Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Quest for the Best, or Six Trips in a Truck

Sunday was horse show day. My friend Rebecca had a Fun Show planned and I thought it would be fun to take Teddie, my Canadian/Thoroughbred cross filly over to Rebecca's for a little show experience. Bear in mind that Teddie (aka Peut-etre) has rarely loaded into a trailer, let alone been to a horse show.

I admit that horse shows are no longer my favorite way to spend a weekend day. After years and years of shooting shows two to three weekends a month, I no longer feel any great pull towards the ribbons. As far as I'm concerned, I'd rather mow the grass or clean the bathrooms. But one has a responsibility when training a young horse (Teddie is only three years old and in the midst of training for riding) to ensure that her training is thorough. So, she needs all the experience she can acquire. And, it is fun to spend a day with my friends, no matter what!The real fun started on Thursday. In anticipation of the 10 mile trip to Rebecca's farm, I attempted to get dear Teddie into my little two-horse slant trailer. After working with her for two hours in the hot, hot August sun, sweat dripping off the both of us, me with teeth gritted in determination that she load, verses her just-as-gritty determination that she not, she finally loaded but would have nothing to do with the slant option of the trailer. Do I cook out here fighting with her for another two hours, since she is now stepping up into the trailer nicer than a little puppy-dog? No, I think to myself. Quit while you're ahead. I quit.

Comes Sunday morning and Ted is to be joined by two of her barn mates, Rosie and Chippers, as their bipeds, Cheryl & Jim, and Jeanie, and spectators and volunteer grooms Margie and grand daughter, Lizzie and Kathy have decided that they too are going to the fun show too!

We biped types think we should use another trailer as Teddie will load into my trailer, however she, being rather selfish of her personal space, will not slant, so she must ride solo -- rather like Cleopatra on her barge. Since we have three horses and one pick-up (mine) to transport the horses the 10 miles to the show, we have a logistical problem.

After calling my friends to see if we can use their trailer instead (both of whom agree) I back the Tundra up to the next trailer and hitch up. As is the the rule that is often attributed to a fellow named Murphy, the second trailer's electrical pig tail won't connect to my truck and we don't have an adapter. So Dave, my husband and Stable Boy, unhitches and we move on to the next trailer. Hurray, it hitches up nicely, but the horses,specifically my dear Teddie who was the original object of this exercise in frustration and heat, has other plans. She wants absolutely nothing to do with this new, strange, spooky trailer set before her.

At first, I decide to give up and transport the two willing horses to the show. But I, turning on my heel and after much coaxing by my enthusiastic friends, refuse to accept defeat. I instruct Dave to unhitch the third trailer and re-hitch to my little two-horse slant of which good old Ted is so inordinately fond. I will transport each horse one at a time!

My show-anticipating compatriots agree and we load up Ted. Starting down the road, we notice there are lights flashing and an accident ahead. it is a horse trailer that has broken loose and is sitting in a precarious position. Not a good sign... We decide to turn around. Making our way over the back roads, we arrive at the show grounds, Teddie craning her head with white-eyed terror. Who are these strange horses? Where are her four-footed buddies? What terrible place has this strange woman who makes her do all manner of odd things brought her?

Arriving in the nick of time before the first class of the day (Ted's) we unload her, hastily wipeing her off while checking for damage before trotting her into the ring for an in-hand class. Meanwhile, Dave and Lesli, rider of the multitudes (except Ted who has never been ridden) head back to the barn with the rig. They will load and transport horse number two, Rosie. Rosie, the diminutive Halflinger filly who is the boss of the mare herd, loads without any problem and back they come to the show grounds. Rosie is scheduled to don fluffy pink tulle and lace tutu, a picture hat with ribbons, roses, and beads attached, and a beautiful flower accented bow of pink tulle at the base of her tail. She is entering the costume class and on this particular hot, muggy morning,will be the very essence of flouncy equine femininity.

Back at the show grounds, Ted makes her debut and I am filled with anticipation of exultant judge's praise and numerous blue ribbons as Teddie makes her inaugural trot into the glorious show world. The judge had other ideas -- a fifth place rosette deemed appropriate by the judge because Good Old Ted's derriere is still bigger than her chest, a typical problem for many immature female types of various species, truth be told. While somewhat disappointed with this less than stellar result we head back to the trailer to re-load my reluctant and unsuccessful beauty queen into her chariot for the less than triumphant procession back to the farm. We must dump out Ted and pick up the last member of our show bound equine conga line.

