Thursday, January 31, 2019

Ride #12: Increasing the Difficulty

Amanda called off on Wednesday sick, so we had our lesson tonight. The other student that I usually share lessons with wasn’t able to ride tonight, so I got Amanda all to myself.

It was cold in the indoor and although we walked for fifteen minutes, Ashke was bouncy and forward when we moved to the trot. Amanda thought he might be cold, which would make sense, since I just clipped him again. We moved into an extended trot to a collected trot and then began working on our leg yields as Amanda finished up her lesson. 

Once the lesson started, we did shoulder in, haunches in and then haunches out, before crossing the diagonal at the medium trot and doing the same series of exercises in the other direction. From there we moved to the trot serpentine, where I was really working on keeping him straight through his body. We did canter-walk transitions in the serpentine, then Amanda had me canter him on a big circle, with a shoulder fore feeling on the long sides. That was hard because he is an over achiever and wanted to throw his hips in or out or somewhere. However, he was better at containing his chaotic energy after we started to canter. And he was trying and obedient, only spooking one small time.

After the canter we went back to the trot work and did leg yields up and down the arena. Amanda doesn’t want to have the chaotic energy build so we are using trot work to interrupt.

We then did changes on a diagonal line across the arena, getting three changes in the cross. We did it twice and he waited until I asked for the change. I told Amanda that what we needed to work on was proper bend after the change. In some of the changes he is a little counter bent. Amanda had us do a canter half-pass for three or so strides, then straighten, ask for the change, and half-pass in the other direction.

We did it but it wasn’t Uber pretty. He was late behind so there was a pretty big bump in his back end to correct the issue. Kind of felt like a buck but I didn’t think it was. I thought he was having issues making the change. Amanda said he was trying to figure it out. We tried it a second time:

Not bad for our second attempt.

The It will be a fun exercise to work to perfect, since it will really help solidify the bend in our canter transitions. It was our first real ride in a week and he was amazing.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Jigsaw Pipework

So the plumber was not impressed with our construction folk either.
He had to cut the pipe and bend it into the wall, rise it up, bend it around the corner and reattach to the up pipe.
I’m pretty damn impressed. I was half expecting to have to buy a new tub,

Tristan will be so pleased to have a shower. 
Did you all know there is such a thing as a sex bench? (I got this from my remodeler, not T).
I opted not to have one installed. :)
Also, the drain pipe was not to code, so the plumber had to fix that as well. It’s not level, but my remodeler will shim under the edge that isn’t flat so there is no bowing or bounce in the shower pan.

New pipes and mixer. Moved up the wall because you don’t sit down in the shower.

It sounds like the wall and tile get started tomorrow. We still haven’t figured out the countertop. We have a couple of options, one of which is buying the sheet of granite from floor and decor and making the cuts ourselves, to building the countertop out of plywood and adding tile to the top. 

The doorway, minus the door and door jamb. 
The plan is to trim it out with wood, instead of trying to repair the dry wall.
It looks like that because the original drywaller used his hammer to break off the left over piece instead of taking the time to cut it with a knife.
Just plain lazy.

Remodel Issues

So, its no surprise to me that there are flaws in the original construction, because, let’s face it, we had to have serious engineering done on the condo to ensure it was no longer sliding down the hill to land on the houses below us. Compared to having to create void space under the foundation and repair the caissons so that the building was once again being supported by them (Uber important to keep the ground heave from wrecking the building), minor fuck ups in a second bathroom pale by comparison. 

The good news is that the leaking water was run off from the tub not being level, rather than a leak behind the wall.
We talked about moving the toilet toward the shower, since there will now be a solid glass shower there, but decided it would not be enough of a move to provide the space necessary for a full vanity. The toilet would still interfere.
Not enough benefit for the cost.

This, however, will require a plumber, who comes in today.
Piss poor planning and sloppy workmanship hidden by the tub. That pipe will need to be changed/fixed in order for the shower pan to fit the space.
Unfortunately, the beam under the floor is a load bearing beam so I’m not exactly sure what the plumber will do. The pipe is a venting pipe for the sewer and is coming up from the basement.

