Archive for the ‘Extreme Mustang Makeover’ Category

I now regret waiting so long to write about the competition because this post will go on forever. 🙂 This post will be photo-less and the next post will be all of the pictures from the trip. (I don’t have the pictures on this computer.)

On Wednesday, September 22, Eve and I left Grand Junction with Ren in the back and were on our way to the great…? state of Nebraska! If I was to say our trip over was without obstacles, I would be lying. We blew a tire in Eastern CO and had to change it on the side of I-80. The spare tire we put on was really low on air so we took the next exit to find a gas station to pump it up. When we found an air pump, it was so slow that I swear I could have personally blown it up faster with my mouth. 😛 That night, in the flooding rains of Western NE, we pulled into Gothenburg to rest up and finish the trip the next day. The overnight facility that we boarded Renaissance at was less than luxurious. Wooden floor boards and all. He didn’t try to lay down all night, even after being in a trailer for so many hours. The next morning, we got on the road casually and pointed ourselves towards Lincoln.

Upon arriving at the Lancaster Event Center in Lincoln, I spotted a familiar face! Abby! Shortly after, Jessi, and Brooke. It was such a blast to get to meet and hang out with the gals I had been getting to know via Facebook throughout the training months. This aspect of the competition was less of a “competition” per say and more of a supportive admiration for each other. After all, we were all in this event for a similar cause: to help the Mustangs!

I unloaded Ren and got his hip number painted before putting him into his stall.

Ren was happy to get out of the trailer and into a nice stall and I was happy to get out of the truck!

Abby, Jessi, and I took the horses out and walked them around the place to get the horses moving around and us chatting.

Eve and I put up the “Renaissance” style stall decorations for the stall decorating contest.

That night at the trainers meeting I decided to sign up to compete in the Extreme Cowboy Race In-hand with Ren. I was really excited to get to do that event as a side event from the Mustang Makeover.

The rest of the night, I spent with Ren in the arenas. We spent a ton of time together preparing for the competition the next day. I felt so unprepared as everyone else had their freestyle routines well mapped out and practiced and mine was still a work in progress in my head!

The next morning we started with the Cowboy Race Preliminaries with Craig Cameron. The obstacles included ALOT of running! We had to jump barrels and poles, back through an L, weave cones, drag a HEAVY sled, lounge over a pinwheel, go through a cowboy curtain/carwash, go through gates and push a ball, load in a trailer, sidepass over logs, go over a bridge that was really a narrow metal ramp, and do “rollbacks” into the fence. Did I mention that this was ALOT of Running?! I was so out of breath upon completion of the course that I could barely answer Craig’s questions. 😛 Renaissance did great throughout the whole thing, the only mistakes we made were my error. I would try to do something extra to get extra points and would run out of time. But regardless, we advanced to finals.

Forgive the poor photo quality! Dad blames the flourescent lights.

After the Cowboy Race Preliminaries was the Handling portion of the EMM. In this, we had to weave poles, pick up a bucket and carry it, load in a trailer,pick up the feet, turn around in a box, back through an L, trot over pinwheel poles, and brush the horse. This was quite a relief since it wasn’t a race and we didn’t have to run everywhere! We also were judged on conditioning and catching/releasing skills.

Next was Showmanship. Our pattern included walking, trotting, a pivot, backing, and setting up for inspection. We then had to answer two industry related questions: How do you teach a horse to pick up his feet  and  What would you tell your friends to get them involved in the EMM. Then we had to line up and wait for all of the other competitors to show before we could leave. I was ordered first in this so I had to stand there FOREVER!

That evening was the Extreme Cowboy Race Finals. We had basically the same course but in the large arena which meant MORE running! The finals went the same as the preliminaries. Any lost points were my fault for trying to do something extra and then running out of time.

I finished 3rd in the Extreme Cowboy Race and won a $100 gift certificate to Smiths Brothers.

The next day was the main event. The final round. Freestyle routines and the winner is….

However, it began with a VIP Breakfast with Craig Cameron…which he didn’t show up to. I suppose when you get too big of an ego, it’s hard to submit to events with us “little people”.

