Saturday, July 28, 2012

The International Experience 2012

When I arrive at Jane's,
she has flowers from
Bourbon's Futurity ring
on my pillow.  Awwwwww!
I'm now home from the International, and spending a relaxing day out on my front porch reminiscing about the past week in Murfreesboro.  Again this year, I took Diva with me.....for a second year of AOT competition.  I had enjoyed showing both horses last year, so I wanted to do it again.  Plus, Diva had done really well on the long trip -- so I figured she'd be okay with it as well.  (Like she had a choice in the matter...LOL.)

On Saturday we drove down.  It was a nice day -- we started out at 7:30am with 75 degrees in Wisc, and it only reached about 95 or 97 degrees at the hottest point of the day.  And Diva was riding on the left side facing East, so she was in the shaded side of the trailer for the hottest part of the trip.  Sunshine, fluffy clouds and halfway decent temperatures were a far cry from the storms and frightening, white-knuckled, semi-truck riddled drive of last year.  We made it in under 11 time for dinner with Jane at about 6pm.
Stacey, me and Carlan at dinner.

The next few days were relaxing and dedicated to preparatory activities for the showing that would start on Tuesday.  On Sunday night we had our 2nd annual night out with the girls. Carlan, Jean, Stacey and I joined Jane for a Birthday celebration.  Dinner was great at The Brick...and then we went to see the movie "Magic Mike" [Thank you! Matthew and Tatum :) ]   It  was kinda like the calm before the storm of the show week ahead...and a great opportunity to just hang out with the girls and have some fun.  Plus, the desserts were fabulous, and Stacey's key lime martini the hit item of the night, for sure!

Dinner with Jean, me, Carlan, Jane, Andrea & Stacey.
Earlier in the day I had gone over to Miller coliseum to take a practice ride with Diva in the big ring.  But, before that, I took her for a little visit to the farrier.  I had her trimmed a week earlier, and she kept stepping up on her heal.  She never does that, and so I was worried that something was not right. I know I had dropped her from lite shod shoes to trail shoes, but I had been concerned that her heals were too low and angles wrong - and it had driven me crazy all week.   Even when she was walking in the paddock she seemed off - but most certainly when she was being ridden.  She just wasn't herself.  I had driven too far to have her shoes be her down-fall. Obviously she was having trouble keeping her front feet out of the way.  Terry Morain once again came to my rescue!  He had checked and filed Diva's shoes last year to make sure they were compliant, so I trusted him to help.  After a short discussion, he knew just what the shoeing problem was and got to work rectifying it.  He did have to take a bit more than I prefer off her toe...but he corrected her angles dramatically.  I swear she walked to the cross ties a troubled mare, and walked away 20 minutes later completely herself.  Terry told me to go take her for a ride and come back if I wan't happy yet.  So off to the coliseum I went.

My two Champions - Diva & Bourbon at Miller Coliseum 
The ring was dragged and all set up with a center-ring decked out with flowers, the central station for all the ribbons, announcer and judges.  A few other folks were warming up horse and riding the rail already when I entered.  Immediately I could tell Diva recognized the place, and walked right in with me in the saddle.  She never balked, and I think in some way she was happy to be in the air conditioning, not to mention with her feet back in good order.   I dog-walked her around the entire oval, and let her just relax, look around and get use to things.  Then I picked her up, and she just went right to work.   We had a great ride...and I think we both had fun too.  Its big and nice you can just ride that rail in pleasure.  Afterwards, I did go back to visit Terry - but this time it was with a big hug, and even Diva batted her big lashes at him in gratitude as well.   Much better...and all set.

