Saturday, April 21, 2012

Wind, Rain, Hail and Two Blue Ribbons

Friday the 13th lived up to its reputation.  Here are a few photos taken from 2:30pm through about 4:30pm.

"Before" - the road is dry but the clouds are black

"During" - taking shelter from the hail in the tack room

"After" - my Truck and Camper are behind the Maroon car, across the "river" that used to be a road, and yes, the white stuff is hail.

I posted this photo on my Facebook page on Friday - it still makes me laugh - a wheelbarrow full of poop and hail.  Not a combination seen often.

But let's past the weather situation to the show itself...

The show was a four day, two region, two judge, show.  Thursday through Sunday.  We all arrived Wednesday about noon, unloaded the trailer and set up the barn.  Rain showers/downpours accompanied us but we managed to get the horses worked.  I was really excited when I found out that the Murieta Equestrian Center added a roof over one of the warm up arenas during the past year.  That meant we didn't have a repeat of the Santa Rosa show where we would have to warm up in a tiny portion of the show arena.  And boy did we need the extra room.  This was one of the biggest shows I've competed in so far and there were a LOT of horses.

Blu's in his "super hero" outfit - a Sleezy that covers him head to tail (though it wasn't covering his face in this photo) - and boy does the stall look small in this photo.

Wednesday night Sharon and I were on our own - tired and hungry - so we went over to the local Mexican Restaurant (El Gallo) and enjoyed taquitos (me) and tacos (Sharon) that were delicious.  We didn't stay up late, though.  That's for sure.  There's something about set up day at a show that will just exhaust you.

Thursday dawned rainy (as did Friday) but we managed to get the horses ready for their classes.  My first class was a "Limit Horse" class - meaning only horses who hadn't won 6 blue ribbons could enter (Blu had 4).  I guess I should have written this earlier because I can't remember for sure where I placed.  But suffice it to say, with the winds and rain as crazy as they were, I'm happy we entered the class and completed it!  The wind block (a big floor to ceiling screen) was snapping at one end of the arena and Blu was really good about it.  He wasn't spooky about the weather, thank goodness!

Blu getting some energy out on Sunday - the first clear day

Friday I had a total brain fart.  It was the queen of brain farts, too.  For some reason I thought that I had oodles of time so I slept in (not counting getting up at 7am each morning to feed) and totally took my time.  I even went to the show office to add a class for Saturday.  And then, as I was walking back to the barn I heard them call a class over the loudspeaker and realized that it was 6 classes before Blu's Open class.  Let me just say that 6 classes is no where NEAR enough time to get a horse out of his stall, lunged to get the overnight energy out, groomed for a show, and saddled and warmed up in time for a class.  6 classes is enough time for the saddled and warmed up part, but not the rest of it.  So I ended up scratching the Open class.  Sigh.

But that meant that I had plenty of time to get ready for my later AAOTR class (Adult Amateur Owner To Ride).  (Looking at the positive.)  This class went better than Thursday's class, but I made a mistake (I miscued Blu) which cost me a higher placing.  Ah well.  I learned from my mistake and managed to get a fourth and fifth.  (I don't know which judge placed me higher - it'll matter for qualification points in my Region but I have to wait for the results to be posted to find out for sure.)

There were a number of other Friday the 13th issues but let's just skip past them - as if lightning, thunder, rain and hail weren't enough.  On the positive - Ken was able to join us Friday after work.  He drove out along the back roads, had to turn around because of flooding (he was driving my MINI) and pick a different route, but made it.  The whole gang went out to Mexican (El Gallo again) - we enjoyed a few cocktails (duh), great company, and good food.

Saturday morning - someone was optimistic

Saturday was the first day to dawn with a hint of blue sky.  Lots of clouds, but I could still see blue sky.  (Dad calls them "sucker holes" - one of those stories I heard growing up about inexperienced pilots seeing small patches of blue sky among the clouds thinking it'll be a good flying day only to find out they were wrong...)

Anyway, Saturday I didn't show until the afternoon. My one class was IMMEDIATELY after Todd rode Blu in the Junior Horse class.  When you (or your horse) are in back to back classes where a change is necessary you're allowed to ask for a "gate hold" where they give you 2 minutes.  Yep two.  And in those two minutes we had to get the first rider (Todd) off the horse (Blu), take the number off his back (the number goes with the horse, not the rider) and put the number on the new rider's (me) back, then mount up and enter the arena.  It also means that I didn't have even 30 seconds to warm up.  But that's what Todd's ride in the class before me was for I guess.