The whole day was spent preparing for freestyle and finalizing the thoughts in my mind into a routine. When the time finally came to compete, I was already crying. The thought that this was the Ren and my last Hoorah  flooded my mind. I couldn’t stop hugging him! When it came closer to my time to perform, the rush of “What the heck am I going to do?” took over. Once it was my turn, I helped my stage crew (Dad, Grandpa, Jessi’s Parents) set up my obstacles and got ready to go in. From the second my music started playing I was such a disorganized clutter of thoughts that I completely improvised my routine. I came out driving, went to drive over the teeter totter (which I had never done before), he didn’t refuse it but wasn’t going over straight so I moved on to jump the pole driving (which I had also only done a couple of times). He went over well and then we went to drive through the cones and switch to a lead rope. From there, I led him over the teeter totter, onto the pedistole where I moved his hind quarters around it with his front feet on top. I pivoted him both directions, crossed a tarp and draped it over him and stood on his back(and almost fell off because his costume and my socks were slippery!). We ended with a bow. I am trying to put the routine of Youtube and I’ll let you know if it is successful! Through my entire routine, I had no idea how much time I had left or really what I was going to do next. But the chaos in my head obviously didn’t come out as much of a mess as I thought because the judges scored me pretty high(mostly 9s and 10s). I had a cumulative score of 87.5/90. I was over joyed! But in the back of my mind I couldn’t help but still think about my almost expired time with Ren.

I spent the remaining time watching my fellow competitors routines. Everyone did so well! 🙂

At the end of it all was the award ceremony.

Renaissance and I took Reserve Champion. 🙂 And the well deserved first place spot went to Luke Lundahl and Chester with a cumulative score of 89/90. They definitely earned it! 🙂

What an event to remember! From the pool party with the gals to the entire competition, it was worth every bit of my time. Despite the failure in the auction, Renaissance found a home with a nice rancher who will treat him well. I cut this part down to just a couple sentences because the literally endless tears began before the auction well past the time we left Lincoln and they do not need to be further relived! 🙂

I will never forget the experiences I had nor will I forget the great friends I’ve made. I thank you all for the endless support you’ve provided me and I apologize again for the terribly late closing post!

For the future, I will update my blog from time to time with other horse event stories. 🙂 If you would like to keep up with me and my equine adventures without having to check up on the blog all the time, just click on the “Subscribe” button and it’ll send you an email whenever I update my blog. 🙂

A big thanks to Alamar Stables for providing me with such a wonderful training environment throughout the whole thing as well as the Friends of the Mustangs for being a huge support also! I also thank Eve Arias for transporting me to and from Lincoln and being my “show mom” for the week as well as Ginger Fishback for helping me so extensively with the costume and creativity of the freestyle! Thanks to everyone who donated to help relieve the financial burden of the event and thank you to all of my blog followers!!

Happy Trails!


Have fun. Be smart. Be safe.


Read Full Post »

Day 63

Hello all!

As you know, today I was supposed to go to the show and show Renaissance in Halter and Showmanship. However, I got there late and missed Halter and then the as we waited and waited to go into Showmanship, the announcer forgot to call our class! So basically, Ren didn’t get to make his big debute! 😦

Topaz and I did the Western classes and did alright, and my little sister Jazmyne rode Topaz in leadline and won 1st! (All 5 of the little kids got 1st) 🙂

Jazmyne and her sleeping pony!

Renaissance was a good boy today as he patiently waited at the trailer all day! He was a bit confused about why we left and went home without doing anything! 🙂

Sorry I didn’t return with any great stories about Ren winning Showmanship or anything! Next time! 🙂

Tomorrow I’m going to be spending time with my very neglected two-legged friends!

Tip of the Day:

How do you get a horse to ride well in the trailer? Have him ride alot! Most of us only take our horses anywhere in the trailer once a month or less. However, you never see a traveling horseman on the show circuit or a traveling clinician with a horse who doesn’t like riding in the trailer! If you don’t do many events with your horse, just take him on errands! When you go to the grocery story, take him! It doesn’t at all hurt a horse to spend time in a horse trailer- in fact, they learn to like it! So hook up the horse trailer next time you go to Wal-Mart! 🙂

Have fun! Be smart! Be safe!

~Stephanie and Renaissance

Read Full Post »

Day 62

This evening concluded day 2 of West Fest! 

