Monday, October 27, 2008

Crazy Life

My horse thinks she is retired. LOL!

Between the end of the quarter grading and getting my hay in, this week has been out of control busy and stressful, so no riding for me. :(

I was supposed to have a lesson this past Saturday, but I got a call on Friday afternoon that the hay I was to buy was here from NY, so I absolutely had to cancel my lesson and drive to get the hay on Sat. morning. Of course, had the 350 bales of hay I bought this summer not MOLDED (grrrr.....that is not a story I feel like reliving right now, as it makes me SO MAD!) I would NOT be getting hay IN ALMOST NOVEMBER!!!!!

But alas, I did need to get new hay. So the 191 bales we brought home on Saturday (home at 2PM....oh how fun....nothing like it taking FOUR hours!!) are just gorgeous. The mares love it and I love it. It actually smells like HAY and there is NO WHITE MOLD GROWING ON IT! AHHHHH, how pleasant!! I never realized how stressed out this entire hay ordeal was making me. Now I feel so much better, as though I can sleep again! The plan was to get the remaining 59 bales tomorrow, but it seems that it is going to rain tomorrow. SO I guess the hay will wait until Wed.

So in the meantime, I have 100+ bales of CRAP hay to sell as mulch. I have to get it out of the barn pronto! Ad is in Uncle Henry's and I am praying someone comes along and buys it all.

I will write more later this week when life slows down. This Saturday marks the start of hunting season....I will officially become a hunter's widow, which is my payment for all the horse shows all spring, summer, and fall. :) It is all good, just makes squeezing in rides (and maybe a lesson????) that much harder.

Ghosting it Forward

So, my blogger friend On The Bit has tagged me in something called Ghosting it Forward. I totally missed reading it on her blog (here) until now. WHOOPS!

So here is what I am talking about:

“Halloween is fast approaching, with all the tricks and treats that our little Goblins and Ghoulies adore. (*ahem* and just how many of us have been in on egging, shaving cream, and toilet paper decorations?) Ghosting It Forward comes along at a time when we really need something to smile about. Combining Pay It Forward, with a tradition known as “Ghosting”, (which in all honesty I had never heard of,) it provides a great way to do things for folks to bring a smile and a sense of wonder. “Ghosting” for those of you who are in the dark as I was, is a tradition of silently slipping over to a neighbor’s home, and leaving them a “treat” on their door step.”

Here are Le Rules:
1) Have a Ghostly Image to pass along
2) Tag three people on your blog, with links to their blogs. Tell about what great folks they are, or offer to send them a Ghostly Treat.
3) Include a link to Ghosting It Forward in your blog.

So because I only know two other bloggers, On the Bit and Now That's a Trot!, and both of them have already been tagged, I think I am going to have to be a complete party pooper by not passing this on. But thanks OTB! :) Next time I am in Jersey, we have to meet!

But here is a fun ghost horse photo! :)

Monday, October 20, 2008

SMDA Ride-Re-Ride results 10/19/08

Too tired to write right now.....but it was a fun way to end the 2008 show season. :)






















Posture Makes Perfect

I need something uplifting after my last post. :(

I just thought this was fun and exciting.....it is amazing how much my equitation deteriorated after seven years without a riding lesson. Now that my instructor has helped fix all my bad habits (she is a dear and patient woman...LOL!) my equitation is SO MUCH BETTER! And of course, I have suddenly become a more EFFECTIVE rider! Amazing how that works! ROFL!

So here is the before (taken June 2007).....UGGGG it makes me want to cry all over again. Piano hands, my hunt seat posture, stirrups too short......AWFUL! I am almost embarrassed to post this. Now, don't get me wrong, I had some nice moments and it is not as though I was a completely terrible rider. But I certainly needed help. I was not effective at all times.



And here is the after (taken October 2008).



Yeah, that makes me happy.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

A Tribute to My First Standardbred Love

I am writing this post with a heavy heart. Today was a sad day. I went to visit and spend time with my first STB love, as he is going to be put down soon. :( :( The horse I am speaking of is F.W. Volo, my grandfather's retired pacer. Volo was born in 1972 and would turn 37 years young this January 1, 2009. Volo raced until he was 11 and he set many a track record in his day. The pics of him in the pasture were taken today.

I love this horse so much. :( I boarded Sparky at my grandfather's farm for many years during both high school and then throughout college......goodness, I boarded there for nearly eight years. Sparky and Volo were like two peas in a pod. I always think of Volo as "mine" and doted on him as much as Sparky. And I totally took over Bampie's barn when I moved Sparky there...LOL! I was a precocious 14 year old and set about directing Bampie about how to build a tackroom, saddle racks, and crossties. We spent so much time fencing in the paddock (white board) and then rotating the grazing pastures all summer with electric tape. And it seemed as though every time I went to move or fix a fence it would RAIN! LOL! :) I really miss boarding at Bampie's.