Ted has other ideas. She has decided that, since she had such a great time on the ride over and is enjoying her first show experience so very much, she doesn't want to re-enter the hot gray metal box that stands before her with its welcoming wide-open door, its enticingly stuffed and waiting hay-net impotently bidding her come hither. To Ted's credit, after surprisingly little sweat flowing and come on baby girl coaxing, she decides to cooperate and we head back to the barn for round three.

During our absence Rosie, the diminutive Halflinger filly, has managed to place fifth in the walk-trot division so we have another brightly colored bit of taffeta and satin to hang from the two quick shelters that provides shade from the sweltering Midwest August sun for we bipeds. The horses will enjoy real shade from a tree under which the trailer will be parked upon its return.

Waiting back at the ranch (or more accurately put, the farm) is Chippers, a loud leopard Walkaloosa who will be making his show debut in the on-the-ground pole division. Teddie unloads beautifully (go figure) and Chippers loads up, also beautifully, and back we go to to show, arriving just in time to see Rosie, slated for the costume class, make her debut in her beautiful pink ensemble.

 Our Little Rosie...

She is gloriously feminine, her tulle and delicate flower bedecked blond mane and tail the perfect foil to the other horses dressed as hula-girls, beech bums, knights in shining armor, brides and grooms and a swag and bling toting gangsta masta from the hood. Rosie wins her blue ribbon. Finally, vindication of the sweltering, sweating, exhausting effort put out by we bipeds.We have our blue ribbon. So what if every horse in the class won a blue ribbon as well -- it's blue and it counts!

Rosie and her lady-in-waiting, Lesli

During the lull between classes, Margie and her grand daughter entertain a little butterfly that has decided that Margie is the best thing since sliced bread -- it follows her everywhere. It flits away and returns, flits away and returns.

Margie's little winged-friend

I fall asleep in the ground, having exhausted my energies schlepping horses back and forth since seven in the morning. This dog won't hunt so I dream of the cool blue pool of water that awaits me back home when this sweltering day is done. However, further challenges must be met! Duties as a member of the cheering section await! I arouse myself for the next and final class of our show day.


Chippers and Rosie will compete against each other in the On-the-Ground Poles division. Lesli, our rider of the multitudes, will ride Rosie first in the class and Chippers last in the class with seven or eight others competing during the interlude. While all does not go well for the colorful little Chippers due to a momentary lapse of concentration by his skipper, Rosie manages to pull out a fourth place! Our little blond and pink princess is our belle of the day and we decide to pack up and head for home.

Lesli - Rider of the Multitudes -- and Rosie

Since Chippers and Rosie are much more sensible quadrupeds than Ted, they decide they will load happily into the slant horse, thereby cutting out another trip back and forth. I am grateful.

As I, the skipper of the horse-toting trailer, try to stay awake as the heat shimmers on the road ahead (no waning heat on this day) we caravan home with three cars, one truck, seven bipeds, two quick-shelters, eight chairs, one folding table, two saddles, two buckets, one tote full of miscellany, two hay-nets, one cooler, one water cooler, one manure fork and broom, a horse trailer containing two horses, and most importantly of all, four bits of taffeta and satin shaped into rosettes – hard won rosettes to be displayed proudly in the barn until their shine is dulled by a coating of dust and old cobwebs.

I'm truly grateful to Rebecca for putting on such a well-monikered, truly fun show! I am grateful to the horses for being so tolerant of our biped vanity. I am grateful to my friends for coming along on this expedition. For, despite the heat, struggles, sweat, horse flies (it's that time of year), hard work and disappointments -- at least for me -- it was fun and I had a great time hanging out with my friends, no matter how many feet they have.

After all, what else can we do, we intrepid voyagers,we equi-enthusiasts? We are not unlike James Joyce's long wandering and suffering Ulysses. We cannot resist the alluring call of those pesky sirens -- those taffeta and satin rosettes. And, like Ulysses -- despite the obstacles set before us -- we are compelled to answer their call!

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