Sunday, July 8, 2018

Honors’ Lil Monster and Me

3am and I'm off to the airport for a 530 flight. By 7am I’m in Nashville and headed for Joe Lester Stables for a practice ride. Joe will show Quinn tonight, but I need the practice for tomorrow night and Joe has graciously appeased me.  Quinn is now in her new place and I’m looking forward to seeing it. I drive out 24, turn onto 231 towards Shelbyville, snake through Shelbyville and out towards his new place. It’s a pretty drive. The morning sun is rising over rolling hills of green. Before I know it I see the Christmas Creek Farms sign and pull in. 

Lil Quinn in the middle. 
When I enter the barn everyone is busy bathing, polishing, tacking and planning. Maggie, Chris and Ashlynn are on top of things. Quinn is already in the cross ties and saddled. Joe and Bailey are out back riding. I give Quinn a hello and pat, and walk through the back door to a picture perfect scene. More rolling hills and green...and an outdoor ring set with a huge shade tree. I smile and think how much Quinn will love it here as I make my way down the hill to watch horses being worked.
Practice rides. Success. 
The horses look amazing. I watch a client ride a really nice horse. Wow!  I find out afterwards that it was Kyle Bush on Slingblade when introductions are made. It’s already hot but where a few clients are standing in the shade of a trailer you can catch a nice breeze to make it bearable. Joe goes up to the barn and returns with Quinn. After he warms her up it’s my turn. I’m excited as I climb the step stool to get on her. Slowly, warns Joe....the stool is new for her. But other than flicking her ear as I step up she stands as I toss my leg over. I collect the reins and listen for Joe’s instructions. 
Ashlyn takes Quinn through DQP. 

I start by walking and in no time I’m in a flat walk and getting a feel for her. It’s quiet and relaxing out here. And maybe that had a lot to do with my focus and getting a feel for her. She’s really fun to ride. Very smooth despite that head just pounding. I stop her a few times to practice my takeoffs - I’ll need to do that upon the reverse at the show. All goes well and my confidence is up. Within 10-12 minutes we’re done. And we’re both pretty confident that I can show her the second night for the amateur 2yo class. Yeah! 

Joe and Quinn get third in a huge class.
They are second from right here.
I drive to Jane’s, spend time with her, and take a nap.  Jane and I get to the show early to watch Joe show Quinn in the very first class.  This is only Quinn’s second show ever. They win third, with the judges cards showing that 2nd and 3rd place horses were a tie broken by the call judge score. Awww so close to reserve. Great job by Joe and Quinn. On July 4th week some pretty awesome horses come out. It’s fun to watch both the warmup areas as well as the ring. Plus, socialize. (Who me?)

Day 2 included another practice ride, followed by a little shopping (of course), a nap and prepping for the show. My first ever class with Quinn would be the fifth class of the night. I got my chaps on and Jane and Carlan were there for support. Quinn was taken to DQP and to the warmup area and we followed. She really looked good as Joe warmed her up. She has this pretty step underneath herself. Then I got on her and desperately tried to maneuver her through the busy warmup. Lol. Tried is the key word. Poor Joe was probably going to have a heart attack. Lol. I’m reminded how much I hate the crazy warmup ring. Soon it’s our class and Joe guides us down to the ring, provides his sage advice, tests the ear piece one final time and we’re off. 
Quinn and me. Let’s do this!
Thanks Joe for being there for us!

She walks right into the ring like a pro. I quickly assess the ring and decide to go right in the center of the track. We had a heavy rainfall right before the show started and so the rail was full of standing water. We make our first pass in front of the first judge and make the curve on the other end. We stop there as the remaining horses enter the ring. Then that takeoff practice is put to the test. She collects and starts slow and we’re right back into the flat walk. Yeah. Good girl. Joe is in my ear. “Hold your speed there. Good. Give her a little. Bring your hands up a bit. There. Good.”  It’s constant give and take. And oops a little trip in the wet footing. We move a bit faster for the running walk and in no time we are asked to turn for the reverse. Our turn is a little clumsy but we do it. Steering it’s not yet our forte. Another loop around and as I hit the curve I decide the middle is too soft and squishy, so I head towards the rail. Oh boy that puddle is pretty big. Well, I guess we’ll see how this goes. Please don’t dump me in it Quinn. Lol. But she hits the rail and splashes right through it like a big girl. Good girl!  I actually think she liked it. One more time around and they call for the lineup. It went so fast. We did it. Our first class together is in the books. Success!  She was restless in the lineup but even with that she never made me feel uncomfortable. We placed 6th. Which was really the only disappointment. One of the three judges had placed her fourth. So, I’ll just hold onto that opinion. Lol. And Joe seemed pleased with our successful first class too. While I, of course, will revisit every step of the ride over and over for flaws. 😜
Out to dinner.  Katie is almost as tall as me now! 

I’m home now and looking back at videos of our ride. I’m pretty darn proud of her. She shook like crazy and walked a hole in the ground in that wet ring. I’m so proud of my Honors' Lil Monster. Two years old and doing it like a big girl. ♦️♦️♦️🐴♥️. Your daddy will be so proud.  I’m Harley Quinn you are going to be something really special. Thank you Joe, Bailey and the whole crew of JLS for getting us in the show ring this weekend.  And special thanks to Kyle for the gracious use of your saddle - must have good luck in it. 

Next stop is The International. Can’t wait!

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