Friday, July 27, 2012

Neck Ribbon

Got a photo with Milos neck ribbon...its off Boyfriends phone, so ignore the lower quality. :)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

PPHA/OPZ Two Day Show - Day Two

The morning started out brisk and early. I fed, watered, and cleaned Milo, found a .50 coffee, and added Paint/Pinto/Breeding Stock to my classes. At eight thirty I decided I really probably should get the pony ready and warmed up before the arena closed and classes started. I dragged him out of the stall and started getting ready. Once in the arena, he felt just as he always does in warm up: consistent, quiet, and moving well. I was draw two in the first class, which was the same pattern as yesterday, pattern 12.

Boyfriend got a phone call halfway through and put the camera down...?

I thought it was a pretty solid run. Milo did surge forward at the beginning or ask to gain speed at every stride. If I remember correctly, this judge gave us a 67.

I went over the next pattern in my head, again, another one I had never ran through before, pattern ten. We were draw number four and had to sit for a little while before heading in. Milo was starting to feel a little agitated and Im sure just wanted to be done showing. I trotted him in the grass a bit to try and get him thinking about work again, and headed into the arena. 

At center, the pattern called for a run down past center cone, then back to center. After the judge acknowledged us, I cued for the lope departure. Well, the video tells all. I decided right then and there as I reached for the reins with my other hand that this class would consist of all schooling. I would get cleaner lead changes with no rush afterwards and no dive in on the the shoulder. 

Immediately I knew that my second place tie from the day before had no merit now and I was out of the running. I was disappointed, but I felt that we recovered in the pattern well and it was more important to school Milo through it then let him get away with that behavior. 

Such a bummer that I had to correct a few things cause some of the maneuvers were our best yet! The spins to the left were better and the stops were pretty nice too! But, I think in the long run having schooled the class was better then not, especially now that at least once Milo didnt think that he could get away with whatever in the showpen. 

They immediately called out the placings and overall scores and placings from both days combined. Even with Milo's second day mishap, we placed third overall (of four) giving Milo a neck ribbon! His first one ever, lol. 

We stripped off the tack and was able to borrow a halter again, then quickly entered our final class, halter. When we trotted past the judge Milo got all snarky shaking his head but a couple bumps on the chain below his mouth got him to stop. He squared up nicely and stood quiet. But the judge today didnt like him as the one yesterday had, and we got third of three, and didnt go back in for championships. I undressed, and started packing up Milo's stall to get ready to head home. Then the show secretary told me to get my horse cause they needed us in the arena for overall halter placings. Overall in halter championship, Milo got fifth of six, lol, and received another neck ribbon. 

We finished packing and hit the road back home, just in time as it started raining a few minutes later. Overall though, even with some bobbles, I think it was a pretty successful weekend. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

PPHA/OPZ Two Day Show - Day One

I was really looking forward to this upcoming show. Held at the Clallam County Fairgrounds and offering really fun cool classes and prizes. We would have to stay the night with it being a two day show, and the award classes were combined totals from both days, but I was eager to get the full "show experience" again - you know, sleeping in a cold trailer, waking up early, buying coffee from a vendor in the morning, letting Milo sleep in a stall - the whole she-bang.

We hauled in Saturday morning, as I worked until ten Friday night. It was an early morning start and we got there an hour ahead of time. I took my time getting things settled, just like I had a few weeks prior at the last show. Found Milo's stall and got it prepped so I could easily put him in there when we were through. I slowly started wrapping Milo's legs, then get the saddle on. We got in the arena at 8:40, and had about ten minutes to ride before the tractor came through. Sounds like a small amount of time, but I really just needed to get him in there seeing the arena, jog a bit, lope a few circles, and know what I have. He felt just like he did last time - quiet and mellow. But I knew his little tricks that once we got into the pen he would most likely have woken up.

This show offered only two classes, the Dave Reaume Memorial Novice Reiner, as always, with a Champion directors chair going to the overall from both days, and Open Reining Sweepstakes class, with prizes to first and second. I vied for the chair award figuring that Open would be far too stiff of competition.

