Monday, January 9, 2012

High Cotton Obstacle Competiton

The adventure began at 5:30 that morning (1/7/2012). I loaded Seven and headed over to get Christina and Oakley (Poco King Cloud). We left Zebulon at 6:45 and headed to Fuquay-Varina, or so I thought. I somehow missed the road and ended up in Lillington. So with a call for new directions, we got Reed and her horse Fortune packed onto the trailer. OK, now we could start heading south! We arrived at Lake Waccamaw at 11:00. I spotted Aimee and her group and we got to park next to them for more fun! Aimee had brought her mule Henry, her husband Tollie brought Flash and Caroline, and Aimee's daughter brought her big horse Mike! They also had another two friends with them and another horse.

We all walked over and got signed up, watched Mary Miller Jordan and her mustang perform. Her mustang's name is Magic Carpet Ride, so Mary dressed as a genie! They did some neat tricks and she rode well for a mustang who only has 90 or so days of training. Mary will leave in about two weeks to go to Texas to compete in the Extreme Mustang Makeover Competition!
Soon it was time to warm up and for the in-hand class to start. There was a mix-up in my numbers, and they were still calling my old number until it was time for me to go into the ring. All of a sudden, I heard "Shannon Hoffman and Seven, please come in the ring." So in we went, cold turkey. I would have loved to have worked with him and warmed him up a little, but we just made do!
We had to do all sorts of things like step over poles, cross bridges, and go through curtains, but the worst on was a Water Box. A short 2x2 foot square with sides and about two inches of water. The horses were to step into the box of dirt-colored water to cross it. Seven was not really sure about all this and only stepped one foot in, but at least he tried. I was not too happy with our go, and I was hoping that it would not set the tone for the rest of the day. The classes took a while to get through because she had so many entries! Once the Novice class was done, there were only four youth kids to go, and then they would start the Open. I was second to go in the Open, so I wanted to be prepared! I warmed Seven up and he seemed to be listening well and being soft! I had hopes... Right as I was standing at the gate all warmed up and ready to go they announced someone else to go in next and had moved me back. Oh no, I was all physically and mentally ready. The lady who went in before me thanked me so much and said something about having to go home early. So I fidgeted around and finally it was our turn to go! The two who went before me did the pattern wrong so Mary was telling everyone to check their patterns. I said, "shh... don't tell them all the secrets." We just laughed and then she was ready for me to start.

Seven did well with the plastic bottles and then it was on to that Water Box again. I had counted on just having him sort of skip over top of it, since that would cost fewer points that fighting with him to get him to walk into it. But he stopped, put his head down, and to my amazement, walked right into it!
The Super Scary Water Box!

Then it was time to weave through some poles at a jog, dismount, fly spray his shoulder, pick up his right hind foot, and then remount. We walked quickly over the bridge and nearly picked up a trot over the exercise mats. We got through the curtain and I stopped him to try for extra points! We proceeded over the mixed-up poles on the ground and I don't think he even touched them! He walked quickly through the pool noodles and we turned left and picked up a nice jog. The halt at the cone was not as smooth as it could have been, but was still OK!

So now it was time for the money shot, as they say! Seven had to put his left front foot into a round circle a little bigger than the size of a dinner plate on the ground. We had practiced till I thought we could do it. I asked him, held me breath and BOOM, just like that, in that foot went! I was so excited! The crowd clapped and Mary gave me a big smile!

Seven with is foot in the Orange Circle!

Mike and Caroline placed 2nd in the In-Hand Class
Seven and I placed 4th in the In-Hand Class
Oakley and Christina placed 5th in the Novice Class
Fortune and Reed were overjoyed just to make it through the Water Box and Pool Noodles!

Seven won the Open Class out over over 30 participants.

Boy was I proud of him! We won a $25 gift certificate to The Celtic Horse, a local tack shop, a nice embroidered cooler, a handmade rope halter from, and a bunch of other neat stuff!
I had a great time, and the win just added to the fun! I met a lot of new people and ran into some buddies from showing! Everyone was so nice and we all had a good time visiting and riding with each other! Seven got lots of petting during the day, and I answered many questions about mules!

Thanks, Mary, for putting on a great competition that really did accomplish what you intended. Mary said at the beginning of the competition, "This is about your relationship with your horse!"

So we packed up and headed home! After stopping to pick up dinner and dropping everyone off, Seven and I got home at 12:30AM!!! WoooHooo, what a day!

Christmas Break 2011/2012

I returned home late Monday night and got up early Tuesday morning to put Navarre in the stall just before the big rain came! It was a cold, wet, rainy day so I took some naps and got a lot of things done in the house! Wednesday I had planned on riding, but it was still cold, and a nice stiff wind came in, too! So the mules got another day off and lots of extra hay to stay warm!