And even in what seem to be the simplest classes there are challenges.  My class was the Walk/Jog class (meaning we didn't lope).  The challenge is that Blu is smart enough to know that every time he enters the show ring he is supposed to do three or four "speeds" (Walk, Jog, Lope, and sometimes Hand Gallop).  So making sure he stays to TWO speeds was a challenge.  And so was making sure that Blu didn't have any issues with all the people and noise from the wine tasting event that was happening at one end of the arena.  And if I may say so myself - I think we did a splendid job.

And the judges agreed.  I was totally thrilled when they called our number in first place on both Judge's cards! Two Blue Ribbons!  (Which makes 6 total, so I can no longer show in "Limit Horse" classes.)  And I got my first "Official Win" photo and "Victory Pass" photo!  Best of all, Ken was there to watch and cheer me on!!!

Lots of blue in this photo!

I put together a short clip of a few of my classes - Darlene and Sharon grabbed my camera a few times and I was lucky enough to have Sharon take a video of the winning class.  (Thanks Sharon!!)

It thrills me no end that Ken was there to watch me get my blue ribbons and take my victory lap.

Next show:  Diablo Arabian Horse Association's Spring Show in Elk Grove.  May 17-20, 2012

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Golden Gate Arabian Horse Show

Laura on Sebastian and me with Blu on Sunday

Last weekend was spent in Santa Rosa at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds.  The weekend started on Thursday - I got to the fairgrounds about 30 minutes after Todd.  I'd brought my camper and with Laura and Darlene's help found an RV spot right at the end of our barn.  It was perfect.

The barns at the fairgrounds are nice, and at the end of each barn they have a "real" room we were able to use as our tack room.  That meant that we had two groom stalls in addition to the tack room.  It worked out nicely though there weren't any time crunches/scheduling conflicts that made the extra room necessary.  The working arena was across the way from our barn, the covered show arena, called the "Lyttle Cow Palace"  was down a bit further from that.  We were able to lunge the horses in the working arena Thursday afternoon after we were all unpacked.  And Todd worked Blu and Echo and Sebastian (Laura's horses) in the show arena to get them familiar with it.

I'm not sure I ever want to go back there and show though.  The arena has one permanent wall at the end where the announcer's stand and the office are.  If you're standing there looking into the arena you'd be looking down the length of the arena.  On your left is a wall of warehouse type roller doors that can be closed if needed for weather.  It was needed.  The far end is open as is the right side.  The roof is metal so the rain really sounded loud.  And when the wind started it rattled the roller doors and came through the one open doorway creating a mini tornado that blew dirt into everyone's eyes.  Just a truly scary arena.  Ugh.

Blu checking out a pup

Friday was the first day of the show and was all "Sport Horse" classes where Laura showed Echo but Blu wasn't in any classes.  It was nice because the classes ended fairly early in the day, probably 4pm, so we were able to bring the horses back in the show arena to work them when it was over.  I enjoyed my ride on Blu, though.

About 9:30am Saturday

Saturday I was woken up at 5am with the camper blowing in the wind.  Then at 7am when I was heading out to feed the horses the rain started!  Big fat drops.  Argh!  This wasn't looking good.  The rain continued until noon and the only good thing about it was that Blu's first class, Half Arabian Western Pleasure Junior Horse with Todd riding, started about 12:15.  I had Blu covered in a sheet for the walk to the arena and the waiting area is under cover, so once you're at the arena things are dry.

Part of the waiting game - under cover, bundled up against the cold.

There were 5 horses in Blu's first class.  But sadly, Blu wasn't having a great day and he finished 4th.  His second class - Half Arabian Western Pleasure Open with Todd riding - wasn't until 4:45.  Quite a long wait between classes can make it hard on the horses - and riders.  Blu finished out of the ribbons.  It was a bummer, but he was competing against some very nice horses.

And because of the bad conditions I ended up not riding at all because I was concerned about my back.  With the weather as bad as it was, if Blu were to spook, or to slip (the arena was over watered and footing was not good) I didn't want to chance getting hurt again.  So we decided to scratch my two classes.  But I still had lots of fun watching Blu.  And the rain opened up again as soon as we got back to the barn making it an easy decision to go to dinner.  We went to Willie Birds and ate delicious turkey dinners.

Sunday the sun finally shined. Yahoo.  Though it was bitterly cold and the mud was nasty. Ah well.  At least the sun was out.

The Championship classes were Sunday.  Blu got a 4th in the Junior Horse class again.  But the Open class went much better this time around and Blu got a 4th.  I was happy.

Here's a clip from the Open Championship class

Let's hope the Rancho Murieta show has better weather!