Volo has been slowly declining this summer....the worst part is that he is eating well, has great looking hooves, and is perky with his typical grumpy-old-man-but-not-really personality. But despite the many many pounds of hay, grain, and beet pulp, Volo has been steadily losing weight and now looks really awful. It would be utterly cruel and heartless to put this old man through another Maine winter. But despite his weight, he is a healthy horse. :(


Volo was the favorite, out of all the STBs my family owned. Nan (my great-grandmother) always loved Volo the best and made Bampie (that is what I call my grandfather) promise that Volo would always have a home at the farm. Volo is the last horse my grandfather owns. So this is not only the end of Volo's life, but also the end of an era. Bampie said today he doubts he will ever own another horse. For a man who loves horses so much, that must be a very difficult thing to consider. I cannot even imagine how Bampie feels. I was so sad today, but I did not want to cry. I wanted to be strong and loving and supportive.

Volo got that silly "Hey I think I know YOU!" look on his face when I went out to his pasture. He came over and was surprisingly polite when I started feeding him his baby carrots. I had planned to feed him some and then leave the rest for his dinner. OH NO. Suddenly the real Volo came out. He was right in my pocket, not being rude or pushy, but ALMOST....meaning he was being his typical self. Volo always knows where the line is and does not cross it. So he ended up eating the entire bag of baby carrots. Dear lord, that horse should not look the way he does for having such a good appetite.

Volo always does that "Oh don't touch me" attitude when I go to pat or scratch him....even when I used to groom him all the time. But the second you back off, he is right there.....saying, "Hey just kidding, I really do like that."

There are so many stories I remember about Volo. He was the only horse who survived the barn fires back in the 80's at Scarborough Downs. Bampie heard on the early morning news that there had been a fire, and he drove out to the Downs fearing the worst. He approached the barns, seeing that the one Volo was stabled in had been leveled by the fire, and said to one of the men, "Well, looks like he didn't make it." The man told him that as a matter of fact, Volo has escaped his stall that night and was in one of the abandoned barns. It seems as though Volo escaped his burning stall (beforehand or during....we will never know) and parked himself in an empty stall without a door in one of the banrs they were dismantling. Everyone was amazed. Smart boy. After this, Bampie brought Volo back home for good and was able to jog him on the newly completed 1/4 mile track at the farm. This made Nan VERY happy and she was now able to visit her favorite horse every day and feed him his carrots and apples.
Volo was a true escape artist. One time great-grandfather must have had it with him, because Bampie entered the barn one morning to find his stall had been wired shut. Bampie figured this was not a good idea, but he understood why his father had done it! LOL!

Volo only colicked once in his entire life. It was a bad colic and Bampie walked him all night. Volo got down and rolled once, and Bampie thought he would not get back up. Nope, this tough old bird hopped right up after the roll and was just fine. :D

He always had "big" calcified ankles but they never seemed to bother him. Volo's legs now look like the typical "war legs" of a STB who was raced hard. But miraculously he was never unsound a day in his life.

One summer I decided I was going to ride Volo. I think I was about 16 and must have needed a project. That would have made Volo about 24. Volo didn't even notice the saddle and bridle, but he did chomp the bit around for awhile. It had only been TWELVE years since he had a bit in his mouth!
The day I finally decided I was going to get on, I think Bampie was so nervous he almost told me not to do it. He kept asking, "Are you sure??" Volo was the perfect gentleman and pace-walked me all over the paddock. He is a rare free-legged pacer and he always always always paced when I rode him....both at the "walk" and the "trot"....really it was just a slow pace and then a faster pace. :)

After we braved the paddock a few times, I decided it was time to ride in my "ring". (My ring was merely the infield of the 1/4 mile track). Volo was again perfectly fine, but I will never forget what he did with the ground poles. He never blinked an eye when I asked him to walk over them, but he stepped squarely ON each one, instead of OVER them. And he did this all three times I attempted them.....so I figured we would not worry about doing ground poles....ever. LOL!

Volo always used to paw....but not really. He fake pawed the air.....he never actually pawed the ground. Bampie used to always laugh at feed time and say, "Look, he's saying, 'I'm going to paw...I really am'!" LOL!

