Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Southern: Jackson, Mississippi (In Words)

Okay, so I've finally come down off the mental and physical obliteration that was Jackson and can finally actually talk about it. Also, I'm box-dyeing my hair and have nothing better to do :) Ghetto Texas Cowgirl Princess ya'll.

I am going to piece together how the show went with some of my overall thoughts which I tried to scribble down in a hurry while it was all going on. Overall, we had a very good show. (I know this because other lopers constantly remarked that to us, apparently we were kickin' some real ass).

First up was the 5/6 Open, with boss man riding 5 of our 5 and 6 year olds. 3 of our crew made it through and one that I warmed up in both the first go and the finals placed third overall, so that was pretty exciting and a good way to start off the show. Our 4 year olds also did pretty good in the 4 year old open with 3/5 making it through there as well. The two others that unfortunately didn't make it through also had respectable showings though, one was a 0.5 point away from making it in and the other was new to showing and had a respectable score. We didn't show any three year olds in the open, and so from there we went into non-pros and then from there the novice/amateur classes for the rest of the week.

We also showed three nights in the added championship classes, and a lot of our horses picked up cheques there. Let me tell ya - I was VERY happy that none of our clients or boss man showed in the Novice/Amateur added classes... rumour has it some of those ran until 2 am a couple nights. My boss had us up at 5 and meeting him at the flag by 6 every morning so he could work whatever horses were showing that day. Then our days ran until about 7 or 8 pm, any later than that and I would have surely died.

Out of the 18 we brought to Jackson, 15 made it into atleast one finals whether that be the open/non pro or amateur, if not more than one. That's over 15 cheques. Some of our horses are owned by husband-wife teams, where the husbands will show the horse in the non-pro, and the wife shows the horse in the amateur, so many of our horses showed in all three different categories. I think out of the horses we had showing only one or two didn't have owners come to show them, as well as have my boss show them in the open. I ended up loping primarily for one couple and the horses I warmed up picked up over $10,000. Don't all those zeroes hurt your eyes? They sure hurt mine... that would be nice to have in the pocket right about now.

So... my thoughts on my first big cutting show... (as written by me the day of)

This is me, covered in poultice and clearly being a grumplepuss as you will read below

Day One:
I am tired. I do not understand how to perfectly warm up a horse and it makes me want to punch a baby. That's how frustrating it is. My feet hurt, a lot. Did I mention I was tired? I hate blankets, sheets and slinkies and putting all three on every night. Screw how long that takes and how slinkies dry out my hands. Ain't nobody got time for horses rearing in an outdoor pen and trying to throw you off into a semi. Nobody. I am tired and my feet hurt. I don't want to talk to anyone anymore, I'd actually rather just curl in a ball of silence anger.

Okay, I am a drama queen but the first day WAS the longest day, ever. 18 hours after a previous 18 hour day and I was D-O-N-E. Slinkies do dry my hands out, and I do hate them. (Except that they make horses look like batman esque superheroes... I like that shit). Everyday the horses that didn't show had to be ridden, one of them, Money, was being a right jackass and trying to throw me off every 5 minutes. My body was giving up even trying to pretend I could ride a horse and I ended up handing her off to another loper and slinking home in a depression. Finally, I had warmed up two horses that day (maybe actually three? I can't remember) one had been warmed up well, the other (I thought) was ready to go and everyone assured me he was. Except he got into the pen with my Boss and proceeded to literally just try to run into the walls instead of actually cut the cow... My Boss handed him off to me with the words "Way. Too. Fresh"... woooooopsies.

Day Two:
Everything is fun and happy when your winning, but everything is awful and miserable when your losing. Plan to win.
Efficiency, organization and leadership are key for a smooth show of this size and scale.
I am still tired and my feet might at this point just melt away from my body?
Wanna know how I knew my two finalists were ready to go today? Here's how: Lope until I feel like dying, walk, then lope another 10 minutes, then walk, they do it again until 4 before the horse goes. Lopers that claim that there is a "feel", and a "finesse" to the warm-up are full of crap and don't believe them, they are just saying that because they don't want to admit that they are about to die too.