I think they remember each other!  Kisses.
On Monday, we came back again for a practice ride.  This time with Carlan and Vegas in tow.  It was a girls day for riding...Carlan and I, and our two mares.  I picked her up at Bobby Richard's place where she keeps Vegas and we went over to Miller in my trailer.  It was especially fun for Carlan, as she had wanted to show Vegas, but she wasn't going to be doing so this year.  So, this was her chance to get in and ride her in the ring anyways.  I know this may sound silly, but the mares seem to become good friends just like Carlan and I.  They rode perfectly in the trailer together, and since I only had one stall of reserved for Diva, we tossed them both in it and tied them in front of the fan.   They both stood there in Stall 15, side-by-side, sharing the breeze of the fan, just as content as 2 peas in a pod.  So it was a good, good day.  The stall was in the first aisle, right outside of the warm-up ring, and on the center aisle.  You could see it right from the doorway of the warm-up ring.  I loved it, Diva was right there, I could look out the door, check on her at anytime, and she was going to be able to watch all the activities during the show.  All was perfect.
Hannah's aisle - busy readying horses.

Next I went to find Bourbon in the Hannah Pulvers aisle.  Hannah had an entire row, I think she said 29 stalls.  With a few all decked out and decorated with her name sign, flowers and a few stalls transformed into beautifully organized tack rooms with bridle hangers, saddle and saddle pad racks and a make-shift office space.  Really nice!   Bourbon had arrived now as well, was in stall 73 and I got my practice ride on him too.  After lunch Hannah was warming him up inside the ring as I watched from the rail.  And he looked really good.  Big, strong, powerful.  And his stride is just simply stupid...  LOL.  (stupid, as in the good way).   Then I got to ride.   YEAH!  And I had a ball.  He is SO much fun to ride, and I think I'm getting the hang of him and how to ride a little looser, etc.  He feels so different than Diva - like a locomotive.  So that's nice for my learning as well.  Hannah also thought we were working better together and that my ride was really good.  She gave me a few pointers, put me back out on the rail and then I got to just walk him around and have some "us" time.  So...progress made!  yeah....   And, it was good for my confidence too - that I'll maybe have good clean rides this week.   I also got to practice ride B on Tuesday morning as well.  And again, just a great ride.....
Me and B - getting ready
for our last class.

Tuesday at 4pm the classes started.   I had been there most of the day, had grabbed something for lunch, and was ready to go.  Or maybe more precisely, I was impatient to get things going and get showing!  Unfortunately my classes were later in the of my classes being second to the last one of the night. Urghhh.   So, it was a long, hot wait, wait, wait, before I got my turn.  And I was getting impatiently crabby.  Not really scared, but impatient.  I went English in both of my classes that first night.  First Bourbon, and then LATE in the evening Diva.   Both my rides were clean.  With Diva, I think I was a little fast, and it was a Ladies Trail class...not some hot competition.  I did place, but lower in the ribbons...   When I got Scott's report, he said there were some really great horses in the class. Diva look really good, but so many were REALLY REALLY good...huge backends, etc.  I guess, I should have maybe thought of that, since both Diva and Bourbon were in Trail Pleasure division...and Bourbon is WAY bigger of a stride than Diva.  Maybe I should have thought to put her Country Pleasure instead.  Oh turning back now. LOL.   But, I have to say, I laughed hysterically when Scott said, "when that first horse entered your class, I thought....oh, that's gonna be a problem for D."....  And he said he thought that again and again as the horses entered.  When Diva and the rest of the horses were in the ring, it was now a process of who he thought she could beat, and who would definitely beat her.  He felt she came in right about where she should.  He thought that she did everything she typically did - she shook, she strode, she was amiable all over.  And, I felt the same in how she felt under saddle.  So, we chalked it up as a GREAT ride...and knew the placement was also a kudos of an accomplishment in that calibre crowd. Besides, I thought as I was awarded the purple & pink ribbons....Kyra will like this! (right Kricket?!)   Bourbon also placed in his class...and my ride was really fun!   Again a lower ribbon...but it was also my first time riding him this year in English.  I had ridden English last year...but never practiced that way at Hannah's...  And, although I ride english all the time with Diva, it felt a little strange and uncomfortable on B, like I was sitting on a flat piece of cardboard that was just floating on top of him.  Maybe it was because he is so big, and his stride is so long, it was a bit disconcerting should I fall.  If he should startle or trip, I figured I was eating that nasty red earth of the arena for sure.  But, he went around a perfect gentleman, and into the line-up.    So, with a few be-ribboned rides...I certainly had hoped we'd do better, but was pleased none-the-less.