What a GREAT day! Friday the 13th? I think Not! 🙂 

Tracy and I were able to get there a bit later than yesterday since our booth and tent were already set up from yesterday and our horses were stalled at the fairgrounds over night. We took down our out-of-place blue nylon tent and buddied up with some very nice mountain men under an authentic canvas tent so we fit in better! They were a great bunch of people; fun, friendly, and most importantly, very respectful of the Mustangs! 

I did alot more with Renaissance today since there was more public interest. We had a 50 ft “round” pen set up and Ren and I did whatever we could in there from driving to liberty play to Almost laying down! Yeah, he’s almost there! By the way things are going, I think he should be laying down for the competition, but I make no promises! Wouldn’t that be cool though?! 🙂 

When we got bored in the round pen, I took Ren for “drives” around the whole place. He did great with it all! He only once spooked through the entire day and when he did, he merely hopped in place and kept right on walking as calmly as before. 🙂 

Renaissance attracted alot of attention from passerbyers, children, and people of all sorts. There was one group of older people (two couples) that were a joy to talk to. I talked with them about my Mustangs and my involvement with the horses and the competition for a long time. One of the couples told me that they work with juvenile delinquents in Arizona and that it was great to meet such a wholesome, respectful teenager with a great purpose in life. It just tickled me! 🙂 Then I brought out Ren to meet them and one of the guys just fell in love! I swear he petted him and loved on him for 20 minutes straight! With an ear to ear grin the entire time, not to mention! It really just made my heart happy to see someone share the joy of Renaissance with me! For a while I thought this guy was going to take him home! 🙂 It really made my day. They were all so sweet and the way the one guy fell head over heels for Ren just warmed my heart! Later in the day, they found me and made told me that “We were so inspired by you and your Mustang that we’d like you to have this.” and he gave me a very generous donation for our journey. It was such a kind gesture and they both will be recieving some special pictures in their Thank You cards! 🙂 

Most of the day, Ren and I were driving around the fairgrounds. 

My view while driving!


Obviously, it’s really hard to take a picture of myself driving him so this is the best I could do! 🙂 

Overall it was a great day for Ren and me! Tomorrow we head to the Mesa County Fairgrounds for the CQHSA All Breeds Show. We’ll be doing the halter class. Topaz and I will be doing the Western classes. 🙂 

Tip of the Day: 

Today as we loaded the horses to go home, it made me think of the huge importance in having a horse that loves to get in the trailer! Because if there is ever an accident at your home or horse facility, you need your horse to get in the trailer right away so you can keep everyone sbafe! However, necessity was not the mother of creation in this sense! Trailering is one of the most common problems I see and hear about with people and horses! I personally love trailer loading! It is one of my favorite things to work out with a horse and it is really rewarding to know that this horse will now be able to get out of any incident! (Provided that the owner continues practicing good trailering!) It’s a bit hard to describe the feel and timing in a trailer loading but the basic idea is making it uncomfortable outside of the trailer and having a resting happy place inside the trailer. I don’t like to trailer horses initially by leading them in. It puts my in a very vulnerable position in case that horse decides to launch in the trailer; then there’s a fearful 1000 lb animal in a metal box with you in it! AHH! I like to start off to the side of the gate. I put pressure on the leadrope directing that horse’s nose into the trailer. If he needs further encouragement, you can use a carrot stick or the end of a lead rope to add Rhythmic pressure behing the drive line of the horse! (behind the shoulder) Then the second that horse takes a step in the right direction (in/towards the trailer) release all of the pressure and give him comfort. Once he gets comfortable with that, ask for a little more. Ask for a foot in the trailer the same way.  Start with the steady pressure on the halter, then add rhythmic pressure if needed. When the horse puts a foot in the trailer, give him a huge reward! Let him rest there for as long as he will stand there, pet him if you’d like! Often times, early on the horse will volunteer to step right out. That’s OK! It gives you another opportunity to ask him in there! However, when he comes out, put the pressure immediately on. Remember the concept is to make it uncomfortable to be out of the trailer and comfortable in the trailer! Eventually when he is comfortable with a foot or two in the trailer and he gets sort of stuck in there, back him out with your stick or rope. Have him back out directly into that steady pressure. He should stick two feet in the trailer a few times before he realizes that it’s a good place to be-inside the trailer! He will eventually hop right in. Now wait! Do NOT close that gate! It is a common tendency to shut the door quickly! Because after all, the horse is in the trailer! NO! That will just reinforce a claustrophobic behavior! Instead, give him comfort in there. Let him rest, pet his butt, whatever he likes. And let him come out if he wants! Just make sure he gets out right into that pressure! Pretty soon you will walk by a trailer and he’ll want to hop in! All of my horses are eager to get in a trailer first try! Yours can be too! Remember to ask someone if you find yourself stuck or need help! There’s no shame in asking for help! I do it all the time! 🙂 

Have fun! Be smart! Be safe! 

