Thursday, May 27, 2010

Horse shows and Motocross races for Memorial Day weekend

It's another divided weekend for our family...girls will head to Mason for a big Paint horse show and the boys head out to Millington for a big weekend of racing.

While we all enjoy having a little extra sleeping space with just 2 in each trailer, we miss being all together.  When it's just a day or two, it's no big deal but this is 4 whole days since we leave early on Friday...

I've been reading some interesting stuff on teaching kids independence.  While we aren't exactly the hovering type of parents, we haven't given the kids much freedom around the neighborhood until recently. They both have had a considerable amount of freedom at horse shows and motocross races which has probably helped, especially Motocross Boy.  He seems to crave and want that independence much more so than Equestrian Girl.  Yet he's the one we are less likely to trust to be off on his own since he tends to be a little less mature.  Funny how that happens!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

On a whim we went to Alma...

Saturday morning while waiting for the well pump to be replaced, we found out that our friend Shannon (with the Gypsy that went to Equine Affair) was doing an open show in Alma, MI today.  She really wanted us to come up when she found out we weren't racing.  So Equestrian Girl and I tossed around the idea while we each took our showers and then...we went!  It's almost 2 hours due north of us and we didn't leave until after noon.  As we got closer, Shannon called us to say the show was breaking for a 30 minute lunch and then there were 4 classes before her first one.  We figured we were fine.  A  little while later, Shannon's husband Don called and said there were two more classes until Shannon's.  Gulp.  No time to spare!  

We literally ran up to the arena as Shannon entered for her class!  It was a casual show with no show clothes but they looked great and Ace was moving so pretty in their Western Pleasure class.  I think I got a minute or two of video but we were in a bad spot to take video so I quit.  I WOULD have taken pictures but the camera queen managed to bring a camera with a dead battery!!!  I was sooooo mad!!!

After Shannon's class she asked EG if she wanted to ride him in WP for her age group which of course was a resounding YES!!  So off we went to registration with Don while Shannon took Ace back to the trailer.  When we got there we figured out that there really wasn't enough time with having to change stirrup length and warm up so instead we entered them in the Western Equitation class.  That meant Shannon had her Eq class first and then EG and then they were done for the day.

I think I taped all of Shannon's Eq class but haven't checked yet.  She ended up getting 2nd place to go with her 4th in WP and 4th in Trail.  We had 3 classes until EG's class so Shannon and Don quickly went to work getting stirrups adjusted for EG and telling her "how" to ride Ace.  She rode him once last winter for about 20 minutes in a very small indoor arena and that was before he really knew how to lope!  Considering her legs are about 10 inches longer than Shannon's (and mine), Ace figured out her cues quick enough and seemed pretty comfortable with her and in they went.  Got out the Flip to video...and it quit after a minute or two (maybe full or maybe batteries?) so I whipped out the cell phone to video.  Got lots on there but the sun was so bright I couldn't see what I was doing and hit erase instead of save!!  There were six other girls in the class whom I am sure all knew each other quite well and had to have been wondering where this girl on the goofy hairy horse had come from.  They were all on stock horses.  And just like that...she won!

We were all cracking up.  Shannon has wanted EG to show Ace so when she goes to sell him she can advertise that he's been shown by a youth.  She never expected to say that a 12 year old took him in a class after riding him for 15 minutes and won with him!  Granted, it was an Equitation class which is judged more on the rider than the horse but still!!  I have no doubt they would have won the pleasure class too...

We'll be going back up to their June 19-20 show where Equestrian Girl will actually show Ace in all the classes for her age group in show clothes.  They "mystery girl" will be back!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Racing at MPX part 2

Equestrian Girl is starting to like going to the races since there are....boys there.  Oh dear.  Luckily most of the time she just hangs out with other sisters like these two with one of their mom's.
The one in the purple shirt is actually older than Equestrian Girl but EG is very tall for her age and the other girl is very short.  The girl in the middle is only 10 so she's just average.