Volo has the most gorgeous tail ever....it is a pretty chestnut color and is all shimmery with flaxen highlights. But the poor bugger's mane NEVER grew.....so it has always been wispy and uneven. We thought about roaching it about 100 times, but neither Bampie or I had the heart. His foretop is not bad though. And he somehow lost hair on his nose before Bampie got him at age 6....probably an ill-fitted halter. And it never grew back! OH and he lost a part of his upper eyelid on his near side eye years ago....it never seemed to bother him. But in the past few years it has been weepy, while the other eye is always fine. Volo has always appreciated his flymask, but even more so now that the eye is weepy.
Isn't this a great pic? This was taken back in the late 70s. Katie the cat wins by a nose!! :)



When I boarded Sparky at Bampie's, it was uncanny how much Sparky and Volo looked alike. Now granted, one was a small 14.2 hand Morgan mare and the other a 16.2 hand Standardbred gelding, but they had a very similar chestnut color and almost the same markings. Many many times folks would stop to admire the horses, whether I was just in the barn cleaning stalls while they were out in the pasture and especially when I was out riding.

Well, one day someone stopped and admired them as they grazed. She was convinced they were mother and baby, and as much I as tried to tell her no, they definitely were not, she did not seem convinced! LOL!

Volo has many old winter blankets, one of them being a nice heavy waterproof rug I bought him about 1o years ago. But Bampie went out and bought him a new Baker (the one in the photos above) because as he put it, "The old horse deserves a new blanket." He intends to bury him in his new blanket, and that way he will always be warm. That completely breaks my heart. I asked Bampie if he had one of Volo's leather racing halters around and I would clean it up nice for him. We could not find any of the leather halters (they probably broke and were tossed) so I went out and bought Volo a new leather halter and a new bright red lead rope. I wanted to be sure he had a good halter rather than the worn nylon one he has worn for many many years. (In fact, I think I am the one that got him the nylon one...it was padded on the nose and crownpiece and Sparky used to have a green one that matched! LOL!) Anyway, now I know he will be all set when the day arrives. :( I told Bampie to be sure to give him his hay and grain in his grave as well. We both want to be sure he is well fed.

UGGGGGG.....now I am crying. :( Bampie had nearly run out of grain this past weekend and I had thought he would call the vet this week. But he told me Sunday that he bought more grain....so I know he is just putting off the inevitable pain. I completely understand why. Granted, he figured it is still warm out and he might as well let Volo enjoy another week of the nice grass and sun. But Bampie knows he has to do it soon.....the mornings are getting awfully cold....I told him he ought to figure by the end of the month.

I wish I could be there for the day it happens....I told Bampie I would come down, but he said no. He said he did not want to inconvenience me. Now I am not sure if he truly rather be alone or if he is just saying that. I am not sure. But I will respect his wishes and not press the issue. I just hope the vet is compassionate.....this particular vet is NOT known for his "bedside manners." And Bampie even hinted that the vet might give him a hard time for burying a horse with a brand new blanket on. Well the hell with him is what I said to that! LOL!

So I am now just waiting for the phone call. I know it will hurt me too.....man it already hurts. Part of me is almost glad I no longer board there because it is easier than having to see him everyday and then not see him. But at the same time, I will miss him just as much.

You are a great champion. When you ran, the ground shook, the sky opened and mere mortals parted. Parted the way to victory, where you'll meet me in the winner's circle, where I'll put a blanket of flowers on your back.

BUMMER

Well, there was ice in the buckets this AM. This is SO NOT COOL. I am in complete and utter denial that winter is coming. I think I am pretending that I am either going to FL for the winter or that we are suddenly going to go from fall to spring! LOL! Ah, either of those scenarios would be my ultimate dream. I am SO done with winter.

Another bummer.....I found out yesterday that I am only allowed to ride one test tomorrow at my show....a Ride-Re-Ride with SMDA. I was hoping to do both Training 1 and 2...but I guess they forgot to mention in the omnibus that in order to allow as many rides as possible, they are only allowing each rider to ride one test. BUGGER.

Oh well....naturally I chose Training 1. This is purely for year end scores......while ME Dressage Society gives awards based on levels, Southern ME Dressage Assoc. gives awards based on test. So it behooved me to ride Training 1 since that is the test I have shown all year. I am such a tricolor ribbon-ho....LOL! ;-) Not really.....I am just dying to score above a 60% on Training 1 again.