See the vent? Guess where the vanity for the bathroom sits?
This is another issue that we are going to deal with. Just fucking lazy on the part of the builders.
My remodeler will try to move the vent toward the center of the room, since it can’t be moved to the left because of the direction the joists run, and get it clear of the vanity. We are stuck with the piping being where it is, since the cost of trying to move it would be prohibitive. The woman doing the remodel will build a small wall and dry wall it, to hide the pipes and also support the granite countertop we are planning to install.

By the end of today, the shower pan should be installed, with that pesky pipe rerouted, and the mixer replaced for the shower, with the piping redone to remove the part where water came into the tub (just the shower will be left). Dry wall should go in tomorrow, and then tile and paint on Friday. I still need to pick up the shower door, pick out paint, find someone to cut the granite countertop to length and create the hole for the sink. We also had the door removed (didn’t get pictures) and I ordered a barn style door for the bathroom. One of Tristan’s biggest complaints was the amount of space the door opening into the bathroom took up. Replacing it with a door that slides across the opening seemed pretty easy, all thing considered.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Images (24 Hours)

2.5 hours. That’s how long it took to get to work in this mess, this morning.

Fastest speed was about a turtle’s pace.

8” in just over four hours. These are the types do storms people used to die in, because they would come up out of nowhere (mostly in the spring and fall). The commute really sucked. 

I realized when I went to get the tile that the one we had picked out was ceramic and the other was porcelain.
The issue with that was thickness of the pieces. The thicker one would have a raised edge when used as an accent.
Picked a different one.

70# each. Total of 12. Powerlifters watch out!
(I did them one at a time and by the time I was done unloading my lower back was unhappy.)

The slab of tile that will be used as the floor and the accent in the bathroom.

I took two full garbage bags of crap out of this bathroom.

The demolition starts today. These are the last photos of this bathroom.

I will be really happy to have the green gone.
And the tub.

And the water damage. We are pretty sure there has been a slow leak behind that wall since we moved in.

The oldest toilet in the house. Will be glad that’s gone as well.

Tristan got home from work, stripped down and went out to roll in the snow.

For his Snapchat, of course.

So very much my son.

Sunrise over Colora

Monday, January 28, 2019

Bathroom Time

Bathroom. Every. Morning.
It’s like they feel they have to hide their love.

Lily is touching the kitten.
But she’s not breathing and there is so much tension in her body.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Ride #11

So, today I met Flambé at the barn at about ten to ride. Usually, Sunday morning about 10:30 is the perfect time to get on your horse and it’s also the time when most of Amanda’s army (like Dumbledore but with horses) is there to ride. This morning, there was a group jump lesson filled with young riders on big horses and questionable steering. They were also using the entirety of the indoor arena. I wish there was some way to predict or know when she was going to be using the indoor that way, because we would schedule around the lesson.

Flambé and I saddled, peed, and led our horses to the indoor. I held Kat while Flambé got on, then walked with them a couple of feet until Kat settled, and then I got on Ashke. We started our walk. An hour later we were still walking the outer ring of the indoor, because the jumping lesson had progressed to actually jumping jumps and we didn’t want to get ran into. We spent a little time walking over ground poles in the “trail” section the BO has set up at the farthest end of the indoor. Flambé was a bit hesitant at first, thinking that Kat would have issues, but by the time we were through wandering through them, Kat was doing even the slightly raised, very close together for a Friesian poles. Then we went back to walking. We thought they were done, but then a single rider on a miniature horse came out and they started all over again. I had Flambé capture this moment. It was literally the only time we didn’t walk for our hour long ride.

I asked Amanda, who was walking across the arena, to tell me what I was doing wrong on that lead change.
Then he nailed it.
I said, “Oh, he just needs Amanda to be watching.”

I untacked him at that point and then pulled out the clippers. I need to keep him clipped because he gets itchy under the blanket if he isn’t. He has been rubbing his shoulders and his tail dock so I figured it was time.

This is the unclipped side. You can see the hair from the clipped side.

I also trimmed up the long guard hairs on his cheeks and under his jaw line. I hate when those get super long because it brings up the ghosts of years past (his guard hairs were the only thing keeping him warm when I first saw him in Texas. I was about 75% of the way done on the first side when the cold front and winds came through the area. The wind was gusting over 40 mph and rattling the roof, which made Ashke nervous. He started to dance a little bit at the end of his lead, which only gives him about 2’ of room to move. I asked him why he was dancing and told him to stand still. While I was oiling the clippers, he snorted at me, then sank down into the gentlest Levade, without tightening the lead rope. He did that twice and then I asked him to keep all four on the floor. He acquiescenced.