We entered our first class.

I went in two handed since the class allowed it, but after I did felt like I should have just gone with one-handed. I think I get too "handy" when using two and it might have contributed to some of our poorer maneuvers. We did pretty well, or at least it felt OK. He anticipated the lead changes almost every time we came through the center, which I think contributed to the poor stops at center. He just felt that he knew what he was supposed to do (lead change off to the new direction) and we had a little trouble after the first stop at center. Our turnarounds were lackluster (arent they always?) and I couldnt seem to round my pelvis under for our stops like I was getting better at doing at home. Oh well. We scored a 64 1/2 giving us second place in the class just behind a 65 1/2.

Class two was Open Reining and I was last draw for it. I watched as the real competition ran through her pattern and it was beautiful. Fast circles to slow, great stops, killer turnarounds, fast rollbacks. Definitely no way I was out running that pattern. Another competitor went off course, and the third too did a great run. I figured we would end up at the end, but at least this would be more time in the pen.

This was pattern number 3, one I had never done before and was kinds different (nicknamed the pattern that never ends). We started at a stand still to lope off and as we went down the rail and around to the other side, Milo felt pretty good. We came back up the other side, he tried to take off but came back. Decent stop. I totally did not calculate the space needed after the second turnaround to make it cleanly to the center, but we did - sort of LOL. The first set of circles were ok, although we still struggle with a good fast to slow. The first lead change was clean and nice, but the second Milo dived down into the circle and took off. What I liked about this pattern was the final rundown was not the first lope down the fence, but around to the other side, which was good so Milo had to wait before being able to gain speed down the rail. We got a little bitty slide on the stop. I completely spaced the immediate back up, but eventually did and began our turnarounds.

I was happy with the run as it was a difficult (and long) pattern that we had never done before. Imagine my surprise when we tied for second place! That meant that if I did well tomorrow too I might be able to win the Res Champion halter! I didnt focus on that though, but was just happy that we made it through the pattern - with a 65 1/2. This judge was pretty tough with her scores - even the winner (whom I thought got like a 72 or something) scored just a 68.

The announcer called that Paint/Pinto/Breeding Stock Halter class needed entries so on a whim and to help fill the class I said I would enter. I quickly found a halter to borrow (I only had our orange nylon one!) and stripped Milo of his saddle and wraps. Brushed out the saddle marks although he hadnt really sweat much, tossed my spurs off, then quickly got my number off my saddle and onto my back. Just like that we entered the arena.

Walk to the judge, trot away and into line. As we stood, trying to be square in line, Milo got bored and tried chewing on the chain. Fortunately, not when the judge stood next to us. She looked him over, I forgot how to quarter, but was happy it was only Halter not showmanship. She left, we struggled to stay square, and keep Milo from nibbling my hands. She looked us over one more time, then the results were in. Milo and I took first out of three! I was stunned. Milo always does bad in halter classes, but I guess the judge just really liked him.

I put him away in his stall and started changing. Then the announcer called all first and second place halter winners were coming back in for Halter Championships. In a flash I threw my shirt back on, but had already returned the halter. In we went in our orange nylon halter and brown rope lead. Milo was a little pissy as we trotted away, thinking he had been done. We watched as all the other nice horses came through and of eight or nine total, Milo got third! I was again amazed. This just really did like him! I wondered if maybe it wouldnt hurt to start giving halter classes a try. Later on in the day a woman came up to me and questioned why at the last show we hadnt gone into halter. Maybe we were turning a new leaf...

