Monday, April 15, 2019

Yeah. I’m thinking I’m back!

Meet John Wick!
It’s a new year, a new show season, and I’m so excited to announce I have a new horse added to my show string. Meet John Wick - aka John, JW,  Jonathan, Wick, or Baba Yaga (aka: the boogie man.)  πŸ”« πŸ–€ ✏️🐢 🚘 If you haven’t seen the first two movies yet, you better catch John Wick 3 comes out in May.  And he’s taking on everyone in this next film.  (John Wick is a notorious assassin who got out of the business only to be yanked back in over a car and a puppy...🚘🐢...but I’m not going to give it all away - you can watch the first two films on Netflix.)

Ok, ok.....back to details on the new horse. John is a coming two year only about 22 months old when I got him and in April turns two.  He’s black with a stripe that dribbles down his cute baby face. He’s bred out of the great Honors and a Dixie Lineman mare. And he’s got loooooong damn legs and is just a sweetheart. In a very strange turn of events, he was brought to me by Jessica Hlebak for my consideration. A long call, a video, a flight, and a vet-check later, I had myself a new showring possibility.  He officially became mine in February - my Valentines present from Scott. πŸ–€❤️πŸ–€ John Wick is at Stonewall Farm under the training of Jessica Hlebak.  And now Harley Quinn is at Stonewall as well. Thus begins my double baby adventure ( a 2yo and a 3yo.....oh my gosh!)
Getting ready to ride...

In mid March I flew down to see how the babies were doing. I chose a long weekend in conjunction with the trainers show - so I could snuggle soft noses and watch great competition - all in one visit. I arrived early on Thursday morning and drove out to Shelbyville to see HQ and JW directly after landing at the airport. Stonewall Farm is located out in the country, a pretty drive along rolling hills. The new Stonewall Farm sign is installed and now serves as the perfect landmark to signal its time to turn right. My butterflies kicked in as I headed down the long gravel drive, drove past the big outdoor riding track and huge round pen and parked near the front porch entrance that punctuates the center of the 60-horse facility. Jessica and David just purchased the place and are actively updating it to make it their own... along with training horses. It’s a quiet and beautiful setting on lots of acreage, with even more acres of pasture to the south that is home to a herd of mares and foals. I jumped out of my car and headed on in.
Thank you Jessica for taking on this motley crew!

It was mid morning and the barn was busy. A few customers were sitting on the center deck and they all said hi when I arrived. They were watching a few horses being worked.  Another customer was with Jessica receiving a lesson. I walked back to the cross tie area where Mackenzie and Brandon had more horses in the cross ties.  Someone must have said something funny....or perhaps it’s just the light hearted, happy nature of the barn...because you could hear laughter.  You know, that can’t stop, snorting kind of laughter, that makes you smile just because.  And I smiled.  This will be a good place for the babies.  Which reminded me....just where were their stalls?  I needed to say hello.

I knew Wick’s stall was down near the one end.  As Jessica rode by on a pretty sorrel she told me Quinn was right next to him. P. E. R. F. E. C. T.  Easy access to both of them. I peeked in on JW and then HQ....and since Quinn was laying down, I went back to John’s stall and climbed in. He immediately greeted me at the door for attention. Well hello little one. (But believe me when I say little - it is due to age, not height.) He’s got long legs and if he didn’t have such a baby face and skinny width ... well he wouldn’t look 2. Lol. I pet him and he nuzzled in my chest. But please note πŸ“ ears are not to be touched!!!  Lol. Well of course I had to keep trying on the ears. It’ll take time but we’ll get there one of these years. Other than that he’s a cuddler.

Beautiful Rolling Hills and a new sign for
Jessica & David's new place.
I then snuck over by Quinn. She heard me with John and was staring at us through the bars that separated half the stall wall between the two horses. If I could read filly minds I would say she recognized my voice and decided she was jealous. She would look at us and toss her head. Then look at us and then toss her head. Lol. I mean really Quinn?  And when I climbed in her stall she was so happy. I talked to her and she looked at me close with her one eye. Yeah, she did recognize me. And she followed me when I moved around to take a look over her. She looked good. Her face, neck and leg where she had been injured late last fall looked healed. I could see small scars when I really looked, but for the most part no one should really notice anything. Whew. From hole in her cheek to healed in months.  Glad she heals well. Even her front teeth seemed to have come back in. I checked with Jessica to see if she feels anything off from the saddle - and she said not really. So hopefully all is clear and just a bump (wham, bam,πŸ’₯ ka-pow) in the journey. We also suspected ulcers and treated her for them all month. She now gets a sweet-potato on a daily basis - and loves them. They have something in them that soothes a hind gut and also seem to be doing her well. All is good in Quinn-Ville.
Twice the fun...