I gave him a good brushing and got out all of the dirt that had been trapped under the hair, gave him some carrots and grain, then called it a day.
I really do love it when his hair is short. And see the nice clean jawline. 
Someone who will remain nameless kind of chopped up the hair on his other cheek, but it will grow back, amiright?

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Everything But Riding

I had planned to ride when I got to the barn this morning, but it was 21 degrees and that was a little too cold for me. I gave Ashke his carrots, found a space heater, set it up in the tack room, and spent 45 minutes oiling the girth on my saddle (it’s sticky and doesn’t want to slide through the ring easily). I also did the reins on my bridle. 

Space heater does the trick

Lederbalm and the very new cinch strap I was working on.
It’s still rough on the underside.

Then I pulled my gear out and cleaned up my mess under the saddle, finding a broom and sweeping the dirt, peppermint wrappers (we have a serious addiction as a barn) and then organizing my stuff. When I was done with that, I turned off the heater, finished sweeping the tack room, went out to stuff Ashke’s face with more carrots and a couple of scoops of Purina Senior. He was munching away happily when I left. 

I headed to Plane View Farm to help set up the facility for HCWE’s kick off party for 2019. 

The cookies that were donated with our logo on them.
I snagged one (the only thing I ate) and they were yummy.

Red Velvet Cupcakes
We had other snacks than just dessert, but the dessert was the best looking.

Set up and waiting

Lauren, one of the Board members and owner of Plane View Farm, on Uno.
The rode the demo.

The kick off was a great success. There were over 90 people there and they seemed to enjoy the opportunity to learn about WE, eat a bit of food and walk the obstacles with our board members and trainers. The two hours flew by and then we put everything away. I got to bring home a huge chocolate cake for T. Hopefully, he will eat it. Then I headed home for the evening.

Tomorrow, I will ride.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

FF: Snow Blanket

The drive in this morning was pretty bad. Traffic is stopped in front of me.
Took an hour and a half to get to work.

By 1 pm, this is the photo Amanda took at the barn.
Ashke would really like a quiet gelding to move in next to him, that will play gently with Ashke, and do lots and lots of grooming.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Ride #10

Anyone see this graphic on FB?
Ashke was definitely the horse depicted in the bottom graphic just over two years ago.
Learning to ride him correctly, with my trainer, has developed him into the horse above.

Tonight was our lesson night and I was pretty excited to get my poneh out. Because of the bathroom remodel and the need to pick all the things, I didn’t get to ride on either Monday or Tuesday. Our last ride on Sunday was a bit shady, so I was wondering which horse I was going to have. He whinnied when he heard me walking up to the barn door and then whinnied three times in a row when he saw me. I gave him a carrot and scratched his face and nose, before heading to the bathroom. I had given myself plenty of time to get ready, so had no problem hanging with Kat for a moment while Flambé got her helmet. I went to the bathroom (it is still a glorious thing to have an indoor bathroom, with running water and a space heater keeping the toilet warm. It’s the little things, folks.) I pet the Manx cat and gave her scratches behind her ears, then headed back to pull Ashke out of his stall. 

Do you see the muscle at the base of his neck?
The muscle at the top of his neck almost reaches his poll.
The muscle in the front of his shoulder (one of the sling muscles) is getting some real definition and bulk.

I got him brushed off, feet cleaned, withers scratched. He let me know that lots more scratching of his withers was required. I got him saddled and we headed to the indoor to get warmed up and relaxed. He was so sweet and willing, moving out easily at a walk. Preening a little bit when he saw Kat. We reached the far end of the arena, where the poles are laid out for the BO’s practice rides. I think she competes in Western trail, but I’m not sure. Anyway, he was being a little looky when we got down there, so I sat quiet and waited to see what he would do. He stared for a few moments, then walked forward and sniffed at the round pen, a couple of standards, walked over a couple of poles, and then walked out of the area. I did nothing but let him investigate what he wanted, at his own pace. He didn’t give them a second glance for the rest of our ride. We moved into a really nice trot and I told him every time we went past the mirror how awesome he looked. He fluffed.

