Saturday, September 09, 2006

Des Moines, Iowa

We went to an Arabian horse show in Des Moines, Iowa August 31-September 4 (Labor Day weekend). We were a three truck and horse trailer convoy traveling into Iowa, Minnesota's neighbor to the south. The drive was five hours from when we left the Genesis Training Center and arrived at the Iowa State Fairgrounds. The horse barns were quite nice and because it was the Iowa Fall Classic & Gold Star Futurity most of the horse farms in attendance dressed up their row of stalls with colored drapes and facility logos. There was a progressive barn party one evening with lots of good food and plenty of opportunity for networking. I am coming to see horse shows as a wonderful marketing opportunity on many fronts - for the farm, for the owner, handler, trainer, breeder, seller, buyer, and for the horse itself. It’s a wonderful time of coming together as a team to work to get the horse show ready. Showing at halter for a horse is a cross between body building and a beauty contest; there’s plenty of baby oil, Vaseline-like goo, hoof polish, body coating show sheen spray to highlight conformation and definition along with a trunk full of tricks to divert the eye from less than perfect aspects.

As far as I can figure out, the judge’s job is to first eliminate and then to choose which horse, in his opinion, is the best in a given class. There are many different classes; halter (horse in halter with handler on the ground), performance (horse saddled with rider) and showmanship (halter or performance, with the human being judged). Certainly there are politics and possibly relationships that affect outcomes, but being so new to the show circuit Ian and I are happily oblivious to these things. We are having such a good time and are learning a lot from these experiences.

Tony Steiner, who trains both horse and handler, showed our two-year-old purebred Arabian gelding Lookin For Trouble in a halter class for his age group and won a first place blue ribbon and then went on to win overall Grand Champion Gelding for the horse show! We are so proud of Trouble and how he and Tony work as a team. I showed Trouble in a halter class specifically for an “amateur owner to handle” and won a second place red ribbon. I was very pleased and Tony said we beat out horses that were older than Trouble and had been to Nationals previously and placed there. Trouble will only get better as he matures and we will show better together as our working relationship continues to improve. Ian now has his Arabian Horse Association competition card and will begin taking lessons from Tony, so he can join in the fun and feel the pre-show nerves and the elation of hearing your horse’s number called at the end of a class.

When we were in Des Moines, we stayed about 20 minutes drive away from the grounds at a Hilton Garden Inn. We would rather not have to spend the money on hotels and food or make much of a commute at any horse show. We prefer being close enough to do bedtime barn checks, feed, water and clean stalls ourselves. We were lucky enough to find a 1999 4-Star brand 3-horse trailer with living quarters (think RV) for sale by a private party and I will sign the papers for its financing on Monday. It is about 30 feet long with a gooseneck hitch and needs to be pulled by a one-ton truck. The trailer has space for a queen-sized bed, with a built-in dinette, 3-gas burner stovetop, oven, sink, refrigerator, freezer, TV, and stereo with sound system to the outside. There is a full bathroom with toilet and shower and there are cupboards and cubbyholes throughout for lots of storage. Besides being able to carry three horses in the back, there are two tack rooms and space for a generator, so the trailer can function without being plugged in. Needless to say, we are thrilled! We don’t have a truck that can pull it yet, but we’re scouting the car lots to see what we can afford. We may have to trade in our bright yellow Mazda Protégé and become a two-truck family. This trailer will begin paying for itself when we go to the Medallion Stallion Fall Festival show September 28-October 1 held at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. Trouble and I are showing on Sunday, October 1 in the two-year-old gelding/colt amateur to handle class at 1 p.m. Wish us luck!


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