On this trip I was able to see Jessica ride them both numerous times. Quinn looked good. She had off all winter, but was back strong - walking, striding, and shaking - even though Jessica was just riding lightly to get muscle back on her. Baba Yaga had definitely progressed from my last visit and you could see him going straight and settling into his lighter shoes. He’s still at the stand, stop, straight lines phase of learning, but oh boy does he show glimmers of what’s to come. He moves really cool...setting the backs way up under himself and lifts in the knees. He’s doing a lot for a 2yo....who has no idea what he’s doing yet. Just wait until he starts doing things on purpose. He’s going to be pretty cool - at least I🀞 hope.
Mirror Honors babies. Sis and Bro keeping
each other company. πŸ”«❤️♦️

I’m pleased with everything and enjoyed my visits....which were daily over the long weekend. I spent days at the barn, evenings at the show, and bed & breakfasts with Jane. I lifted off Sunday night with my horse-fill and my heart happy. I met so many new people and caught up with many others. The Stonewall gang knows how to everyone was hanging out outside on the sunny porch or inside on the observation deck...or most importantly eating the big daily buffet set up each day in the lounge. Yeah....this’ll work!  (Or like John Wick says...) Yeah...I’m thinking I’m back.

Thank you Jessica (and David) for taking all of us on. I can’t even express my gratitude enough.   Looking forward to getting our girl ♦️in the ring next month....and πŸ”« John ready to go in later this summer.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Celebration 2018 - We’re bad guys. It’s what we do.

Riding at The Celebration in a horse’s 2 year old season is alot like the first single warning firework that goes up before the real fireworks start. It’s Class number two, the first morning of an eleven day extravaganza and there is only one optional tack class - not Western and English classes held separately.  It’s one.....and done. And, it’s over before anything really gets started. Lol. However, at least there is an opportunity to ride my crazy girl Miss Quinn, so of course I wanted to do it. Sign me up!  And, on registration Tuesday, the entry deadline, it was done.
Follow your dreams.

For the next two weeks between International and Celebration I doubted my decision. It’s such a prestigious show. Where the best of the best horses compete in that famous ring. Ugggghhh, it’s so desperately overwhelming and intimidating. More than once I considered pulling out. Scott kept reiterating how awesome Quinn was - to give her a chance.

She is the best horse I’ve ever owned. And, possibly the best horse that I’ve personally had the opportunity to ride. And she’s only two!  Joe has her going so well. Scott kept reminding me that she had two wins at the International. In those classes she’s already competed against many of the horses that would show up in my class at The Celebration. None of it convinced me. I knew all bets were off - The Celebration was a completely different animal. Finally Scott said, “ you know, you definitely won’t get a ribbon if you don’t show her. But....” (of course there is always a but.) “ But, your chances of getting a ribbon go up tremendously once you simply pass through the gate.”  Two thoughts went through my head. One - well, ain’t that the truth. Two - how silly am I being - it’s simply a 2yo horse, a single class and besides who would be there to see the second class the first morning anyways!?  I mean - really - why was I rethinking this. (Umm, cuz I could get no ribbon, or a low ribbon, or look stupid out there in a million different ways, or ....well, the list goes on.) But....What if?  What if she does well. What if the judges love her like I do. What if she gets a ribbon. Or miraculously would win. The “what if’s” can be very inspirational. I needed to follow my dreams.

If nothing else, I decided, I was gonna look good doing it in a pretty new jacket and enjoy the chance to ride my baby girl again. Yes. Yes. Yes. I will put myself out there - come what may. So I booked an early flight and went down the weekend before so I could practice a few times and at least go in with some resemblance of confidence to ride Quinn. At this point I’ve ridden Quinn 6 times in 8 months and have only shown her twice. Not a lot to prepare for the biggest show of the year. But here we are.

I practiced three times before showing. Once each morning, between rain showers. She looked good. Was working well. And my rides went well too. I completely adore her and we get along very well. Joe has made it extremely easy to ride behind him. So my confidence was up. Her saddle fit and we rigged a head stall out of pieces from two head stalls to get something that fit her tiny head. I ordered a small headstall that was pending shipment, so we made a backup plan.
Getting ready to go in our class. 

Fast forward to Wednesday morning.
I woke at 6am and got right to work. Getting ready is a whole activity onto itself. I won’t even confess to how many practice runs I did to make my bun just right the night before. Lol. I couldn’t sleep fearing I wouldn’t be able to get my bun right by myself in the morning. So I spent the wee hours bun practicing. (BTW Lindy, that trick you showed me to put the pony-tail holder over the bun works!)  Yes, I’m certified crazy.

I arrived at the show grounds at 8am, ready to go for the show that started at 9am. Quinn was in the cross ties and her shipping leggings were being unwrapped. I slipped her a mint and planted a kiss on her soft nose. Many clients were there getting ready too. Joe and Bailey have an air conditioned dressing room at their client suite. Which is totally awesome. And breakfast was available for all to get a bite that morning out on the deck sitting at tables under umbrellas.  That is - if you could eat anything with butterflies in your belly. Maybe after my ride.