Thursday it was nice, and I was going stir crazy! So Seven, Sadie, Jesse, and I headed over to the track to work with Lawson. Seven worked with several race horses until he was tired. Sadie was ridden by Katie, and Jesse got to watch all the goings on from the outside of the round pen!

Friday was another big day! I dropped Levi off at the vet to be neutered. Then, Seven and I headed for Peppertree Farm for an Open House free lesson. We got there and checked out the nice barns and indoor arena. We found my friend Reed taking her lesson.
Reed and her horse Fortune

There was a huge hill covered in grass near the arena, and you know me! I never saw a hill I did not like to climb, so up we went! It was a nice view of the facilities and we sure had a lot of horses looking up to see what Seven was doing up there! (It was a lot bigger than it looks in the photo!)

Soon it was time to warm up for our lesson. Bill Garvey gave me a great lesson in jumping. I learned to trust Seven more, and he gave me some great things to work on, plus it was great fun! Bill even thanked me for bringing him such a well-broke mule!

Shannon needs to work on her crest release!

We rushed home, I put Seven out for a rest, and then I went to pick up Levi. He did well with his surgery, but they had to do a large incision because he is a Cryptorchid. He has to wear his special collar for two weeks so that he doesn't rub out the stitches, and to let things heal! He was so tired, I just gave him a little to eat and a pain pill, and he was soon asleep on his bed!

I went out and tacked up all three mules again and took off to ride with Lawson at the track! Lawson rode Jesse in the round pen for me. He did really well for a mule that has not been ridden in a long time! We got home about 8:30 and Levi was still fast asleep!

Saturday I went back over to the track in the morning and we rode with the race horses. Seven was tired (hmm, not sure why... hehehe...). Katie rode Sadie around the track a few times and then we went for a short walk. Then Lawson rode Jesse for me. Jesse was twice as good as the night before, and Lawson even rode him out into the outdoor ring to use him to do some distraction training for another horse. While Seven rested, Sadie Mae was ridden by me to help out!

It got to be 12:30 and I told Lawson that the mules had to leave for their next appointment! I loaded them on the trailer and got to my house right at 1PM to meet Patty for a trail ride! Patty has corgis and a photography business at the dog shows. She used to have her own horses but has not ridden in years. She helped me get the mules unloaded and Jesse untacked. Then poor Seven and Sadie, who thought they were home and done for the day, got to go on a trail ride. We took a nice relaxing ride for about 2 1/2 hours!
Patty and Sadie Mae at the lake behind my farm.

Later that night, I met up with my mule-riding friend Debbie and we went into town for a nice New Year's Eve dinner at Chili's! It was nice to catch up with Debbie since we've both been so busy that we haven't even seen each other in over a month!

Sunday, Seven was really starting to wonder when I would go back to work, because he needed a break! But, I had been invited to ride with the Guys from Pilot. I rode with them all last winter and had a great time! They ride smart, but also fast! Since it was going to be a warm day and fast riding, I decided to take Seven because, even though he was tired, he was more in shape than Sadie Mae. We had another great ride. Rode for about 4 1/2 hours and got to do some really fun riding! We took a short break at a nice overlook, and on the way out, we spotted a SNAKE! It is unusual to see a Black Rat Snake in a tree, but it looked like he was just trying to get some sun! He did not even move till someone touched him with a stick! He was right at elbow height, while sitting on a 15.1 hand mule! We had a great ride. What a good way to spend New Year's Day! HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Mule Club Christmas Party

A fun time was had by all! Thanks to Jay and Annette for hosting our group in their beautiful home! The potluck dinner was wonderful as always. I got several great gifts stolen from me in the Dirty Santa game. Finally ended up with a neat wreath made of horse shoes. I can keep it up all year long and put different ribbons and decorations on it! It is great fun to be able to catch up with all the Mule Skinners before Christmas!

Christmas 2011

I headed to my parents' house for Christmas this year! Already there was my sister Cynthia and her daughter Robin, aged 2. Levi was of course over-excited by all the action and wondering what this Christmas thing was all about! Christmas Eve, we attended church and got to see my father perform with his Choir. They sounded great! "Past three-o-clock, on a cold frosty morning." We did some sugar cookie decorating and my mother cooked a wonderful Christmas dinner. We had a roast, and I brought some lamb chops.

After Christmas, my mother and I took Levi over to visit with Cricket and her family! Levi was terrified of Cricket's sweet German Shepard but absolutely loved her two kids, Charlie and Joe! Levi got to play in the ribbons from all the presents! I so enjoyed spending some relaxing time with my family but headed home late Monday night... trying to get home before a big rain storm set in!

Two pretty photos!

With my new point and shoot camera I took these two pretty photos! I saw the sunrise on my way to work one morning and the Carmelia bush flowers in the parking lot at lunch! Beauty is everywhere!

Tired Old Ass Soak

My friend Reed got quite a few laughs from giving me this present for Christmas! I in turn gave it to Lawson, as he needs it way more than me. He said, "Don't laugh, I'm going to use it!"