Saturday, May 21, 2011

Santa Barbara – Day 3 – Friday

Ken and Bill are here!!!!!

Today Sharon and I were all about our men.  Both Bill and Ken took Friday off to fly down to Santa Barbara and join us for the show.  They’re wonderful! 

When they’d chosen to join us we’d looked up the available flights.  The flights were both a blessing and a curse because of their time.  Ken was flying out of Sacramento and Bill out of San Francisco.  Neither city had a direct flight to Santa Barbara.  But they did have an early morning flight (so they’d be able to spend the most time with us) to LA with a connecting flight to Santa Barbara.  And coincidentally they both departed their airports at the same time and in order to be able to take the same flight from LA to SB.

Things worked out all the way around.  Ken usually has poor flight experiences, but this time things worked out well.  (Except that it was a 6am flight out of Sac.)  He got up at an ungodly hour, but when he parked in the economy lot and got out of the car a security guard was driving by and stopped to see if he wanted a lift to the terminal.  How about that!  No waiting for the bus for Ken!  Door to door service.  Things were looking up.  His flight was on time out of Sac and he arrived in LA with time to grab a bite to eat and then meet Bill at the gate for the flight to Santa Barbara.  They shared a cab to the showgrounds and were dropped off at the front entrance within sight of our barn.

Sharon and I were prepping our horses when Nancy spotted them.  I heard Nancy say “they’re here” and I shot out of the stall like I was on fire.  Sharon and I both ran.  Totally a scene from a romantic movie!  It was absolutely AWESOME to see Ken.

I was having a good time before they arrived.  Afterwards it got even better.  I don’t think my smile ever left me.

I spent a bit of time showing Ken around the showgrounds (he’d never been to Santa Barbara or the showgrounds before).  There was a lot of me pointing and telling him stories from previous visits.  I showed him where we’d been stabled before, where I’d been in a class before, described what how crowded the place used to be in the past compared to this year (a big change, most likely due to the economy).  All that kind of thing.  Oh – and we also got a bite to eat at the concession stand.  But then it was back to the business of showing.  I had a saddle to clean and a horse to get ready.


Todd has a really neat, classic bosel with horsehair mecate (reins) that is really old.  I confess to not remembering exactly how old, however.  As mentioned yesterday, the tentative plan had been to show Blu in it, but it was just too soon.  I mean, Blu hasn’t even had 60 days with Todd, and only about 12 rides before that with Nicole, so even the fact that we were coming to Santa Barbara with the ‘thought’ of showing was ambitious.   So when Todd was working Blu in the warm up arena he made the decision to go with the snaffle.  I was totally fine with it.  I’m 100% behind Todd and his decision to make Blu’s show experience fun and to not make mistakes that could take a lot longer to repair, rather than to push something that really should wait.

Once Blu was worked it was Nazz’s turn to get ready.  His class was before lunch.

Sharon in the warm-up arena with Equus Farms barn in the background.

If you’ve never been to a show, or wonder what it’s like.  There’s quite a bit of ‘hurry up and wait’ and there is a whole bunch of ‘did you hear what class their on’ when trying to listen to the loudspeaker for the ring steward who calls the classes.  And I SWEAR – every time you absolutely NEED to know what they’re saying over the loud speaker someone drives a truck, or a tractor, or a watering truck or a wheelbarrow, or something nearby so you can’t hear the critical part.  So of course you need to then go closer to the arena and ask anyone who looks like they might be paying attention “did you hear what class they called?” and then you realize that you haven’t been in a time machine and that you really DO still have 4 classes until it’s ‘time’ and you breath a sigh of relief and go back to the barn to continue whatever you were doing before your heart stopped.

There’s a whole lot of that happening at shows.

So, once we knew what class they were on we were prepared to go to the warm up arena.  Nazz was right on schedule.  That’s important when you’re the groom!

Being the ‘groom’ means you’re responsible for keeping track of time so you’re warming up at the right time.  So that you’re not going in the arena with your horse’s tail in a knot.  So the rider doesn’t have sunglasses on their face when they go in their class.  So the horse doesn’t have a noseband or other inappropriate tack still on.    To do all that we have a groom bag that has clean brushes (to brush off the dust that might have dared accumulate during the warmup), a damp cloth (for wiping clean whatever needs to be wiped clean), Pepe Show Spray (to shine the horse’s coat), a brush (to make sure the mane and tail are at their best), rubber bands (you never know), screw driver (Chicago screws hold things on tack and you don’t want one of them to come loose at the wrong time), and anything else we can thing we might need.