Photos of Diva in her classes:  (silly lip girl!)

Diva and I.  And no, I didn't wear
that outfit on her for English. LOL.
Wednesday I had AOT with Diva, and Western 3yo with Bourbon....the classes that were the best fit for each of  my horses and me - and the classes I was really looking forward to doing.  Again, my rides were great.  I was SO happy with Diva...despite low ribbons and a no-placement  But afterwards, I did go see the judges cards and noted we got a few 4th place ties...that helped brighten my spirits for her.    For Bourbon, we began the climb up the ribbon rack...from 7th to 5th....and so I was happy to make the progress, especially since much of my competition was some top contender horses right out of Hannah's trained high-calibre line-up.  The fact that I had clean rides in every class made my day - no losing my hat, no tripping, no major flaws.  And my western class with Bourbon was the best I've had on him...and when I lined up you could NOT have wiped the smile off my face if you had matter what the color ribbon.  I was succeeding personally.  Yeah...

Hannah, B and me after our last class.
Notice all the ribbons from Hannah's barn behind us!
The last white one I just won and got to add! :)
Thursday was my last class with Bourbon.  Diva was done showing, and got to spend the day at Jane's in the paddock next to Jane's geldings.  I think she was so happy, that she sweated in the sun and then rolled in the dusty dirt just to underscore (and probably ensure) her non-show day as a dirt brown horse...and celebrate in horsey fashion.  She had the day to relax and get ready for the journey home.     But meanwhile back at Miller/MTSU, Bourbon and I had one more chance to strut our stuff.  This time it was the Novice Western Am Class. I think it was 15 horses that entered the ring.  And the horses that lined up to file in I recognized as winning horses from earlier in the competition.  Plus, there were a few from Hannah's barn among the entries.    I wore my orange and navy outfit - it was by special request from both Hannah and Scott.   As I entered the ring, the cool air hit my face, and I could feel Bourbon lift up and stride.  He was soft in the mouth, he was shaking nicely with every big stride, and I could hear him - thump, thump, thump, thump....ah it sounded and felt really good.  And, I could hear a cheer for me as I entered from Carlan and personal cheering section! (thanks girls!)

A few Photo of B in the class:  (seriously - what a stride)

I kept on the rail, watched my distance and tried to put myself right where I wanted to be.  As I rounded my first loop, I saw Hannah with a big grin on her I passed she said I was doing perfectly, and that I should keep that speed, that timing.  And, so I tried.  As I rounded her a second time, she was smiling even harder...'good job, you look great, nothing is striding as big as B....your doing awesome..."   So, then I felt really good, smiled and thought yeah...keep it up...see if you can do right for B, for Hannah... put all this good training to work! As I rounded again...she still was smiling.....  And so was I.   Second way.....and I felt just as good.  I had one little balk, when some movement caught B's eye in the audience, but I squeezed him and reset him and got him right back into stride....which also met with Hannah's approval.   (yeah)
Getting ready.  Handsome BIG boy!

The second way is a little tougher, he doesn't want to stay on the rail as well, I put my leg against him and push him back to the rail while checking him to try to maintain speed and gait.  Oh, I guess I'm starting to apply my learning and that feels good.  As I head to the line-up on the West feels good.  Not sure how good, or how it compares to the rest of these competitive horses, but I win no matter what on a personal level.  As the ties are called, we get 4th place...behind 3 really top-notch horses...and its my highest placement of the week.  I'm so excited.  And as I exit behind Jana Anderson, Hannah's mom, she turned back and congratulates me for placing so well in such a large class.  And, it feels really good.  In fact, I'm so pleased.   As I catch up with Hannah, she congratulates me, and confesses, she thought I had won it, and that she had a few folks tell her that they thought I had won that class too.  WOW!  It felt good.  Maybe even better than actually winning (NOT!), but confirming.  Fact is, one of the judges did tie him 3rd - so that's a bonus too!   And, so I wrap up my International showing experience this year  feeling on top of the world.  And, excited to ride B again.  I'm so proud of him....and also proud of me.  And, I can't even express how happy I am about Hannah's progress with him.  It is amazing and awesome what she had been able to do with him.  And it makes my rides easier...which I am thankful for in so many ways.