Joe Lester Stables suite and deck ready for the party. 
Soon, it was show time. I got my chaps on and headed to the warmup ring to catch up with Quinn.  Joe was already warming her up and class #1 was entering the ring. I put in my earpiece and tested it with Joe. Then I climbed up into the saddle and took Quinn for a warmup ring spin. She felt good. Joe said she looked great - really great - way better than he expected on the hard surface. By the time I pulled back into the Joe Lester Stables corner and got my back number on, my class was lining up to go in.

Joe had me hold back and he guided me in last, as the gate closed behind us.  And, we were off. The arena felt huge and there were many people moving about and taking their seats. FLAT WALK. The surface was freshly graded.  It was wet in spots. Quinn tried to turn her head to take a look around at this huge arena. I placed my leg against her and kissed. I picked a spot a bit off the rail to ride. She went right to work. What a good girl. Only two years old and riding in this huge ring like a boss. Joe began talking me through the curve - right hand, left leg, good. Easy. Good Renee. RUNNING WALK. Just go a bit faster you’re already a good speed.  Good. There. Good. REVERSE. Quinn turned around well and got right back to shaking the second way of the ring.  I watched her crazy head shake. I tried to ride with her stride. I pushed her to stride deeper through the curves. I corrected and collected. I let her go.  RUNNING WALK. I can hear her evenly timed foot fall. I can feel the rhythm of her whole body shaking. And it’s line up time. Joe talks me into the line up, compliments our ride and chats with me as we wait for the results. Quinn backs nicely for the judges and stands like an angel in the lineup. I compliment Joe on that. He must have worked with her since July 4th when she walked in circles.  Now, she stood like a perfect little angel, waiting patiently.
Pretty lil Quinn getting her show bath.

The announcer came on to tie the class. Pitch Perfect takes the blue. She had won the 2yo class at the July 4th show too. She’s a big, pretty black horse. Then 2nd, 3rd, 4th are called. None of them Quinn. Joe sighs in my earpiece. 5th then 6th are called and still not Quinn. Joe sighs again and says well there was something the judges didn’t like about her. Renee you rode well, you guys did a good job. I’m proud of you. 7th. 8th. Still not Quinn. My heart sinks. Oh my baby girl did so well. I think there were eleven horses in the class. Only ten ribbons. Will she be the only one to not get a ribbon?  She was such a good girl. She felt good. Joe kept saying she looked good, that we did well. She shook her little head so hard. I’m getting this sinking sinking sinking feeling. Awwww. My baby girl.  More importantly all of Joe’s and Bailey’s hard work. I screwed up something. 9th is called. And finally it is us. I step out and ride over to collect our ribbon.  Happy that I’m getting a ribbon, but knowing we were at the bottom of the judges cards.  Disappointed πŸ˜” for my girl. She’s so talented.

Maggie greets me at the gate with a smile and Quinn is whisked away by the team once I exit. I’m left there to collect my hat box and turn my chaps up to keep them clean. I fold up my ribbon and head off to walk back to the JLS suite.  Tami greets me outside the warm up. She said she heard my placement and asks what happened?  I said nothing bad happened. No big mistake. Actually, she was a good girl. I thought my ride was good. Joe said we looked good and he was surprised with the placement. She gives me a hug. I smile. I dust myself off. We’re gotham girls. We’re bad guys. It’s what we do. We gotta pick up our sledgehammer, learn and come back swinging next time.

Us time after our class later in the week.
She’s so sweet. Could have stayed forever. 
Sometimes Celebration feels like the roller derby of hard knocks. Pow. Bam. Kapow.  All the best of the best horses come together for a showoff.  Horses that win all season are now in one class together and they all can’t win.  I had many people, some I didn’t know, come up to me to say they thought we looked great. Most said we were in their top 4 favorites. The five judges tied her 5th 6th 6th 7th and 9th.  I was sent a few videos of our class. I watched critically - and thought she looked great. And .... all the other horses looked great too. No wonder the cards were all over the place. In fact, the following Tuesday night the 2yo open class was held and the order of the placements was completely different.  Lower tied horses from my class were placing in the top 3 and past winner was fourth. Quinn wasn’t in that class but it sure would have been interesting to see how she would have faired with the judges under the direction of Bailey or Joe. I’m sure much better.  And most exciting, was that Bailey won the open class on a spectacular colt, Habanero Picante.  Congrats lady!

While it’s more fun to blog successes, I have promised to blog it all. Thank you to all my family and friends who’ve supported me though all the highs and lows. To a great barn family who cheers loud and raucously no matter what placement is called. You are simply the best. And to the judges.... you’ve just inspired Harley Quinn to bring on the crazy and make sure to impress you next time around. Thanks Joe and Bailey for having Quinn ready. You know I adore our crazy, spectacular and talented girl more every day.