Day Four:
Do's and Don'ts:
Do: Bob that head all you want at the sitting trot, grab your cantle and bounce your arm - that's what the cool kids are doing and you should do it too.
Don't: Run into the back of a world famous non-pro in the loping pen, she might have you fired on the spot (true story I heard today)
Do: Work your ass off and try not to compare. Comparison, whether it be "I'm not as good as she is", or "I work a thousands times harder than he does", is comparable to evil in my books. Motto: You do you.
Don't: Don't tell a cutting client that reiners are better than cutters because you come from a reining background. Don't say that cutters, essentially, just extended trot with no collection around an area whereas reiners are actually broke and you could easily cut on any of yours. Don't say that reiners are actual horseman and cutters aren't... You are an idiot, a complete and utter idiot. 

Life lessons from the loping pen right here kid, and that last don't? That actually happened, that was a conversation between another of our lopers and a client who was buying us dinner for our hard work. I was absolutely mortified.

Apparently the rest of the days just meshed together and I didn't have time for jotting down any notes. So that's all you get of my tired, grumpy rambling.

Overall, I felt the show was a definite success, and I was pleased with how well it turned out - especially since it was my first. Except for the show laundry, there is nothing nice about show laundry. Ugh. ;)

Monday, October 28, 2013

"The Southern": Jackson, Mississippi (In Photos)

I honestly can't even think enough to formulate an intelligent blog post to talk about my first big show as a loper, so instead, you get photos first - words later.

So, without further udo...

The Southern in Jackson, Mississippi

Goose, my poster child for the show. Goose made it into the 4 year old open finals, 4 year old non-pro finals and 4 year old amateur finals. He's a big deal, and i'm quite fond of him.


We woke up for 4 am, worked all the horses that my Boss was going to show and then headed out for Mississippi around noon. Bankie (the blanket myself and two of my best friends also have) had to come along for a ride. This is Bankie looking solemn in front of a random shanty in Mexico. Just kidding, that's my apartment. :) 

We pulled three rigs, my Boss with his Coach motorhome pulling a 4 horse, his wife pulling an 8 horse and the lopers (us) pulled a 6 horse. Yep, 18 horses, and 4 other client horses met us there.

Favourite American thing of the day: That you guys call borders "lines", as in "Just heading across the Louisiana line now".

Sunset in Louisiana... still had a long way to haul.

THE Mississippi River!

Can people from Mississippi write their state name without singing the song in their head? Because I certainly can not "Miss-i-ss-i-pp-i".

One blurry photo of the Mississippi line...

This was my view for about 6, if not more, hours a day.
Circles, Circles, make your horse sweat until it wants to die, Circles, Cirles.
My generally philosophy as a loper is lope them until my body is literally screaming, then lope ten more minutes. Then walk, let them catch their air, then do it all over again. Everyone kept talking about how they had "feel" for when their horses were ready - I call bullshit.

Outdoor arena where we exercised horses that weren't being ridden that day.

Fordice Equestrian Centre, where the cutting was held.

So. Many. Trailers.

One tired loper, our first few days were 18 hour days. My feet were KILLING me.

"Get me outta here"

"I dont waaaaannnaaaaaa be in Mississippi anymore"

One of the many stall barns, this was taken from the top of our trailer as I was chucking bales down. Glamorous, that's me.

One day I actually got to put on tennis shoes for a couple hours... the simple things in life.

& of course, what do you do when you ride ridiculously expensive show horses...

Use them as pack horses for all your shit. Of course.

What do you do when you work for a trainer who works his horses before the shows, and then at shows?

Do 30 lbs of laundry. Of Course...

Show Laundry... the worst.

This is like 3 days worth of polos and boots... kill me.
We had to put them into the back of the truck because the bags were too heavy with all the damp laundry.

Back to my pack horses...

This mare has won over $350,000... and yet I turned her into a pack mule. No rest or dignity for these show ponies.

& then what do you do after you do all that laundry, hang it up to dry... 

It covered three stalls worth.... brutal.

My most favourite Goose again, looking at me before we headed to the arena for his last show today.
"I don't want to do this either you crazy lady, let's run away together"

Casual, my first cockroach sighting IN MY LIFE.
In my bathroom stall.
Kill me now.
Just do it.

Oh, and let's not forget about show shirts...
all the show shirts.
how many starched show shirts have you ever worn in one week?
bet I can beat it.

Because we're at a cutting!
The amount of cows hauled in and out everyday was insane
and you can bet all the Texans were (smugly) always saying "those cows were from Texas", about the good bunches.

My trainer and his wife bought their daughter this mini aussie for her 8 year old birthday, it arrived on the Thursday and hoooooooowled in it's stall that they would leave it in while they were showing all day long.