Now that my showing is done, we take some time to capture some photos in front of Hannah's aisle and decor - so I can treasure the moments later.  And the rest of the night I spend watching classes with Carlan, helping Hannah's barn ready horses and riders for other classes....and just enjoying the camaraderie.  I even get the opportunity to run out to help Jana in one of her AOT classes that she won, gather her prize and then jump into the photo they took in the winners circle.

It was hot.  It was fun.  It was an experience I will treasure.  And, I feel like I'm making good progress - and getting to accomplish what I set out to accomplish this year.  I want to become a better rider.   And tonight, I made huge strides (no pun intended) in the right direction.

Umm, should I stay the course or swerve?
It takes a village, and my village is strong.  Friends, assistance, support and competitors.  So next we are Celebration bound - with a Futurity win and some strong rides behind me as a tail-wind.   And, it sounds like I'll get my first ever ride in the big oval.  ( AWESOME will that be....and so now I begin to pray that I will do well and not fall off on that ride....)  LOL.

Tomorrow is a long ride home....but it will be filled with good thoughts and accomplishment.

He rode with flowers...

Here is The Futurity report for 2012.   This is the last year that Bourbon gets to ride in The Futurity.  For my non-horsey friends, The Futurity is a nomination of a horse as a baby.  Only those nominated can compete the first 3 years of their life.  Bourbon was nominated by the breeder, and so he was shown in hand as a yearling by Bobby Richards, placing 3rd.  Last year was ridden to Reserve (2nd place) under the hand of BJ Richards as a 2 year old.  And this year he would be ridden as a 3 year old Trail Pleasure competitor.    Certainly exciting...and quite the big deal.

Futurity Dreams.  Would he win the roses?
So here is how it all unfolded - from my perspective.  Thursday, July 19th was The Futurity show.  The Futurity was held this year in conjunction with the TWHBEA Versatility show, instead of The Celebration.  Unfortunately for me - I was in Las Vegas for work at a medical congress...not in Tennessee for The Futurity.  Due to this conflict, I had discussed it with Hannah, and she would go ahead and take him and find a rider for me.  She could not ride, it had to be an amateur rider, since he would compete in the Trail Pleasure division.   I was lucky enough to have Miles Irby agree to ride - which gave him a good rider for the night's competition!

At 4pm The Futurity began.  I had just left the congress and headed over to the Las Vegas airport and checked thru security and scurried to the gate.  I pulled out my computer and logged on to the live stream of the show on the Walking Horse Chat.   I was able to watch a number of classes before they called for the plane to board.  I logged off...about class 11 - Bourbon was in Class 18.  As I boarded the plane, we met with a flight delay.  So, I continued to check the Chat for live posted placements from my phone, until they made us shut off all electronic devices.  As you can surely was before class 18.  Darn it.