OH....and because they have so many rides tomorrow (as in I am riding Training 1 TWICE, back to back....but only the first ride "counts" for points) they set up two rings. I am in the "new ring" (I sure hope Dreamy is happy with the new oddly placed ring) AND this means I am NOT riding for Keith Angstandt!!!!!!!! GRRRRRRRRRRRR.....this defeats the entire purpose of why I wanted to do this show.....to be judged by an "r" judge as opposed to an L judge. My plan is to do rated shows next year so I wanted to get feedback in the Ride-Re-Ride format from a "real" judge. I have shown already under the judge who I am riding for tomorrow, and she is great, but I don;t know....I am a little disappointed with the entire thing.

AND....I had to give up on my fantastical costume class idea. C wanted to do it on Dreamy, so I allowed him to chose the costume. He and Dreamy are going to be black cats. It will be super cute, but will not fulfill my childish desire....see here.

Oh what's a girl to do??????? ;-)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

FEI World Equestrian Games...Dreamy was picked as the alternate

Well, I got my letter from USTA today. We were chosen as the alternate for the jumping demo at the FEI World Equestrian Games at the Kentucky Horse Park in 2010. BUMMER!

Ah well. The discipline I applied for was eventing, as I was hoping I could do a cross country demo on that fabulous KHP course! LOL! And instead, the worst part is that they did not separate hunter/jumpers and eventing....so they were all considered "jumping." There were 6 horses chosen: one hunter over fences (no idea who), two dressage (one is my friend Helene's horse JB and the other is that gray from FL named Sea the Gray or whatever) , one barrel racing (that would be J's Duncan), one carriage driving (no idea), and one "riding" horse (no idea). I have no clue what type of "riding", since the woman at USTA who I spoke to did not know either. LOL! Granted, they are not riding folks. :)

So I am the alternate for the "hunter over fences demo". It stinks that someone else's misfortune would mean my happy day. Of course they won't know until mid 2009 if the STB demo is even going to be included, and I may not know if I end up with a spot until mid 2010. There are alternates for both JB and Sea the Gray....but I was told that I could also be considered for a dressage alternate if one of the first two alternates could not make it...seeing as I applied for eventing (and it includes both dressage and jumping).

They received 22 or so applications, and she said hunter/jumper and dressage were the most competitive. I was REALLY hoping I could jump the cross country jumps at the KHP and the hunter could jump the regular rail fences. But no such luck....we all got lumped together. OH and they are going to have a 7th horse for racing....but will wait until 2010 to chose one of the top horses in that year rather than pick one now.

So.....I am kind of bummed at being the "second best" but hey.....I am proud of both JB and Duncan and I will be going down with J as a groom even if Dreamy does not get to go. :) It is nice to be number one, but it is also a good life lesson to come in second. And out of all the horses that applied, it is still a pretty cool thing to be considered second best!!! I admit I was surprised and I did grieve for about an hour this afternoon after I read my letter, but now I am totally OK.

Anyway, that is my big news for today!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

SUPER SIRE STAKES WEEKEND! October 11-12


Marshaling is just about one of my most favorite things to do in the entire world. There are no judges, ribbons, or scores. It is all volunteer and I do it out of pure love for the sport of harness racing. And of course, promoting my wonderful STB as a riding horse!

I spent the entire weekend of Oct. 11-12, 2008 at Scarborough Downs. Saturday was the Maine Breeders Stakes Finals for 2-year-olds and Sunday was the finals for three-year-olds.

On Saturday I spent the day at the SPHO booth, along with Charles Leerhsen, the author of the new book Crazy Good: The True Story of Dan Patch, the Most Famous Horse in America. (Oh dear, there is no underline tool, so I have to italicize the title). SPHO sold the book and of course Mr. Leerhsen signed them! HUGE THANKS goes out to Don Marean for calling me up to ask whether or not this was something SPHO wanted to do. He literally gave SPHO first dibs on the fundraiser. VERY COOL. Mr. Leerhsen and his wife were a pleasure to be with. He signed my copy of his book and even signed a poster for me. :) I love meeting authors...and even better that this one wrote about a horse! LOL!

I got to have my fair share of track food, chat up some STB folks, and even bet on a race and the horse actually won! YEE-HAW! Of course the odds were such that I only made a quarter, but what the hey.

Sunday was even more exciting as I marshaled the race card with my friend ST....the same ST who I went to NJ with! We always have such fun when we are together. I am sad in a way that we never met in our younger years, as I think we could have caused A LOT of trouble together! LOL! Now we have to be mature married ladies......no fun!