I was done with classes for the day and set up my jewelry stand. I sold a couple items, then Boyfriend and his Mom (who had made the drive up with us) and I left to get some food. It was three o'clock and I hadnt eaten anything since 5:30. We enjoyed some good food and when we got back, Boyfriend slept in the trailer, I worked on some homework, then trail classes started at 6pm. I watched the classes and thought to myself that we should have gone into beginner trail. Oh well. Good runs, average runs, but it was fun to watch. Once all the classes were over I tacked Milo back up to school a bit in the arena again. I really wasnt happy with his mind of his own. We worked on loping consistently without every other stride one he tried to pick up speed after. We counter cantered, didnt do any lead changes, and overall, made him wait for my signals. It was a good ride. We even had the best stop of our life! I was so proud I made Boyfriend come look at the skid marks.

We got into "bed" at about 11 pm, with another early wake up the next day.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Riding Above the Current

I havent been able to have Sarah come out for the last month and a half or so due to cost. Its not for lack of wanting a lesson, it simply comes down to the price factor.

Remember how I told you that my boss (who is actually not my boss anymore, she manages a different department) keeps her daughter's horse with Sarah and trains with her? I asked her, in a joking fashion, if I could have her daughter come out and watch me ride because even just that would be better then no lesson. She told me that she thought it would be a great idea. I mean, her daughter keeps her horse with Sarah, leases Wesley, and has a lesson at least once a week with Sarah. And from knowing her for a while now, I figured it would be a good idea, at least having some eyes on the ground will help point out my position flaws and let me know whats going on that I cant see.

So we scheduled to meet yesterday, and when we arrived at the barn the first thing she talked to me about was Cranial-Sacral therapy. I had heard her Mom telling me about this when she first learned about it, and Melissa had made a post about it too. I had been eager to learn but didnt have the opportunity to learn it from Sarah directly. It seems complicated, but its really just a series of different places to touch the horse that aids in not only finding areas of stress and tension, but releasing those areas. And it is an extremely light touch, just barely making contact. Important too is your body position when applying these touches; keeping the lower back soft was important and even breathing was a way to help encourage the horse to release.

When K tried this on Milo we found some of the most tense areas were the cheeks, the zygomatic process, and the ears. There were other locations for touch as well along the face, such as the forehead, the nose where the halter rests, the poll (another good area for Milo), and even the dock above the tail. Most interesting when gently placing the hand on this area was finding the "wave" current in Milo's body. It took a moment of really tuning into the small motion within Milo's body, but it was a current coming back into my hand, then back forward through his body. K said this is the fluid traveling in Milo, something very similar to what Sarah has talked about in our bodies, and the importance of posture to allow this fluid to travel up and down without resistance. While Sarah talks about moving with the fluid/energy, whichever helps you visualize it, when riding, K said she finds that riding over it, or above the current helps her allow it to stay in motion.

Sounds like a lot of foo-foo, doesnt it? But I have come to find that really paying attention to the horse's energy, on the ground or in the saddle, has made progress for us. Let me explain with a little less "foo-foo" to help explain how you can say, "ride above the current".

First off, when K watched me get on Milo and walk around we first addressed what I have considered getting his shoulder lifted and his front end light. Although sometimes it's correct, I think I may have trained Milo to the wrong lift, K made it clear to see that when the center of Milo's neck is the highest point, thats not correct, its when his shoulders are the highest and his neck isnt "bulged" in the center, because then he's only breaking at the C3 vertebrae and not elevated in his shoulders or back. Once I found the correct feeling and look of what is really elevated on the shoulder, I tried a turnaround at her request, and she noticed right off the bat that my hips are all over the place in the turn. He cant possibly hold ground when my hips arent allowing him too. I never noticed that before - I figured if my left or right seatbone was down, then that one was holding the hock down, but in reality, it really was "down" and driving, something seatbones arent supposed to do. And that driving on one seatbone, causes an imbalance in the other and my seat is constantly shifting back and forth, even if most of the pressure if on one seatbone.