The start of the race is rather heart thumping as all the bikes roar to life at once as the gates drop and they take off.  It's loud.  Really loud.
 Then they start pulling away and spreading out some as they go into the "hole" which usually involves a  rather narrow turn and where lots of crashes happen though many fewer than you would actually expect.  But sometimes you can't see them because of the dust.

The end.  No not really!  Then I just go find a new place to stand so I can see the race and take more pictures.  I want to go where this photographer is so I can get better pictures:
I guess I should consider myself lucky that my zoom lens with some creative cropping does a pretty good job.  Sometimes I even accidently get cool pictures like this one:
It amazes me that the camera knew I was focusing on Motocross Boy #55 and not the tire that zipped in front of me.

And then it's over.

And Motocross Boy flies off into the sunset.  Or over the sugar factory as it may be!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Racing at MPX part 1

Motocross:  Last Sunday started out bright and sunny for racing.  But windy - a brisk north wind coming in off Lake Huron kept it on the chilly side even though the temp was about 70.  The track started out a bit muddy too.
You can see how wet the infield was in this picture.  The roads into the track were like this too.  Ick.

But racing in the mud is all a part of the game and the riders hit it with enthusiasm and speed!
Motocross Boy was entered in 3 races.  Two with his 85cc Suzucki:
And then the trail class with his Kowasaki 110 cc bike:
Motocross Boy isn't the sky jumper like some of these kids are but this pic makes it look like he is!!
We were camped next to a family that has a boy Motocross Boy's age that races and they had a teen boy there with them that was racing as well.  Supposedly young man is quite the racer and he did do very well.  A group of men decided to distract him as he came around a corner close to where we were all camped with this:
Middle aged men shouldn't do this.
But they sure thought they were hilarious!

Sunday, May 23, 2010


I've had more than one good pop of lightening make me jump.  Last summer at a horse show there were even a few that made me squeak.  But the one Saturday night about 8:00 made me scream.  I'm pretty sure it hit the big maple tree close to the front of our house.  Motocross Boy was closest and was playing XBox. He said he felt a shock come through his hands.  I was next and while I didn't 'feel' anything, I saw a puff of smoke from the tree.

I was actually kind of surprised the power didn't go out.  It sounded like it had hit a transformer and we have one heck of a big transformer right across the street.  And then a few minutes later, Scott says we don't have any water.   Equestrian Girl had been brushing her teeth and it sputtered and then quit.

Of course I had to run to the kitchen to turn on the faucet to see if it were true.  It was.  Huh.  Maybe the breaker had tripped?  Nope.  Uh oh...could the lightening bolt have fried our well pump that is only about 25 feet from the tree?

$1400 later I can positively confirm that yes, lightening can take out your well pump.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Setting up camp at Motocross

Motocross:  Last weekend we headed up to Sebewaing in the Michigan Thumb for some racing!  We pulled in Saturday evening to some pretty soggy ground.  It had been raining a LOT.

First order of business is to set up camp.
These are the backs of our new reclining camp chairs.  They are GREAT for napping in!  I think Scott was afraid of napping so he sat in one of the old ones.  Note the racing camp carpet.

One of the first things I always do is to set up the bed.  Bed as in singular.  The bed starts out as a dinette and couch.  This picture doesn't do it justice since the dinette is already collapsed and the couch is loaded with all the blankets and pillows.
With a little effort and re-arranging while climbing around on your knees, it ends up looking like this:

Yes, all four of us sleep here like hot dogs.  And yes, the left side is higher than the right side and there's also about a 3-4 inch gap between the two.  By criss-crossing the two sleeping bags, it keeps the person from falling in what we affectionately call 'the ditch'.  This person is usually Motocross Boy.  It sort of holds him in place when he gets wedged in so he's not flopping around so much.  Equestrian Girl gets the left window side and Scott gets the right window side.  Yes, that leaves me in the middle between the two kids.  Not sure how....

