Whew! The past few weeks have been a little crazy!
School Winds Down
The end-of-school year was busy, with activity after activity coming in a virtual whirlwind of motion.
Annabelle was in a talent show with her kindergarten class where she played the part of the farm dog. I think she was a little warm under all that fur.
During the talent show I joined some parents in selling concessions to the lines of people waiting to get into the gym (that sounds like an exaggeration, but it is not). We were thrilled to be able to raise enough money to take all the kindergartners to the zoo for a field trip.
About half of the children in her class had never been to the zoo before, and though she had visited many times Annabelle was just as excited as they were to see all of the animals.
After touring the zoo for a couple of hours we had lunch in the park, then headed across the grass to the Discovery Center for some time spent in the interactive exhibits.
I chaperoned the field trip (along with several other parents) and I can tell you with certainty that I was more tired at the end of that day than at any other day in recent memory. Or any memory, period.
Keeping track of 60 excited six-year olds is not for the faint of heart. Does the term “herding cats” sound familiar?
We also had end-of-the-year projects to finish up at home.
And Batman contributed a little something with his artwork created from gleaning leftover materials from Annabelle’s assignment and combining them with his new neon green birthday duct tape.
Continuing Education Outside of the Classroom
Batman completed his six weeks of soccer training with fun and games in the park next to our house.
Those soccer drills were thirsty work.
A couple of weeks after soccer ended, Desperate Hubby and Batman started a weekly pilgrimage to the golf course for a series of youth lessons. Batman took to golf like a duck to, well, you know, water.
Though he started a couple of weeks later than the rest of the kids and was the youngest in his class, on the last day Batman won the “Longest Drive” contest and got some golf balls, a Gatorade and a free mini-round of golf complete with cart as a reward.
I think he’s hooked!
Annabelle and I also embarked on an additional course of education that had nothing to do with kindergarten. We each participated in cow horse clinics with the goal of helping us improve our skills in advance of the busy 2013 show season.
Annabelle’s clinic was in April up at the picturesque 3K Ranch in Star, Idaho.
There were about fifteen participants between the ages of six and sixteen or so, and my little girl reveled in the novelty of being to ride with so many other kids.
She made several new friends and got to know some of them a little better over lunch.
The other highlight of the day was getting to work a real live cow. Grumpy was pretty excited about that too.
Hang on cowgirl!
My clinic was in mid-May, and we traveled to sunny Glenns Ferry, Idaho to the beautiful Why Worry Ranch (I love the name almost as much as the ranch. Thanks Annie and Nate) for a two-day riding extravaganza.
Technically, I was the only one in our family allowed to ride at the clinic because it was for adults only. This picture was taken in the first five minutes of the clinic, when I thought I was actually going to get to ride my horse the whole time.
It probably comes as no surprise, however, that somehow Annabelle spent almost as much time on my mount as I did.
She made some new friends there, too.
The clinic was educational and fun, and I felt prepared to take on the cow horse world. Of course that all changed at my next horse show, but more on that later.
A Trio of Graduations
As the school year wound down, we commenced (sorry) an action-packed graduation season.
We kicked it off with Batman’s Pre-School graduation, planned and executed impeccably as usual by Miss Torrie of Little Learners Preschool.
Of course before he could graduate my baby had to have his official pre-graduation little-boy haircut.
As he reminded me though, he is not a baby anymore. My little man looked so grown up!
After the ceremony we had a delicious and oh-so-cute cake to share with the other parents in celebration.
The amazing Miss Torrie made an individualized hard-cover photo book for each child commemorating his or her time at Little Learners. Since Batman has attended her wonderful program for almost three years there were lots of fun memories in that beautiful book. Thank you Miss Torrie! You are amazing.
Older sister Sami was next, graduating from Meridian’s Centennial High school with a 4.5 grade point average. I still remember the first day I met Sami as a fiery four-year old who immediately took charge of every horse on the property. She has channeled her drive and energy flawlessly since then to achieve many successes at such a young age.
Sami jetted off pretty much immediately after her ceremony to spend a month traveling in Europe with her mom, aunties and sissies. When she gets back she’ll follow in her older twin-sisters’ footsteps and move into the honors dorm at BSU for her first year of college.
I am so proud of the sweet, beautiful and accomplished young women they have all become.
Lastly, we celebrated Annabelle’s graduation from kindergarten. She had a wonderful experience during her first year of formal education, and we are so happy that Batman was selected in the lottery to attend the same school next year.
We brought flowers for each of the kindergarten teachers and their helpers, and Annabelle had so much fun delivering them along with the individual cards she had painstakingly hand-written thanking them for a wonderful year.
The choice of celebration after kindergarten graduation was a nice big serving of ice cream at the local Dairy Queen. What a happy afternoon!
And we Rode
Of course in the midst of all this spring madness Annabelle and I increased our riding regimen and kicked off the local show year with a few early shows. Annabelle had fun at the first Gem State Stock Horse show of the season, practically glowing with pride and pinkness. I went to the Gem State show too, to practice my cutting skills in a real show setting. Let’s just say practice (needing more) was the operative word of the day.
We took our horses to the Snake River Reining Alliance show at Lucky Run Arena in Kuna too.
Annabelle spent quite a bit of time getting ready for this show. She cleaned all her tack to her own exacting specifications.
