Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Western Workout

Monday was filled with prep and practice rides. Plus a nice break for lunch at the famous Bell Buckle Cafe with Carlan and the girls.  The weather continues to be nice, although I think it's getting a little warmer into the 80s. 
B arrives on the show grounds.
I jump in his stall I'm so excited. 

It was also finally B time. The Hannah Pulvers stables arrived late in the afternoon to move the horses into their stalls. I think she said she has 38 here. Not every  horse is on the show grounds yet, but she did fill a whole row including 3 stalls converted into tack rooms.  The set up is quite the operation. And it seemed to work like a bee hive....controlled and organized chaos.   I had run to the airport to pick up the Allen sisters at 6pm, so I didn't ride until after 8pm. By then I was exhausted from the long day and missed sleep, but I wanted to ride.  I watched as Hannah warmed him up and then I rode too.  It is always hard to get re-acclimated. However he was going awesome. It was me who needed to catch up to where he is again.  I got a good feel for him during my ride...and rode him over and over in my mind as I dozed off to sleep back in my room that night.   My big B!

Tuesday I got in another practice on B, this time in English tack. I haven't rode him in English since last year at the celebration, almost a year ago. So I wanted

to get into that saddle on him before I rode him like that in the ring tomorrow. Our ride was awesome. So I felt really good.  
Getting ready for a
practice ride. 

Next I turned my attention back to miss Diva, she has a class tonight...and it's western. Oh, help us all!  The last time I showed her western in Wisconsin I almost took out the center ring and the judge, lol. But I'm in country pleasure tonight, so I can ride with both hands, which will give me more control of her than one handed that's required in the trail division.  

In the afternoon she was bathed and primped. Then before 4pm, when the show started, she got hoof polish and a final brushing.  My class was 50, which would be the 5th class of the 4pm set.  Her warm up felt good, so I was anxious to get going, and I think she was ready too. When they called our class, 26 riders lined up to enter the ring. We were about 5th or 6th to enter. That first loop through the arena felt good. It would be the only loop that was not congested. even though the arena is about the side of a football field, it's amazing how small it gets with a few dozen riders. 
Diva and I primping for out western class.

It took a while for everyone to enter...and then they closed the gate and put us to work. The flat walk, running walk, reverse and the same routine the other way. Diva was hitting good, she seems to have a nice lift in this footing, and shaking very nice. We are called to the line up....and soon after they start calling numbers to fall into the center. The remaining horses are put back out on the rail. It's going to be a workout!  Sometimes when there are so many horses, the judges make a cut and then rework the "good" group to decide the winners.  But as I get out on the rail, my number is called to fall in. Darn.  But wait!  As I fall in one of the girls says congratulations! What?  Oh, the group in the center is the workout group....and I just made the cut.  Yeah!

After a few more rounds of the horses on the rail, they call out a few more numbers, and dismiss the group from the ring.  They then ask the group at center ring to go back out on the rail.  And believe it or not, we completely redo the entire class. It's about a dozen horses now, so we're able to space out better. However Diva knew this was not the regular program, and she thought if she went fast enough, perhaps she'd get out or finish sooner. I had a handful of sassy I his workout.  But she did continue to shake and drive...albeit faster than I would have preferred. With just a leather curb, I had less control so I worked from my seat and tried to talk her calm. Lol. Thank goodness for the called lineup.'s over. I think that class may have been over 30 minutes. And the workout was long.  If anything, Diva never showed signs of tiring. 

As the ribbons were called, D got a piece of the action....6th out of 26!  And she was in the arena with some nice horses who didn't even make the cut. I was thrilled!  Woot woot!  Especially since it was western, a very very new endeavor for the two of us this season!  And we did NOT take out any judges or the center ring!  ;). Bonus!

The rest of the night I did what I do best....socialize like the butterfly that I am. I watched Carlan and Emily ride SNB, and helped out at the HP area as I could - hauling a saddle or buckling up a breast collar. I was exhausted, but happy with my western Diva ribbon. 

Wednesday is English day. And my first showing appearance with B. 

Stay tuned. 

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Non-Futurity Reserve

On Sunday I got up and walked down the hall to the executive suite for breakfast. I used my frequent sleeper points to get a nice room upgrade to the Hilton honors floor. The hostess helped me make iced coffee and I had a fruit and yogurt parfait. It was very nice. They also have a cocktail hour each night, but I'll probably never take advantage of that since I'll be at the show at that time. 