The plane took off, rose tens of thousands of feet up in the air....and then was fairly uneventful for the next 3 and a half hours -- except for my constant fretting and wondering how Bourbon would do.   When I landed, I reached for my phone.  I held it in my hand, and tried to decide if I wanted to turn it on....or wait until I got home.  Two seconds later it was on and I waited for it to sync.  It sat silent.  And a minute still was silent.  Typically if someone had sent a text or eMail it would start buzzing as each text or eMail loaded onto my phone.  But tonight...silence.   I tossed it into my purse, and pulled down my suitcase from the plane's overhead compartment...and headed for the car.   I drove out of the parking lot....paid for parking and headed down the road and onto the freeway.  My long silent ride would be about 45 minutes home.   Due to delays my flight landed way after I didn't want to call Scott so late about it.  Or should I?  As I came down the ramp to the freeway, I wondered if he had done poorly, or if no one sent me a message, cuz they all knew I was up in a plane.  Yeah, maybe no one sent me a message...they wanted to tell me in person!  I held onto that hope.  Then all of a sudden, my purse (or rather my phone) started to buzz buzz buzz.  Since I was on the freeway, I couldn't grab for it.  It killed me.  As I finally reached home, drove (ummm, sped) down the driveway to the house and into the garage...I couldn't wait to grab my phone!   So there I sat - about my dark garage, looking down at my iPhone.  I took a deep breath...and then plugged in my logon code.  The phone lit up, and I saw there were some text messages...

Krysta Allen, Bourbon, Hanna Pulvers
and Whitlei Green right after B's big win!
The first text message read..... "he won".   I sat in shock...HE WON!   OMG!  And then I saw the second message, and it simply said.... "he wore flowers around his neck"......and I cried!   I couldn't believe it!  I just sat there with pride, and cried.   Only for the big deal shows do they put flowers around the horses neck when they win.  And then the rider wears the roses as they do their winning victory lap.  I imagined what that would look like...and it was bitter sweet.  I was so happy he won....and so sad I missed seeing it all happen.  And for a second I know what it is like to miss a baby's first steps....   And then my phone buzzed again....another message was coming in - it was a photo from was of her holding Bourbon's reins, with him in his flowers.  I was the best photo EVER.  I immediately made it my iPhone logon page photo.  (Here it is to the left.)

The GORGEOUS flower ring that Bourbon
wore during his victory lap!
I wiped the tears of joy off my face, pulled my bag out of the trunk of my car...and tiptoed into the house....gave the greeting dogs a pat...and then tiptoed up the stairs.  I could hear Scott snoring (LOL)...and I changed in the dark and slipped into bed.  He rolled over...gave me a big hug....and we fist pumped to Bourbon's win!   He had watched the stream...and said that Miles did an outstanding job...and Bourbon rose to the occasion.   And he described the flowers...they were yellow, pink and orange - and he said they looked spectacular on Bourbon.  Miles had wore a white shirt and hat, and rust chaps -- and it was all perfect.

So, I'm so excited to report that Bourbon - or rather Watchin for the Storm - is the "2012 Three Year Old Trail Pleasure Futurity Grand Champion"!   What a great feather in his cap....and what a great boost to me for going into The International.

I checked the judges cards...and learned that not only did he win the was an unanimous win among the judges!  WOW!!!!  I know I keep saying this...but Hannah is amazing and she is doing an awesome job with B.  He just keeps getting better and better.  I'm so happy for this win for B...but also for Hannah.  She's worked so hard on him, and finally a BIG BIG win to compliment her hard work.  YEAH!  And, thanks to Miles for riding him to the roses and making him look spectacular in every way.

Watch the ride:

See the photo of the class and victory pass!:

Me (all smiles) and Bourbon (with his flowers), with
Hannah and Bub.  The photo was taken when I finally
got to Tennessee to hug EVERYBODY. Yippee!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

4th of July weekend

For those of you following my blog, I have been remiss to keep daily updates this trip.  But I will do one summary of this 4th of July holiday weekend.  I am convinced this journaling is more for me than anyone else who may be reading...and one day I'll be sitting in my rocking chair reminiscing.  So I am trying to stay vigil on the blog.   Come what may.

