Friday, September 21, 2012

Cornish Horsemen's Day 2012

I had the best day at the Cornish Horsemen's Day on September 8, 2012.  It was the seventh year I have marshaled there with Dreamy.  Of course, entering the RUS race on Snappy was pretty awesome too!!!  I can cross that off my bucket list now!  (Read the background of Snappy here. )And the neat part about the Cornish Trotting Park is that it is in my hometown!

I was told by the race organizer that my mare was well matched with two other horses in our race and could do well.  That made me excited, because despite the fact that I was a complete rookie, my horse would carry me through and hopefully save me from embarrassing myself.  LOL!  While I might know more about riding, I have no problem admitting that Snappy knows more about racing than me.  A friend brought me back to Earth when she said there was no way I would win, since one of the other riders was much better than me, as she actually drives horses in race and used to be an outrider at a big track.  Ah well.  I figured there was no need to win, just do the best we could.  :-)

I was surprisingly calm about the race the morning of, yet I was oddly nervous all week prior.  At times I would be fine and super excited, then I would drive by the Trotting Park and see the sign for Horsemen's Day and my stomach would flipflop like crazy.  I was so excited and nervous at the same time I thought I was going to pee myself.  On Friday I actually had a moment of I have got to scratch out of the race! and then laughed at myself.  I knew we were ready, but it was still an unknown, which makes me nervous.


Yeah, I wasn't excited or anything!  LOL!  Thankfully Smartpak's embroidery is free for me and Snappy's fancy saddle pad was only $13.95!!
I tacked up Dreamy minus her bridle and left her tied at the trailer with her hay net.  Thankfully I had friends Tania and Katie there to help me as needed.  And of course, Snappy's owner was there to help with her.  Once I knew Dreamy was all ready, I took Snappy out to warm up.  We jogged 2.5 miles and she was perfect.  I felt so excited and relaxed.  It also helped that I was on my "home" track, where I have ridden my own horses many times.  There were people warming up all over the track and some of them zoomed by us pretty close despite the fact that there was plenty of room to pass without nearly touching my stirrup.  LOL!  Snappy was definitely in race mode; while she can be a bit girthy and kick out at the air, she was actually kind of a PITA and I had to keep an eye on her hind end!  LOL!  Instead of allowing her kicks to make me nervous as I was tacking her, I just laughed at her cranky pants mare attitude.  I was told she was also coming in heat, so that made sense.   Snappy was not the sweet (in my opinion) yet crabby mare she usually is at the barn; she definitely had her game face on.

I have no silks/colors of my own, so I opted to just use my roadster silks.  Yeah, they looked a little silly and a bit too bright, but oh well.  ;-)  I think we looked quite snazzy!!  LOL!
Warming up with Snappy!
After she was warmed up, I went back to get Dreamy.  My friend Shelly and her horse McKeever were there to marshal too, which is always a lot of fun.  I marshaled Races #1 and #2 with Dreamy (and Shelly and McKeever) and then went out to get on Snappy.  Dreamy got to go back to her hay.  I think we actually missed Race #4 too since I was so excited after my own race, but then Dreamy and I marshaled the last five races of the day; there were nine races total and the RUS race was #3.  It was a bit of work to figure out how to make it all work, riding one marshal horse and one racehorse!  But overall it was totally worth it!
Miss Dreamy lookin' fine....she loves to marshal!
Snappy was in the number two post position, which was exciting.  There were six horses in the race, but only really three of us ended up being competitive; the field was literally split into almost two mini races almost a half mile apart, although we all started together.  We went down to the quarter pole to turn for the start, and we all cheered each other on with "good lucks" and "be safe" warnings.  I just wanted us all to have fun and for it to be a good experience.  If we are going to get RUS going here in Maine, we need to show the public and the horsemen that we can be safe and do a good job.


Post Parade.....we are way up in front!
We started the race and I could tell Snappy wanted to get to the front.  I held her back behind the 1 horse and the 4 horse soon came up behind us.  I honestly don't remember many details about the race itself, since was over so quickly!  At the same time, it seemed like everything was in slow motion.  It is hard to explain; it must have something to do with the adrenaline!!  When we got to the half, I let her out and she quickly moved to the top.  Passing by the grandstand was really awesome; I could hear everyone yelling and screaming and cheering.  When we came around the first turn for the second time (since we raced a mile on a half mile track), I felt as though I needed to steady her and I remember thinking, "Trot mare, easy trot" and shifting my weight and reins so she would not break.  Apparently, when I am riding that fast, all thoughts become actual words that I speak, because I was teased for telling her to trot.  LOL!  


Here we are in the very first turn
Whee!!!
This was on the backside...don't worry, I have permission to use my friend's photo.  ;-)
Coming into the half, I finally let her move to the front. 