Anyway, both Dreamy and McKeever (who both look lovely as my new blog title picture, don;t you think? Hope you don't mind being in the blog Shel!) were absolutely wonderful on the track. Dreamy only lost her halt this time for 2 races. She did her normal "Holy-cow-I-am-at-the-track-and-I-cannot-contain-my-excitement!" routine so I opted to trot her out for a mile on the back track before the races started. It brought her down a hair, but she was still pretty much as high as a kite. Half halt? Contact? HUH??? LOL! At least she is NOT at all dangerous, just frisky! I did ride her a little deep for the first few races, as she was VERY ugly at having to be on contact and I just let her fight me. She finally figured out I was NOT giving in, whether we were at home, a lesson, or even at the track.


By the end of the second race, she was like, "Oh yeah, this marshaling stuff again. No use acting like an idiot." AHHHHH.....soft contact and a ride without any fights. At least she does not have major meltdowns anymore.....just a crow hop now and then and a HUGE head toss to try to unseat me once and a while. :)


Here is the newly calm Dreamy chilling after post parade and right before the race began...down at the far side of the grandstand.

It was nice to be able to SIT and wait for the race to be over instead of having to walk around and around and around and around and around......and around. She does like to do her amazingly huge trot down the post parade and when I let her do it, we do leave McKeever in the dust. While Dreamy is naturally forward anyway, and she becomes CRAZY forward at the track, McKeever could never be mistaken for forward.....ever. So we did our normal trot a couple of times and just HAD TO do the crazy big and fun trot a few rimes. It is just too much fun to be on a horse whose hooves all leave the ground at the trot and have the wind whizzing by your ears so much that tears form.

And of course one time one of the vets was on the fence and asked if she could canter...so ST said, "Well now you can canter down the next time!" I figured we would end up falling on our faces, since someone would be watching. But no, Dreamy did her nice little bouncy forward canter down the post parade. How fun. She was even ROUND! I WISH someone had gotten a pic of that! And ST told me that the vet was pointing and everyone was cheering while we cantered down. LOL! We cantered down one other time. Micky even cantered for ST! YAY!!!!!


At the end we took a nice canter around the back track......McKeever paced the entire way and kept up with Dreamy. Too funny.....that boy can MOVE!
So that was my fun and exciting weekend. I LOVE LOVE LOVE marshaling and wish I could do it as a real job. OH speaking of, someone on the apron said something like, "Oh what a nice job to have" about marshaling and I was like, "Oh this is no job, this is volunteer work!" She was surprised. LOL!

Thanks to Ed and Derek for taking such good photos! At least you did not forget me this time Ed! LOL! Just kidding......
Am I having a blast or what? :)

The rest of these photos were taken by a young rider named MM.


WOO-HOOOO! LOOK at THAT posture! My instructor better be proud! :)


Nothing like having NO hooves on the ground! This is way too fun....the BIG TROT down the post parade. No way was the Dream Girl letting the One Horse beat her! LOL! Funny how she was not competitive at all when she raced and NOW she is.



*New photos taken by a new friend from the track...she took nearly 200 photos of us, put them on a CD, but refused to take any money. Her pics are fabulous!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Lesson 10/4/08

I took a lesson last Saturday....I just have had no time to write about it! With the lack of light in the evenings as well as my teaching job I have not been able to stick with my Tuesday night lessons. There was just no way I could fit everything into one day like that anymore. SO I have been riding on Saturdays and that seems to be working out well.

My lesson on 10/4 was great. I wanted to work on continuing to make sure I am keeping a steady connection to the bit...sometimes I worry when I ride at home that I am not being "firm" enough. Then we also worked on cantering from the walk. That is a challenge right now. The actual depart (upwards transition) is not bad.....but the downward transition to the trot is HORRENDOUS. It kills me because I want everything to be correct. But because Dreamy is still not convinced she likes this CONNECTION all the time, nor does she 100% understand what I am asking of her yet, she YANKS my arms out of their sockets in the downward. I am trying my very best to sit up and not allow her to pull me, but sometimes it is nearly impossible....seeing as I weigh 120 pounds soaking wet and her head and neck alone weigh more than that! LOL!

Then we did a bit of sitting trot at the end. That has been coming along nicely in the last month or so. I have been working hard on my position. Plus Dreamy's jarring trot (to sit to) has become much floatier (is that a word?) and fluid since we have been steady in the bridle and coming through over the back 100% of the time. Suddenly her sitting trot is gorgeous to ride. :)

Afterwards, I was invited along for a trail ride with my instructor Judy, her boarder, and her boarder's student. (Oh forgot to mention.....during the entire lesson Judy's boarder was giving a Parelli type lesson at the other end of the ring with a big old plastic bag on a whip. Dreamy was curious but did not bat an eye. I was proud.....since I have never done any plastic-bag-on-a-stick tricks with her...LOL). I figured it would be a 30 min. trail ride give or take....and I think it ended up more like an hour and a half. Normally that would have been fine, but I was freezing (sun was going down and I only had a t-shirt on) and my boys were waiting at home to go to the fair. WHOOPS.

