Sunday, May 22, 2011

Santa Barbara – Day 4 – Saturday

How do I top yesterday?  I don’t know.
Friday was such an amazing day that I just don’t know what would top it.  But I gave it a darned good try.

That said – I’m also a very superstitious person and worry that saying how happy I was yesterday is asking for trouble.  But hopefully it will be ok.

Today there were no halter classes, but Blu was in the 3rd class of the morning so it was another early day.   Blu’s class was supposed to be the 4th class of the morning but the Show Hack class was cancelled.  The show started at 8:30am and we needed time to get Blu ready.  He’d gotten the dreaded green spots on his belly (why did I get a horse with white again?  Didn’t I learn my lesson with Cre – who was ALL white?  I guess not.).  I brought him over to the wash rack and hoped that he wouldn’t mind a cold belly at 7am.

He didn’t.  He again surprised me when he accepted being tied up at the wash rack (a lot of horses will balk at going to the wash rack because they KNOW that the wash rack means cold water on their body) and let me spray his belly and legs.  I scrubbed him and he cleaned up well.  I then brought him back to the grooming stall and rubbed his belly with a towel to help the drying process.

While his belly dried I worked on prepping the rest of him. 

Some of the things I’ve learned recently about show grooming tips have been pretty cool.  I thought I’d share in case it helps anyone else.

The first is how to keep a tail clean yet not have it get all full of kinks.  So, to explain this let me tell you that up until very recently, to keep a tail clean I would wash it, let it dry, then braid it and loop it up into a fairly small knot just below the tailbone (which extends about a foot and a half past their back) and wrap it with Vetwrap to keep it clean.  To someone who doesn’t know what we’re doing it looks pretty odd to see a horse with a tail that ends in a kind of stump.  But when you get to unwrap it for a show it looks fabulous so it’s worth it.  I’ll always remember Nancy trying to talk me into putting Cre’s tail up and I kept saying no.  I liked it loose and natural.  But eventually she wore me down.  When I eventually unwrapped it his tail touched the ground and was pure white – not yellow-ish.  I was hooked.

But the problem with this method is that it leaves the tail all kinky from the braiding.  And when you go into the arena you don’t want the horse to have a kinked tail.  So I observed others and learned some tricks.

One trick is to use a flatiron to straighten the hair.  Yep – the same flat iron that we use to straighten our hair.  I pull the vetwrap off, unbraid the tail and then use the flat iron on it to straighten it out.  However this leaves another dilemma.  If the tail is really long it will drag on the ground and will then gather dirt and debris and make all the work I did to clean it useless.  So, how to keep it clean and not kinky?  That was another conundrum.  Again, I studied other horses at the shows and saw that they would braid just the end of the tail up to the top of the tail.

I’m not sure how well this will translate to the written word – but basically, I would gather the tail up and go to the last 6 inches or so of it.  From there I would clump it together then divide it into 3 strands like I would if I were going to braid.  I then bring it up towards the top of the tail where the tailbone is and where some of the strands are just coming out.  I’d gather some hair there and would join them to braid them together.

When the 6 inches are braided together with the top of the tail it is in a big loop and doesn’t come in contact with the ground.  When it’s time to go into the class you just pull the small braid out and run the brush through it quickly and voila!  You have a clean, non kinked tail ready for the show ring!

As I write this I’m thinking I should take some photos next time to document it.  There have to be others out there who didn’t know this trick. And maybe photos will make more sense.

So, where was I?  Oh yeah – getting ready for the morning class. 

Today is the championship class.  We had to have competed in the Half-Arabian Western Pleasure Junior Horse class yesterday to qualify.  We did, so Blu could compete in today’s championship class.

Since he wasn’t perfect yesterday I wasn’t expecting a lot today.  But he surprised me.  I love it when that happens.  Again – I don’t want to jinx things, but he sure seems to get the idea pretty quickly.  And he doesn’t freak out about things.  (yet)

Today’s class was great.   

I was so proud!