Muscle over and behind the withers is building all the way down his back.
More muscle building up along the “sling” of the shoulder, which gives him the strength to lift his shoulders.

We started the lesson with leg yields in a figure eight, getting really nice inside bend and crossing. He felt awesome. There were a couple of times when he started to get bunchy and I encouraged him to move forward in more of a medium trot. It helped unlock him, as did me keeping my weight forward over the shoulder we were moving towards. The next thing was some shoulder in along the rail and after doing that in both directions, we switched to haunches in. By the time we were through with our stretches, Sal was ready to do his canter sets, so we took a bit of a break while Sal cantered in both directions (he’s had issues with hocks, stifles and perhaps his SI). When he was done, Ashke and I were up.

Nicely muscled through the hind end. 
He is also stopping square when halted, an effect of the strength and balance we have developed.

We did canter-walk-canter transitions on the serpentine, and when he started getting a little crooked, moved to do them on a bigger circle at odd intervals. I told him how proud I was and then we did some changes. The first ones, he got bouncy and tense. I halted him and stroked his neck, explaining that I wouldn’t take him by surprise. I would tell him when to change and he just needed to trust that I was right. We got two changes in a row, on a straight line. Amanda had me try it again on a diagonal and expected three changes. He nailed it. Both times we tried. 

We took a bit of a break, then I attempted my first counter canter. I was feeling a bit intimidated, but Amanda had faith and coached me through it. I kept my leg on and we muddled through our first half circle counter canter. Ashke’s ears said he wasn’t sure if he was doing it right, but I verbally encouraged him and kept him going. We transitioned down to a walk and then tried it in the other direction. Once again, he did the full half circle, ears back and to the sides a bit wondering if it really was that easy. We stopped by Amanda while Sal was working on his laterals and some extended trot. I was scratching Ashke’s withers and he had his head down, twisted to one side, lips working in ecstasy. I stopped, picked up my reins and asked him to move forward. He ducked his head, raised his withers and pawed at the ground. Amanda burst into laughter and said “he wants you to keep scratching”. Sure enough. I scratched for about 30 more seconds and then told him we needed to finish our lesson.

Close up of the top of his withers.

We ended with transitions within the trot, with his medium trot getting really strong and forward. He is doing so awesome at lifting through his withers as he moves into the medium trot. I worked on keeping him in contact, with his shoulders up. It’s very bouncy, but better than it was a year ago. I was so happy with how he was tonight. 

Of course, a winter storm is moving in tonight and I won’t go out tomorrow night (no one needs to ride when the high is 18). Friday I will need to meet with Chris and do shopping for HCWE’s Open House on Saturday. Saturday morning, I will ride before the horse event. I figure horses, barn, no one will care if I am covered in Ashke hair. (I also really need to get him clipped again. Maybe Sunday morning.)

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Bathroom Saga

We have a bathroom that is in pretty bad shape. We have been living in our condo for almost 20 years and while we have added paint several times and replaced the flooring on all three floors, big renovation projects have not happened yet. We have two big ones planned. The first is the bathroom off Ts room. The second is our walk out basement. There has been a slow water leak in the room for the past twenty years and the floor has rotted out. The entire bathroom needs to be overhauled.

You can see the water damage on the left next to the tub. 
The baseboards in the house are all cardboard, so there’s little pieces of brown cardboard all over. 
And whoever decided to paint the wall green really should be shot.
It’s even better in real life.

We are replacing the tub with a shower and glass door. This will require tearing out the tub (to fix the floor) and the walls (which may also be compromised). That means that my 18 year old young man who only wears monochrome clothing and spends more time doing his hair in the morning than I take all week, gets to pick the details for the bathroom. 

This is the tile he choose for the shower, thinking water over rock would be cool.
We are applying some pressure to get him to look at something else, since keeping this clean would be a bitch.
Although, I think it is beautiful tile and could be used as an accent wall.

And I’m not sure it really goes with the black time he choose for the floor.
Not to mention my handy woman who is doing the remodel is not happy about the edges on the tile he selected.
I’m afraid we would lose so much tile sq footage from having to make the edges straight, that the discount price would no longer apply.