"Please let me outta here!"
But we weren't the only ones doing that, about 5 other people did the same with their puppies so our barn was a howling, yelping place the whole week.

Everything is bigger in... America? Yup. 
Went to Red Lobster and ordered a margarita, got this massive fishbowl for only $9.
My facial expression is due to one of my coworkers saying she was going to send this photo to our boss.

More "glamarous life" shots, living out of suitcases and clothes piles at the closest Best Western.

Sunrise on our last morning in Jackson

Bankie was ready to leave Jackson about as much as I was...
(ready, very ready)

The last show shirt of the show!

All of our stalls empty and cleaned out!

Pulling out of Jackson!

Casual decrepit building that was in the fairgrounds...

Jackson wasn't exactly "picturesque"

& that was that... I'll update more with words when I feel a little more alive!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Early Insights of a Canadian in Texas

As of tomorrow I have been in America for two weeks, most days (because my days are so long) it feels like I've been here at least two months. Just wanted to give those of you that commented a bit of love for being as shocked as I was about this whole 4 am business. This Canadian girl would much rather wake up at ya know... 6 am. I guess it makes sense since in the summer the afternoon heat is sweltering and most choose to not ride. However, I bet you any money that in the summer these guys ride straight through it - there are so many horses here you just have too!

Weatherford... where Cutting is such a big deal even Ronald McDonald does it himself.

So of course I had to take a tacky tourist photo! Ronald was doing it brideless on a paint too! What a talented rider - who knew?!

I try my hardest not to stereotype or generalize people or cultures, but there's definitely similarities and a lot of differences too. (Texas is pretty far from home, I'm leaning towards differences for the most part). My co-workers definitely like to poke fun at my "canadian-ness" and I've been immersed in a world of food that I am not used to, but I am always game to try anything! (Maybe it's the Canadian in me ;) hahaha)

For example, I tried Cajun food at a restaurant called "Boo-Rays" in Weatherford, TX. We had Alligator to start, and then I moved on to bacon wrapped shrimp in crawfish hollandaise. People in real life eat like this regularly? I would be 60000 lbs. Another day, I also tried "nutbread sandwiches" at an adorable little cafe, which were banana bread sandwiches with cream cheese in the centre, again... people eat like this? They were delicious but I just about popped a button on my jeans. I was also surprised to see that americans don't have ginger beef at their Chinese restaurants, guess that's a Canadian-Chinese thing, it was invented in Calgary dontyaknow? I guess I could get "real texan" and say, "ya'll don't have ginger beef ova here?" So.Many.Ya'lls. In fact, my boss' 8 year old daughter had a shirt the other day that said "Every smile starts with ya'll", I wanted to mug her for that shirt. What? Did I just say that? Ya'll just know I'm kiddin' dont ya? (No I'm not, I am ruthless)

Alligator (Deep Fried, of course). Tasted kinda like popcorn shrimp!

Jambalaya and Shrimp et Brouchette (I think that's what it was called anyways) yummy, yummy, yummy.

On the topic of the language there is definitely some difference there, my favourite is "I'm just fixin' to...", such as where I would say "I'm thinking of riding that horse next", I often hear, "I'm fixin' to ride that horse next." Never fails to make me smile.

Is everything bigger in Texas? Well, I have seen more car dealerships that take up city blocks than anywhere else in my life. We also went to a pre-work at a very famous ranch the other day. It was one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen. Everything was monogrammed with the ranch's name - the barn help/trainers/lopers all had shirts, hats and vests with the ranch's name on it. The barn staff houses all had porch lamps with the initials of the ranch's engraved in them. Finally, there were gardens everywhere, and each garden had a rock or a statue with the ranch's name. They had a 12 ft statue of a bucking horse and a rider right outside their beautiful kitchen and lounge area. They also had TV's outside of the indoor arena so that the lopers in the warm-up pens could catch the news of the day... casual. Finally, their cow pens each had automatic waterers... made out of beautiful cobblestones. Those cows were drinking in style!

This cow is doing okay in my books.

Finally, is Texas a bit more "god-fearing" than I'm used too...

... Not that there is anything wrong with that, but you wouldn't see much of this in my neck of the woods.

Finally, I was informed of a "fun activity" that people do called "noodling". Which is the act of snorkeling to a cave underneath a lake, reaching your hand in, letting a catfish chomp down on you and then hauling it up to the surface. This, to me, sounds like a game the devil created to torture humans... apparently this is "fun"... No texans, you are wrong.

Not okay, simply not okay.