K suggested that I try and sit light, by engaging the inner thigh muscles just like Sarah has had me do. The problem is when I do that, my legs come forward, I lose my lower leg contact, and I tend to tip forward as well. She suggested something she finds to work for her - my riding off the toe. Visualize a line running from the inner thigh down to the toe, this is the line of engagement. By thinking of engaging from the toe up, it helps to align the leg in proper position and doesnt allow my body to tip forward. It truly allowed my seat to become light, but engaged. This is where she referred to "riding above the current". Once I was aware of this position and the unevenness in my seatbones during a turnaround, when I tried it again it was far easier for Milo to hold ground with the pivot foot and not only not try to step out of it, but maintain the same foot without switching back and forth.

Next we went into a trot and I had issues finding that good elevation in the shoulders and back. I explained that I have a hard time finding the perfect amount of pressure on the bit between hanging on it, and simply bumping it for a cue. I cant seem to get to that point where Milo can accept carrying the contact and maintaining his elevation. She showed me the position of feel where I can just feel his mouth but not have direct "contact" to it. She suggested working on holding this feel because it isnt exactly cuing him for something, just asking him to maintain himself, and if needed, I can easily ask for a cue and go right back to this feel.

When I put him in a lope, I warned her there would be a lot as I know I fall apart at the lope. I cant get into my left seatbone and she suggested my turning completely around in the saddle and looking over the back to physically force me onto the left seatbone, which it did. She also noted that I really need to get back on my seat in the lope. What she had me do was collapse my ribcage but maintain my upper body position. I needed to sit deeper on my pockets, but not drive with my seatbones. Riding above and on my toes was essential, otherwise I would be driving. So riding above, then getting back into my back - OMG! When I was in the right position suddenly my horse could hold ground on his hocks and for a half circle, the lope was exceptional. Now I just have to figure out how to maintain that.

Using this same idea of sitting back in my turnarounds further enabled Milo to hold ground better and not walk out of the turnaround, it was really cool.

Last thing we addressed was our stops. Time and time again I would sit down - hard - and my legs would go forward. What K noticed was that my upper body was collapsing, not my lower back. I needed to really focus before stopping on engaging that line through my legs to my toes, and not so much just sit back into the saddle, but to actually rotate my pelvis back. Instead of focusing on my back I need to be focusing on the rotation of my pelvis. When I did this, our stops were phenomenal!

Although it wasnt a "lesson", it was definitely as productive as one, and I really appreciated her coming out and pointing out some of the things she saw. She recommended a lot of really cool tool, in the saddle and out, to work on. She even recommended taking my seat-bone shim off the saddle and seeing what that might do. Having ridden in the shim for over a year now she thinks maybe it's hindering my ability to get into the left seatbone and my body may just be getting accustomed to it. Good suggestion, but I think Ill wait to try it after the next 2-day horseshow this coming weekend. :)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

No Stamina?!

I discovered I dont have half the stamina that Mr Milo does. Here's the scoop:

I was going through my archives of Horse & Rider magazine, (as I love to do) when I came across an article saying how important long trotting is for muscle, wind, and stamina in horses. I thought, well Milo has stamina, but maybe this will help come show day and he's pooped after one class. Their suggestion for working on this is to long trot (at least, for Milo, briskly trot) for three whole songs (about nine minutes). Then to gradually work up to five entire songs (so thats like fifteen minutes). Its a great exercise to work on rider strength too (as I found out!) and listening to music can help keep the mind from getting too bored.

I walked Milo for the length of one song, then jogged for half the length of another before moving into our working trot. I didnt really get a good estimation of how long we really worked because we had a half song, a full song, then part of a commercial break. But my goodness, I can tell you I was getting way more tired then Milo!

To keep us working on both directions and not getting bored, we did circles, straight lines, diagonal lines, anything besides just working on the rail (although we did spend some rail time too). I let Milo have a long loose rein so he could work however was comfortable (and for him it was having his head down - go figure). But I didnt worry about trying to lift his shoulders or anything. I just wanted him to trot freely (since the day before we worked a little more constricted and I figured he could loosen his back up), and I focused on staying strong in my core, keeping a soft back, and being light in the saddle, as well as thinking of light footfalls, as suggested by Kate in the comments. After the first full song was over I was really feeling it in my core. But I was determined to keep going, after all, my horse wasnt breaking a sweat or puffing yet! Finally after a few commercials I broke us down to the walk, abs not taking any more.