I then drove over to Miller to feed Diva. When I arrived she was all spun up. The horse across from her was gone from his stall to show in the versatility classes, the tractor was alongside her stall picking up the muck pile and making a lot of scary noises, and she hadn't been fed when the rest of the horses in the aisle got fed 30 mins ago. So all heck was breaking out. At least as far as she was concerned.  She can make really fast circles when she wants to. Lol. I tossed hay, but it took a carrot and a little talk before she decided to forgive me. 
Diva is joined by Jane, me, Katie, Carlan and Tami.
Reserve champion AOT Country Pleasure !

About mid morning I tacked her up. I wanted to get her out and about. Plus, I wanted to see how she felt after that long ride yesterday. If she felt okay, I was hoping to ride her tonight at the Futurity. On the show bill there were a few non-Futurity classes mingled in among the Futurity big purse classes. And I had noticed there was an AOT (amateur owned and trained) class on the schedule. I was here, she was here, so if she seemed okay, I'd do it. It would be a good practice ride to see how she goes and a warm up for the week ahead.  The practice ride went well, so I decided to sign her up. 

With that done, I needed to get her ready. First stop was to Diva's southern farrier, Terry Morain, to check her shoes. I had been showing trail in Wisconsin, but planned to put her country pleasure this year at international.  I was pretty sure her shoes were wrong. Terry confirmed by suspicion and got to work pulling and resetting her in the keg shoes she needed for this class of competition. 
Meet Lola (Low-la) - Tami's
dog and travel companion.
And our stall guard dog.

After that we stopped at the wash rack for a  show level bath....and a few show sheen sprays latter she was looking good!  I put her back in her stall, and went out to lunch with Tami while she rested. We've been having absolutely fantastic weather, so I was pretty sure she'd get some well deserved R&R and be ready for tonight. 

Lunch was a good rejuvenation for me as well, and I was ready to get my show on once I returned.  I went to my trailer and pulled out my pink suit with a red vest and cranberry crystal studded tie. (The tie was a gift I received from Terre H's friend Kim, who made it for me a few years ago.)  I pulled red, pink and black ribbons for Diva and braided her up, and she also got a nice black hoof mani-pani.  I set up her saddle in the warmup and then I waited for the show to start.  The Futurity brings out the babies, so it was fun to see them arrive, get warmed up and groomed. Diva was completely fascinated by the weanlings. She turned her head and watched them walk by. It made me wonder if she would want one of her own.  I think she'd make a great mom. ;)

Finally we were close to our class time, and I pulled Diva out of her stall, bridled her and took her thought the DQP checkpoint. Then I saddled her up and got going on the warmup routine. There were quite a few horses under saddle in the warmup, and so I thought it would probably be a nice size class.  I watched the various horses and I thought there were a lot of really nice ones. Boy, I wonder how we'll do in this competition. They were moving nice. Good strides, good shakes, nice nice nice. 

Class #10 was called and everyone lined up to go in. Diva and I entered third out if eight horses in the class. She rode right into the ring and set herself to work. The footing is wonderful. It was soft but not deep. It's dark red earth, and feels absolutely wonderful when you ride. I love this footing. I got on the straight away and diva sped up, so I had to hold her back a little. I talked to her....easy girl, easy. And I felt her soften and slow. Good girl, I said. I continued to talk her around the ring. And as I gained confidence, I softened my seat, softened my hands and basically got out of her way. The reverse was called, and I made her stand and wait.  We had a pile up of five horses all in the same spot, and I paused to help space the horses out more. When I picked her back up, she just went back to it. She didn't miss a beat, she felt really good, even if a bit faster than I wanted her. When they called for the running walk, I let her go and she drove. Weeeeeee!  I love riding this mare, she's all heart!

