Friday, October 29, 2010

Here are some pictures from our trip to the Makeover.

Choco gets a little exercise before a long trip in the trailer.

Last minute chores before we leave.

Checking in at Tennessee Miller Coliseum in Murfreesboro, Tennessee

We really are here!!!!!

Grandmother, Daddy, Choco, and I check out Choco's stall.

I decorated Choco's stall with cards made by Mrs. Cindy's 3rd grade class. They made me smile each time I saw them.

Checking out the big arena.

Daddy had to get in on the fun.

Choco and I work on memorizing our pattern for the in-hand obstacle course.

Friday morning practice before in-hand obstacle course and showmanship events.

Ready for in-hand obstacle. From left: Mr. Cohn, me, Amanda, Rachel, Mrs. Brandee

Off we go to showmanship! I'm in the lime green on the left.

Choco getting dressed in his fancy duds for showmanship.

I made the finals! The blur jumping up is me! I was just a little excited!

Saturday morning practicing for the free-style final.

More practice.

A crucial peanut butter and jelly sandwich before the final.

Choco getting ready for the final.

Me getting ready for the final.

Here we are ready to go!

One last encouraging word from Mr. Cohn.

After the final with family members Britt and Patti that I haven't seen since I was so little I don't remember. What a blessing they came!

My brother JP spent his fall break from college coming to see me! Thanks, JP!

Rachel, Amanda, and I after the final.

You need a big ribbon for a horse!

Who thought it would be a good idea to give these things to JP and me? The other pictures with these are a blur of blue and red!

Sunday morning with Ms. Charlotte after cowboy church.

Sunday morning awards ceremony. We brought home three second place ribbons!

WOW! What an amazing privilege and opportunity to participate in the Extreme Mustang Makeover!

Monday, October 25, 2010

I have learned so much in just one year. Last year, I stayed home and kept the barn while everybody went to the Makeover. This is a thank you for everybody who helped me get from barn help to 2nd place winner!

First of all, thanks to the One who made mustangs. "I can do all things through Him who gives me strength!" I have needed tons of strength to get through this competition. Jesus has been so sweet to me, and He has used a very stubborn little pony to teach me a lot. When you ask God for patience you better watch out! He teaches it by putting you in places were you really need it.

Thank you to my family who prayed for me, encouraged me, drove me around, helped clean stalls, and hardly ever fussed about nasty boots in floor. I couldn't have done it without you!

Thank you to Mr. Cohn and Mrs. Brandee!!!! Without you I wouldn't have had the opportunity to train Choco. I know that you did it because you wanted to, not because you felt like you had to. Thank you for being so generous with your time and energy. I really appreciate what "brutal and scary" slave drivers y'all were so that when I got to Tennessee and saw the patterns I said, " Is this really all we have to do?!" I also appreciate how you never did the work for me but taught me how to do it. I would have to say that 2nd place is worth all of our sweat, blood and blisters. Thank you so much for all your hard work and encouragement.

Thank you to Grandmother, JP, and Ms. Charlotte who encouraged me by coming all the way to Tennessee to watch us perform. It made me so happy to have you there. Thank you, Jennifer, for your long distance support. I wished you could have been with us, too.

Thank you to my friends who didn't get mad because I hardly ever talked to you for the last 100 days. If I did have time to talk, I probably bored you to death with Choco stories! Thank you for all your prayers and encouragement.

Thank you to each and everyone of you who prayed for me. I don't think this blog is big enough to list you all. You have been a blessing to me.

Thank you to you awesome kids in Mrs. Cindy's 3rd grade class who made cards for Choco and me. It made me very happy to know that all of you were rooting for me back home.

Thank you to everybody who has been reading my blog for the past few months. I worked really hard on it, and it would be really crummy if nobody read it. A lot of people have sent me emails or told me how much they like reading about Choco. It makes me happy to know that people are reading it. Thank you, Uncle Joe. Your emails made me very happy.

Thank you to Tessa, my dog who is never a horse. Some days I got pretty sick of horses (mostly just one horse) and was ready to see anything besides another horse. You are the best dog ever!

So many people have helped to make this possible, so I want everybody to know that I really appreciate everything everybody has done. THANK YOU!!!

Wow! I had the most AMAZING weekend! All the hard work paid off. Choco and I finished second place in everything, and I couldn't be more happy. Choco was wonderful in all his classes, and we both impressed the audience.

