|When I arrive at Jane's, |
she has flowers from
Bourbon's Futurity ring
on my pillow. Awwwwww!
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 hours...in 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.|
|My two Champions - Diva & Bourbon at Miller Coliseum|
|I think they remember each other! Kisses.|
|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 evening...one 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 AOT...so 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 well...no 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.
|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! :)
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 face...as 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 side...it 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?|
Tomorrow is a long ride home....but it will be filled with good thoughts and accomplishment.