Tuesday, August 19, 2014

We did it!

I like to take Snoopy to horse shows and compete in trail. He seems to love being there, judging by what I'd call his "happy energy" level, and believe it or not, I like that feeling of stepping into the arena in front of the judges and trying to do well.

No, I'm not a masochist.

Still, knowing Snoopy's limitations, I don't take him to a lot of shows. Four to five a year is all, once a month from February through August. Because we're both kind of newbies, we both perform at the novice level, which means relatively easy courses with poles on the ground.

I say "relatively easy" because they're still hard for us. We do all right, and it's tremendous fun, but we don't win a lot.

In August, the local AQHA division hosts "The Pink Show", to honor those we've lost and those who have survived cancer. As a matter of fact, my main character's horse trainer in MURDER ON THE HOOF, is named after one of the wonderful women we lost to breast cancer, Emily Jungers.

The PCHA Trail Classic is held at the Pink Show. It's three days of really hard trail courses (for amateurs only), and you don't know your placing until they give out the awards on the last day. Each day you get a little gift with your draw. The courses are designed by Tim "the Trail Man" Kimura, who designs all the trail courses for all of the top shows in the country.

I've never been in a place, skill-wise, to compete in this. It's entirely possible that I'm still not at that level. But for the first time, I wanted to try it.

I discussed it with Niki. The courses would have lots of twists and turns and raised poles - all potentially hard on a horse's body. I never want to hurt Snoopy. We developed a strategy that involved the chiropractor, liniment, warm-ups, and lots of rest afterward.

I won't lie, those courses were brutal. So many transitions from the jog to the lope and back again. Intricate slow moves like side-passing on a pole and backing around a corner into a chute. Here's one of the patterns.

"All I want you to aim for is consistency," Niki told me. She prepared us both as much as she could, then turned us loose on the course.

Well, we were consistent all right. Each time, Snoopy broke from one of the lope-overs for at least one step. Each time, our back-ups got done by the skin of our teeth. Each time, I had to ride every inch of ground and could not let Snoopy take charge of what we were doing.

On Sunday, after the last horse left the course, we all lined up and waited for the results. Forty horses had entered the competition. I thought we'd be somewhere in the mid-twenties. Names kept being called. None of them were mine.

At 19th place, we were finally called. TOP TWENTY! In addition to a bucket of supplements for Snoopy, I won a really pretty pair of spurs.

So I spent a day to prepare my horse, then three days at a show, getting up early to drive for an hour to the venue and working outside in hellish heat. Every day I dressed up in jeans, suede chaps, a long-sleeved shirt, and a cowboy hat to do this. My internal organs felt like they were melting and sticking together. My eyebrows sweated.

It was so much fun, I want to do it again. Hmm... maybe I am a masochist.

Friday, June 6, 2014

I have a good time everywhere!

Dear Diary,

We went to another horse show last week. I had such a good time. There's always interesting things to see. Before we went, I got a bath.

Once we got there, Auntie Niki took me out for a nice run. Golly it felt good!

I love horse shows. I get a nice cushy stall and room service!

I tried to be a good horse on the trail course, but sometimes it was hard to do. They stuck lots of yummy plants around - what's a guy to do when he's hungry? MomToo tugged on my face and wouldn't let me eat, though. And the judges looked so friendly, I wanted to go over and talk to them. MomToo and Auntie Niki both said no.

Auntie Niki and I did really well. MomToo and I did some things well and some things not so well. Every time she asked me to turn around in the box, I got stuck. I wasn't moving fast enough and keeping my feet going, so my hurt foot would get stuck under my hip and make MomToo stop and push me to make my hip scoot over.

I guess we're gonna work on boxes at home now.

But we still had fun!

While we were there, Auntie Niki told MomToo that someone had asked if I was for sale. For SALE?!?!? I couldn't be for sale! MomToo and I still have to work on our boxes! I was a little nervous for a moment, but MomToo just laughed.

"His user's manual is way too big," she said, then petted me. "Snoop, your fate was sealed when I pulled you out of your mom. You're mine."

It was a good show.

Friday, May 16, 2014

My book is on sale!

MomToo is in charge of everything, including me. She wrote another book, but I'm not in it. To celebrate, she's offering my book for sale. Only 99 cents, she says. Regularly $3.99.

I don't know what these numbers mean. Or "sale". I just know she's pretty excited about the new book and wants to let everyone know that she writes good books about horses.

Of course, we know I really wrote my book, right?

Here's where you go to get my book. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00D0HDYRQ
It's only 99 cents until May 21.

Try it. You'll like it.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Hurray for Hollywood!

Back in February, Snoopy and I were all set to go to Burbank to the "Show Me the Money" horse show. Then it rained and a bunch of people pulled their entries so they postponed the event. (Note: who are they kidding? It will take coordination between the AQHA, the LA Equestrian Center and possibly the Pope to get this rescheduled.)

So I kept practicing and Snoopy kept being his goofy self and finally-finally-finally we were able to go to the Hollywood Charity Horse Show. The show is a pretty big deal - William Shatner hosts a concert/event on Saturday night to raise funds for a therapeutic riding program. It's all well and good, but frankly, I just want to ride.