We were called into the lineup, and she pulled in and stopped. We backed for the judges and then relaxed. Nice ride. A good clean ride. Now it was up to the judges, and I hoped to get a ribbon for our work. It was the reserve (second place) when number 972 was called!  Yeah!! I couldn't believe it. We pulled out of the lineup and over to the ribbon to collect our ribbon and a check!  Woot baby girl made a little moola tonight!   Tami greeted us at the exit with a huge congratulations, and Carlan, Katie, and Jane joined us for a photo in the winners circle. Katie asked if she could hold Diva's reins. Oh boy, you should have seen the grin when I said she could. Priceless!  Diva bent down to greet her too.  Diva even walked with her head bent down to Katie's level all the way back to her stall with Katie at the reins. Me, I floated back...absolutely elated with my wonderful, beautiful, talented girl. 
Dinner at the Chop House!
Me, Stacy, Jane and Carlan.

After the class, Stacey, Jane, Carlan and I went for dinner. It was our annual international get together to commence the week's activities.  I think of it as the calm before the storm  The shrimp and BBQ ribs were great!  It was a surf and swine. Lol. 

 I ran back to tuck Diva in for the night. It was midnight, everyone was gone, and it was just the sound of horses grazing on hay or snorting. I de-braided Diva's braids, tossed some hay, filled her bucket with water and pampered her a little. Our time. And I loved it.  I'm glad we decided to do the class and I'm looking forward to the week ahead. I smiled as I hung her huge red ribbon on her stall door. 

Tomorrow B arrives on the grounds and I'm dying to see him. I've been here two days and haven't even seen him yet. Its driving me absolutely crazy.  I'm super ready to get a ride on him and spend time with him. It feels like forever since I've seen him, even though it's only been a few weeks. I'm counting the minutes until B I fall asleep back in my room. 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Third time's a charm

Oh, I hope that saying is true!  This is going to be my third International. And believe it or not, the third year of me blogging on this blog!  It's the third time I will ride B here and the third time I will ride Diva here. I wish I had all three of my horses here and then I could include that threesome too. But it sure would be nice if this year is the charm!  ;)
Diva loaded in trailer
And ready to go. 

Right now I'm sitting in my hotel room in Murfreesboro. I drove down today, and Diva is already at Miller coliseum all tucked in for the night.  Unlike my first trip down in a storm, today was just beautiful. Sunny, fluffy white clouds, and most of the day was in the 70s, although I did see it get as high as 83 as we entered Kentucky and Tennessee. But truly a very nice and beautiful day for a drive. The trip is about 10 hours of driving time. I think I made it in under 11 and a half hours with rest stops and diesel fill ups. Between phone calls and music the time went by fast. Or I'm just getting used to the ride.
A beautiful day. Our trailer among the
Semis at the rest stop. 

Diva is in stall 79. It's a corner stall, and she's with a few other AOT horses of customers of Hannah's. So it's nice that she is not alone tonight. In fact Tami, a new client of Hannah's,  has her AOT horse right across the aisle from D, and she is going to check her tonight for me, since she is camping on the grounds.  I am so lucky to continue to meet such nice people, and I feel so much better that at least someone will check on her once or twice before I return to see her in the morning. Tami actually has been here a few days already for the TWHBEA versatility show and has a string full of ribbons already, including reserves and blues.  The red and blue ribbons were those that hung around the horses that means they were high point or championship classes. Her smile was infectious as she told me about all her and her youth rider's classes. Quite an accomplishment and the week hasn't even hardly begun. And this is her first time at the international!!
Diva in stall #79. 

Diva seemed like the drive down agreed with her, and she was relaxed and ears up as I pulled her out of the trailer and put her in what will be her new home for the next 8 days. She drank, ate and nickered a bit at Tami and I as we scurried about. I set up her new fan. Spread shavings in her stall, and filled her water bucket more than once.  I parked and unhitched the trailer. I locked up my tack and walked around a bit on the grounds. Numerous trailers where parked. Many campers were already hooked up to electric with folks socializing. And a large number of stalls already occupied. I heard that they were expecting a record turn out. And that all stalls were taken in the main stall building plus some already in the second building.  That's great news, although it will also mean additional competition....and I'm sure exceptional horses. I'm excited to see what is put in the ring this year. This show brings huge talent to the arena, and from the sounds of it, this may be the best year yet....well at least of the three years I've ever attended.
Tennessee Miller Coliseum.
I was so excited as I drove up!