Milo was content as can be. I was certainly the one who needed a walk break.

But it was a good thing, this is an exercise I would like to use at least once a week. I think that this proof of my stamina (lack there-of) and how it effects our lope work. Often I find it very hard to stay in proper position (especially loping to the left) and my legs want to swing out in front. I think working on my own stamina should help me stay more balanced and strong in the canter work, which should subsequently help Milo's lope improve.

We did end up going into the lope and wouldnt you know, we got one of the best stops we have had in a long time. Why? Cause at the lope I wasnt poking with his position or face either. I made sure he help his shoulders up in the corners and made him stay balanced, but I didnt focus on that. This ride was all about me, and at the lope I focused on my position and how my seatbones effected our ride, my hand stayed at center and I directed us by seat and leg, shaping and whatnot where needed. When I decided to ask for a stop, I let my seat deepen and my hips follow with the movement of Milo's stop. He dug into the dirt and traveled with the front. It was beautiful, I had to get off then.

So...dont think about it to much (ya, super easy when that is a focus area to work on), work on my stamina, and, within reason, let Milo be.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Frustrated in My Body

We loped along the rail; Milo was on a loose but connected rein, we were working on keeping the front end up at the lope as we had previously been working at the trot. Down the straight-of-way, he started to begin to change his lead. I kept my outside spur on him to encourage him to stay on the correct lead. He fumbled down into the trot. We loped off again and once more he tried changing leads along the straight-of-way. It didnt feel like he was trying to "cheat me" and change leads wherever, it felt that he honestly thought that was what he was supposed to do.

I should have noticed the signs. He wasnt shaping very nicely around my legs, the nuchal flip behind his ears was to the off-side. And suddenly, I realized, I was sitting way off onto the right seatbone at the lope. I broke it down before trying to lope again. Shape around my leg, make sure I am balanced correctly through my seatbones, keep the nuchal flip to the correct side, but dont over-bit him - a lifted back was still essential.

I tried again. There it was, the lope I knew we had, no sudden lead change efforts. We worked on our fast to slow circles, which were getting better. Milo seems to have discovered he has another speed (I thank, due mostly, to our trail rides were we found his second speed). Now it is a project of gaining speed but staying correct. We are getting better.

I was so frustrated with myself as I worked on a couple of stops. The few random (and not pre-thought-out) were really nice - Milo got into the dirt and let his front end keep going. But once I would anticipate working on a stop, they fell apart. I realized I was jamming into my saddle, and toes. I couldnt seem to get my weight down into my heels for a stop, instead it would all go right into my toes. Maybe from riding off the balls of my feet? This has been such a good thing for me to retrain myself to ride with my seat rather then a locked leg through the heel. If it wasnt the toe jamming, it was the stiff back. Only at the walk it seemed I had enough control over my lower back to actually round it into a stop (but would lack the weighted heels). A few instances I had a better trot to stop, but usually when I wasnt thinking so much about it.

How on earth can I fix the problem if I cant think about it??

Am I doomed to be restricted to the capabilities of my crooked and unaware body?

Two steps forward, one step back. I achieve the "aha" moment, only to find another area that is seriously lacking. Will there finally be a time when all those aha moments have been attained and there is no longer an area of my body I need realization of?

Such the beauty of riding, hmm?

Monday, July 9, 2012

Stick Horse Freestyle Reining

This is WAYYY TOO FUNNY not to share!!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Show Pictures

The show secretary at the Port Angeles show took some pictures of Milo and I, and was kind enough to email them to me. I think they turned out really nice!! 

Monday, July 2, 2012

Finally broke that 70 barrier!!

I was really looking forward to this upcoming show. Three reining classes were being offered at the Olympic Peninsula Zone show, at a location I really enjoy showing at and in classes that are my favorite. This show would could towards PAC points for Milo as well.