And Grumpy was clipped, bathed and brushed to within an inch of his life. This is what his pre-show ensemble looks like.
At this show Grumpy was even pinker than usual.
The old man was pretty good for Annabelle, but he did test her skills by refusing to cooperate in the middle of the arena and backing up several steps before starting his maneuvers. The duo was first out in their class, and though they got through the pattern in the end, the judge had to mark them a zero, or no score, for Grumpy’s naughtiness. It was the first time that Annabelle had actually been disqualified in the show pen and she was very mad at Grumpy. I told her to keep a smile on her face……that would be far from the last time she got a zero in the show pen and probably even in life.
All was forgiven when, at the end of her class, she realized that each of the half-dozen kids in her division had bobbled their pattern in one way or another and EVERYONE had gotten a zero. She didn’t lose, she told me. She tied.
My horse was very good at the reining show and I was feeling confident going into my next competitive event, the first Idaho Reined Cow Horse Association derby of the year, held at the Idaho Center. My day there started out there swimmingly, with a score of 72 in the reined work. I was so happy with my mare, but tried not to be overconfident. There were still two events to go.
Sure enough, I once again had big trouble in the herd work. My horse wanted to be good, but I had trouble keeping my eye on the cow, and ultimately ended up losing one of the silly bovines I was trying to work. I was disappointed and mad at myself; my confidence seriously shaken after two successive bad outings in the cutting pen.
The last event of the day, boxing an individual cow, went a little better, and when it was all said and done I ended up third for the day. One of the people who came out ahead of me was my good friend Shane on her super-cute black mare Julianne. I didn’t mind so much losing to her, but I still wasn’t very happy with my performance.
I felt a little like Annabelle at her last show though, when I found out that even in third place I got a check that repaid about half of my entry fees. Maybe it wasn’t so bad after all!
The next day after my rough derby outing, Annabelle was showing in the AQHA reining, also at the Idaho Center. We got there early and she got all warmed up. Grumpy was a ball of fire that morning, and Annabelle was having a hard time keeping him under control even in the warm-up pen. The old war-horse was a bundle of nerves and bad attitude when Annabelle walked him into the show pen, and once again he started backing up before she could even get him to the center to start her pattern. She kept after him though, through a difficult ride that I think many adults would have given up on. The smile never left her face even as she kicked and kicked and struggled to get through the maneuvers. I was so proud of her when she walked out of that arena after practically dragging her horse through the pattern. Even with her second ‘zero’ score in two shows, she still had a grin for everyone she saw.
I was even prouder of my little girl, though, when she said she wanted to enter the second youth class that day and go out and school Grumpy. After her initial dismay in getting her first disqualification, I didn’t know if she would grasp the significance of going into the show arena for the sole purpose of making her horse better for the next show and likely creating a definite “no-score”” situation.
Never underestimate a kid.
Annabelle went into that arena riding with her pink braided roping reins held in two hands, which even at six years of age she was well aware was an automatic disqualification for both the type of equipment used and the way she was holding it under AQHA rules. She chose the reins because they were the easiest to hold on to and she could pull harder with them than she could her leather romel. She kicked and pulled that Grumpy old horse around with determination and poise and achieved much better ride than the previous one had been. She was positively beaming when she left the arena and I felt tears of pride for her.
It’s easy to be a good sport and have fun when you are doing well. I have been reminded from close personal experience at the last two shows that it isn’t as easy when the day doesn’t go as planned. I find it truly awesome that my six-year-old has grasped the important lesson that I have repeated over and over to her: it is nice to win, but it is more important to go out and do your best and have fun while you do it.
Annabelle broke her no-score streak this morning at the second Gem State Stock Horse Association show in Ontario, Oregon. She had a very pretty go and executed her pattern almost perfectly. I was so proud of her, and she was thrilled that she got a score – a 69!
I couldn’t have been happier for her.
Fun at Home
When we haven’t been going to graduations or horse shows, or preparing to go to horse shows, or golfing, or (in Desperate Hubby’s case) flying airplanes, we have had a chance to relax a little and have some fun at home.
We’ve been working on everything from training the kittens to lead (by the way, cats don’t lead very well),
to a little early spring swimming (shortly after this photo was taken Winston jumped in the pool and filled it with mud).
We got Batman out on a rare trail ride to stretch Reno’s legs. He wasn’t all that happy about it part of the time (Zach or Reno).
We played with the guinea pigs, whose owner’s are coming home in August. Annabelle is getting all her “skinny pig” time in now, since she knows with the acquisition of kittens Blackie and Pumpkin we won’t be getting any new house-animals any time soon.
We have also been enjoying the warm spring weather and preparing for our next adventures.
COMING UP NEXT
Batman and DH enjoyed a nice golf game this morning, and they are making plans for Batman’s first flying expedition in the Cessna 172 tomorrow morning. They also have in the works a goal of doing some float-tube fishing in the near future, and toward that end Batman was fitted with waders and DH’s old (really, really old) float tube this afternoon.
As for me and Annabelle, we are feverishly finishing our packing for our 4:00am departure tomorrow for Paso Robles, California, where I am determined to exorcise the herd work demons that have been taunting me for the last couple of horse shows. If nothing else, we will have a lovely time in the sun with friends, and Annabelle will get to see the ocean, likely for the first time in her life that she will actually remember it.
I hope you all are having a nice start to summer too.