~Stephanie and Renaissance

Read Full Post »

Day 61

Today was the first day of West Fest in Rifle. It was slow today because it was mainly just a Set Up day but in the big arena they had National Team Sorting Finals going on which caused all sorts of noise and chaos!

Tracy and I got to Rifle and were fully set up by 8:30 and sat twidling our thumbs at our Friends of the Mustang booth for quite a while in the midst of the Mountain Man Rendevous area! We were surrounded by teepees and canvas huts/lodges. This is what our tent looked like…

Our modern "easy-up" next to a legitimate Oregon Trail style lodge.

And our horses were happy…

Closest is Izzy, Tracy's Mustang. Ren is hiding behind the banner!

Tracy and I walked Ren and Izzy around for a while since there were no people there and got them around the Team Sorting Chaos and Ren never thought twice about it. I played with him a bit in the midst of the loud and crazy stuff to make sure he was connected to me even in crazy circumstances. He did great. He did everything I asked as if I was asking him to do it at home. This gave me a new level of confidence that he will behave brilliantly at the competition and I won’t have to worry about him getting distracted with the lights, speakers, and crowds.

Throughout the day, Ren hung out with Tracy and I under the easy up tent. He enjoyed looking at our displays…

Checking out the Mustang posters.

and learning about Mustangs, and he even took home a bumper sticker…

"Will this sticker look good on my bumper?"

He was just histerical to watch. 🙂 He gave us the comic relief we needed for the day!

The rest of the day was pretty slow and the horses spent alot of time sitting around.


Tomorrow there is supposed to be alot more people since the festival officially begins! Then we’ll do more demos. We even have bleachers set up in front of our arena. Hopefully tomorrow’s entry will be full of more exciting stories! 🙂

Tip of the Day:

Variety is the spice of life! I was thinking about this today as I was backing Ren into the arena which I could have just as easily walked in straight forward. I like to try and switch up absolutely everything! And as many ways as possible! I put my horse in odd situations for him to think through or listen to me with. All too often people get caught up in a daily routine and then their horses start to anticipate what’s coming next! This can be a bad habit to get into because then when you try to do something else, the horse doesn’t understand because it’s not the same thing you always do! I like to change things up as many ways as possible so the communication is consistent, but the routine varies! This allows you to go anywhere, do anything, any time and have fun doing it! Isn’t that the ultimate goal with every horse and rider? So switch things up! Show your horse your spontaneous side!

Have fun! Be smart! Be safe!


Read Full Post »

Day 60

Finally got back to a good routine!

Today I went out to the barn early to beat the heat! I rode Topaz for a while and let Renaissance run around. He was happy to let loose and run and buck. 🙂

After while, a friend and his sister came out to ride with me and they helped me bathe Ren. He was perfectly happy with 3 people lathering him with shampoo and touching him all over and in funny places and so on. 🙂 I was very pleased with his additude towards them.

Once my friends were gone, Ren and I went back to the barn to continue trying to sit him down on a hay bail. I know it’s a crazy task but he’s getting so close! It won’t be long!

Almost sitting! Terrible picture.

After that I took Ren for a good, long run behind the 4wheeler. I’m trying to muscle him up before the competition!

He and I played in the round pen with circling on line and driving at liberty. He did really well but got a bit disconnected when I moved to liberty. When he started misunderstanding me, I just put him back online and helped him understand what I was asking him. There’s no harm in going back to Square One!!

He is getting really good about all of his feet. I only have to snap my fingers and he lifts whatever foot I’m asking for.

His bow is getting better and better. I no longer need to ask him to back up with the leadrope. I just have to pick up his foot and shift backwards and he follows that feel into a bow.

