I just wanted to let you all know about a great foundation out there. The Rebecca Goss “Boo-Yaah” Memorial Foundation provides financial and logistical assistance to families who have lost loved ones and are facing hardship with funeral and burial expenses.

As I spoke with Martha Goss, Rebecca’s mom, I had a really hard time keeping tears from my eyes. A good friend of mine lost her son several years ago and it changed who I was as a parent. I thought I could do enough to keep my kids safe (I’m a control-freak like that) but in reality there are many, many things outside of our control and in Martha’s case it was another driver on the highway.

The foundation is overhwlemed with requests for assistance and Martha has been writing articles and trying to get press for the foundation and very little is trickling in. I’m sure it has to do with the economy. But death, pain and loss does not stop for the economy. Can you help?

Thanks to Alayne Renee Blickle, Program Director with Horses for Clean Water for the following information that might be of interest to you!

For 501(c)(3) equine rescue groups and sanctuaries that have been hard hit by rising hay prices, farm foreclosures and uncooperative weather, the ASPCA has a program that offers help in terms of Emergency Hay Support grants.

This year the equine-related grants have been given to groups in 40 states, including several to groups in the Pacific Northwest, totaling more than $500,000. Funds are just about gone for 2008 and the ASPCA won’t know how much they have to give away for next year until their board of directors meets in late January, but this may still be an option for some groups to pursue.

If you go to http://www.aspcapro.org and click on ASPCA grants and scroll down to the equine section you can read about the two types of equine grants, which are only for 501(c)(3) orgs.

Thanks Alayne!

That’s The Way To Do It!

I just wanted to highlight my personal favorite run from the 2008 NRHA Futurity. You can call me biased because I know the rider and the owner of the horse, and I can accept that… but when looking for an example of a perfect run, you can’t do much better than Cody Sapergia’s run on The Great Tag, which garnered them Reserve Champion in the 2008 Open Futurity.

The winner of the Open Futurity was Tim McQuay on Shining N Sassy. You can see their run below, also fan-tab-u-lous!

Ok, most reiners know that the difference is whether or not you get paid, right? If you want to be a non-pro, you can’t receive any remuneration (boy that’s a hard word to say) for work done on horseback. You can clean stalls to your heart’s content and bath every horse on the place, but no riding.

But let’s get a little bit deeper than that… why is it that I meet so many non pros that are flummoxed by problems in the show pen and so many pros that take it in stride. What I’d want to be is a non pro that acts like a pro. (And I sure have met some of them, too!)

I was speaking with photographer John Brasseaux (who takes a mean picture) and he said something (rather, he emailed me something) that was applicable to photography or athletic endeavors. (At the time I was bemoaning my case of photographic lack-o-talent.) He said:

“An amateur is someone who practices until he gets it right. A pro is someone who practices until he can’t get it wrong.”

Yes, that’s it exactly, isn’t it?

I often find myself practicing my talents “until I get it right” when what I really need to be doing is practicing them until I can’t get it wrong. How about you?

The NRHA Media Room

One of the best places to hang out, I think, is in the media room at the futurity. Now, they don’t let everyone in here, you have to be credentialed crazy enough to hack it. I’m the wimp in the room, tippy-typing away at various writing projects, no major deadline to worry about. While these guys? They are crazy…

Carol is probably the hardest working woman here – I don’t think she sleeps, I think she’s a robot. Bucky – he just never stops smiling. Todd – is funny. That’s all I’m going to say about that.

Seriously though. They produce all of the programs, press releases and paraphernalia that the crowd here at the futurity has come to expect. If you want to know what is happening and when – it comes from the media room. I think the only NRHA staff that works just as hard is in the show office.

The Big Show

Once again I’m hanging out with the popular kids at the NRHA Futurity. In case you want to see what is going on, check out the 2008 Futurity page. There you will find a live web cam and live scoring for the events.

Tonight is the World Reining Masters.wrm_sm

The World Reining Masters is an exciting event where two riders from each country compete to see which country is going to win The Masters. Unfortunately this year two riders’ horses did not make the jog – this means they exhibited some lameness that would make them not fit to compete.