Unfortunately, S was ugly at me by the time I got home and took care of the horses and showered.....which did not take THAT long...I was ready about 1 hour later than he had wanted to leave. I figured it was no big deal, but he acted like a complete and utter baby about the entire thing. Well, whatever. No fair for me this year. :P

Anyway, good lessons are always nice to write about. I am marshaling at Scarborough Downs this Sunday 10/12 and then have the last dressage show of the year on Sunday 10/19. That is it for showing for 2008. I have a lesson scheduled for Saturday 10/25.....and foolish me forgot that November is hunting season....so I have a strong feeling there will be NO lessons for me in November. I become a hunter's widow in November....which means no truck to haul the horse trailer and no one to watch C. BUGGER. :(

Sunday, October 5, 2008

MORE National Show Photos!

Here are the professional pics I purchased from Tallman Photos. They came out great!










National Show Photos!

Here are the professional pics from the National Standardbred show. Click on Portraits by the Show Sign (top right) and 9AM-1130 Dressage (bottom left) to see the Dream Girl in action. I think we had a couple under Candids too.....walking over to warm-up for dressage. Some of the looks on my face during the dressage is priceless....I am in such deep concentration I nearly look terrified! LOL!

http://photos.tallmanphoto.com/Equestrian/617112

And here are a few of the pics I took myself. First, our stall sign.



Here I am, exhausted and dirty, braiding her mane at nearly midnight. Bad me.



Dreamy chilling in her stall after dressage.



Our tack stall. Had we realized we would not be showing out of the trailer (because it was POURING we decided to show out of the stalls instead) then we would have been more prepared to show out of a tack stall. We had no saddle racks....ummm, well no racks at all. It was a bit worrisome for me, the one who like to be organized and clean! LOL! That NJ red clay is wicked!

NATIONAL Championship Standardbred Horse Show RESULTS!

Finally…some results! I have been so busy this week...not to mention tired.

Dreamy and I attended the National Championship Standardbred Horse Show at the Horse Park of NJ on September 28, 2008. It was fabulous!!! This is going to be a long post, so I apologize for that. Plus my loyal readers know I am not very concise. LOL! So I will give my post some subtitles to help organize it.

THE WEEK PRIOR

So the week prior to the show was chaotic to say the least. My brother got engaged in February of this year and decided to get married on September 27!!! Of all days to get married! I had been making plans to attend the 2008 show since last year…..and my plans included leaving Maine on Friday September 26. When I found out what day he had decided to get married, I knew I was not willing to miss the show, but I also could NOT miss his wedding. I mean, I actually really LIKE my brother! And all three of us were going to be in the wedding….I was a bridesmaid, S was an usher and C was the ring bearer!

So I had to pack on Wednesday night. I was able to pack about 85% of my stuff. And let me tell you, I had a lot of STUFF. LOL! Then Thursday night was the rehearsal dinner. We had to leave here at 3:30 and did not get back home until almost 10PM. Oh, did I mention the wedding was held over an hour from my house??

Then Friday night I had to trailer Dreamy to Cumberland Fairgrounds, where my friend ST keeps her horse. ST and I were trailering down together with Dreamy and her horse McKeever. I had to finish packing first and while I planned to leave here at 4PM, it was more like 5:45 by the time Dreamy and I rolled out of here headed for Cumberland. It is an hour ride. Oh and did I mention it was RAINING like mad???

Dreamy settled in at Cumberland much quicker than I had imagined. It was nearly dark, raining, and she was to spend the night in the portable stalls that the Canadian mounted police horses had occupied. The Mounties were there all week at the fair for demonstrations. ST brought over one of their racehorses to keep Dreamy company. She settled in and ate her hay (I had grained her at 4PM at home which worked out well). Then we had to unload all of my stuff in ST’s barn. She was teasing me like crazy for bringing so much with me. But really I needed it all! I was planning to show in 3 divisions, so I had 2 saddles, 3 bridles, tons of saddle pads and other tack, and all of the “getting-ready-for-a-horseshow” gear. It was muddy, dark, and rainy. And I still had not eaten dinner at this point. I think I left Cumberland at 8:30 if memory serves and ended up home at 9:30PM. GREAT way to start a busy weekend. :)

So Saturday morning we are all up early for the wedding. I get up at 5AM and take care of Sparky. She did so well being alone for two nights. I was worried about her, but I knew she would be fine since she never went off her feed! That is how you know the mare is not 100%....if she eats, she is fine! LOL! We had to leave here by 7AM to be ready for pictures at 8AM. Everyone was running behind (but WE were right on time) so the three of us have to wait around in the car for about 30 mins. The wedding is at 10:30 and goes smoothly. The photos AFTER the wedding took 100 hours, but all in all it went just fine and no one through a hissy fit.