Joe - I'm looking forward to an opportunity to rev up our Harley at least one more time this season.  :)

Quinn's pre-Celebration Scoop ad.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Gotham Siren takes on the 40th International

What a week the 40th International was! I was remiss in posting updates so instead I’m doing a highlights blog. And, I’m going to do it Jimmy Fallon thank you notes style. So, here goes.
Joe provides instruction to me and Quinn
Notice how he can’t help but pet her. 😘

Thank you for setting us up with Chris and his terrific camper!  Staying on the grounds, literally 50 feet from my horses, was ideal. Not to mention that having an air conditioned nap getaway, meal haven and dressing room space was a luxury. While I did lock myself out the first morning in my pajamas (no not my Victoria Secrets...whew!), I also made many new friends (especially Gordon and Lindy) in the process - who came to my rescue and made sure I had my morning latte. Having a camper is the way to go. Reservation 2019; done!

Thank you Katie, Jer and baby Gavin for keeping me company all week. Your excitement to attend your first International was contagious. Plus, I cannot thank you enough for the photo and video documentary of our week full of fun activities, horse shopping and rides. The fact that Gavin slept all night was unbelievable. What a great little travel buddy he is.... simply an angel. Now I hope you find the show horse of YOUR dreams! We certainly found you a few amazing prospects for your consideration. πŸ΄πŸ˜€♥️
My two blue ribbon girls!  Double love. ♥️♥️

Thank you my special friends Jane and Tami. Both of you are my lifeline and support as I chase my dreams. I’m not sure how I’d make all of this happen without either of you. Jane for your endless kindness and friendship, along with the reoccurring B&B stay and storage space - you’re my home and family away from home. ;)  And Tami you’re my AOT stall neighbor and show confidant - in and out of the show ring.  What amazing women and dear friends you are. 
Katie, Jerry and baby Gavin chillaxin by the stalls
and our magic 🌴 palm tree. 

Thank you
... to all the new friends I made. My show apparel sales began as a way for me to sell a few of my shirts in order to get something new. But what it has really become is an amazing way to meet so many wonder people who are on the same journey as me. I have enjoyed helping you find the perfect new outfit or complementary piece AND learning about you and your horses!  I have many new memories and Facebook friends because of this week. πŸ˜‰

Thank you
.... to the entire WHOA staff, the judges and all the generous sponsors that make the show possible. From entry booth - to ribbons and floral rings - to a magnificent winners circle, you’ve outdone yourselves once again. And, we all continue to pray for a swift recovery for Lonnie. He gave his all to judging and we wish him a quick recovery. 

Quinn in the winners circle. She went two for two with
Joe and me each riding a class. Thanks team JLS!
Thank you
.... to Marty And Jennifer Barr. You never cease to amaze me with your photo talent. You’ve captured all my babies on film - and now have brought me unbelievable photos of Quinn. There are more than a few “money shots” in the bunch. Marty I think I might agree that this just may be the best shoot yet. I will treasure them all. Having these photos of her will help keep her close to me even though I’m in Wisconsin and she’s with Joe in Tennessee. So for me they are much, much more than a picture. They are the piece of her that I have - while she’s so far away. 
Diva finally gets a blue after 7 years of trying.
Love both my blue ribbon girls this week. 

Thank you the team at Joe Lester Stables. Chris. Maggie. Ashlyn. The three of you keep everything humming like clock work. Not only did you make sure Quinn was ready for her classes but also for her practice rides and photo shoot. Including a dress change in between. I’m not sure how you do it. Being there before we all arrive, until the last class is over and we’ve all left to go to bed. You are so appreciated!

Thank you Joe Lester and Bailey Momb. You two make a terrific team and it shows in what you put in the ring. Talented horses. And, more importantly - happy horses. I can’t thank you enough for putting me with Quinn. I love everything about her. She’s just the perfect horse for me. I’m tickled pink with her two blue wins this week - including my very first victory lap aboard her!  What a thrill of a memory. Chills (and happy tears). But most of all thank you for caring for her, taking your time with her as she learns, and for the natural horsemanship you display every single day. She’s turning out wonderfully and I know it’s because of your gentle hand.  I also want to thank you for the time you take with me to get me prepared for my rides so I can show Quinn to her full potential. Hugs to both of you.  
D waaaaiting in her stall. πŸ˜‚ 

Finally, Thank you
.... to my hubby for encouraging me to follow my crazy dreams. And, for kicking me in the butt when I doubt myself. Lol. I love you to pieces. 

Quinn, Diva and Bourbon I’m so proud of all of you. And Halo we hope you will get back in the ring. 

Now....I prepare myself for the Celebration. I’m so excited. I ride for all those who never thought they could or would. Keep dreaming because we can and will.  ♦️♦️♦️🐴❤️❤️❤️

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Honors’ Lil Monster and Me

3am and I'm off to the airport for a 530 flight. By 7am I’m in Nashville and headed for Joe Lester Stables for a practice ride. Joe will show Quinn tonight, but I need the practice for tomorrow night and Joe has graciously appeased me.  Quinn is now in her new place and I’m looking forward to seeing it. I drive out 24, turn onto 231 towards Shelbyville, snake through Shelbyville and out towards his new place. It’s a pretty drive. The morning sun is rising over rolling hills of green. Before I know it I see the Christmas Creek Farms sign and pull in. 