We went to Home Depot tonight and looked at vanities. We need one without a top, so we can have a custom top made for the space.
The cabinet is 30”, the space is 60” and there is a toilet too close to the vanity to be able to install a six foot vanity.
So we will buy a 60” slab of something to top this cabinet.
T liked this model better than the one with two bigger drawers. I’m hoping his plethora of hair products will find homes in them.

He also picked out this set of lights to replace the ugly round bulbs we currently have in there.
They look like glass and I think they will go well with the rest.

This is the tile we are encouraging, that he likes.
Much easier to install and maintain. Plus, it will help lighten the room and not make it appear to be a black hole.
And we are going to look at this piece as a possible tile for the floor. It will either be this one or the one in the top photo.
He really likes the aesthetics of black, white and grey. We will have to look at this particular tile to see if the color is as nice as it looks.
It is turning into a monochrome look, for sure.

I love that my son has been both flexible and consistent in his understanding of the aesthetics of the tile we are looking at, while being flexible about the rock wall.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Dinner: Flank Steak and Roasted Veggies

This was a combination of yellow squash, zucchini, mushrooms, fingerling potatoes, Brussel Sprouts, asparagus, and pearl onions.
I drizzled the veggies with olive oil and mixed in some minced garlic, spread it on the tray and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.
About 40 minutes in the oven at 350.

Flank steak with Montreal Steak Seasoning from Costco
Cooked rare under the broiler
Also a little bit of heaven

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Ride #9: Aggravation

I met Flambe at the barn to ride on Sunday morning. She was on limited time, so I didn’t set up the Pixem. I went through the manual last time I tried to use the Pixem and didn’t find anything in the manual that told me what I was doing wrong. I will have to get to the barn early one day so I can play with the camera and beacons until I figure it out. It may also work better outside in the outdoor arena. I will try it out there the next time I am convinced the footing is good.

Kat was really up when Flambe mounted, which was a little scary to me. Kat is a Friesian with a touch of Arabian, and although she was standing well at the mounting block, she was very tense and up when they moved away. It took a little bit of riding for her to settle. During that time, Ashke was soft and listening, moving near and away from Kat without any tension. He felt good through his body and ready to work.

Then a couple of new to us horses came into the arena and Ashke got very tense. His body radiated tension, he wouldn’t relax or stretch down like he had been just a couple of moments before. He also wouldn’t trot forward, becoming more and more “up” in his movement, chomping on his bit and tossing his head behind vertical. He was pissed that there were other horses there. I tried all of my fall back exercises: trot serpentines with transitions off my seat (he fought me and tried to give me a canter each time I asked for an upward transition), leg yields and half passes, both of which were more sideways than forward and neither of which included any time of relaxation. I finally put him into a canter, which involved at least three attempts to bolt, but did seem to help with some of the tension.

I’m going to have to rethink my approach with Ashke. When this type of behavior has manifested in the past, I have yelled at him to knock it off. Sometimes I will also slap the side of his neck with my open hand. This has served to startle him out of his comfort zone and usually he gets better afterwards. He doesn’t like being in trouble. Yesterday, however, my process of kind of bullying him into behaving didn’t work and just made him more tense. So yelling at him to knock it off is now off the table since it made him more reactionary. Instead, I worked on descalation and trying to find relaxation. At one point we had stopped and were concentrating on standing still and Amanda’s mom commented that he was acting like a stallion who is feeling challenged by the other horses in the arena. She said that Laz can react the same way. It makes sense and felt very similar to how he reacts in the warm up ring at shows, so it’s at least some practice for me to figure out some coping mechanisms. We are going to have to have a talk about his manners if he is going to think of himself that way. I’m going to have to change from the “telling a gelding” and adapt into “ask a stallion”. 

He got focused and relaxed once the arena was empty and we got some nice canter transitions. Prior to that is was mostly trotting with changes of direction and bend all over the arena trying to find some relaxation. Sometimes it just doesn’t work the way you want it to. We worked on a lot of lateral work and some serpentines with transitions, but mostly he was sucked back and going up and down instead of forward. We did play with some half steps of really collected trot before working on our changes.