So, with that I'll conclude for the night, and get myself tucked in bed for a good nights rest. Tomorrow I'll see how Diva feels, and if she seems relaxed and ready.  If so, I may show her during the Futurity Sunday night. They have a few non-Futurity classes speckled in with the Futurity nominated classes, and one is an AOT in diva's division, so......we just may go into that class since we're here and on the grounds.

PS - thanks for all the well wishes, calls and text messages this week. It means so much to have the support ... even when it's long distance and digital. Keep it coming. And I'll try to keep you all abreast of the weeks activities as we go via my blog.
Good night.....sweet dreams! (and I think this will happen, even the pillow on my bed says so!). :)

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The next edition

Bourbon's ad in the Walking Horse Report.
I'm back home...but the July 4th weekend of showing is still top of mind.  With Bourbon's big win...comes a slew of offers to advertise.   And, with help from Hannah, space is secured and the job of designing your ad, selecting photos and reviewing proofs begins.   With a weekend filled with rain, and a papered name of "Watchin for the Storm" didn't take long to find a theme.

First task is selecting a photo.  So, off to Jennifer Barr Studio's website to view the shots of Bourbon from his class.  Its not easy, and I text a few I like to Hannah for her thoughts.  the one I like has B striding great, and his headstall tassel is flipping up as he shakes his head.  It feels action filled and fitting.  And, it was captured in a rare moment where I'm "kinda" smiling in it as well (instead of my focused concentration face...).  I'm actually traveling on business the early part of this week while this is being done, and my texting and proof viewing has to be completed during breaks and evenings, and on my iPhone.  As I look at the photos on my iPhone and text, I think, what would we do without technology?

Next, what should be the message to include.  I want to thank Hannah, Bub and I pen a few thoughts - and try to weave in the storm theme.  Keeping it simple, to the point...and to theme.

And finally, its waiting to get the layout idea from the artists at the Walking Horse Report paper, and making sure everything is spelled correctly.  The designers come up with lightning storm art, and superimposed B in the midst of it!  A few tweaks later, and we have an ad that I'm happy with, Hannah's happy with...and we make the deadline!

Now I can't wait to get my next issue in the mail.  Since I'm in'll be the end of the week or the following weekend before it reaches me.  I think they come out over the weekend if there is a show.  And for sure by next Monday - which will the the official date of the issue.   But, I'll have to wait a little longer to get my in-hand copy!  I'm certain it will be a thick one.  Three big shows...with hundreds of entries.  I'm sure the coverage will be exhaustive!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Hybrid Jumper

I guess as soon as you say your days are starting to fall into routine, god takes notice and tosses you a few curve balls, just to keep you on your toes.  Today when I went out to the car to go to see Bourbon, my car was dead. I have a hybrid, so I wasn't quite sure what you do. Do you plug it in?  Jump it?  Arghhhh.  My decision....go get Jane, she'll know what to do!  So I ran back up to the porch, opened the door and peered in, and called for Jane. She came out of her bedroom with her bathrobe on, listened to my tale, and squinched her nose up. Oh no!  So much for being an easy guest. I'm now making her get dressed and come out in the rain to help me figure out what to do. 

In just a few moments Jane is standing under her orange 'watchin for the storm' umbrella, looking under the hood. Whew, at least a gift of mine it keeping her kinda dry while I impose on her hospitality .  We easily identify the red + spot for the jumper cables,  but can't figure out the - location. Jane runs to her truck for her jumper cables and I jump in the car and call hertz hot line. The rain comes pouring down.  Jane joins me, and we pull the manual out of the glove compartment and talk to the hot line lady.   We weren't sure if you jump a hybrid as you'd jump a regular car. So we asked about that, and if it's okay to do it in the rain....or if we should plug this baby in.  LOL.  It turns out, you jump a hybrid just as you would any other car. So we hang up, and begin the process. Jane plugs my car with the positive, plugs her positive, then her negative, and then nods at me to put the negative on my hybrid. I hold my breath and plug the black jumper cable to complete the circuit. Whew, nothing blew up.....yet!   Then we both jump into respective cars....and voila!  All the lights on my dashboard flicker!  Yeah!  I push the electric start button and she's on!  Thanks Jane!  We toss the jumper cables into my car, just in case....and I'm off.  Wet, but moving! I knew Jane would know what to do!

Bourbon waits for his
ride ring side.
The aisle way to the arena.
Bourbon getting a trim.
Katie, Carlan and Chad join
Emily for her reserve. 
Champions Arena for
the Woodbury show.

