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.

No comments:

Post a Comment