I am working on mixing up the changes with asking for a walk transition. I am using my voice for the cue. His upward transition is usually very obedient and the downward is less and less on the forehand, because he is stepping into it rather than falling into it. In the video below, we do changes down the arena, then do walk transitions back up the arena, so that he figures out he has to listen to me in order to get it right. I am beginning to slow the process down in my head and figure out the little things that I need to do to help him set up for the flying change a little better. Two months into this process and I am feeling pretty happy with our progress, even when we have days that are less than optimal.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

8th Ride

Ashke greeted me with a whinny and a head tossing demand for carrots. I obliged, then walked over to the show barn to use the bathroom. Jiggers (short for jigsaw puzzle, which is what her face reminded her owner of) stopped me and requested that I throw her frisbee for her, which I did several times. The arena was freshly drug and looked so very inviting that I was excited to get out on it. The one friendly barn cat stopped me and demanded pets, which she got, then I finally made my way back to Ashke. I got him out and groomed him, giving him the once over looking for issues, but there were none. I have been treating the left hind that has the scar tissue and thickness from his injury in 2016 with Surpass and it has taken the thickness down a lot. I will keep using it until all of the residual inflammation is gone. Saddled and bridled, then I pulled him into the indoor and we started our ride.

Shoulder in was okay, although it took a bit to get him moving forward with proper bend. I don’t know why this is a struggle right now, unless it is an early indicator that we need to get his hocks done again. We worked on them up and down the arena until I finally got two attempts in a row in each direction and we moved on to some lateral work.

We did leg yields at the trot across the arena in both directions from centerline. He was really good at keeping his body straight with just his shoulders leading by a hair. Then we did trot half pass from centerline to the rail. He was very good at that exercise. So then I did leg yield from the rail to centerline, straightened for two steps and then half passed back to the rail. We did that in both directions and he was so good.

The lateral movement gave way to trot serpentines with walk transitions. I concentrated on remaining soft and releasing a breath as I asked with my legs for a downward transition. He was soft in response and felt balanced and calm in the transitions. We moved from the trot to the canter, still working the serpentines with walk transitions. He listened very well and I am using me voice to help clarify what I want him to do while we are figuring out the changes. 

Next, we did a set of six flying changes, which were clean and crisp, although he did give me one a little early, going up and down the arena. I had been adding plenty of walk breaks in between the sets of exercises and Ashke was reaching and stretching well during the breaks. I decided to do a new exercise with walk transitions, We started with a 10 m canter circle starting at centerline, came back to centerline and did our transition, walked a couple of steps, then picked up the other lead. Another 10m circle and repeat. With walk transitions we got five circles the length of the arena. Then we did the exercise with flying changes. It was a mixed bag. We got the changes but they weren’t as smooth as I had hoped for. It’s hard to say if I was tired or if he was tired. We walked the length of the arena and did a set with the walk changes. Then tried the flying changes one more time. I think I was struggling to control my body. My legs were feeling tired. We finished up with some walk transitions and walked a loop to help him stretch.

He got more Surpass on his leg, a healthy feed of Purina Senior, plus two pounds of carrots. After I had put him away, I grabbed my bridle and headed for the wash rack. When I opened the door to the indoor, Candy was lunging Macho there. Macho is her Western Pleasure stallion that she had gelded last summer in order to be able to take him to more shows. He has the head described in The Black Stallion. It is very nice. He stopped and waited for me to greet him, then gave his mom a look like “see, she did want to admire me”. I scratched his cheeks and his jaw line, commenting for about the one hundredth time how much I love his head. He passes his head onto his offspring, as well as his temperament, and I really like how they move. He’s not small and not built downhill for a QH. Really nice horse. Candy does a great job.

I rinsed off the bridle, scooped up the apples Ashke left in the arena and then cleaned the bridle and tucked everything away. It was a great ride and I look forward to our ride on Sunday.