We usually get the horses and our gear loaded in on Wednesday afternoon, then Niki and Christine and I head to Viva's on the corner for some Mexican food. I'm always wishing I could have one of Viva's mammoth margaritas, but I'm exhausted and have to drive at least an hour to get home, so I have to pass.

Viva's has live music on certain nights. On Wednesdays, it's Glen Roberts' 17-Piece Big Band, which is a mouthful to say. It's comprised of a bunch of elderly musicians (17 of them, I guess). Each time we hear them, one of us says, "I thought these guys performed on Thursdays," and another of us says, "No, it's always Wednesdays." Because we're all that tired.

One of the things I hate most about showing up in Burbank is that I have to get up at o'dark-thirty to get to the center by 6:30. Still, once I'm there, I admit I love the solitude.

Snoopy gets his ya-yas worked every morning. Sometimes I longe him, but most of the time, Niki does it.

On Thursday, Niki rode Snoop in the Green Trail class. They were okay, but not exactly superstars, which is okay with me. Snoopy only has a couple of points left before they kick him out of Green. Once that happens, there's no class for Niki to take him in before I ride him. I like that she schools him before I ride. It gives me confidence.

I rode the Novice Amateur. We did most of the obstacles pretty well, and two of them pretty awful. I was loping a kind of a U-turn and I knew to use all the space. I had practiced using the space. It was easy. Until I was out there, saw where I needed to ride and... turned early.

Snoopy chipped in and split his stride over the pole. He recovered, but it looked ugly.

Then at the end, we had to turn around in the box. We'd practiced it. We knew how to do it. All I had to do was keep tapping his side to keep his feet moving forward, from corner to corner. Well, I kept his feet moving forward all right. Right out of the box. I pulled him back in and finished.

The thing is, I felt good about the stuff I did well, and promised to do better on the stuff I messed up, and I still had fun.

On Saturday, we tried it all again. He was tired, so I had to ride him aggressively, which I did. By the time we were finished, I felt like I had pushed him around the course. Fortunately, it didn't look that bad, and we got a 3rd and 4th place from the two judges.

All in all, I had fun, and so did Snoopy, I think.

He seems to love horse shows.

P.S. Remember this horse show when you're reading my latest book, MURDER ON THE HOOF. Just saying.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Tummy trouble

Dear Diary,

Yesterday I had a tummy ache. It wasn't a big tummy ache. I felt fine when Auntie Niki let me run around on the longe line. I jumped and bucked and kicked. Then she got in the saddle and made me go over poles. I like to go over poles.

But when MomToo got on me, my tummy started hurting. It hurt so much that I laid down in the middle of the poles and made her jump off.


They walked me around, then took me to my stall. I still hurt, so I laid down again. After forever, Auntie Niki made me get up and walked me around for a long long time. Almost forever.

When I finally went back to my stall, I felt better. I wanted food. No one would feed me. I told them over and over that I was hungry. My friends all got their dinner.

After forever, MomToo gave me a little hay. It was so small, I ate it in one bite. Then Auntie Niki gave me another bite of hay. It was something. But it wasn't enough.

I hope they give me more hay today.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

I like magazines. They're tasty.

Dear Diary,

MomToo came to the ranch. She was very excited.  Kept talking about a magazine and AQHA and how cool it all was. She tried to show me the magazine.

I can understand her words all right, but I don't get all those little lines on the paper.

Then she held it away from me so Auntie Niki could take a picture of us together.

It was interesting. Very interesting. I thought maybe it would taste good.

Then MomToo's hand got in the way. That was tasty, too!

Here's what she was trying to show me.

Humans get excited about the weirdest stuff. I gotta go eat some hay now.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Catching up

There is just so much to tell these days, and as usual, it comes in one big burst, instead of spreading over a few days or weeks.

First of all, I spent a weekend in February at the Pomona Horse Expo. I met a lot of great folks, and sold a few books, but most importantly, I met Julie Preble of Horse and Rider Magazine.

I had sent the folks at Horse and Rider an advance copy of FROM THE HORSE'S MOUTH, but nothing had happened. Julie came to my table, introduced herself, apologized for the delay in reading and reviewing Snoopy's book, then interviewed me and asked for a copy to give away at a contest.

All within about 30 seconds.

A couple of weeks later, the contest is on the Horse and Rider website, and my interview is on their YouTube channel.

Color me stoked!

While all this was happening, we were trying to adjust Snoopy's shoes in the back to make him travel easier. Dr. Pollard came out and took x-rays of the bionic leg. These were the first x-rays taken in five years. Here's the picture from five years ago:

Here's the picture from last month:

See the difference? Neither do we. For a leg to be so unaffected by five years of constant use (I mean, it is a horse leg), is nothing less than a miracle. In addition, the fact that Snoopy treats Dr. Pollard, or any vet, as just another person in his life is amazing. Many horse begin to get "vet-shy" and try to avoid interaction with doctors. And trust me, they can all identify vets.

Next week, we are planning to go to the Show Me the Money horse show. I'd ask you to wish us lots of  luck, but I'd rather you wish us lots of fun!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

I got a new video!

MomToo said she needed one for the Horse Expo in Pomona. I guess it's gonna be real soon and she's gonna be selling my book. I wish I could come along, but she said no. She'll bring her little Mini-Snoopy. Pfft, as if that'll make me feel better.

Here's the video:

Hope you like it.