Lil Quinn in the middle. 
When I enter the barn everyone is busy bathing, polishing, tacking and planning. Maggie, Chris and Ashlynn are on top of things. Quinn is already in the cross ties and saddled. Joe and Bailey are out back riding. I give Quinn a hello and pat, and walk through the back door to a picture perfect scene. More rolling hills and green...and an outdoor ring set with a huge shade tree. I smile and think how much Quinn will love it here as I make my way down the hill to watch horses being worked.
Practice rides. Success. 
The horses look amazing. I watch a client ride a really nice horse. Wow!  I find out afterwards that it was Kyle Bush on Slingblade when introductions are made. It’s already hot but where a few clients are standing in the shade of a trailer you can catch a nice breeze to make it bearable. Joe goes up to the barn and returns with Quinn. After he warms her up it’s my turn. I’m excited as I climb the step stool to get on her. Slowly, warns Joe....the stool is new for her. But other than flicking her ear as I step up she stands as I toss my leg over. I collect the reins and listen for Joe’s instructions. 
Ashlyn takes Quinn through DQP. 

I start by walking and in no time I’m in a flat walk and getting a feel for her. It’s quiet and relaxing out here. And maybe that had a lot to do with my focus and getting a feel for her. She’s really fun to ride. Very smooth despite that head just pounding. I stop her a few times to practice my takeoffs - I’ll need to do that upon the reverse at the show. All goes well and my confidence is up. Within 10-12 minutes we’re done. And we’re both pretty confident that I can show her the second night for the amateur 2yo class. Yeah! 

Joe and Quinn get third in a huge class.
They are second from right here.
I drive to Jane’s, spend time with her, and take a nap.  Jane and I get to the show early to watch Joe show Quinn in the very first class.  This is only Quinn’s second show ever. They win third, with the judges cards showing that 2nd and 3rd place horses were a tie broken by the call judge score. Awww so close to reserve. Great job by Joe and Quinn. On July 4th week some pretty awesome horses come out. It’s fun to watch both the warmup areas as well as the ring. Plus, socialize. (Who me?)

Day 2 included another practice ride, followed by a little shopping (of course), a nap and prepping for the show. My first ever class with Quinn would be the fifth class of the night. I got my chaps on and Jane and Carlan were there for support. Quinn was taken to DQP and to the warmup area and we followed. She really looked good as Joe warmed her up. She has this pretty step underneath herself. Then I got on her and desperately tried to maneuver her through the busy warmup. Lol. Tried is the key word. Poor Joe was probably going to have a heart attack. Lol. I’m reminded how much I hate the crazy warmup ring. Soon it’s our class and Joe guides us down to the ring, provides his sage advice, tests the ear piece one final time and we’re off. 
Quinn and me. Let’s do this!
Thanks Joe for being there for us!

She walks right into the ring like a pro. I quickly assess the ring and decide to go right in the center of the track. We had a heavy rainfall right before the show started and so the rail was full of standing water. We make our first pass in front of the first judge and make the curve on the other end. We stop there as the remaining horses enter the ring. Then that takeoff practice is put to the test. She collects and starts slow and we’re right back into the flat walk. Yeah. Good girl. Joe is in my ear. “Hold your speed there. Good. Give her a little. Bring your hands up a bit. There. Good.”  It’s constant give and take. And oops a little trip in the wet footing. We move a bit faster for the running walk and in no time we are asked to turn for the reverse. Our turn is a little clumsy but we do it. Steering it’s not yet our forte. Another loop around and as I hit the curve I decide the middle is too soft and squishy, so I head towards the rail. Oh boy that puddle is pretty big. Well, I guess we’ll see how this goes. Please don’t dump me in it Quinn. Lol. But she hits the rail and splashes right through it like a big girl. Good girl!  I actually think she liked it. One more time around and they call for the lineup. It went so fast. We did it. Our first class together is in the books. Success!  She was restless in the lineup but even with that she never made me feel uncomfortable. We placed 6th. Which was really the only disappointment. One of the three judges had placed her fourth. So, I’ll just hold onto that opinion. Lol. And Joe seemed pleased with our successful first class too. While I, of course, will revisit every step of the ride over and over for flaws. 😜
Out to dinner.  Katie is almost as tall as me now! 

I’m home now and looking back at videos of our ride. I’m pretty darn proud of her. She shook like crazy and walked a hole in the ground in that wet ring. I’m so proud of my Honors' Lil Monster. Two years old and doing it like a big girl. ♦️♦️♦️🐴♥️. Your daddy will be so proud.  I’m Harley Quinn you are going to be something really special. Thank you Joe, Bailey and the whole crew of JLS for getting us in the show ring this weekend.  And special thanks to Kyle for the gracious use of your saddle - must have good luck in it. 