When I get to Main Gate Farms, I'm still wet. I share my story...and teach a few folks the finery of jumping a hybrid. ;).  And then I walk down to find B.  They had just pulled him out. I look at his face and he looks like he just woke up...and he literally has little circles under his eyes. Poor guy, it's been a long weekend. He worked hard in that class last night and it shows on his face. At least today we are not showing. So it's just a practice ride. And the practice is for me...not him. We'll be taking it easy.....and then he'll get a few days off to fully recuperate. 

Once B reaches the arena, I climb aboard and begin to dog walk him. He feels good. And we just walk and I talk to him. His little ears flick back at me to listen, then flick forward. Back and forth. I tell him about how proud I am of him this weekend, and I say hellos from Fash and Diva. His ears perk and flick. Like he's liking the story.  Then I pick up the reins and ask him. He picks right up and jumps into it. It's a nice easy ride. A smooth controlled flat walk. Hannah coaches and compliments. She can see he's a little tired and reminds me to help wake him up. I give him the cue and he perks and strides. I can hear him hit it hard and bam bam bam bam he comes right down the wall. I love that sound. It echoes in the arena...and wakes everyone up. Mostly me. I get a little chill. And I smile.  Hannah laughs and says she likes the relaxed Renee. I agree with her. If only I could ride this relaxed and controlled in the show ring.  I end with a little more dog walk. And then park him in and get off. I grab up his reins and we stroll down the aisle, back to the cross ties. And I talk to him the whole way. He turns and listens and nudges me with his nose. I pat him. He's a good boy. And I won't see him for three weeks. I already miss him as I turn him over to have his saddle pulled.   

I return to the arena to watch a few other horses get ridden. And before I go, I go back, climb into Bs stall and just hang out with him for a while. He has a window at the back of his stall. We both stand and look out and listen to the breeze in the trees and the birds chirping.  (hmm a little break in the rain)  He nudges me, and I pat him. And we hang out together.  Bye Bourbon, I'll be back soon!   I say good bye to Hannah too and get back in my hybrid. I hold my breath and push the electric start. It goes on...  Whew!

Tonight is the Woodbury show. And for the first time in its history it won't be at Woodbury. The river has flooded the ring due to all the rain...and once again everyone will gather at champion arena on the celebration grounds instead.  Tonight Carlan and Emily will show, and I get to be the spectator.  When Jane and I arrive, we go into the warmup area to find them.  They are there and we get their class numbers, wish them good luck and head out to the ring to find some good seats and partake in some libations. :)  Carlan shows first and gets a good ribbon in a huge class. And Miss Emily comes out on SNB second and rides to the reserve in the youth class!  Great ride!  And we take some great winners photos afterwards.  This is the first season of showing for Emily, and the very first time I have personally seen her show. She did not disappoint!  Afterwards we go and have Mexican to celebrate with Dr John and Bobby.  Woot woot. 

 After dinner, Carlan and I go back to watch the padded classes for the evening.  Some fabulous horses. Big classes. Once again the show is hopping with people. And it's fun to socialize and watch the show. There is even a special presentation of the reigning world grand champion walking horse, Walk Time Charlie.  He is fabulous and the crowd gets to their feet and cheers as he makes his passes.  It so exciting to have him pass so close by to you.   You can feel the breeze he makes and hear him snort as he works.  Performance horses have an extremely ripped physique ...they are amazing animals to behold this close up.  And Charlie is bronze with a long white mane and tail that flows like water-rapids as he goes.  He is beautiful to watch.   

Before I know's after 11pm. And I need to catch a 6am flight in the morning.  So it's good bye Shelbyville. Good bye Carlan and girls.....and I'm off.  I'll be back soon!  International is our next visit.  Just three weeks away.  And Scott and Diva are coming too!   One of my dear friends once told me that there is a plan for each of is unfolding just for you in that grand plan.   You just need to be open to it.  I believe that.  And cant wait to find out what's in store for me next.  All I can add is......keep on following your dreams. 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Red, White, and Pink?

My schedule is starting to become routine. 

Rain, check. 

Coffee with Jane, check. 
Practice ride at Hannah's, check. 
Back to Janes to ready, check. 
Off to the horse show, check.