We hadn't barely unloaded when the kids spotted an pick up baseball game across the field that looked like it could use a few more people.  They grabbed the mitts kept in the trailer and headed out to play.
Most motocross tracks are in the middle of nowhere.  Sebewaing isn't exactly "somewhere" but its next to the Pioneer Sugar factory.  The town of Sebewaing is only a mile away so no doubt they can probably hear the racing on windy days but they only do 8 race days there, never start before 9 a.m. and are usually done by 6.  Considering the number of people the races bring to town, I guess they feel it's worth the bit of noise.  And my guess is that the sugar doesn't mind!

Friday, May 14, 2010


Motocross Boy's first race ended with an slight injury at Log Road.  He told us he was giving up racing for the season.

Within days he was ready to race again and headed out for practices.  Another "first race of the season" was scheduled and the weather was beyond horrible.  Equestrian Girl and I opted to stay home even though it was his "first race".  I was pretty sure there wasn't going to be much racing.  They ran one moto and quit.  They were lucky the mud didn't swallow the trailer.

So then a third "first race of the season" finally took place last weekend while we were at our first show of the season.  Motocross Boy got both hole shots!!  First moto he took 2nd and in the second moto he came in 5th after a fall let almost everyone pass him up.  Dad didn't take a single picture...grrrrrr!!

Sunday is another race at MPX so we'll head out there tomorrow night to camp over to be there bright and early for racing!!!  This time we'll have pictures.  For sure.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


Equitation class is judged more on the rider than the horse.  In most cases, this requires the horse and rider to ride to a pre-set pattern.  Stanley is a great pattern horse but we have to be careful not to practice it too much and especially with cones because he tends to memorize it and then wants to do it HIS way and not necessarily the way it should be done.

Equestrian Girl totally nailed her Hunt Seat Equitation pattern at this last show as you can see in the video!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

First Horse Show of the Season

Our weather here on Saturday was windy, blustery, rain, sleet, hail, you name it.  We got to the barn about 5:00 and hitched up the trailer to get Stanley loaded between rain bursts.  He loaded like a dream (occasionally he likes to go halfway in and just stand there - not backing up, not going forward) and off we went to the fairgrounds where they'd had a 4-H show all day.  When we arrived the fairgrounds manager was waiting for us since we were the only ones staying over that hadn't been there for the 4-H show and told us about the disastrous day they'd had with power going out, horses getting loose, riders getting dumped in the mud, etc., etc.  I got really happy that I had to work so we couldn't do that show!!  Talk about miserable!

We got Stanley settled in with grain, hay, water and a THICK bed of shavings since it was a concrete floor barn, and then got the trailer parked and plugged in.  And I have to brag her for a second...I managed to BACK the trailer into a space about 25 feet wide between two barns!!!!!!! !!  And I was even fairly straight!!!! !  That big ol' battleship of a trailer and I are becoming better friends.  Equestrian Girl and I heated up some pot pies for dinner then went back in the barn to start banding Stanley and give him a quick shave.

We finished up about 9:30 then made sure all the horses had water since we were the only ones staying over and then traipsed out to lock the gate to the fairgrounds.  By 10 we were in bed, read our books for a few minutes and then lights out.  We were literally parked along side the barn where Stanley was stalled with a side door into the middle of the barn right behind the trailer.  It was nice knowing he was so close.  Temps went down to 33 but we were snuggled up under a couple of heavy sleeping bags and a big down comforter so we stayed warm.

The morning was cold but with a bright sun and NO wind!  We got Stanley fed and soon after the trailers started pulling in.   By the time Equestrian Girl got him out for a warm up ride, the place was getting crowed and it was only 7!  Last year when we did this show series and we showed up at 7 we were usually one of the first ones there so this was kind of surprising.  I went down to register at 7:30 and they were already pretty busy.  I found out later there were over 800 entries!!  This is more than some of our bigger Paint shows and that didn't include the speed people who come in much later in the day!!

First class of the day was Halter.  Stanley is sooo not a halter horse but at these open shows if he places it counts for PAC (Paint Alternative Competition) points so we usually do them.  He placed 4th out of about 15 horses!  