Next stop is The International. Can’t wait!

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Is She Ready Yet Mistah J ?

I got the call I’d been waiting for: “When can you come down to ride her?”  Having a two year old can be a practice in patience as they get broke and exposed to new things for the first time. But Quinn had turned a corner after Joe showed her for the first time at the Walking For Cancer Show.  So now he wanted to get me up on her. Yippee!

Just moments into my first ride ever on I’m Harley Quinn. 
Alas, I had business travel that delayed my trip, but I booked flights and would ride for the first time late in June. We coordinated a date that worked in conjunction with the WHOA Jamboree, so I could also see a show too. Yeah!!  

I flew down before dawn on Friday, picked up my rental car... and was at Jane’s in time to have coffee with her.  Then I logged in and worked that morning. After my final conference call I slipped on my jeans, boots and ball cap. A text came in from Joe and we set a ride time. I excitedly made my way over to Miller Coliseum after lunch.  More importantly, to where Quinn had been put up in a “pretty little stall” for the next few days. 
She loves starlight mints. Refreshing. 

It felt good to turn into Miller and drive down that familiar white fenced drive to the exhibitor area. This time for my mad new adventure with Dr Harleen Quinzel. πŸ˜‚ LOL. 

HQ was in the cross ties when I  arrived. I could see her silhouette along with the profile of Bailey with her trademark high ponytail and Joe busily saddling up Q.  I should have stopped to take that photo, but I was too excited to be moments from my very first ride on Quinn. 

Once she was saddled and ready Joe and I walked over to the warmup ring with Q trailing behind us like a good girl. She was taking it all in, fazed by nothing.  When Joe lunged her, her first few steps reminded me of the first seconds of video I ever saw of her. Oh my goodness...pure chills. Yes - squealing, gushing and joyous dancing feet were involved.  (Who me?) You can add tears of joy to that list, when Joe started to ride her. 

To say I’m overjoyed would be an understatement. She’s so talented and seems to really like to do what she’s been bred to do. Joe is doing a great job. Art in motion. There is not one thing I don’t like about this filly. And there’s so much more to come. It’s real mad love.❤️ ♦️♦️♦️🐴
Waiting for our first ride.

And then... it was my turn to ride. I think I floated up onto that saddle. Joe held her while she stood nicely for me to hoist up there. Then I took the reins and began to walk with her. Well, with that much motion I’m not sure exactly what you call it (or if it’s — I was in perpetual motion as she moved below me. I concentrated on finding rhythm with her.  I circled around Joe as he talked me through the particulars and I giggled at how she felt. Familiar, yet distinctly (or should I say -quintessentially) Quinn. Push, pull, shake,  stride.  Mad love. 

Once I gained my confidence walking with her, I nudged her into a flat walk. I focused on timing myself with her and keeping balance.  I forgot how skinny 2 year olds can be. I think my knees touched as I squeezed but I still felt no horse. Lol. She stepped up and I was transported to the Quinn zone. She’s air in my hands. She’s surprisingly strong from behind for a 2yo. And that head shake. Yeah boy. 

The next 10 minutes were magic. I think both Joe and I breathed sighs of relief as we wrapped up my “inaugural Quinn practice ride.”  We did it.  She suits me.  Here’s to the next chapter with a crazy new team — Mistah J, Q and me. You never know how you’ll get along with a new horse. Or a new trainer. But this start was about as perfect as can be. 

And “Yes Joe” - she was MORE than worth the wait! 😘
Joe making it look incredibly easy. 

I rode a second time the next morning. Another great experience. This time I took her out on the rail and pushed her up to to see what she felt like. I was brutally reminded of how easy the pros make it look and at how much it really takes to ride the young horses that are still learning. And, as Joe advised, she still doesn’t completely understand what we’re doing here yet.  I struggled a bit to keep her going and direct her but the lessons learned will refocus me on my balance, use of my legs and importance of my hands. Things I will practice on my horses back home to prepare myself even more. But all in all it was another success. Personally, as well as with Joe and Quinn. We’ll get there. And, when we do, it’s going to be sooooooooo amazing. 
Quinn in her pretty little stall. 

The rest of the weekend was spent meeting the Joe Lester Stables crew and clients, catching up with many friends, contemplations over dinners, helping Tammy show and watching some awesome horses in the ring. There are some pretty spectacular new junior horses coming up. Which is so exciting to see.  The pleasure trainers are totally letting us have it this year!!! In a most excellent way. 

I also spent as much time as possible with Quinn. She is super sweet. Immensely smart. She does not like apples. She loves starlight mints (insert mad flailing here). And she will do just about anything for a good neck, ears and withers scratching!  Hint hint. 

Our next stop will be the July 4th week. Joe will show her....and potentially it could be my first show on her. But ...we’ll see. Only if the practice ride that week goes well. (Fingers crossed). 