Frequent Flyer Points gets me
to Nashville. (my western hat box)
I went down a few days early for this trip, so that I could get in more practice and bonding time with B, instead of just tossing ourselves into the ring.  This was a good idea, and we had rides Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday before showing Friday night and Saturday afternoon.  I felt like I was getting the hang of him, and my practic ride on Thursday was my best ever. Plus I was lucky to have Carlan with me that day to do some videotaping, so I not only could feel the good ride, I have it to watch as well.  And I think he was really good..the best I've felt with him so far.  Yeah!
Boomer - resting after the
"garbage incident"

This trip I stayed at Jane's, but sans Jane.  She went home to Illinois to visit, and so I was kept busy feeding her horses, little calf Joy and dog Boomer, and keeping her newly planted trees watered in this heat and drought.  The first day I think it took me two hours....but I was a quick study, and by the last day could multitask and be wrapped up within an hour.  That part of my trip all went without a hitch, until the last night.  I tied up the trash before the horse show in preparation of a quick early departure the next day, and wouldn't ya know Boomer got into it!  LOL. I can laugh now, as Boomer seemed to be no worse for wear. And, I guess if it would have all gone perfect, then there would be no story to tell here.  My chance luck was that another friend of Jane's had the night shift and ended up with cleanup duty.  I guess Boomer had done an outstanding job of sorting the trash all over the kitchen!  (Sorry Easy).
A practice ride on Bourbon at Main Gate Farms arena
and Hannah Pulvers Stables

The week was hot hot hot.  And we would literally melt in the arena at Hannah's.  I learned the importance of Gatorade on my second day, when I didn't keep hydrated and almost didn't feel well enough to ride. But I rode fine and it was good to get me up there, even if just for a few minutes.  I hung out a while longer that day to get myself back to normal, and ended up spending some time with Ed who owns the Main Gate Farm where B stays. What a great guy, and I learned all about his early days with Hewlett Packard and his wizardry salesmanship. Although he wasn't so wise on the digital computer study where he had advised HP that it would never take off.  I laughed at that story, and then we both checked our text msgs and email, before continuing our conversation! LOL. I also learned his secret recipe for BBQ tri-tip and brisket, which he treated us all to on Friday afternoon for lunch!   And it was really really good!  I told him if he made us BBQ I would make my coconut cupcakes with buttercream frosting.  He did, and I did...and the cookout was delicious, a good chance to meet some of Hannah's other customers and hot. Plus Terre and Wally were in town and came to watch B that day with friends....and stayed for the BBQ too.  Terre and I had met Ed a few years earlier, ironically on the same holiday weekend at the Woodbury show.  We had sat next to him and, well struck up a conversation.  I know, so unlike me and Terre.  How small of a world, to now have B at his barn, huh?

Bourbon leans down to get a much deserved
pat from Katie after the workout.
The weekend also brought my first eye witness of a USDA visit at a show!  On Thursday night at Tony Rice, they were there.  It was like a three ring circus. And I think perhaps more folks were in the bleachers surrounding the DQP pen, then we're sitting in the rain watching the few horses in the classes outside.  The man they all call EJ or Ed Johnson was there. And they say he is the strictest one of all. I'm not really sure that's even his name, but certainly the man is not appreciated by this crowd at large.  And not but a few horses made his grade.  The pleasure classes and weanling and yearling classes were huge, but the balance brought 1 or 2, if any horses.  When we were out watching the country pleasure class every once in a while you would hear a big cheer from inside, that we soon learned meant one made it through the DQP. The cheers were far and few between. The DQP would check and then someone from USDA would check the horse. Some exams took several minutes, and even back and forth multiple times per hoof.  There was even a side pen where some horses were held for up to 15 mins and then checked again.  And although I did not see it, I heard they might have been doing swab testing and drawing blood on some.  Of course all around the pen there were remarks, photos, videos, and heated conversations going on about it all.  My thought, it's just all a shame from every angle.

