Ok, I did it again... I fell off the blogging wagon the past few weeks. Bad Bobbie. I figured I'd better at least compose a recap of the event and a the last few highlights of working with Onyx.
I guess we'll start back before the Makeover competition...
* Onyx had her feet trimmed a couple weeks before the show and she did really well. She was a bit suspicious of the farrier at first but he went a little slower introducing himself and then bent down to pick up her leg. She gave her foot to him and after that she stood like a pro while he did all of her feet.
* I caved to "peer pressure" I suppose and decided to clip her fetlocks a couple days before the show. Some people said it would make her look neater and that it would be better for the judges and potential buyers to be able to see her legs. So for the first time ever Onyx had the clipper running on her legs. I was THRILLED with how she handled it. I did the clipping in her stall and I didn't even have a halter on her. I clipped all 4 legs and she didn't fuss at all. What a good girl.
On to the show! This blog entry would be a mile long if I tried to tell everything that went on, so I guess I'll just type some highlights for that as well...
*Early on (the first night there) I met up with two WONDERFUL trainers who helped me SO much through the weekend. Dennis Auslam (you may remember I had met him at our Horse Expo here back in March) was there of course and he introduced me to TJ Clibborn. The two of them jumped right in when I told them I was struggling with finding the confidence to ride her in front of thousands of people. So that first night they helped me a ton. Right off the bat I learned two things that have been working against Onyx and I all this time. 1) My saddle didn't fit her. Didn't fit her to the point where it was pinching her shoulders and causing her pain. 2) Her neck was out of alignment and she needs chiropractic treatment. Both of those were things I had wondered about, but hadn't had confirmation of until Dennis and TJ. They went to work right away. They did a bit of adjusting on her neck and massaged it too. She felt a lot better after that. Then TJ loaned me a saddle to use for the weekend! The first time I rode her in the practice arena in the borrowed saddle and right after they'd worked on her neck, it was like I was on a different horse. Dennis and TJ were both there all weekend and they took time out a couple of nights to help me with Onyx.
* I opted not to ride her in the riding part of the competition. She seemed to be hurting and she was cranky. It didn't help that she came into heat at the same time. What with all the weather setbacks we'd had, I went to this event with only about a dozen rides on her - and even those were spaced out because of the crazy weather here. I was nervous about the thousands of people in the stands and the professional competitors we were up againt. All around I decided it was best to lead her through the riding course. Once I made that decision, it felt like a huge weight had been lifted. I had agonized over what to do for days. I knew that if I didn't at least try *something* in that big coliseum in front of all those people that I'd regret it. It was a relief to just decide that it was ok to lead her through. And everyone, from Patti Colbert (the executive director of the Mustang Heritage Foundation) to Dennis and TJ to other friends I'd talked to all backed me up and said it would be ok to do that. I had been afraid I'd be the only one leading through, but as it turned out a few other trainers did the same thing with their horses. With a big fat zero in riding our overall score was pretty low. BUT we were the highest placed of the "non riders" so I guess that's something. Ha!
* The horse fair was absolute insanity. I don't know what the attendance numbers were but I know that each time I had to take Onyx back and forth to the arenas, we were walking through a sea of people. She was a very good girl, she never really spooked, even though there were a LOT of new and scary things there. She was very curious and wanted to investigate everything.
* On the last day all the horses were auctioned off and most of the prices I heard while waiting for our turn were pretty low. I was nervous going into that, afraid that she wouldn't sell or would only bring the minimum bid. As it turned out she actually sold for MORE than some of the horses who were in the top 10 finals, so that was a very nice surprise. On the evening of the day we had moved in to the grounds, I met a guy who was wandering around the mustang stalls. He stopped and chatted with me for a while. We must have talked horses for over an hour. During the weekend, he'd stop by and visit again from time to time. When auction day came, he was the one who bought Onyx! All those times we visited I never even knew he was "shopping". I was so happy he got her, I had worried about her going off with some stranger I'd never even met. But this guy was really cool and I think she'll have a great home with him.
Overall I had so much fun at the event. It was stressful, especially at first because I had no idea what to expect. Unfortunately all this time I had been wrapped up in the competition and the fact that I'd be up against professional trainers and people who'd trained a lot of mustangs before. It really had me stressed out. I fell apart a few times at the show and hid in my tack stall crying. Wondering what I was thinking being there and thinking I didn't belong there. I just wish I would have realized long ago that the competition is just a side thing. The REAL priority, and really all that matters at the end of the day, is getting the horses trained and into a good home. I did that much and it was fun! :) I have to say that I'm hooked now and I can't wait to do it all over again. There are several other Mustang Makeovers still to come this year and I plan to apply for one or maybe even two more. :)
I do have some pictures and video to share, but the cable for my camera to hook to the computer appears to be MIA. Hopefully I can find it soon.