Western Pleasure Junior Horse Championship Class

Blu in the Championship class

I’ll admit to hoping that he’d place a bit higher up then he did because (other than his speed at the lope) he did really well and one of the other horses broke into a jog while it was supposed to be at the lope (a big no-no).  But I guess the judge 1) didn’t see the other horse break his lead or 2) remembered yesterday and held it against Blu or 3) didn’t like Blu (gasp – how dare he!?).

The judge checking the headstall

Regardless of how he finished I was thrilled with his performance.

And heck – I am not complaining!  I have a horse that did supremely well.  He has only been under saddle with Todd less than 60 days and only had 12 rides with Nicole before that.  And I wasn’t even expecting to be able to show this weekend.  I’d been figuring that August in Watsonville would be his first show.

So it’s all good.

There we were – Blu’s class was over and it was just 9am. Since we were done competing we had free time like we’ve never had before.  None of us had eaten breakfast yet.  We got Blu put back in his stall and headed off to Farmer Boy Restaurant for breakfast.  It’s been around since 1958 and serves a hearty breakfast – I recommend it if you’re ever in Santa Barbara and are looking for a good breakfast.  I ordered eggs over easy with bacon (extra crispy) and sourdough toast and made my own breakfast sandwich.  (Isn’t it amazing how many places don’t actually offer a breakfast sandwich? – I’ve learned to make my own.). 

After breakfast I thought it would be kind of fun to drive around Santa Barbara and show Ken the sights.  The weather wasn’t perfect and I certainly didn’t know my way around.  But my Droid had GPS and Nancy was willing to go with us so I figured we could at least do a 10 cent tour.  I didn’t want Ken to go home and say he hadn’t seen anything but the showgrounds.

We drove along the ocean and stopped so we could say we walked along the beach.

In Santa Barbara 

We drove by out the Courthouse – which has to be one of the prettiest buildings around.  But we didn’t get out of the car.  Next trip I get Ken to join me I will do my best to get an actual walking tour of Santa Barbara.  If nothing else – he’ll have to check out the bar that has something like 100 beers on tap!  That oughta be appealing!  Haha

Back at the showgrounds it was lesson time.  Nancy and her filly got a lesson in the warmup arena and then I got to ride Blu in the big arena.  He was WONDERFUL.   A very nice jog, no looky-loos, no bothers with other horses coming up on him.  It was all just a great experience.  

Lesson in the main arena

When the lessons were over it was wind-down time.  We did a small bit of organizing the tack room in preparation for loading up on Sunday, but really, we just relaxed.  We went to the main arena and watched some of the afternoon classes.  We checked out some of Blu’s future competition by watching the Half Arabian Western Pleasure classes.  I even saw one of the horses I’d been thinking about buying!  The show world is a small world so I wasn’t totally surprised. 

It was a horse that I’d been emailing the trainer about, but when I had a chance to go see it (down in Southern CA) the mare had already been sold.  I still went to their barn but I looked at a different horse and wasn’t interested. 

Watching this mare in the arena made me really happy I’d chosen Blu.  I’ll leave it at that.

We got hungry about 4:30pm so we decided that Sushi would be yummy.  But I have to say that dining in Santa Barbara is a LOT more difficult that it should be.

All of us absolutely love sushi so it was an obvious choice.  And we quizzed one of our friends for a recommendation.  They told us where the best sushi in SB was, so off we went.  But what the heck?!  It was closed.  On a Saturday!  And not just to open later in the evening, but closed on Saturdays!  We could see someone in the back, but they were definitely closed.  Grrr.  We called the friend who’d recommended it and got their second best place.  We got in our cars and drove to the other end of State Street.  But we had to keep on driving.  It was closed too!  Grrr…..  On to the third spot.  What the heck?!  They were closed too.  0 for 3!  But they were scheduled to open at 5:30.  It was 4:50pm.  No place to hang out waiting (no one was willing to go into the liquor store in the strip mall and buy beer and hang in the parking lot.  Sheesh).

So we utilized a different person’s recommendation (non sushi).  It has an odd name.  Marmalade.  Turned out to be pretty darned good.  And open.  Imagine that.

Thus concluded another satisfying day.

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