In the finals, we came in ONE POINT behind first place!!! Our song was "I Can Only Imagine" by MercyMe, and I think by the end of our routine most of the audience was in tears. Choco and I did better than we have ever done before. Everybody loved it, but one judge said he gave me lower marks because I made him cry! I thought that seemed a bit backwards, but I am just so happy with how Choco did.

We also came in 2nd place in the In Hand Obstacle and Showmanship courses. The obstacle course was going perfect until nature called right as Choco was getting into the trailer. I felt kind of bad for everybody that came after us. Choco finished the course just as perfect as could be.

Showmanship was rough on me because by then I was exausted. We had done the obstacle course and then had to turn around very quickly to get ready for Showmanship. I had to get all dressed up in my green suit (pictures are coming) and get all my makeup on and fix my bun that was falling out*. As we were waiting for our turn to show I had to keep moving Choco around to keep us both from falling asleep. My pony was being so bad he was driving me crazy! Everybody knows how contagious yawns are. My bad pony kept yawning and yawning and he got me yawning and neither one of us could stop! He even passed a yawn to another horse. It was pretty funny, but I really didn't want to yawn at the judge.

We also had a stall decorating contest for all the mustangs stalls. We could bring whatever we wanted and fancy our stall up, and they had prizes for the winners. We made posters out of good-luck cards from a awesome class of 3rd graders that I went and talked to about Choco. I didn't win the contest, but it was so sweet to see all those cards every time I went to my stall. Choco liked his cards too. He liked them so much he didn't even try to eat them!

I had so much fun and I am so pleased with how Choco did. I hope y'all can see the video. I also worked with my setting some more so I think that people can leave comments again. If you can't get comments to work you can just email me and I can post it on my page.

My camera card with all my pictures took a detour to Kentucky. I'll post pictures as soon as it gets back to Mississippi!

*For those of you who know me- it is required in showmanship to look and dress a certain way. I have no say in this; it's just how it goes. I just didn't want anyone to be frightened when I get some pictures up. Just sayin'.

Jessi Hartline Extreme Mustang Makeover 2010 Murfreesboro, TN

Sunday, October 17, 2010

I'm really going to the Extreme Mustang Makeover!!! Today was packing day at the barn. Now it is really real. In three days I'll be on my way!!! I am very excited!!!

Choco and I have worked very hard for the last 90 or so days. I'm looking forward to showing what he can do. Last weekend we had a practice performance at the barn and went through each of our events. We had a good time, and we were all pleased with how the horses did. We even tried out wearing our freestyle outfits.

This coming Friday we have our in-hand obstacle course and showmanship events. The top ten will perform on Saturday afternoon. I certainly hope that I will be performing on Saturday!

Well, I was going to add a few pictures from the practice, but they don't seem to want to post. So much for a sneak peek! I guess you will have to wait until next week for pictures of the real deal! Until then, please keep me and "Somethin' Chocolate" in your thoughts!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Tessa got to go to the barn this week! I thought she would like to meet Choco and see where I spend most of my time. Tessa and Choco didn't get along very well. Choco was very curious and wanted to get a closer look but Tessa was scared and wanted to get as far away as she could.The predator was terrified of the prey.

Tessa and Titan hit it off great. She thought he was a weird dog at first.

Happy face! Tessa had a blast chasing me around the arena.She got really mad when I had to tie her up to work Choco.

My Dog and Pony Show!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

We leave for Tennessee in three weeks!! Choco knows his stuff pretty well. Now it is just practice, practice, practice!

The nights are getting a little chilly. Choco now sleeps in his "jammies."

Practice, practice, practice!

A long, cool drink after practice, practice, practice!

Now for grooming, grooming, grooming! Isn't he handsome?

Have to keep those feet clean!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

As a Mustang Representative, part of my job is to do presentations about mustangs to different groups: adult and children. For the adult group I went to a retirement home and, aside from some technical difficulties, it went really well. Several in the audience had horses and horse stories, so after the presentation we swapped stories. They were a very sweet group and a great group for me to practice on!

For the kid groups we contacted our friends who are teachers to see if they would be interested in having me come talk to their classes. I ended up doing the first, third, and fifth grades at one school, and 45 kids from exceptional ed classes at another school! I'm also going to do it for our homeschool group next week.