NWSS 32nd Edition

Yesterday was the 32nd year in a row that I have gone to Stockshow. The National Western Stock Show grew out of the great cattle drives in the fall. Cattle ranchers from Kansas, Nebraska, the Dakotas, Texas, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico would sort their herds in the fall, gather up the cattle that they wanted to sell, and drive them slowly (so they wouldn’t lose weight) to the cattle sales in Kansas City and Denver. At the cattle sales, buyers from back east would bid on the cattle, then load them into cattle cars and ship them by rail back to the Eastern markets. As great swathes of Open Range  was bought up by ranchers, who fenced in the great prairies with barbed wire, the great cattle drives slowly dwindled. As did the men and some women who made their living working cattle from the back of their horse. As an aside, if you want to read a great book about a good man with a horse, told during the era when cattle and horses and open plains made up a lifestyle, look for Monte Walsh, by Jack Schaffer. It’s now on Amazon in the Kindle store and is one of my favorite books of all time. The Stockshow grew out of that tradition.

Now, instead of the cattle being brought in by ranchers in huge herds, a lot of the animals brought to the Stockshow are part of the 4-H program, and FFA programs still being offered in these states. Kids raise cattle, pigs, sheep, llamas, and goats as part of the 4-H program, bring them to stock show and show them in what amounts to a halter class for the animals. Then the animals are auctioned off. One of the stories they shared this year was of a kid who lost her father and because of that, her mother, herself and two sibs were homeless. They were taken in by a neighbor and given a RV to live in. The girl was given a yearling calf that she worked with through the 4-H program. They got the steer to the auction where he sold for 140k. That money helped get her family back on it’s feet and into a home of their own. I was a 4-H kid, learning horsemanship and cooking. The lessons I learned then have stayed with me throughout my life.

This year, like last, I went with a group of women from the barn. Last year it was G and I and myself. This year we brought Flambé and JL, Navaar’s owner. We met in a heavy snowstorm at the park n ride in Thornton, and I drove us down. I took back roads and was about to pull into my normal parking lot, when G and I protested. We ended up driving around and parking in a remote lot with a shuttle, which picked up at the Event Center and took us directly there. They were right. It was a much better option when we were leaving at 9:30 at night. We parked in the snow and slogged through muddy water and slush to await our chariot. 

We started in the Event Center with a list of the food we planned to consume throughout the day. How can a day go wrong when it starts out that way? Popcorn and BBQ and Corn Dogs were on the list. There were some impromptu additions as we walked through the booths looking at things. I was in search of a scarf to round out the outfit I am putting together for the May show. It was the final piece I needed, although I am still thinking about getting black spur straps so they don’t clash with my boots. Anyway, we headed out to examine all of the things for sale at the show.

Thunder, the Bronco’s mascot and distant cousin of Ashke.

I can not begin to tell you how incredibly fun it was. I think we laughed for seven straight hours. They are witty and hilarious and get my sense of humor. It was a day filled with great company, good food and a lot of joy. Flambé was amazed at the number of items the food vendors were willing to dip into batter and drop into the deep fryer. We saw deep-fried Oreos, red-velvet oreos, snickers, mars bars, twinkies, donuts, funnel cake to name a few. At one point Flambé asked if we were in Texas, because of the number of fried foods. We said no, because in Texas there would have been friend butter.

She looked at me very skeptically. Really? Deep fried butter? Wouldn’t the butter melt and get all over?

I grinned and said, “On your hands, and your chin, and your cheeks, and dripping down your chest . . . . . Kind of like really good sex.”

Everyone howled.

We looked at a lot of jewelry, clothing, boots, hats, and jackets. By about 3:30, I was getting a bit hungry and so we stopped at my favorite grill and picked up food.

BBQ pork with mashed potatoes, corn and baked beans.
The roll was on the side (I didn’t eat it).

Hunger satisfied, we headed out to examine more stuff. We found a fudge seller and spent several minutes picking out and paying for fudge. I took a pretty good chunk of it home for T and J. Then we walked around the corner toward the horse trailers and in the place where one of our local dealers has been for years, was a Candy Maze instead. There were huge bins of misc candy and it was only 99 cents a pound. The kind of candy I was able to find when I was a kid, but isn’t in normal stores any more. I got Bit-o-Honey, Zotz, Smarties, Carmel Apple Pops, Charm Sweet & Sour pops, Tootsie Rolls and taffy from the bins, added a bag of Sugar Babies and an Abba-Zabba bar and walked out a happy camper. 

Picture of how I want to tie the scarf. For memory enhancement later.