The show grounds is about an hour and forty minutes away, and with reining the first classes at 9 am, that meant an early start, considering I wanted to get there with time to spare. I quickly got Milo ready Saturday afternoon, as that evening I would be selling my jewelry at the local rodeo and would be there until late. I took Milo on the trail with a friend earlier in the afternoon and was able to secure four nice lead changes and a speed change, enough to still feel good about leaving for the show.

We woke up bright and early at 5am with about five hours of sleep before. Milo had been locked in his stall due to the weather and mud outside and when I arrived at the barn in the early morning I saw that the adjacent horse's automatic water had again leaked all over the floor and into Milo's stall. I was happy I had decided to dump a little extra bedding into his stall. Despite the conditions, he had some dried shavings stuck to his sheet on both sides so I felt confident that at least he had slept well, unlike myself.

From the activities the night before, I hadnt had the opportunity to pre-load my trailer which meant I had to remember everything the morning of. I almost forgot my hat box at the house with not only my two hats, but my show shirt, my numbers, safety pins and Milo's registration papers all inside, but did actually forget all of my brushes back at the barn. Thank goodness for having a back up brush that lives in my trailer so at least I had something.

I mildly slept on the haul up north, and we arrived just as scheduled at 8 am. I checked in with the show office to make sure they had received my pre-entry, and to show my registration papers. I was groggy and barely awake (also hadnt had coffee) but already the atmosphere was cheerful and friendly. The arena had been scheduled to close at 8:30 to offer the last half hour to exclusive use from the reiners, so I figured to avoid over schooling, I would get on by 8:30 and spend the next half hour slowly getting things ready and giving Milo and I both a chance to breathe.

After I realized the brushes were missing, I unpacked my white polos and realized I had never washed them since last summer's shows at this same location. The ones that had been used on the rear had been defecated on and I knew none would be better then dirty. However, the fronts were still nice and clean so Milo sported polos on the front. I took my time wrapping them perfectly, then got the saddle positioned just right and my show numbers pinned to my saddle blanket. I touched up the quick bands from the day before and put the bridle on, getting in the saddle right at 8:30.

We walked the perimeter of the arena a few laps, letting Milo check out the arena he hasnt been to since last September. But he didnt mind anything and eventually we moved into the jog. I felt pretty good in my body once we started moving, and I tested our buttons for shaping. Everything I needed was there. I moved him into the lope and he was slow and a little sluggish, even breaking to the jog and needed coaxing to get going again. But the lope quality was really nice and I figured slow and correct would be our pace for the day.

They wanted to drag the arena because most of the reiners had been practicing for nearly an hour and the show management figured they had enough time. I had only been in the arena for about five minutes, and when they announces us to clear the arena I really quickly cut the diagonal to ask for a lead change. We got an ok one to the hard direction, and although it was delayed I seemed to be able to get my right seatbone out of the saddle. I figured even if thats all the warm up I got, at least I had a general idea of what horse I had today. I wondered if the long haul and gloomy day put him in his pokey mood. He cared most about his hay bag.

I had written down the three patterns I needed to memorize a couple days prior to the show. Although I never practiced them with Milo, I made it a point to remember them ahead of the show (but still brought my patterns to the show with me). Although I can remember patterns pretty well, my strategy is to only focus on the one at hand until that class is over - fortunately (or...unfortunately maybe) reining patterns are all pretty similar of course, with only the sequence of the elements changed. My first class in I was last draw, but didnt need to watch the others to ensure I knew the pattern - it was the same one I ran for this same class last year (twice) and was a fairly easy pattern anyway. 

I jogged Milo back and forth across the grass alongside the arena, noticing Milo was kind of everywhere with his shoulders. I opted to go in two-handed for the class thinking the novice class would be the best to treat as a "schooling run", especially with no speed change in our circles and no lead change to get Milo excited. I was finally called in after the other four riders (which I was so happy there was actually a good turnout), nerves not taking over like I had expected. The slow pace of the morning and the quiet atmosphere, combined with a pretty low-key warm up really kept me feeling calm about the classes.