Sweet dreams Miss Quinn. Believe “the voices” that keep telling you how utterly special you are.  ♦️♦️♦️❤️🐴

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Mad Love for Harley Quinn

Over the past three months I’m Harley♦️Quinn or Quinn as we call her now around the barn, has been learning the ropes. Her prior experience was assessed at about.....umm, zero. So, Joe and Bailey have been working hard to simply get her broke.  Broke to stand to mount. Broke to the bit. Broke so she stops. LOL. And, so forth. Yep, the basics. But, she wasn’t even officially two those first 90 days - her birthday was April 15. What can you expect?  I kinda laughed, ‘cuz the updates and reports always included emojis of a hand slapping forehead 🀦‍♂️ or laugh/cryingπŸ˜‚ etc. 😜 hmmmmm. Well, she’s not even two yet. 🀷‍♀️  Lets take our time with her. So, slow progress was the goal.

Visiting with HQ. Mad Love!
I visited her in Feb and then again early April to see her progress. In Feb she was still figuring it out. However in April she seemed to be getting ahead. Joe mentioned that she really was starting to hit a nice gait the past two weeks. You could see a huge leap forward. It was really exciting to see her understand things. She was still unpredictable and learning, but the riding part was certainly progressing tremendously. Now that long stride seemed more purposeful. Me. I was simply tickled pink. Joe was thinking he may take her to a show soon if she kept advancing, he thought it might also help her get more broke.

On Friday I got a text. “We might take HQ to the walking for cancer show tomorrow, they have a 2yo class.”  But it was a big IF. They would ride her Saturday morning and decide and let me know. Late Saturday afternoon, as I was walking around the Midwest Horse fair in Wisconsin, I get a photo on my phone. It’s a picture of Quinn in the horse trailer on her way to the show. She looked like a big girl. All grown up. My little baby girl going to her very first show.  I had a small moment. Then my stomach started to hurt and my nerves began working over time. Omg. Her very first show. Her very first class. Her very first time. And I wouldn’t be there. πŸ˜”

HQ going to the show.
 The show started at five. I found out that they would be streaming the show live on reporTV.  It was after 4pm and I was still at the Midwest Horse fair with Lisa, Morgan and friends watching a demo. If I left by five I would be able watch her. Obviously I wasn’t going to miss this....and by 5pm I was in my car heading back home. It would take an hour to get home, but she was in class ten so that would be about 7 pm or so. I’d make it.

When I arrived home Scott was waiting. He had gone that morning to pick up our new car. And it was parked out in the driveway for me to see.  Of course we checked it out and I got the full tour. And then we went inside to logon to watch Quinn’s class. When I logged on, class nine was just starting so our timing was perfect. Scott got out his phone to tape the class. Then they announced Quinn’s class and opened the gate. Four 2 year olds would make the gate call. Joe riding Quinn entered last and the gate closed behind her. It was the honorable Sam Sorrell who would judge the class.

I was so proud. She came into the ring like a good girl, ears forward and alert. She looked great. Moving forward, striding unbelievably and that head nod. Up and down. Up and down. Oh. My my my. She looked really good out there! With two year olds, you never know what you’re gonna get. But she looked like she was having a great time out there.

They went flat walk and running walk. And then they reversed to go the other way. The reporTV video man did a great job showing each horse on the internet stream and included nice close up shots of each horse too. It was so cool to be able to watch her real-time during the class even though we weren’t there in person. Each time Joe and Quinn were on the screen they looked great. Nice clean passes. She was so upright and striding. I just squealed with happiness and pride. And Scott just kept saying how great she looked. We were both thrilled. When they called for the lineup I think we both breathed again for the first time that whole class. I said I think she looked great and Scott said, umm yeah!  And we laughed.

Baby girl’s first show. And it’s a blue debut. 

Then the announcer came back on and called number 315 for the win. That’s Quinn’s number!  Joe pulled out of the lineup and rode around to the winners circle. I screamed and cheered and couldn’t believe it. Scott grinned from ear to ear. We jumped up and down. Then we watched as Joe and Quinn made their very first victory lap.  She owned that ring like a boss!  Lol.

We got text messages and videos from Joe, Bailey, Julie and a number of friends. We were all on cloud nine.
Scott and I replayed the class and talked about Quinn. Mad love for Harley Quinn. She certainly is something special.  ♦️♦️♦️♥️♥️♥️♦️♦️♦️

Sunday, March 4, 2018

The Adventures of Harley Quinn Begin.

2018 begins an exciting new adventure.

My Christmas present from Scott was to select a new show horse. I’ve been searching off and on for almost a year. But, I think I wasn’t ready. My hope was cemented with Halo - my perfect dream horse. And while we’ve overcome many set backs with injuries I feared undoing the progress made by putting him back into the pressures of a high performance scenario. So, I refreshed my search for a new Tennessee circuit horse. 

