Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The competition and goodbye

This is gonna be a long entry, so much happened during the competition. I learned so much throughout this whole experience and I want to express my extreme appreciation to everyone who supported me.

So one of the first things I learned on the trip was too always do your safety check on the trailer before leaving. The ramp on the trailer was rusty and the weld broke when we put the ramp down. I was able to put Dinah in on the other side of the ramp, but it took some effort to get the door to shut. Then, right before we were going to leave I noticed that the left rear tire looked flat. We decided to get on the road and stop at a gas station to fill the tire. Almost immediately when we got on the road, the tire blew and was completely flat. We pulled off the freeway and took Dinah out and waited for AAA to come and repair the tire. All the tires were in bad shape, so we made plans to borrow a different trailer. After the spare was put on we reloaded Dinah and drove to the location of the new trailer and switched. The new trailer was big and heavy for the truck we were using so that made for a stressful trip over the grapevine, but we just took it really slow, and eventually we made it. After a LONG drive down to Norco we had finally gotten off the freeway and we are waiting at a light and we get rear ended - let me remind you in a borrowed trailer now!! A lady came off the freeway and claimed she lost her brakes. She sideswiped two other cars and ran into the back left corner off the trailer. Thank goodness the trailer damage was minimal and Dinah was fine.

We finally arrived at the George Ingalls arena in horsetown USA about 8:30 on thursday night. We got Dinah out and she seemed to have trailered pretty well although she didn't go to the bathroom on the trip which concerned me. All of the other trainers had arrived earlier and had ridden their horses in the competition arena. I quickly got Dinah ready and first longed her and then rode her lightly in the arena. She was very good and felt good despite everything that had happened that day and her long day on the trailer.

I was given a packet that contained the pattern we were supposed to ride for the pattern class Friday morning.
The pattern was:

Enter at sitting trot
Two track or leg yield left
Go straight
Two track or leg yield right
Go straight lengthen trot
Halt and back at least five steps
Quarter turn to left
Pick up right lead canter
Ride one big fast circle to right
Lead change
Ride one big fast circle to left
Ride one small slow circle to left
Lead change
Ride one small slow circle to right
Spin 360 left and right
Trot out of arena

On friday morning there was a competitor meeting with judges. The judges were very nice and encouraging and stressed that we show our horses at the level they were ready for. I was last to go in this class. It was a difficult pattern because lateral movement makes horses tense rather than helps them to relax. When I entered the arena Dinah was nervous about the crowd in the stands. Her first leg yield was not very good because she was very nervous and did not want to go straight and just wanted to look at the stands. Her second leg yield was better. Her halt was ok and back was ok. It was a little difficult to get her to pick up her right lead but she did it. The lead change was good but the size of the circles was not very good. Our steering was a bit compromised because Dinah was really nervous about the stands. We got through the pattern, but there was a lot of room for
Improvement. I was nervous too, and I felt rushed, I think I needed to take it slower and I should have warmed her up more before the competition. It was hard because when you have never taken a horse to a show before it is hard to know how they will react to the show environment. How much warm up they will need, enough to take the edge off but not too much to make them overly tired.

After the pattern class we went out on the rural trail. There were five judges stationed at various points on the trail. Dinah was great on this ride and we received 9th out of 32 on this part. The first judge was at the top of the hill we had to get out horse to stand for 60 seconds. Next we had to navigate through a rock maze which Dinah handled perfectly. Then we had to climb up a big hill to a rock called pumpkin rock, a giant boulder painted like a jack o lantern at the top of a big hill. At the top we were to dismount and check our equipment and remount. Then we rode across the crest of the hill for quite some time. Dinah was really great on this ride relaxed and happy. Next we had to cross a wood bridge walk up 20 feet and spin 180* and recross bridge. She walked right over it. The last thing to do was we had to trot down a slight hill and return to the arena. Dinah was great.

