Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Iceman cometh...

A long time ago (17 years ago, in fact) I went to a local auction in Millersville. It was a favorite of many of the local horse people, we would all show up, eat Pit Beef BBQ, buy some tack, and swap tales. The horses were a mix of OTTB and various grade horses and ponies.

At this auction, I bought a young stud pony I named Iceman. Everyone who knew me at the auction laughed at me for buying him. Three years later Iceman was taking my students to shows and winning in everything from hunter to western to trail. Skip forward a few more years and I was going through a divorce and for financial reasons had to sell Ice and all my horses (except Shadow). I kept in touch with the place who bought him, and when I recovered financially tried to buy him back. I kept calling every 6 months and kept getting told they weren't interested in selling until one day I was told he had been sold months before to a barn up in Connecticut. I resigned myself to never getting him back, but always watched ads and registered at sites like Horse Reunions just in case.

Fast forward to this summer, when I had a SSH gelding for sale. One of the people who came to look at him was talking about her daughter's pony and how much fun it was to keep a creamello pony clean. She kept taking about 'Icy'. I asked if he was 13.2, blue-gray eyes, cream with white mane and tail, back socks and a wide blaze? Yes, she had my Iceman! Iceman had been her lesson pony and her students and her daughter had been winning ribbons on him for 10 years. She wasn't using him for lessons anymore, and after hearing the stories about him, decided he should come back to us.

The first few days he was a bit low key and hesitant. I kept him separate from the other horses and in a small paddock. I then tried him out with one other horse and he got a bit more relaxed. He met Shadow again, and they seemed to remember each other, but no great reunion. Then I turned him out in the main pasture. He walked around a bit, sniffed the ground, and then..

Now that's a happy pony face.

Nicely dirty and covered with grass.

We are very excited and happy to have him home. Iceman was my son's pony, and he has been out to the barn often to see him and play with him. Rather a fun sight seeing them run in the pasture and play, my son is 6 ft tall now. We plan on driving a bit, some trail riding, and some grandchildren of friends will need their first pony rides. Thank you Joanna, for making this possible!

Iceman has come home.

Monday, August 8, 2011

First show...a comedy of errors...

First off, let me say I used to show, a lot. I have a shelf of trophies, a trunk of ribbons, all with my mare Shadow (herein known as 'the Saint.')

So when we got these two youngsters, I planned on showing them. I figured this year we would just do model. Gets them into showing without a lot of stress (HA!) and gets them started on their versatility books. All you need for model is show bridle and matching show outfit for the handler.

This spring I joined PWHM (actually re-joined, I was a member way back when) and signed up for the show points. I was all ready to start practicing for shows by trailering the girls to other rings, etc. I bought a western show shirt (if you go western, you don't have to braid, and I knew my show coat would have to be altered) and saddleseat jodhpurs. I pulled my show sets out of storage and polished silver.

Then my truck broke down, and 'we' decided to fix it ourselves. So I missed the first few shows of the year. Then the next show was the same day as another event we had already signed up for. Then the next show we were out of town. Then a show was cancelled because of heat.

Finally the Howard County Fair comes around. As this show is practically in my back yard, and was a show I went to every year with Shadow I was determined to go. Since I knew trying to show two would be difficult, I lined up people to help, friends who had asked to come to a horse show with me. I had people lined up 6 deep because, you know life happens, someone may not be able to come. Well, as of 2 days before the show I had no help at all. I was trying to decide if it was worth it. I knew it would be hot, I would be dealing with silly greenies all by myself in a hectic environment.

I sent out a last plea to my trailriding e-mail group for help, hoping for at least someone to lead a horse in the ring (I couldn't show both at the same time) and Denise offered to help since she wasn't showing model.

Ok, so all set if I can get them ready and there. I set everything up the night before, clip the girls and purchase another sheet for the trailer ride. My trailer is aluminum, and while it never affected anything with our black horses with these two light colored girls they would both have a dark gray streak down their sides from the dividers. So now each girl has a matching sheet and halter, all ready to go.