I put my mind to it and got busy doing many things to accomplish my goal. I followed up on videos of horses posted on Facebook that caught my eye. I made many calls and PMs to let people know I was seriously shopping and to let them know my preferences. I kept updated on the progress of a coming 2 year old and kept tabs on a promising 3 year old that might be for sale. I made a trip here and there to see and ride a few prospects. It all can be fun and exciting, like a treasure hunt, but also daunting and stressful.  I had to be focused on what I wanted. Specifically. One’s too old. One’s not moving like the dream horse in my mind. Another sells before I can jump on it. Prices vary so much and some are crazy high. What to do? What to do?  Waiting. A lot of waiting. Hoping it’ll happen. 

But, I think you just know - in the moment. 
The new team.

It was a Friday night. We were at home watching a movie. And my phone buzzed. I ignored it. But it buzzes it’s persistent second warning and I figure a peek wouldn’t disrupt my movie focus. I reach for my phone and turn it over to look. It was a text and I could see a video was attached. I opened the text and played the clip. Seven seconds. I clicked replay. Hmmmm! I hand the phone to Scott and say, “you may like to see this one.”  He takes the phone, plays the entire seven seconds, hands my phone back to me and says, “buy.”  Simple. Just like that. We both knew. I text back - “call me, let’s make a deal.” The phone rang two seconds later and literally I owned the horse five minutes after that. Well, pending vet checks and paperwork. Before the movie concluded I had booked a flight and texted Jane to see if I could stay with her .....plans were set to see this new filly in person.

Hours later - my bags packed, I head for the airport. I’m so happy that Southwest has a direct flight now (right Cathy?), one hour and fifteen minutes after wheels-up in Milwaukee, we land in Nashville. Love it!  In fact, I can fly down in the morning and fly back late that night if I want. But I have three days here this trip. Time to see her, get a vet check and make the final call. 

Quinn on the cross ties.
I meet up with Carlan for breakfast on the square. At this point, neither Jane nor Carlan know I have a very specific horse to see on this trip. In fact, I have a few additional appointments set up to see some really good potential babies. Scott thinks I should get two anyways. I’m like, huh?  Okay!  Lol. So I’m keeping options open, and my excitement in check. Seven seconds of video could be misleading. I’m hoping not for now, I hold tight to my secret hope. After breakfast and a little shopping at Bedford Tack, we turn up the long gravel drive to my purposeful destination. As I drive along the stable, heart beating and pulse going crazy, I can see someone pull a horse off a trailer and walk into the barn. I wonder if that’s her, as she was being delivered here today. I park and turn to Carlan and say - “well hurry up, let’s go see my new Filly!”  She looks at me a little confused and then I see the realization come across her face as she smiles her excitement back at me. And we laugh and jump out of the car - now both of us with renewed purpose. 

As we enter the barn, Joe greets me with a grin and points to her in the cross-ties. “That’s her. She just arrived.”  My eyes turn to her and I take in her unexpected beauty. I literally catch my breath and squeal,”oh my, she’s so gorgeous!”  I actually had no idea what she’d look like. I had seen seven seconds of video. Maybe ten strides. I couldn’t tell if she had markings or her real color. So this was an unexpected and very pleasant surprise. She was perfect. Absolutely perfect!  Well, except for that crazy pawing and wide eyed look on her face. Lol. Poor thing. Welcome girl to a new adventure. 
Joe takes HQ for a first ride. 

Joe was already busy saddling her up and we ventured out to his round pen. Probably ten minutes after we both arrived he was in the saddle and showing us her unbelievable potential. Carlan said wow, she’s nice. I agreed. Yes. Yes. Yes. Green as ever and only about 20 months old, but everything she didn’t even know she was doing was wonderful. Well, except for the head tossing and wide eyed look on her face. Lol. Motion like crazy. Stride for miles. Reach in front. Upright in the chest. Everything in those seven seconds of video, was all here in front of me again. Yes. She’s perfect. 

A call to Dr Baum and a vet-check appointment was made. He even mentioned how pretty she was when he arrived. It does catch you by surprise. She’s a striking red head.  She has “It” factor.  She must get it from her daddy. Her daddy is none other than WGC Honors! And her mama is Ms Keeneland, another great show horse. In fact, her lineage is an amazing mashup of great show champions. This is why I keep pinching myself that this little filly happened to fall into my lap one Friday night. Thanks Joe. You outdid yourself for me. She’s beyond my dreams. Thank you. 

I was lucky to get the vet on short notice as we were dealing with the New Years holiday. He rearranged a few things so he could do X-rays and give her a full review while I was in town. He also had Joe ride her. While there were a few things Dr Baum noted in his exam, the basics all looked good. X-rays good. Check. Check. Check. 

The final details were to send in her DNA kit and the papers. Oh yeah, and write the check. A month later she was “officially” mine. 

So, welcome 2018 and to a mad new adventure. I’m super excited to present, I’m Harley Quinn.