So. Much. Fun.
As we neared the last turn, it become clear that we had a chance to win.  I realized I wanted to win this race more than anything in that moment; here we were on my "home track", on a horse I trained myself, doing something I had been wanting to do for many months, and though it was just a dinky race, I wanted to win!  I could hear the horse behind me, as the rider was making a hissing noise.  This was the "ringer" who probably should have beaten me.  OH HELL NO.  I vaguely remember yelling, "C'mon girl!  C'mon!" as we neared the finish line.  I guess I was shouting up a storm, according to onlookers!  LOL!!!  I didn't really know where the exact finish line was, but as we passed the judge's booth, I knew we had won.  I automatically did the fist pump with my whip.  HA HA HA!  I did not plan to do it, but in my excitement it seemed the thing to do.  I worry that I looked too cocky, but oh well.  It made a great pic!  LOL!


So much happiness!
OMG I'm going to win!!
SO EXCITED!!!
Same moment in time, different view!
We did it!
My BFF Shelly bringing me back to the winner's circle!  It was neat to actually be the one going to there, as opposed to just my usual marshal job of bringing the winner back.  You can see Snappy's owner behind us in the red shirt.
My first win photo!!  Who knows if I will ever have another one, so I was sure to savor it!  :-)
See?  I pretty much looked like this for the next two days.  


I could barely close my mouth, it was so dry.  The feeling of winning, my heart racing, and the adrenaline flowing was amazing.  Snappy had been amazing too.  She raced like she had done it all of her life; and she has, of course, just not with a person on her back!!  I pulled her up slowly and we trotted back to the winner's circle.  I just grinned and grinned like an idiot.  I think I smiled for a full 24 hours, if not longer.  Her owner had made no move to come to the winner's circle, so I yelled that he had to!  ;-)  There was a small purse, but that went to her owner.  He asked if he owed me any money and I said absolutely not.  I appreciate the fact that he believed in me and allowed me to use his mare.  That was enough for me.  Granted, I did ask if I might keep the blanket, and he agreed.  Currently, it is on my bed and I sleep under it every night.  I doubt it will see a horse.  LOL!!!!


Even better, the presiding judge at Cornish Horsemen's Day happily signed my RUS practical license form and even wrote "Exceptional horsewoman" under additional comments.  That felt pretty good.  We went in 2:18, and while I fully realize this is no where near competitive enough to race down in NJ, NY, or KY, I accept that Snappy is who she is, I am who I am, and there is no reason to compare our performance to the races currently being held down there.  Snappy is having a blast and so I am; THAT is what matters.  I am realistic and know she is only really competitive here in Maine.  ;-)  And maybe we will never be that competitive again.  I am proud of us for winning, but who knows if we ever will again.  

I had so much fun!  I am so glad I was able to race and see how it would go.  I hope the fairs and track here will consider adding in an RUS race here or there.  After the big Hambletonian race this past summer, people in Maine have started to notice and pay attention to RUS.  I think it could help give STBs another opportunity to continue their racing careers as well as give them a head start into a pleasure horse second career after they retire.

And a fun side note...I had looked up Snappy's racelines and horse reports earlier this summer, but I guess I never really noticed her date of birth.  I looked her up again just the other day, so I could enroll her in the USTA Full Circle Program, and I noticed she was born on May 23.  This might not mean much to you all, but it just so happens that is the same day Dreamy was born AND MY SON.  Seriously, it was crazy enough the day my son was born to realize he shared the same day as Dreamy, but to have Snappy share her birthday with them as well?  That is just plain crazy.

Info on RUS Maine is here.

More pics of the day are here.  

More pics of Dreamy and McKeever marshaling the rest of the card that day.  They are two peas in a pod.  :-)







8 comments:

Amy said...

That is so cool!!! I cannot imagine the adrenaline rush. Great job!

Kate said...

Fabulous fun! Sounds like a really great day - so glad you got to do it and got so many great photos too! Congrats to you and the feisty Snap mare.

Sarah said...

Wow, just wow!!! I love the photos, and the smile on your face! That must have been the thrill of a lifetime!

Megs said...

What an amazing experience! I love that you guys got a a proper win photo.

Looks like such a blast. I hope the fairs pick up the RUS so you guys have more chances to shine :)

Calm, Forward, Straight said...

So AWESOME!!! I wanted you to win almost as much as you did!

Great post, and congratulations. :D

TheBigHorse said...

Congrats on making the RUS Maine start a very good one -- that crabby mare has left her hoofprints on something very good! Kudos to both of you!
Nonni

Laura said...

Oo well done! Some great photos and it looks really fun!

Beka Burke said...

That looks like so much fun!