The days are starting to blur together. It's Wednesday, and the show stress is starting to take its toll. The HP crew has been waking at dawn and working till wee hours of the morning working horses. There is a lot of help but also so many details. We all try to pitch in by holding a horse, carrying a saddle, braiding a ribbon or running for red bull. Extra hands are on the job...and it keeps things humming along. Hannah is starting to lose her voice....coaching from the side ring for so many client classes. And our youth are losing the spring in their step. In fact, this is the point where we'll meet Bob! I had arrived in the Hannah Pulvers aisle and was saying my good mornings. The group was up and at 'em since 530am...and one of them said that they were so tired they didn't even know what their name was anymore. I said , well then from now on we'll call you Bob....it only has two letters and it's spelled the same way forward or backward. It should be an easy name to remember. Lol. I have officially converted to using this name for this person, who will remain anonymous....but they know who they are! :). (right Bob!? Or can't you remember that name either anymore?)
Today is also my first class on Bourbon. I got to practice again on him with Candy in the morning. She rode and then I rode. And she gave me really good last minute tips and hints. I'm once again amazed at how much this entire team helps us improve and is dedicated to making us better riders with our horses. And the patience and understanding they have is so appreciated. It makes you want to do a great job every ride, so that all the hard work they put into your horse gets rewarded. You start to want a blue ribbon for them! For the horse. For yourself. For the entire team! And it makes you realize that all the people in the entire team wins when your horse wins a ribbon. So your position on the team of making a good ride is critical to the payoff of everything that has been done up to this point. From Rodger, the barn manager feeding him well. To Hannah or Bub or Candy riding and training. To Alberto who tacks, preps and show baths your horse. It's a well oiled machine at the Hannah Pulvers Stables....that all comes down to some specific defining moments.
I will have two classes tonight, one with B, and one with D....in that order. And I have 10 classes in between...so I'll have plenty of time to switch my mindset and get Diva ready after my ride with Bourbon. As the day progresses and we get closer to the 4pm start of the show, my nerves start to fray. My stomach hurts and I'm getting anxious. I decide keeping myself busy will be best...so I call Scott, I dress, watch some classes, eat a little snack and flit around talking with different people to keep my mind off of things. Thank goodness for people like Darden, who always has a joke to tell, or Katie who is everyone's number one fan, or Tami, who is so positive....and 100 other people I am so lucky to have met along the way.
|Lisa Weaver serves up|
jambalaya during the barn
It's not long before I see Bub bringing B through DQP...and shortly thereafter Hannah takes him around the warmup ring. She ride so well and makes him look spectacular. Every time I see him he looks better and better. If that can be possible! Hannah parks in and asks me to jump up and get a warmup ride in. This is my least favorite part. The warmup ring is always so crowded and B needs space. But emotionally I have learned to disregard my warmup, as once B gets into the ring....it's like pulling out on an open highway. So I walk him, and pick him up and navigate around, between or through other horses to get a little warmup done. Then I settle in at center ring and wait and talk to Candy for a few last tips.
|Carlan enjoys the jambalaya|
during the barn party!
When the class is called, I navigate towards the ring. I see Hannah ahead and shes looking for me...where's Renee!? And everyone points at me beside her. She looks up and smiles and walks me up to the gate and ushers me in. I pick him up and I'm excited that the track along the rail is a bit more packed than yesterday. This is good solid footing for B. As I enter I feel B falter a bit in the dirt closest to the rail....it's banked and higher and I note to myself to get a little off the rail so I don't do that again. I focus now on keeping him slow and nodding...a great powerful nod and flat walk. I pass in front of the judges and begin to take the curve. He picks up speed and I check and lift him. I'm headed towards the straight away and I see Bub coming my way in the stands...he says I'm dogging and I should pick up speed. Of course, I think I've finally mastered taking it slow versus flying around the ring...and now I'm too slow. Lol. It's always something.
As I take the running walk and pass by Hannah shes yelling in her lost voice that I should get off the rail to keep from getting covered. I look around and find a spot and get my head into the game. We're gonna show this Big Boy...and those judges are gonna see him. (PS to B...don't trip! Lol.) I drop him into the softer ground and drive him more...lift him up...they call for the running walk and I drive him on. He feels powerful but also floaty. He's my big Cadillac. The reverse is called and then into the lineup.
B decides he is gonna be fidgety in the lineup and chews on the bit, steps left, right and I finally circle him around and re-enter the line in hopes of getting his attention. The judges come to the line and we back. And then we continue to fidget. I rattle his bit and he stops for a moment. But only a moment. Then the wait for the judges' decision.
The intercom system comes on, and the announcer calls out winning number 434....and I think, hmmm, I wonder what my number is, I never looked when I was handed my number and put it on. Number 434.....watchin for the Storm! B!!!!!!!! Woot woot...I pull out of the lineup and head left. Hannah is already running out to the winners circle. And the women with the ribbon is there too. She has a regular blue ribbon, but also a blue ribbon with a medallion. And she tells me to remove my hat and put it around my neck. I do...and then Hannah is tossing dirt to get bourbons ears forward for the picture. Once that is taken she's placing the ribbon on Bs headstall and congratulating me. She says we did awesome...she's so proud of us. And she says...darn why isn't Scott here to see this! I am starting to cry and I lean over and give her a big hug and a thanks. I can't believe it! I lean down for the hug and almost knock her hat off. Lol. She points me down the rail for my victory lap as she resets her hat, and I head out walking as they finish calling the placements. I then pick him up....but he sees all the horses leaving and with his fidgety attitude from the lineup decides to take a somewhat ungraceful exit. Darn...it would have been nice to have a good victory lap. But my momentary disappointment is quickly changed to celebration. Photos in the winner circle, hugs, congrats and so may compliments. Everyone who saw us said we had an awesome ride....so it felt really really good. And I think back to earlier in the day...and I'm so thankful I did my part in the ride...to show off everyone's hard work!
Next it's on to Divas class. And we earn a 5th place in the AOT Country Pleasure English. I'm so proud that she is continuing to be in the ribbons in all her classes at this level of competition. It's a very different success than with B. This one more personal for me and her...since we only have us on our team. Lol. And Scott...and a few fans! ;). After our class it's the barn party....and let me tell you, the jambalaya and the beer hit the spot. Plus it was fun to socialize! My nerves are calm, finally.
Tomorrow Scott arrives! Can't wait for him to be here and see both B and D show!