I went to lead us downstairs to the Stadium Arena, when G said she wanted to finish the floor we were on, so we walked over to Steamboat Ranch. It was there that I found the scarf I didn’t realize I was missing. 

I forgot to get a pic of it in the packaging. You can’t really tell, but the knot is correct.

It is super soft, silk I think, and it goes with the shirt, vest and boots I will be wearing to show in. I am so happy that I am putting together an outfit that not only I like, but that I feel comfortable in. I loved the jacket that my mom made, but have never really felt comfortable in that style of clothes. I think this brings me back to my roots and puts me in a style that makes me feel me, that takes me back to my childhood and the first shows I ever went to. (I did have a powder blue show suit when I was sixteen that also worked as a disco outfit. I was so hip.) Flambé got a Kerrits jacket that was 30% off (don’t you love deals like that?) 

After we left that vendor, I led them down the stairs to the Stadium Arena. The Semen Sales people weren’t there (cracks me up) but there are always interesting vendors in that section. We were about to leave the Stadium Arena when I saw it . . . A bag with lots of gear loops and pockets. I squeee’d in joy and rushed over. The guy behind the counter wasn’t satisfied with just selling me a bag, he wanted to show us all the bells and whistles. The brand is Dajo (Dave and Jo. Married couple that created the line) and they were freaking cool. I ended up buying the medium one (they had three different sizes) because the small one was not big enough of all of my stuff, especially my iPad and the large one was too big for daily use. It would have been great for a day pack, but a bit much for my “purse”.

I really should have taken a picture at either of their booths. We visited both.

Pic from the Dajo Adventure Gear website.

Front sling harness
It’s actually a tripoint sling, if you like that style

You can also bundle everything up in the pouch in the back and carry it by the little loop.
Nice option that I will never use.

Tripoint attachment in the front. Keeps the bag comfortable and doesn’t add weight to your shoulders.

G also got one for herself in the same size, only in royal blue. I was tickled because I collect bags the way other people collect shoes.

We left the Stadium arena and walked across the walkway to the Coliseum, passing food trucks we were too full to visit. When we walked into the Coliseum, G exclaimed “there are more shops over here”. I guess in the nine years she’s been going they’ve never made it to the Coliseum. We walked the circle of vendors, and stopped to purchase Colorado themed stickers for the cars. I got a Tinkerbell and a Death Star to go on my car. Thanks Flambé for getting them for us.

We were getting tired, so we walked back over to the Event Center and found our seats, after picking up a bag of popcorn on the way. It felt good to sit down for a while. It was easy to continue our conversations and sharing of stories while waiting for the Gambler’s Choice to start. Just as it was about to start, we made our way to the food vendor and purchased corn dogs, which might have been the best corn dogs I’ve ever eaten. Nothing like fair food.

Andalusian stallion presenting the colors.
The Anthem was a hard rock guitar rendition.
I thought that was a bit strange for the venue, but what do I know.

Action shots are blurry

We were in the stands really close to this jump. 
If you look close, this woman is competing without stirrups or a bit in her horse’s mouth.
I guess she damaged her ankles, had surgery on them, but can’t put any pressure in the stirrup.
Still jumping. Equestrians are crazy.

So, this event is the Gambler’s Choice. The jumps all have assigned values based on their difficulty.
You have one minute to accumulate as many points as you can. All of the jumps are in the 4’ range.
At the end of the minute, the rider has the option of jumping the joker fence, which carries a point value of 200.
The fence is 5’3” tall and if you knock it down, you lose 200 points off your score.
All of the riders tried and only a couple of them took down the top rail.

Some horses were more exuberant

Some of the horses got buried at the base of the jump, but leapt like gazelles.
If you took a rail down that jump was not able to be jumped again.
You could jump each jump twice, but that was it.

Joker fence. I don’t know how the rider managed to stay on.

Some horses opted to run into the fence rather than going over.
The next step the horse knocked the entire thing down.

Rider assessing the joker fence before making the attempt.

Some of the horse and rider combinations were awesome.
Some of them you wanted to beat the rider for the way they rode.

This was the horse that won the event.

Same horse jumping the Joker fence

All that was left at that point was to pick up our things, make our way to the shuttle and get back to the car. It was such a fun outing and the company was so awesome. I think we are going to make it an annual thing.