ST was going to meet me at the Wells exit (about 20 mins from the wedding) at a Park and Ride. My mom’s husband agreed to drive me to the exit so that S would have the car to drive home from the wedding. LOL! Didn’t plan that one out too well. ST was running late, which worked out well, since I did not leave the wedding until 1:30 rather than noon so I was able to eat and be a part of all the usual reception activities except the wedding party dance. Ah well, such is life.

FINALLY WE ARE HEADED OUT!

So we finally got on the road at 2PM. ST took a great pic of me in my dress in the horse trailer. LOL! We made good time and didn't hit much traffic. We were able to take the GW Bridge to save time and we only ran into one bad rain storm. We did not bother to stop for dinner, thinking we would have time to grab something once the horses are settled.

We arrived at the Horse Park around 8PM. Both horses come off the trailer just fine. Dreamy blew out a bunch of gunk, which is a good thing. I was so worried about her COPD flaring up between being shipped to two different stables in two days and the long trailer ride, so it was nice to see her respiratory rate perfectly normal and her lungs sound clear.

I took Dreamy for a long walk around and let her stretch her legs. I put her in her stall and allowed her to eat while I got her bath stuff ready. I gave her a bath and put her back to dry. I end up spending time socializing and getting to know some of the SPHO-NJ members. It was nice to finally get to meet some people, seeing as I have been a member for almost two years! :)

I think I may have been too social (oh big surprise) because by the time we got the horses cleaned up and braided it was nearly 1AM. I was utterly exhausted and HUNGRY! I had some snacks with me, but they were of the traveling variety, so nothing was very nutritious or filling. Having had a few gumdrops and some Chex mix, I decided to try out the shower in the LQ of the horse trailer.

I should have just gone to bed dirty. But no, I wanted to clean up. There was no hot water, so I decided to just wash my hair and my armpits and call it good. Well, I had taken my contacts out and just reached for the bottle closest to me (of course I had forgotten my own shampoo or towel). I started lathering my hair and it dawned on me the shampoo was really not sudsing well. OH SH!T! I have to look very closely (read: I am blind without my contacts) and I see that I have slathered CONDITIONER all over my hair. I never use conditioner, except maybe once a month and even then only on the ends.

So just picture this: I am exhausted, stuck in the smelly bathroom of someone else’s borrowed horse trailer LQs (literally I am stuck since my bed folded out in front of the bathroom door), I have conditioner all over my head and I only have freezing cold water to rinse with. Oh yeah, I was in a good place, that is for sure! Luckily I was able to laugh about it and asked ST if she could PLEASE get the horse shampoo in the back of the trailer for me. So I washed my hair with my horse’s shampoo (hey, if it is good enough for her, it is good enough for me!), dried myself with paper towels, got into my PJs, and went to sleep.

Oh but I forgot my pillow and sleeping bag! Now I brought the entire TACK ROOM for my horse, but do you think I remembered any comforts of home for myself???? SO again ST goes out and got these teeny tiny pillows from the truck, found a horse cooler for me to use (actually it was brand new which was pleasant) and we tried to get some sleep now that it was almost 2AM.

So it is obvious that we did NOT plan our evening well. We should have eaten something and gotten to bed MUCH earlier. And oh perhaps I should have paid better attention to my own packing.

THE SHOW!

Show day dawned bright and early. We awoke at 5:15 AM and finally forced ourselves to get up at 5:45 AM. There were horses to be fed and classes to be ridden in! The weather was not great, as it was drizzly and the sky did not look as though it might clear up anytime soon. We had planned to show from the trailer, but there was no way I was tying my horse to the trailer to get soaked all day, nor was I putting her ON the trailer when there was a perfectly good stall available I had paid for. So we ended up showing from our stalls, and because there was an empty stall in between the two horses (more on why later), we paid the extra to use it as a tack stall.

Everyone else started with Showmanship and In-Hand classes. There were 6 of these classes and they ended up taking over 3 hours to judge! I am SO GLAD I made the decision not to do in-hand with Dreamy. In the first class alone there were 23 horses! She would have been so naughty because she hates being patient in in-hand classes. That was one of the best showing decision I have ever made.

DRESSAGE!