I get up the next morning at my usual 6:30, walk the dog, have tea, check e-mail. I knew I had plenty of time, the show starts at 10 and it is 20 minutes from my barn. I would get there at 9, walk the girls around to relax them, do last minute grooming, etc. I go on the club website, just in case although I know THIS show won't be cancelled. I look at the show bill and see start time 9am!! Yikes! So I throw my clothes on, grab coggins, show shirt and water and hit the door running.

I get to the barn, hook up the trailer, and put everyone in the barn to feed. I look at the two that are showing and find lovely mud-covered urchins in their stalls. I won't have time to groom that off! Fortunately, I've been in this situation before. I pull them out and hose them off, even hooves! Throw the sheets on, load them up and off we go. It's 8:30, I should be there registering now.

I head off to the fairgrounds, resigned to not making it on time, but thinking I would at least walk the mares around the ground, so still a learning experience. The traffic gods smile on me, I make it to the fairgrounds at 8:51. When I get to the rings, it hadn't started so maybe I had a chance. I park, and sprint to the booth. Yes, they would wait! I get registered, unload the girls, and just catch Denise walking by.

Now here is where the fun starts. It's been 10 years since I have shown, 15 since I have shown any greenies. We are trying to calmly rush through pulling blankets off and putting bridles on. That is all we have time to do. Denise slips Dixie's halter off to put the bridle on, Dixie steps back, then takes off!

So we have the cries of 'Loose Horse' I have a frantic Roheryn in my hands, Dixie is skittering around having the time of her life (no, she wasn't afraid, she was yipee!) and Denise and I both know we are 'Holding Up The Show' a big no no in horse show world.

Dixie decided then to sniff a tied horse, who proceeds to kick at her. Dixie thinks about retaliating but my growled Uh-Uh!! stops her. She then comes over to Roheryn, and I grab her mane long enough for Denise to get the halter on her.

We lead them back to the trailer, get bridles on both (lead ropes around the head this time) and get ready to head to the DQP. I'm so frazzled by then I don't even bother putting my show shirt on, or putting my number on. I just carried it. Denise had this great plastic sleeve for the number, I have to get one! Held on with magnets, just slide the number in. She sells them, by the way.

So at the DQP* Dixie is great. The moment the bridle went on, she because Miss Manners. Roheryn, however, was not. She was pulling, champing the bit, crowding, spooking at the traffic, generally being quite silly.

In the ring, Dixie walks around and notices all the people watching. I can tell she thinks this is wonderful, all this attention on her! She looks back at us a couple of times, but is very mannerly. Roheryn frets, and chews, and nudges, and doesn't want to stand. She finally settles down, and we get sort of a park, but really we are just there for the experience. Meanwhile I am standing there with a horse slobbery tank top on holding my number in my hand, and thinking I will probably get the gate just for tackiness!

They announce the winner, the gorgeous bay tobiano next to us (very well deserved!) but then they call Dixie's number! She got 2nd place! On they went down the line and to my surprise, Roheryn got 5th! I think the judge was being very kind. So a 2 and 5 when they were just pulled out of the pasture and hosed off, didn't even have time to brush them. I have to sincerely thank Denise for Dixie's 2nd, she wouldn't have gotten it without her expert help.

We took them back to the trailer, and very carefully took the bridles off. Dixie was wiggly again, but didn't get loose this time! Roheryn was a different horse as soon as the bit was out of her mouth. She relaxed back into the calm girl she usually is. I suspect a different bit is in order for her. I led them around and let them graze. They watched the horses in the ring with interest. It was funny, when they grazed by another trailer, Roheryn went to load herself in it. I think she was ready to go home.

I then left them tied to the trailer and walked away (watching to be sure they behaved) to chat with some friends. They did very well tied, and loaded right up to go home.

So, an interesting day, lessons learned all around, and big bonus, one point towards Dixie's versatility book! No photos of the show, I didn't even think about it in all the chaos.

*A DQP is a Designated Qualified Person who checks for soring agents, a requirement for all TWH shows.