I do make a nice departure from routine and go over to meet Carlan to watch her ride at Bobby's. Well I guess I've done that a few times too. But today we watch Emily ride. And I have fun giving her some pointers. Love it. And frankly she is really coming along. This is her first show season. And she is taking lessons and it shows. Nice seat, good posture and confidence. Plus it doesn't hurt to have a perfect, cute horse like Shake N Bake to do your first season. 
Katie get a ride on SNB too!

In addition, we have a little cookout. Bobby's at the grill when I arrive and it smells really good. Leftovers from the holiday party from Rhonda's. We all get cheeseburgers, beans and chips. And dine at center ring while Carlan works her horse. She looks great too i think as I munch. Then BJ brings out this tall grey shaky thing and I can't help but ask for a ride. Whoa he just shakes all over and that head shake is crazy. I'm laughing at all the motion. And this skinny little boy is only 2!!!  He's going to be very famous one day. I'll look forward to seeing him at International. He should bring some good competition in the 2 year old class for a new client of Bobby's.
Carlan enjoys her Wisconsin
Cheese curds!

  BJ also gets on him in the round pen while Bobby holds the lunge rope. This is the third or fourth time he's been ridden and you can tell he's squirrelly about it. But BJ has a great seat and the horse  goes round and round. Learning to balance a rider and walk at the same time. It's a short ride but certainly must have given a good experience. I'm reminded in that moment of all the rides I made here at Bobby's. All those young horses I rode in this barn. And how little Bourbon was once upon a time.  He's come so far in the four years I've had him. He was just a yearling, the age of this generator colt when I got him. And I remember the day BJ rode him like this for me in the round pen. And believe it or not, I rode him too in there. That was the day I bought him. Unbroken, and a skinny little thing. Great memories.  We also watch as they round pen a pretty generator coming 2year old.  This one will be haltered at Woodbury (if the rain doesn't keep folks away). And he sure  thinks he's pretty, if he must say so himself. All stretched out and proud.  

I look at my watch and realize I have to run.   The show starts at 530p tonight and it's almost 330 already.  So off to Jane's, which is just across the street and then off to the show. 
The Champions arena. Huge!

The show is held once again at the champions arena. The rain has continued to fall and so the Ag center is not going to see action this weekend.  My class is 8, so I watch the country pleasure class, and Hannah ride in the lite shod classes before going to put my outfit on. Tonight it is my turquoise saddle pad for B and the white top with the pink and turquoise flowers around my waist for me.  One of my very favorites. I plop on a cream hat with my turquoise crystal headband. There, I'm ready. 

I watch as Hannah warms him up and he looks awesome. Just like yesterday and earlier today for my practice ride. My few loops through the warm up ring are good too and I park into the area where all the Hannah Pulvers horses are being readied, and wait. As I glance over my shoulder to watch the riders in the warmup I see this is going to be a big, competitive class with lots of really great horses. And I recognize quite a few.  I turn back and think to myself, don't freak yourself out. Your doing well this year too. Maybe one or two of them saw B and he made them nervous too. ;). Yeah, all of them are freaking out because YOU are here. There, that's what I'm talkin about.! Yeah THEY are freaking out.  It's like thinking of the audience in their underwear when your giving a presentation. Any thoughts to keep your confidence. LOL. 
Bourbon's pad and saddle
are waiting in warm-up.

Then my chaps are rolled down and zipped (thanks Jason for helping), my hat is pushed down one more time for security, I take one more deep breath and tug on Bs reins. I walk him out of the warm up and down the lane towards the champions arena. This is probably a few hundred feet. And there are horses and people all coming and going, the DQP station to the left, and a bit of chaos. To keep it interesting.  It's kinda cool to be up here above the turmoil.  I can see ahead and I watch Bs head bop as he walks. I can feel each of his steps. Before I know it I'm at the arenas, Hannah is there holding my bridle and talking to me. She smiles up at me and says you can do it. She's always there, right there, making you feel like you can. She's amazing. I think she's putting 3 or 4 horses in this same class, and she makes you feel like you're the only one.  Thank goodness she's there. I always feel alone. Wait as I look up Carlan is waving at me. And Katie too bouncing and waving. Yeah!  I smile back at them, look back down at Hannah as she pulls me up the ramp and releases me into the ring. I take hold, set him up and I'm off!