He sure jumped into that first set of circles! And I thought, wait a minute!! Where was the super pokey quiet horse from warm up? But I was happy with the run and felt that we got out of the way what we needed. After the second set of circles we came to center and Milo prepared himself to change leads. Unfortunately for him, we were stopping at center, fortunately for me because it was an excellent opportunity to school him on waiting for lead changes. Although all of the spins in the day were lackluster, I felt the rest of the pattern went smoothly. We actually scored a 68 1/2 (pending 69 1/2 as they added the score wrong...) and a 71 1/2!! Can you believe it?? We actually scored not only a perfect 70, but gained plus halves as well! Combined score: 140 (pending 141). Heres the breakdown:

We are #17 - you can see on the left that the score was added wrong, I am working with show management to correct my points for OPZ and PAC
We were draw four for the next class, and I briefly went over the pattern in my head, but was reconfirmed of it by watching the other goes. I was really excited for this class for a couple reasons - it asked for lead changes and I really hoped we would get them but seeing as he had been so consistent at home I was hoping it would work out well, and we also had never ran this pattern before (pattern #5). 

My hear was still pounding when I was done with the pattern - it was so much fun!! Milo clearly got some energy in this run and overall I was happy. We just started working on clean speed changes this last week, which I think helped some, but its definitely an area to improve on and help get some pluses in circles. He has been a real tricker on his turnarounds and clearly is on the outside leg...its so hard to correct at home when I cant see that hes doing that!! Our lead changes were spot on and he didnt rush out of them I was so happy with that. And our second stop wasnt half bad but I didnt smooch to him out of it so there were a few trot steps. Again, overall I was really happy and got some compliments as we headed out of the arena. I had no time to lose though as I was draw #2 for my last class, Open Reining. I quickly looked at the pattern again and walked Milo to keep him ready for the last class. I was unanimously 4th of 6 from both judges, but was happy with our scores of 68 1/2 and 67 1/2, combined for 136.

I knew Open Reining would be really difficult to place in because there was actually a good turnout of real reiners there, but I wanted to make the most of the reining classes offered, gain some points, and support reining wherever I could. I enjoyed watched the really nice runs too. 

Things were going pretty well, I could tell in our large fast circles that Milo was losing steam and for the first time that day he changed front to back on our second lead change. Our first stop was horrible. For whatever reason I cued at completely the wrong time and flew backward in the saddle as a result of it and my weak back. But we recovered ok was we rolled back and made up for it in the second stop, until the rollback. I not only didnt smooch but worse, I sat on the left seatbone which made him pick up the right lead. By that point I was losing my balance I had maintained in my seatbones and when I asked for the lead change back, just could not get on the right one. Eventually he changed, but that greatly effected our score. Before that we were at 69 and 69, but after the two poor rollbacks it gave us final scores of 63 1/2 and 62. Interesting to see because it appears one judge gave us a penalty of -2 while the other penaltied a -5...anyways combined score of 125.5.

Overall, I was really really happy with the show. My horse worked well even after a nearly two hour trailer ride, a longer night locked in the stall, a trail ride the day before, and gloomy weather. Everything came together really smoothly even though I forgot a couple things and nearly forgot a few essential things. I managed to keep myself together for the majority of the time and honestly didnt have any nerves once I was in the saddle. I had the horse I knew I had and even though he wasnt as round or cadenced as he can be at home, he was responsive and wasn't pissy. Most of all, we finally got a couple clean runs with lead changes under our belt and we marked a personal milestone of not only that but finally breaking that 70 milestone - and exceeding it with +1 1/2 over. I couldnt have been happier with the show and my horse. Not to mention we earned a few PAC points along the way (which I have yet to actually break down and calculate). Thanks hugely to Boyfriend who hauled the pony and I up there on an early morning when he could have slept in, taking video and being supportive. All in all, super great day!!! :D