Instead, while everyone else was in the indoor doing in-hand (many classes were moved indoors due to the rain), I decided to tack up and do my first dressage test early. Dressage had no times, but instead it was first come, first serve. So I wanted to do my Training level 1 test first thing at 9AM when dressage opened.

Dreamy warmed up well but the ring was a MESS. The rail was OK but the rest of it was deep slop. It was nearly impossible to do any circles or turns. I had to settle for trot and canter work on the rail. Not ideal, but Dreamy was being an angel because she was TIRED!

Training 1 went OK. We were a little shaky in the left lead canter and I HAVE TO remember to keep that outside rein! But overall Dreamy was spectacular. The dressage ring footing was better than the warm-up, but it was still muddy. I was so hopeful for a better-than-60% ride. Dreamy was still coming over the back and accepting the contact so well. I am SO HAPPY I took that lesson with Suzanne a week beforehand!!! It helped SO MUCH!

After Training 1, I had planned to go back and hang out before my under saddle rail classes. Well, all it took was one look at my tack to realize that I did NOT want to clean it all and then have to clean it all again after doing Training 2 (which I had planned to do around lunch time). I had not yet memorized Training 2 since I had never ridden it.

So I stood for a few minutes memorizing the test, hopped back aboard, and ended up being the second ride of the day. LOL! There was still no one else warming up for dressage. The main part of the show was still on the first in-hand class of the day!! My Training 2 test went even better than T1, and riding up the centerline for my last halt I knew we had done well enough for a score at least at 60% if not a bit higher. I never imagined how well we would actually do!

I did not end up hearing my placings for dressage until almost 5PM, when I was hosing Dreamy off after our last rail class. Now, because my REAL focus is dressage and eventing, I hoped to do well in the dressage classes and the hunter stuff was really just for the heck of it. We ended up scoring a 64.3 % in Training 1 for a second place and a 72.3% (HOLY COW!) in Training 2 for a first place. I think there were four riders in each test.

I actually burst into tears (and had myself a good cry) when they announced the scores because all year we have struggled at Training 1 and my goal has always been a 55%....earning the 59.1% at the Sept SMDA show had been so exciting! These scores at Nationals was really such a culmination of hard work, sweat, and tears. I know that is a cliché but it is SO TRUE. My fellow blogegr and SPHO-NJ member (who I FINALLY GOT TO MEET!!!!) NTAT had to burst my bubble (just kidding!) and say that the National scores are usually inflated a bit. She says she takes 5% points off the total and feels that is more reasonable. Well, I'll be willing to take off 4 % points.....for a 60% and a 69%! :P LOL!

So many things finally came together for us. We finally figured out "steady connection to the bit" and it was like riding a different horse. We simply nailed the tests, despite the rain and the mud. I knew we had done well before I even heard the results...and Training 2 was spectacular. I came down for the last halt with tears in my eyes...I am so proud of my mare!! We scored three nines on T2 and even a 10 on the last centerline and halt. Everything came together and it was an amazing feeling. I am still kind of in shock!

The judge was funny when she mentioned she thought I needed a smaller saddle pad. She said my horse was too pretty to have so much of her covered up! :) I ordered the pad from Smartpak about a month ago and it sat in my office until the day I packed the trailer. I never really looked too closely at it. But in looking at the professional pics, I would have to agree the pad is WAAAY TOO BIG! It is all laundered and nearly perfectly clean and will be on Ebay very soon! LOL! :)

OTHER CLASSES

We ended up with a second place in Adult Equitation 2-Gait Senior Horse (out of 25 riders) and two fourths....one in Adult Equitation 3-Gait Senior Horse and one in English Pleasure 2-Gait Senior Horse . I think one had 11 and the other had 13 riders...or something like that. We did not place in English Pleasure 3-Gait Senior Horse (our first 3-gait class ever) as we shied/spooked during the first canter at a rider who had her whip out straight...broke for a stride into the trot, then back into the canter so it was quick....but still it was smack dab in front of the judge. :( Other than the one incident, Dreamy did not break the canter, did not pace, and maintained a nice 3 beat canter, so I was pleased without having to win anything! :)

JUMPING

I chose to scratch from my three jumping classes because the outside ring was a MESS and I was not comfortable jumping her in the 12" slop. A few riders did jump (all of them young riders...I believe all of the adults scratched) but I think it was a poor idea. I figured there would be other shows, other Nationals, and it was not worth jeopardizing my horse for the chance at a ribbon. I think it was a good choice.

OVERALL

So we ended up with a first, two seconds, and two fourths out of the 6 classes we rode in at Nationals. I am beyond pleased with the Dream Girl. She is literally my Little Horse That Could.