tried to move him again.

I finally accepted that a ride wasn't in the cards, and was grateful I was okay.  Having to explain what I was doing with the horses to my parents wouldn't have been a fun conversation- as far as they knew at the time, I was going down the road to pet the horses, not ride them loose in their pasture.

Looking back as an adult, I realize how very lucky I was that I never got hurt with those horses. They weren't handled by their owners very often, I never had a helmet or any sort of tack, they were loose with other horses in a pasture... yikes.  If I saw someone doing that now, I would definitely step in to try to save them.  Then, I was so starved for horses the risks seemed worth it, and I was young enough to do it anyway.

So concludes the answer to our next Equestrian Challenge Question- my first fall.