I tried to put the whole harness on him today so I could start driving him with the harness but I am going to have to ask for help with that because I couldn’t figure out how the heck the whole thing went!! There are just so many straps to a harness and they all look alike! No worries, I’ll get it eventually. Since I couldn’t get the whole rigging on him, I just put the sursingle on him and drove with the drive lines strung through the loops on the sursingle so he could get used to that feeling. He did extremely well with driving in the barn, out of the barn, all around the property, over logs and bridges, and everything! I was so proud at how he was responding even though I haven’t gotten to spend much time with driving. In the cart by competition? Perhaps! 🙂

I spent the final part of the day grooming him up for West Fest the next couple days. He is now shiny and smooth and ready to go!

Pretty wavy tail! 🙂


 Tip of the Day:

Driving is a great exersize for you and your horse! I have just recently become drawn to driving but it has grown on me very rapidly-for good reasons! Driving is a great way to exercise a young or recovering horse as it helps reinforce the rein cues you are giving while you ride. It is truely “riding from the ground” as it allows you to “ride” a horse that you may not be confident enough to really ride yet! It is also great exercise for the human too! I recommend taking off the boots and putting on a good pair of tennis shoes because there’s alot of walking involved! I enjoy getting some cardio in while I’m playing with my horses! Who needs a gym when we have a barn? 😉 Get out and try hooking up some long lines to your horse’s bridle or halter! And always remember, if something is too much for you, don’t be afraid to ask someone for help or take it slower!

Have fun! Be smart! Be safe!

~Stephanie and Renaissance

Read Full Post »

Day 47-59

I know I know, another huge gap! I’m sorry! After coming home from Snowmass, I had to leave the next day for Las Vegas. I’m almost done with summer vacation and thus my vacations will soon come to an end. Which is especially good because I reeaally need to focus this last month with Renaissance so that we can WOW the judges and win!

Last night I continued driving Ren. He is such a pleasure to teach new things because even when he gets confused he doesn’t freak out. He just stops.

Today I got out there a little too late to beat the heat but I played with him a bit anyways. I noticed his feet were starting to get a little long looking so I filed them down to where they’re supposed to be.

(I would have pictures of the day if my phone hadn’t of died so soon. 😦  )

Then I took the bowing to the next level as I had him stay down for longer than he had before. He did really well with it. I think he’ll lay down by the competition but I make no promises.

He was quite energetic today as he’s been in a stall for entirely too long. He lost focus a couple times but I was able to bring his mind back on me.

I realized today that he is still a bit confused when it comes to steady pressure. This is an indication that I’ve been doing too much with rhythmic pressure and not enough steady. I’ll start changing that!

I also think that he needs to muscle up a bit more before the competition if we intend to get anywhere in the conditioning part of the competition. We’re going to start going on long trots together as often as possible! Especially now that his weight isn’t a problem! (He’s almost on the verge of getting fat!)

Again, sorry for the lack of pictures today! 😦

Tip of the Day:

Steady Pressure vs. Rhythmic Pressure. First of all, what the heck are these two things? When communication with a horse, there are two kinds of pressure we use: steady and rhythmic. Steady pressure is when we are making physical contact with the horse. Rhythmic is not touching. In nature, it is instinct for them to move away from Rhythmic pressure as that is the pressure used by other horses. Imagine a horse pinning his ears, moving closer, and biting if he needs to! This is Rhythmic pressure! Steady pressure, on the other hand, is meant to be pushed into in nature. Instinctually they need to push through steady pressure. Steady pressure is found when a horse is caught in something or a predator on their back. A horse has to push through that in order to survive! However when we domesticate these horses and begin training them, we use mostly steady pressure and expect them to move away from it. Think of the pressure on the poll from the halter or in the mouth from the bit. It is all too natural for them to want to push into that pressure rather than come away from the pressure. It is important to teach a horse to move away from both Rhythmic AND Steady pressure for optimum communication in every situation!

Have fun! Be smart! Be safe!

~Stephanie and Renaissance

Read Full Post »

Hello everyone, as the competition gets closer and closer it’s just about time to start thinking about my freesyle.

I have 3 minutes to display whatever Renaissance and I can do for the audience and judges.

The specific content of the routine will be kept secret until the competition due to the fact that it is a public blog and I’d like my routine to be as original as possible!

However I would like your opinion on the song to perform to!

Let me know what you think by clicking on the poll. For any elaboration or suggestions, comment!


Read Full Post »

Older Posts »