Here’s a pic showing Sharon and me as grooms before Blu’s first class.

Sharon heading into a class

Once they go in the arena there isn’t anything else we can do but watch – or if you’re the trainer, you have a second of coaching each time they ride by.  This picture is of Todd waiting for Sharon to come by.

Todd on the job

Sadly, during the class it became apparent that Nazz’s back was sore.  It wasn’t fair to him to keep showing him, so Sharon scratched his remaining classes.  It was a total bummer, but it was really good to know that he was just going on the “DL” as Ken put it.  He was on the disabled list vs ‘injured reserve’ where you’re out for the year.  Nazz just needs some time to get over his sore back.

The lunch break started shortly after Nazz’s class and I used the time to get Blu all gussied up so he was ready to go for his class.  I’m sure I’m saying this a lot, but he is both a young horse and new to me, so I don’t know what to expect.  That said, we didn’t know if he’d need 45 minutes of warmup before his class or 5 minutes.  Better to ‘hurry up and wait’ was the decision – so once Blu was prepped for his class Todd got on him and worked him in the warmup arena.

In the warmup arena

He did pretty darned well.  Todd said “I think we’re going to show this guy” or words to that effect.  I’m glad the video wasn’t running because I probably squealed with delight!  (I knew it would be a question mark up until it was time for him to go in the arena)  My horse was going to show!!!!!!!

In the warmup arena

I have to give Sharon a million thanks – she asked Bill to be the official photographer for Blu’s first class, and she asked Ken to be official videographer.  That meant that I could focus 100% on watching my horse in his first class ever.  Absolutely perfect.

It was totally amazing watching Blu come into the arena for the first time, seeing those flashy legs and face and the pretty movement.  I fell in love all over again.

And yes, I cried.

Blu entering the arena in his first class ever.

Calm and cool

My baby - he looks so young to me here

Into the lineup.

And in the interest of full disclosure – and that I want this to be an accurate representation of my experience – Blu didn’t have a perfect ride.  I edited the video to show only his first direction.  But I didn’t edit anything out of the first direction - I just edited his second direction.

I know I’m biased, but I think I can still be a little objective.  Besides – I need to have something to compare to later, right?!?  hehehe

His first direction was pretty darned good.  Heck, two weeks ago he wasn’t even able to jog.  He could only trot, and it wasn’t that comfortable.  I was able to get a couple jog strides, but really, it was 98% trot with 2% jog two weeks ago.  So, watching him have a complete jog in the class was breathtaking!  He looked in control, and had very pretty movement.  I could see the promise.

His lope was a different matter.  Even in his ‘good’ direction he was fast.  The other horses in his class were quite a bit slower than he was.  But he got the correct lead (If you want to know about leads, try this website:  Leads) , so I was thrilled.  Over the moon, in fact!  To me, his first direction was fabulous!

They reversed and it was looking good.  But when they called for the lope Blu and Todd weren’t in a good position.  They were coming up on the announcer’s stand and another horse was on the inside just to their rear so I’m sure Blu felt boxed in.  He still isn’t used to horses coming up on him from the front or rear.  Regardless, he couldn’t get the correct (right) lead.  It was a bummer, but Todd handled it perfectly.  He would bring him back to the jog in one stride and try again.  He never over reacted, he just worked him (schooled him) until he got the correct lead without making a big deal about it.  So I don’t think Blu ever got the feeling of ‘oh crap – this sucks’ he just kept working.  It was good to see.

When you’re riding in a class I can tell you sometimes it feels like 20 minutes, or 2 minutes – depending on your ride.  But this one was about 5 minutes long.  They trotted into the lineup at the end of the class and I was ecstatic.  

I can’t describe how happy I was.  But I can say that it all just felt ‘right.’  And I had my husband there at my side.

And my best friends (and a ribbon - hehehe)

So, how do we finish a day like today?  Dinner at The Boathouse per a recommendation.  Great company, good food, good atmosphere and good cocktails.

The perfect end to a great day.

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