Bourbons happy to be rid of that crowded aisle and in the open ring. The footing is like clay and a little sticky. Plus B is so big he's sinking in it. I can literally heard suction sounds as he moves. I need to urge him on in a few places and feel him labor a little. But I also here him pounding in those straight away's. Bam bam bam bam. I set him up in the corners and release him in the straight away's.  Bam bam bam bam. The crowd is huge and whistling and hooting. Calling and cheering. It's a big class and more than a few times I'm navigating traffic.  And B, he's a good boy, he's just focused on getting himself through that clay.  For a split second I'm amazed at how good a boy he is with all this noise and activity. Oh thank goodness the class is called to the lineup. That was a long class. 
My outfit.  Ready to show.

As the judge walks the line, he stops to have me and B back, and he looks up under my hat at me, as if to see who I am. I get this strange feeling that he liked B and was curious as to who I was. Weird. Although, I'm sure he has no idea who I am. LOL. But I obviously got his attention.  And, I did. As the ribbons are called at the Money Tree charity, we get a piece of it, a fifth place for the pink ribbon.   Not the hoopla of a first place winners circle of last night, but in the top ribbons!  I'll take it. With this big show weekend, I get a great tailwind for going into the International. In fact my season has been spectacular so far. 2 blues, 1 reserve,  a third place and now a fifth. A ribbon every time he's gone into the ring. He's in there. He's improving over last year. I'm disappointed this wasn't a higher placement, but many people tell me I had a good showing. And I know I had a good ride personally. And me and B are really gelling. And so as I tuck my pink ribbon into my clothing bag and take off my show outfit I smile. I'm now off to the international with a full ribboned season. Score!

I enjoy watching the show the rest of the night. Amazing horses, a huge crowd. The gloom and rain did not keep this show from happening. In fact, it may have been even bigger just because everyone needed to get out and socialize and chase the cabin  fever and gloom away.  On my way home I call Scott. He saw the class on ReprTV and thought B looked awesome and should have gotten a better placement. My honey, my biggest fan, gave me no less than second. I love him. And for him I wished it was a first or second. ;).   Maybe for International, when he comes down, maybe for him at least one more first or second!  The goal.  Fingers crossed!!!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Cloud 9 on the fourth of July

It's the July 4th weekend.  A big weekend and lots of folks descend upon the Shelbyville area for show, after show, after show.  I flew down alone. Scott was supposed to have come with, but at the last minute we returned his ticket.  There was only one junior trail pleasure class out of all three shows.  So Bourbon would maybe only show once. A long way to come for one class. We decided he should come for the international instead, that would be a better choice.  It would have more classes to watch and Diva would be there too. So I flew down alone the evening of the 3rd. 

The victory vase. 

On July 4th I woke to rain and thunder. As I drove to Hannah's for a practice ride, I drove in rain and thunder. As I jumped out of the car and made the mad dash into The Main Gait Farm's arena, I ran through rain and thunder. And once inside the arena, we were riding to the constant sound of rain and thunder.  In fact it never stopped. It only rained harder and harder and harder. For the two hours I was was pure pour. And then it rained even harder. In fact my cell phone even received an alert text message for flash floods.  So, if you have been following closely and paying attention, it rained a fact it rained ALL day....

The only bright cloud, was that they moved the show from the outdoor slop-fest it would have been, to the Champion arena on the Celebration grounds. So, we would be under cover in the practice ring, and for the show.  That was a smart move, especially considering the amount of people who come to show during the holiday weekend, and because these shows are mostly done for charity.  That makes it even more important that the show must go on, and be financially successful.  A dry show ring will do the trick. 

To back up a little bit, I had a great practice ride. B looked totally awesome as I watched Hannah warm him up. In fact I don't think he's ever looked that good. Back stride, head shake, and now a little snap more in the front. Just awesome work from Hannah, Bub, Candy and the HP team.  I got a lesson and even more instruction from Hannah. I was totally grateful - as her barn was filled with numerous customers all waiting for her attention. Every second with her is precious time on a busy weekend like this. So, 20-30 minutes is absolutely golden. 
After our win. 