The next day Saturday, we started with a combined leading and riding class. We had to walk over some poles. Pick up a trash bag and move it, pick up all our horses feet, mount, enter box of poles, spin 360 left, exit box, trot serpentine through cones, enter chute of poles, back sideways, walk out, walk to log, grab rope and pull log to second cone. I warmed dinah up more this day, and she was much better in this class. I think I was less nervous and better this day as well. She was great through all the movements except dragging the log. I was able to grab the rope, but she was scared of the log when it started to move. This competition was a big learning experience for me because it was unlike any competition I have ever done before. I have never dragged a log on a horse before and I did not know the proper method for dragging a log. Most people grab the rope and back up so they can stretch out the rope and let the horse see the log. I just turned dinah right away and I think that is why she got scared. This experience made me want to take some western lessons to expand my knowledge.

After the trail class we went out on the urban trail. The urban trail was much longer and had many more judges stations. Dinah was good at the first few stations. Then we got to the top of this hill and Dinah saw a group of fire fighters in orange suits doing a training exercise. She was very afraid of these guys and I had to dismount and walk her the opposite way to calm her down. It took her a long time to relax after this encounter. She was good about the traffic and street crossing. I was riding closer with some of the other trainers on this ride and it was kind of fun because we were chatting and working together. One girl went the wrong way and the guy ahead of me went to get her while me and the lady behind me waited so we could stay in the correct order. The next obstacle was to cross two very wide rivers, probably 15-20 feet across and maybe 3-4 feet deep. Dinah did not want to go across so I asked the judge, who was on horseback if he could lead us across. She was happy to follow the other horse and she did the second crossing no problem. After the river we wove back through downtown, crossing obstacles such as a mailbox, a T obstacle, and we had to weave through cones next to a group of llamas. At the end we had to enter a box and introduce ourselves to the judge. Dinah did a great job on all of these obstacles. We finished in the middle on this trail mostly because we lost a lot of points on the river crossing.
It was sad because I knew it was one of the last times I would get to ride Dinah, after the urban trail I had to wait till 3:00 to hear the top ten competitors announced. I was the only competitor riding English so that was fun. All of the mustang heritage foundation staff were very encouraging to me and they were very complimentary of Dinah. Some of the horses were very skinny and seemed like they had been pushed really hard to get to the competition. Maybe my horse was not as polished as some, but I was proud that she was happy and healthy and she did mostly everything I asked her.

They announced the top ten and gave ribbons to the top five in the classes.
All the older guy trainers made it and the 18 yr old girl made it with both her horses. The finals was a lot of fun to watch, search for Norco extreme mustang makeover finals on you tube to watch a video of the finals. There is also a video of the competition where you can see Dinah she is #11. Before the finalists performed the Norco cowgirls did an amazing drill team ride. On Friday night we also got to watch a driving demonstration, with 4 in hand clydesdales, hackney driving ponies, friesians, miniature ponies, Andalusian, and even two teams of mules. It was a lot of fun.

On sunday was the auction, and Dinah was still a little concerned about the crowd but she was pretty good. She sold for $475 to a lady who will be keep ing her in martinez to keep her older horse company for now. Her cousin owns a riding school so after she grows up a bit she might be used in that school. She sent me a nice email and said that Dinah settled in very well.

I learned so much and here are some things I would change if I was going to do it again:

Own my own truck and trailer
Expose horse to crowd/ show environment
Teach horse to carry western equipment as well
Take western lessons so I could learn western skills expected
Keep horse in place with bigger arena to work on canter
Work horse more and harder bc competition is intense it was hard to prepare when I didn't know what to expect but now since I know I could prepare better
Train on pulling logs and crossing river
Plan freestyle to highlight horse -90 seconds at best
Work on desensitizing horse to other horses cantering towards her and up behind her.

I feel good that I trained her and helped her find a good home. It was a very challenging experience and I learned a ton. I think I could do a better job if I were to do it again. I love Dinah and she will always have a place in my heart.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Thank you

I am finishing up getting Dinah ready for the competition. She is pretty good at all the skills, her canter is still unbalanced but there is only so much you can do in 90 days. I am continuing to work on her freestyle pattern and getting everything in place for our trip down south. Monday I moved her to a new pen and she seems very happy there. Yesterday I pulled her mane using a clipper blade and pulling comb at it worked very well! Darby helped me work with her in hand on standing square ( with all four feet under her body and in line so that if you connect them they would make a square - this shows proper balance). We used a dressage whip and softly touched her leg to ask her to move it to a more balanced position. She picked it up very quickly. Darby used her truck and we took Dinah on a trailer ride to continue building her muscles to prepare for the 6 hour ride down to Norco.