The jog is where the rider jogs the horse in front of the attending veterinarian and is ruled “fit to compete” or not. Two horses (one on Team Canada and one on Team Mexico) did not pass the jog. Now, this doesn’t mean that the horses were drop-dead lame, it means they showed some lameness. To outsiders who don’t compete in performance horse events, they may not understand that once in a while, horses are sore. The PETAs of the world might want to tell you that performance horses are abused and lame and medicated to compete – so not true.

If you watch the Olympics or Football or Hockey, you’ll see athletes compete. Sometimes those athletes are not in top form. If they made football players jog, do push-ups or pass a fitness test before each game – we’d be watching two handfuls of guys throwing a ball back and forth.

Anyway, wasn’t intending to post anything controversial, just pointing you to the Futurity page, hope you get a chance to watch tonight.

Keep your eyes out for Canadian flags – Reining Canada has its export booth open and it is the party place to be for the Masters. Watch out for a visit from “Captain Canada”! 🙂

Being a reining horse can be a tough job. Imagine being told what to do and remaining focused for sometimes hours at a time. I’d like to think that I have focus, but I know that my mind wanders quite a bit from minute to minute. If your horse’s mind wanders, he could get corrected – so he learns to focus and pay attention.

With all this focusing, a horse sometimes needs a brain break. You and I may pick up a “brain candy” book or chill out over a beer. Or, if work is tough, we might head out to the barn for a ride. Except that’s still work for our horse, right?

I know several reining horse trainers that believe strongly that their horses need brain breaks too. Several years ago I was watching a class in Lethbridge, Alberta and I noticed a woman riding a horse that seemed uber-calm. The horse had a really mellow way of standing. Not an old horse standing with a cocked hind leg and half-asleep, but a horse that just stood calmly, watching the horses around him, but not getting to worried when they came too close. Not like some of the other horses in the pen that stiffened and cast an ear fearfully in the direction of their neighbor. (This was a warm up for a 3 year old class.)

The rider was Sharon Gates and a while later I was able to intervew her about how she kept her horses so calm. Her secret? Trail riding.

If you head over to her site, Wildwood Reining Horses, you’ll see many photos of Sharon out trail riding with her horses. Most of these are either show horses or bred to be. In fact, under the photography tab you can see photos of horses crossing rivers, jumping logs and crossing bridges.

I’ve found in the past that the first few times you take your horse out on a trail ride, they are a bit nervous. Especially the younger ones that have spent their life from stall to round pen to arena. Up here in Canada when we’re starting our two year olds it’s sometimes the middle of winter. It might be May before there’s a day that’s nice enough to head out on a trail ride without slick mud underfoot.

The first few rides are “fun”, but gradually your horse will learn to be ridden in a stress-free environment. I try not to worry about collection or form, as long as the horse doesn’t do something like ignore a request or refuse to move off my leg. For the most part I just enjoy sitting and riding.

One of the largest trail riding organizations in North America is called American Trails. It’s an association for all types of trail users from hikers to bikers to horses. They have a complete listing of trails in the US and Canada.

What do you do for your horse’s brain break?

When authors write fiction books, they often have something called “Backstory”. This is the background information on their characters that never makes the front page (or even in the book). It’s often used to help the author get to know the characters. What is interesting to me is the backstory that people and horses have. Everyone, and every horse, has a story. Of course they do: we’re all the main characters in our own story.

Recently I stumbled across some backstory about a horse that I’ve seen show: Lacy’s Dun Dual’n. Turns out she was orignally named Cowboys Delight. Lynda Smith, a retired reining horse trainer from BC, wrote a little background information on the horse. How she was purchased, who owned her, her name change and her training.

Go ahead and take a gander. I find it very interesting to read about how a horse has been trained – especially all the challenges and mistakes that happen along the way. That’s what I like to remember when I see a horse and rider moving like they have never made a mistake. EVERYONE has made mistakes and had challenges to get where they are today.

Tribute to Karen Davis

The reining community lost a wonderful person this week. Please take a moment to watch this video and please consider donating to breast cancer research.

For Cutters

I know this blog is for reiners, but I thought I’d mention this little tidbit for those who are also involved in the cutting horse industry.

Zane Schulte Awards nominations open

Know a professional trainer who exemplifies the character by which Zane Schulte is remembered: integrity, service, values, respect of their peers, contribution to the industry and excellence in the arena? You have until October 1 to nominate him or her for the prestigious Zane Schulte Memorial Award.

I learned a lot about the mental side of reining from Zane’s mother, Barbra Shulte.