The famous Bell Buckle Cafe - where I find out I am
 "pretty".  A small detail that Emily will not let me forget.
Enjoying lunch at the Bell Buckle Cafe.
Me, Emily, Carlan and Katie. (L to R)
At the same time, we also had excitement in the ring in the country pleasure class.  Within the first few minutes a gentleman lost a rein, and his horse got out of control, bumping into a few other horses before he was able to get a handle on things.  And then just as the class got back underway, out of nowhere comes a horse over the rail, fully tacked up, bucking, running, and kicking. At first I thought it had dumped its rider, but then we came to realize it was from outside the ring from the warmup area.  Well, they called the riders to the center ring, men were diving for it, people were jumping in from ringside to help, a real mass hysteria. And it was bad. He was a stallion on top of it all, and heck bent on visiting every inch of that ring himself. Kicking out at those trying to catch him. Poor thing finally got caught, but not before giving everyone quite a heart attack....and me another good story to tell...with a safe, no one hurt type of ending. Thank goodness.  And, that boy came back in the trail class, this time with its rider and tied a Reserve shortly after. Lol.

So, to keep this fairly succinct, the daily accounts are as follows..
- Tuesday, flew in, rode B, picked up some ribbon and shoes for Diva, and had pizza with Carlan and Katie.
Roger, me and Ed -
hanging the hammock.
- Wednesday, got dehydrated and sickly, rode B, hung a hammock for Hannah with Ed and Roger, did a little grocery shopping (for gatorade) and then made cupcakes and homemade frosting  with Carlan and her girls at night. (I think they liked that!) And their visit was a surprise, they had stopped by Bobby's to see Lil Wayne and Vegas, which is just across the street from Jane's.  So they stopped in to wish me a happy 4th!
- Thursday, drank tons of Gatorade, rode B on my most fabulous of rides on him while Carlan caught it all on tape, then we shopped until we dropped for horsey stuff, went to lunch at the Bell Buckle Cafe where a man came up to me and told me I was pretty (I do not lie!), and then shopped some more, and then went over to the Tony Rice show to watch....where the USDA showed that show was short and sweet.
Following horse "semi's" to
the horse show!
- Friday, rode B, Terre and Wally came to watch, enjoyed Ed's famous BBQ (yummy), headed back to Jane's to catnap, and then showed at the Money Tree Classic at the Ag center, where it rained, umm I mean poured on our which B got tied 8th in the Junior trail class.  (see class photo of B at following link: )  Darn, but we learn more every time were out there.  Plus, I'm pretty sure my wool hat may be ruined...maybe they can reshape it.  ;)
-Saturday, slept in, headed out to Woodbury for the afternoon pleasure classes and showed  B...unfortunately no placement, but this was an aged trail class. And while we had a few good moments, we also tripped twice for the judges (we do that so well, we did it twice) and I lost my hat in the wind as I entered the ring.  Geez.
In the shade!
-Sunday, fed my last bottle to baby calf Joy, gave Boomer a hug goodbye (plus I shook my
 finger at him about the garbage, and he wagged his tail), tossed a hay bail to the four amigos in the paddock, and headed for the airport.  And that's where I am now, typing on the plane.  And all my flights were onetime this time. Double yippee.

This weekend certainly brought much disappointment in the show arena for me and B, but it brought new learnings and closer friendships.  And I was once again amazed that at a moment when you are feeling low, a small comment or action comes from a totally unexpected place, and you realize you have folks pulling for you, and encouraging you to keep on trying. And, so you shake it off, and you brush off those knees and you get right back up in that saddle (literally), and ready for the next time.
Flag horse at Woodbury.
Game World - WGC '11.

Now I can't wait for what The International has in store for me in a few weeks. Plus, Bourbon rides in the Futurity just before that. Much to look forward to yet this month.   Stay tuned.

Until then, keep on trying whatever YOU are striving for my friends. It's worth it, on so many different levels.  And you will be amazed who around you cheers you on! Just watch. Maybe it's someone you didn't know was watching you, maybe its a 7 and 3/4 year old little girl (the 3/4ths part is important), it may be a mother, a new friend, or someone back at home routing for you or checking the webstream of your class. And you'll realize, as I do, how lucky you actually are, even with no ribbon.