Tonight's show only had one amateur trail pleasure class. And it was NOT a junior class. So that means if we went in the class it would be against the aged horses with more experience. But if we didn't go in, we'd only show once all holiday weekend. If we did, it would be a tough class.  In the end, we decided to do it, knowing it was a preliminary class before tomorrow  night's junior class.   Okay...with that decision made, now, what to wear?

On my way home I made a stop to look at a new saddle. So many decisions to consider, it was good to talk with Patti Pollack, of Bling Tie Affair, as she was a good advisor, and described or showed me some beautiful alternative choices. I fear what the estimates will come in at....but it will give me something to consider should I take the plunge. Or it could become the dream item I ask Santa for if I'm a good good girl this year.  Besides i must be doing something good, he already brought me my pony. ;). LOL. 

Then it was back to Jane's for a shower and to get ready. As you can only guess, it was rain and thunder all the way to the show. I arrived at the celebration grounds and parked and headed into the warmup arena to locate the HP team. The saddles and blankets were all stacked and ready for the night. Bub was there sorting items, as well as Hannah warming up skyy for the flag presentation. At 615pm the show finally started. B would be in class number 5. So we were in chaps , hat and saddle pad almost instantly. And after just a few warmup rounds our class was called. 
Warm up at the HP corner.
Hannah ready for the flag.

The walk to the arena was pretty wet and sloppy, and then you had to go up a pretty serious 45 degree ramp into the ring. As I entered Hannah wished me luck and reminded me to have fun. You can do this, you did it all morning in practice. Yep, we did. So let's go do it again right now. Let's bring it for these aged horses and give them a run for it.  And so that's what we set out to do. 

B felt good. He holds himself now. Up in the chest. And he is ridden with his head set, but looser rein.  And I can feel he's not that young horse that was collapsing and all wiggly.  He is maturing, and has muscle and coordination. He is truly coming into his own. I put him on the rail and asked for his nose. He gave to my cue and shook. Yeah!  And wow!  Hannah has him totally in a new place. It is really awesome to ride this horse. He's powerful and so well trained. Really if it wasn't for the pressure of the show, huge audience, and my stomach ache, this would be a perfect experience. And despite all of that, it almost was anyways. I work at maintaining his speed and at the give and take on the reins. 

The footing is a bit worrisome. It is soft and deep at the rail, and it's choppy and unleveled a few feet in.  I look ahead and decide to head even closer to center where it seems to be smoother and solid. That seemsto be a good choice, as I can really hear Bs footfall with a clomp clomp clomp clomp. A four beat gait...a wonderful resonating sound.  So I continue to monitor for good terrain ahead and aim B to the best scenario as I travel around the ring. The reverse is called and soon we are heading into the lineup.  Or at least it felt like time flew during our class.  As I lineup I am thinking he did good. Hannah's comments ringside were positive. And no tripping (yeah!).  
The DQP station.

Moments later they call number 824. Watchin For The Storm!  B!!!  I step out from the lineup and look around. Jennifer Potts is the photographer and she waves me to the winners circle. Hannah runs out, tosses dirt in the air so B turns his ears forward for the winners picture. I am so excited. I can't believe it. The rest is a blur. Hannah talks to me about direction for the victory lap, she coordinates the placement of his ribbon so it'll show as he takes his lap. The other winners are announced, but I don't specifically register the names. It's exciting, it's a blur, and I know I have to do a lap. So as Hannah finishes with his ribbon and gives some more instructions, I begin to walk him while the last ribbons are called. Then after a pause, I pick him up slowly and he starts to flat walk. I head into the far curve of the ring, check his nose and come into the straight-away bobbin that head. I can hear some cheers and the crowd is clapping.   And Bourbon takes his lap like the champ that he is.  And I feel so happy.....and I can feel a seriously huge grin fall across my face. 

Watch the victory lap on ReporTV at: Bourbon's Victory lap.

Wow! Cool!  Just wow!  Blue on the fourth of July.  In the class we didn't expect to little junior horse winning the independence day blue ribbon.  I'm sure that stupid smile was on my face the rest of the night. And I'm almost certain those firecrackers that night were bursting in celebration to Bs accomplishment.  And to Hannah's is amazing what she's been able to accomplish with me...and with bourbon.  And between all the rain and all the thunder, there sat cloud 9. Who woulda thought.