I am excited for the competition, this has been an amazing learning experience for me and I am so glad to have has this opportunity.
I have many people to thank for making this possible
Toni Venza - thank you for trailering Dinah from Ridgecrest back to Santa Cruz in one very LONG day. Thank you for all of the equipment you lent me, saddle, pad, longe line etc. Thank you for your continued interest and support
Darby Holden - thank you for helping me through the entire process, with many parts and for being Dinah's farrier
Amanda Apesos - thank you for ALL of Dinah's chiropractic work. It was amazing to watch you work and see the change in the horse. I was also impressed with your immediate ability to see what was going on with the horses behavior and knowledge of how to handle it
Laura Cobarruviaz - thank you for teaching me how to double longe, trailering Dinah, field trip at your house, support crew at the competition, and just being awesome.
Laura Wainwright, Roxanne Raksnys, Sheri Hastings, Lida Renaud, Jules from the barn, Jane from the barn, Judy from the barn, Jean Malloy, and my family - all of you contributed as well to Dinah's journey.

Thank you all so much!!

Please help me spread the word so we can find Dinah a fabulous home. I am going to make a poster and I will email it to those of you who live in southern California. Thanks for all of the support,

Torie and Dinah

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The countdown

It is 3 weeks till the competition. Last week I took Dinah on a field trip to my friend Laura's farm in gilroy, which is about an hour from where we live. She loaded in the trailer like a champ and was very calm throughout the experience. On the first day I longed her in a small arena and then I rode her in a full size dressage arena, which is bigger than the arena I usually ride in. This arena also has mirrors all along the short side at C, which Dinah was very funny about. She wasn't exactly scared, but she was very curious about the cute horse staring back at her. When I rode her I was working a lot on her canter transitions, trot to canter and walk to canter. I was also really focusing on her rhythm, keeping her slow from my body and using half halts, but not shortening her neck. Because of the way Dinah is built she tends to want to shorten and tense her neck an shorten her steps. It is important to regulate her rhythm and keep her forward into the contact, but not quickening. She stayed in a barn with a box stall and small run next to a shetland pony named JoJo. She was good staying in the stall and did not seem concerned about separating from her boyfriend at moon valley ranch, George.

The next day I worked her in the round pen, and Laura helped me to get her moving forward in the round pen. She wanted to look outside the pen so this was an important lesson for her to learn that she needs to focus on the person, that is her job. We also practiced turning around in the round pen, changing direction. After the round pen work I rode her in the dressage arena. I noticed that she looked a little sore on her left front, possibly because she had thrush in that foot. I worked her lightly and focused on rhythm and half halts. She also could have been sore from the trailer ride, which shows that I need to trailer her as much as possible to prepare for the 6 hour ride to Norco.
She trailered home perfectly.

The next day I worked her lightly at home first on the longe to assess her soundness, (she seemed fine) so I rode her just walk trot. She was great and is much more wiling to relax and stretch her neck down. Every day she feels stronger and more balanced. I have taught her leg yields and also turn on the haunches, which she is quite good at.

I have started thinking of her freestyle pattern and playing with a few different tricks. I am also trying to think of ideas for a costume and music.

Yesterday I had a dressage lesson with the classical dressage trainer Jec Ballou. The lesson was great, she helped me work on Dinah's walk and halt transitions. To work on the halt transitions she had me move her walk out and then slowly collect it up. From the collected walk sometimes I would ride a halt and sometimes I would just push her back up to the extended walk. The idea is to keep the forward energy so that she stops with her back legs underneath her instead of out behind her. To keep her active behind so that she is balanced and ready to move out of the halt. I also practiced keeping her round in the halt by softening her and the rewarding her when she gave to the pressure. It was a great lesson and Jec was very complimentary of Dinah.

I am trying to decide on good music so any suggestions are appreciated.
The countdown in on!
Please contact me if you know anyone who may be a good fit for Dinah, I really want her to find a great home.


This is a video of Dinah from about three weeks ago.

Thanks for reading!!