Next class was Showmanship.  Equestrian Girl looked awesome, Stanley looked awesome, but they started the pattern too close to the fence.  When it came time to do her 270 degree pivot, she about had to climb the fence to make it.  Everything else was perfect though and she got 3rd out of 22.  (I might have video of this - haven't downloaded it to see how it came out yet).

Next were MY two classes!!  First up was walk/trot Western Pleasure immediately followed by walk/trot Western Equitation.  For those of you that don't show, Pleasure is judged more on the horse and Equitation is judged more on the rider.  There were three others in the class - two of them good friends and parent of girls in our 4-H club.  One dad riding his daughter's Morgan gelding who can be totally perfect one minute and take off in a whirling frenzy the next minute, and the other a mom riding her Arab gelding who is drop dead gorgeous but can be a bit nutso too.  A fourth lady joined us at the last minute riding a QH wearing her daughter's show clothes and looking scared half to death.  We welcomed her warmly, and were all laughing by the time we went in.  

The judge was an older guy and VERY talkative and friendly and greeted each of us as we came past him at the entrance which helped - relaxed us all I'm sure.  So around we went at a walk, trot, reverse, walk trot, walk to the center.  Stanley was an absolute doll even though the wind had picked up dramatically and I was freezing and might have asked for a slow down a little teensy bit too much on one side more than the other which gave us a couple lope steps but I yelled NO! and he dropped back to a jog without the judge seeing!  We lined up for the placings and I got FIRST!!!  Then the judge sent us back out for equitation on the rail - NO PATTERN!!!!!  yeah!!!  More of the same thing except I had to keep my non-rein arm bent in equitation form and this time, I didn't goose Stanley into a canter though he really wanted to walk as fast as his Arab and Morgan friends.  When we lined up for the placings the judge had us each walk forward several steps, stop, and back 4 steps as our "pattern" for equitation.  We did that very well since Stanley will do all those with just voice commands so I don't have to move a muscle.  Then while waiting for the announcement the judge gave each of us feedback.  He told me my legs and heels looked great, my arm positions were good but that I was too stiff.  I told him it might have something to do with the fact that I was freezing and he laughed and told me that was no excuse and that my lipstick was covering up my blue lips so it didn't count.  My friend Kristin on the Arab got first and I got second.  Mark on the Morgan got 3rd and the terrified woman on the QH placed last.  We all came out laughing again and very exhilarated - and THIRSTY!!  I had no idea showing gives you such bad cotton mouth!

Equestrian Girl's next classes were hunt seat so we had to do a quick tack change.    The class had 22 riders so they split it.  She was in the first split.  I watched the second split but didn't see anyone great.  Then the judge called back 10 riders for another go.  Equestrian Girl and Stanley had another amazing ride but the judge kept them cantering forever and....she got 1st place!  

Next was English Equitation with a tough pattern and...1st again!  We had a short breather and on to Western Pleasure for another 1st out of 18 riders.  

We quick ran over to do trail class where Equestrian Girl ended up with a second.  It was a super hard pattern and ALL poles and cones!!  Equestrian Girl did it first and then we had to do a quick swap for spurs and shorten stirrups for my turn.  We started out good and then I sort of lost my way and made up my own route!  I didn't get DQ'd since I didn't actually go off course but I skipped a few things I think!  But that judge was really nice too and we were all laughing. She hated the pattern and said hardly anyone did it correctly so she was having to score it just simply based on how many poles you ticked more than anything else.  Only Mark and Kristin did it from our Walk/Trot adult group.  Kristin and her Arab took the 1st because she actually did it correctly but ticked almost every pole.  Mark and his Morgan went completely off course and got DQ'd.  I got the 2nd.

Back over to the main arena for Equestrian Girl's Western Equitation class which was another tough pattern that included a figure 8 with a lead change.  I stood there with my friend who is a VERY experienced show mom and rider (husband to Mark on the Morgan) and thought Equestrian Girl's pattern was perfect as perfect could get.  When Equestrian Girl came out she asked if Stanley had switched leads because she didn't feel it.  Well apparently he didn't because she got 5th in that class even though neither of us saw anything wrong!  There were 18 in that class.