The kids were so sweet, listened very well, and had very good questions. I made a power point of pictures throughout Choco's training so they could see some of the stuff we are doing. It was really fun, and by the end of it a few kids wanted to adopt mustangs! (ha ha it worked!)
The exceptional ed group was awesome. Thanks to Mr. Cohn, Choco got to go see the kids. They got to see him do some work and some tricks! Choco was on his best behavior for the kids. He stood quietly while I talked to them for a few minutes and then he did his tricks perfectly. After that we had time for questions. The kids loved it, I loved it, and I think Choco kind of liked it too. I was a little worried that somebody might see a horse outside and then the whole school would want to watch!

Choco at school!

Mr. Cohn thank you so much for driving Choco!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Today is day 60! It seems like it's been so much longer but at the same time it's going so fast. Choco is doing so well and we are working on ideas for the finals (if we make it). I will have 3 1/2 minutes to show off Choco's best tricks. We can use music, props, and costumes in our routine. The arena we will be performing in is really big so we will have to move fast to cover all of it. Mr. Cohn has been has been making us run around the arena to build up stamina.

One of the things I want to use is the pedestal. I'm working on getting Choco to get on it quickly without tripping over his own feet. We teach the pedestal by working a horse and then letting them rest on it. The first few times Choco needed help with his feet but he can get on it by himself now. So every day after he has worked hard I bring him to the pedestal and he gets to rest. Sometimes I'll bring my brushes out and clean him up while he is standing there. He learned that as long as he is up there he doesn't have to work. Sometimes if I'm working him near the pedestal he will try to pull me toward it! He is so smart.

Poor Choco has to put up with tail braiding practice. I'm getting better. Kind of...

Saturday, September 4, 2010

We are half way through the competition! It's amazing to see the change in the horses. At the beginning100 days seemed so short but now it feels like it's taking forever to get to the Makeover. I'm getting excited about the show and we are trying to get ideas together for the finals (assuming we make it that far!)

Choco has not been giving me an easy time these last few days. I'm having a hard time figuring out what is his stubbornness or my inexperience. But one little pony will never be enough to 'out stubborn' me. There is one really good thing about working with Choco; there won't be many training tricks I don't know by the end of this!

I've been trying to work with some other horses so they can teach me more about how to handle Choco. If Choco is being rude, I need to work the really pushy horse that tries to walk on me. I've been working a very sensitive horse to remind myself how responsive a horse can and should be. It is amazing how much different horses can teach you. Actualy, a horse gets most of the credit for teaching me ground work! This mare is very smart and she already knew what to do, so if I did something wrong she would shoot me a nasty look. Nobody gives the Evil Eye like a horse!

The 2010 statistics are in for wild horse and burro populations! The total population of free roaming horses and burros is 38,365. That does not include the 34,592 that are in holding facilities.
(August 2010, BLM website) Mississippi has the only facility east of the Mississippi River in Piney Woods. They can maintain a herd of 100 horses and burros.

Here is a list of states with holding facilities:
Nevada, Arizona, California, Oregon, Wyoming, Nebraska, Colorado, Wisconsin, Idaho, Oklahoma, Kansas, Utah, South Dakota, and Iowa (contract facility).

Here are some wild horses and burros. I found it interesting that the BLM has a hard time meeting the demand for burros.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Choco and I had our very first horse show on Saturday! For a first time handler I did pretty well, but for a first time show pony Choco did amazing!! We wanted an opportunity for the mustangs to be in the show ring before we take them to the Makeover in October. All three of the mustangs were very calm and just as good as any of the other horses that have shown many times.

We were entered in two kinds of classes; halter and showmanship. In halter the judge looks at how the horse is built physically, like a sturdy frame and good muscle tone. Since mustangs usually don't have the kind of frame judges are looking for, Choco didn't place in those classes. He did very well in the showmanship classes (see last entry) and we actually placed ahead of a few people in one class.

We had two different patterns we had to do and Choco
did both very well. I'm the one that had to go mess us up! We had accidentally practiced one of the patterns wrong, and I had just learned that a few minutes before going into the ring. It was a very small change that Choco would have no problem doing. When I got in the ring I comlpetely forgot about the change and did the pattern wrong. When I got up to the judge he just looked at me and said," You forgot the pattern." Oops. We may have done it wrong, but we did it wrong very well. Choco did exactly what I told him to do. Later we did that pattern again, and we got it right that time.

I was so pleased with how Choco responded to the crowd and noise. He wasn't scared when there were other horses close by or of walking through the parking lot full of trucks and trailers.

Please note:
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