Equestrian Girl and I got high point for our respective "age" groups!!  Yeah us!!  We got packed up and Stanley decided to play his not loading game.  But we have a trick that has worked before and because we were trailering another horse home with us (slight detour to drop him off but she's a friend), I took advantage of that.  I had Rachel take her horse up to the escape door and let him eat the hay on the floor in front of Stanley's hay bag.  Gee he gets excited about that and has to go tell him to go away!!  LOL!  

We got this massive TB dropped off (I honestly wasn't sure he was going to fit in the trailer!) and then got Stanley home and tucked into his stall.  Equestrian Girl and I were both dragging butt but were starving since it was after 9:30 and we still hadn't had dinner.  We decided we had to do a quick stop at BK and mentally I pictured the parking lot figuring it would be close to empty so I'd be okay with the horse trailer.  What I didn't think about was the exit.  There is a sharp left turn after you pass the drive through and then a sharp right so you exit out the same nice wide drive that you enter.  Some great big giant parking blocks along the edge of the driveway prevent you from taking it wide and going on the grass.  Uh oh.  I couldn't make the first turn without taking out my trailer fenders.  Some frantic backing and maneuvering ensued and I had Equestrian Girl calling Scott ready to have him drive over there to back me out around the building (no way could I do that!!). Amazingly enough, I did it!! 

When we pulled into the driveway at home and stumbled out of the truck it was 10:00....and other than the few minutes I was in the saddle, I never sat down.  

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Spring Fever and Schooling

Homeschooling:  While there about a million things I love about homeschooling, one of the best is that we can take spring break when it's really spring and not that late winter rainy/snowy/slushy week that public schools call spring.  Well actually, we can take breaks whenever the heck we want but timing is important. I think we are going to take the week after Memorial Day.  That's a big weekend for both kids with horse shows AND motocross races and then more the following weekend so they'll need the break and the weather should be good!

Last year I decided to school through the summer.  And we did, sort of.  We made it to 4th of July and then slacked off until mid-August when I started slow and ramped it up until we hit Labor Day flying fast.  The problem was that kids weren't really on board with the whole schooling through summer idea.  This year might be different.  We are going to gear down to core subjects by mid June which should result in about a 3 day per week schedule and no more than 2 hours per day.  Both of them are good with this and have agreed that it will help them stay on track and maybe get them a little ahead of where they want to be by September so we can take some extra vacation time in the fall and winter.  I LIKE that they are thinking ahead!  They both have been really plugging away even with some additions and changes in curriculum.  Motocross Boy had an easy peasy social studies gig going most of the year and I recently popped him over to AOP's Monarch 7th grade social studies with 3-4 assignments per week.  These are MUCH harder and more involved than what he was doing but he's dug right in and has done nothing less than a 73% on anything and most grades have been in the high 80's or 90's even.  Equestrian Girl added in Spanish a few weeks ago but we didn't stop doing anything else and she's doing well too!  (Don't tell her I really don't know how to grade the stuff that doesn't get graded by the software - my Spanish is horrible!)

I still muse over how well homeschooling has turned out for us.  It came to us out of necessity but by gosh, it was a gift.  I talk to friends whose children are in public school and some of the issues they are dealing with right now and I just say, thank you.  Our kids are safe, being educated better than anything they might have gotten in school, and our family is as close as any I know.  We are pretty darn lucky.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Mommy gets to ride sometimes too!

Smart mommies always wear a helmet.  Sometimes it helps to cover up a bad hair day leaving it no worse than it was before.  Besides, bad hair is a sign of intelligence.  Look at Einstein!

Mommies also wear jeans that are too big and too short and are very unflattering.

But our horses don't care about any of this fashion stuff.  They just chew and smack their lips because they know they did such a good job packing you around with very little effort.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Stanley's Birthday Part 2

When you are a mature 13 year old horse and it's your 13th birthday - you get a shave and a hair cut.  

And then if you are good, you get cake.

And you eat it feeling very handsome with clipped whiskers and ears.