Ian and I went to Louisville, Kentucky to watch the final weekend of the U.S. National Arabian Horse Show. We pulled our living quarters trailer so we had somewhere comfy to stay. The drive from here is about 12-13 hours. Our trainer, Tony, had been in Louisville at the show with three other-client horses about 10 days before we arrived on Thursday. His wife Cindy and their two children, Katie and Scott, ages 4 and 8, respectively, rode with us as we drove through Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and then crossed the Ohio River into Louisville, Kentucky. The kids are great and were entertained most of the way by watching their portable DVD player. Wished I’d have had that when my two were young. We actually left on Wednesday afternoon as soon as Scott got off the school bus. There was no school in Minnesota on Thursday and Friday due to statewide teachers meetings. We drove to Madison, Wisconsin Wednesday night and parked our truck and trailer on the street across from the Super 8 where Cindy and the kids slept. We were up at 5, Cindy and the kids came knocking at the door at 6, so we hit the road early and made Louisville at 4 that afternoon. We also gained an hour because Kentucky is in the Eastern Time Zone. Tony was happy to see his family and they checked in a nearby Super 8. Tony had been sleeping in his horse trailer’s tack room bundled in many layers of comforters! Kentucky is in The South, but not so far south that camping like that was comfy cozy.
We parked the trailer in the RV section of the Freedom Hall complex and hooked up to electricity for a whopping $45/night. The trailer has a furnace that runs on propane, the trailer carries its own two tanks. The temps in Louisville were in the 30s and 40s, which when the sun shines it not too bad, but at night its cold. The locals were complaining it was already winter. Ha! We’d left Minnesota in the 20s with drizzle and occasional flurries.
Freedom Hall is a huge convention center and for the horse show its exhibit halls had been converted into horse barns. They had taken in truckloads of clay dirt and spread it out over the concrete floor like rolling out cookie dough on a counter. Then with the cushioned dirt floor in place stalls were built with alleyways set up much like exhibitor areas only each square housed a horse. Then each competitor’s barn came in and dressed up their area of stalls with drapes and farm logos, some created living room areas complete with gardens, fountains, couches and televisions.
The Freedom Hall arena held the show classes. There was a separate exhibition arena that was set up just for what I’ll call cowboy-related specialties like reining, cutting and calf roping. We never got to that arena and more’s the pity because in Minnesota we rarely get to see Arabian horses working in these types of classes. Ian and I watched halter classes, which is what I have shown Trouble in this year, and performance classes, meaning a horse and rider versus halter when it is a horse and handler. We watched horses being ridden in Western Pleasure with saddles and bridles trimmed in silver and riders in sparkly shirts, vests with suede chaps, boots, hats and spurs. We enjoyed English Pleasure Park classes where the horses strut like drum majorettes. The most beautiful classes were native costume when the rider and horse are dressed as well-heeled Bedouins.
The Nationals have been held in Louisville for some 20 years and this was the last time. Of course this was our first Nationals, but I could see how it was very emotional for people who had competed in Freedom Hall year after year. Next year Nationals will be in Albuquerque, New Mexico. In 2008 through 2011, Nationals will be in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Albuquerque will be a 20-hour haul, but Tulsa is just south on 35W about 12 hours. I am hoping we have horses to show in New Mexico next year. To get to Nationals, a horse must qualify by winning first or second in a class at Regionals, which in our case are held in Illinois in August. We didn’t begin showing Lookin For Trouble until August 2006, but he has already qualified to show at the regional show in 2007.
On Saturday morning we took a tour of Churchill Downs racetrack, where the Kentucky Derby is run annually on the first Saturday in May. This was a thrill for me as I’ve been watching the Derby and its Triple Crown sister races The Preakness Stakes and The Belmont since I was a teen. The racetrack was not open but was readying itself for the Breeder’s Cup that beginning running Saturday, November 4.
I took advantage of being in The South and we ate at a diner-type restaurant chain named Waffle House. I remember these fondly from the 1980s when I went on road trips to visit friends in Tennessee. Ian and I ordered my menu favorite of cheesy scrambled eggs served with grits, bacon and raisin toast with apple butter. And like most places in The South, when you order iced tea it comes already sweetened. Yum!
We packed up and began our drive home on Sunday morning and thanks to highway construction near Madison, Wisconsin we got home at 1 in the morning Monday. Lady had spent the long weekend at Donna’s playing with her two pups, which are now both taller than their mother. Sunday evening Donna put Lady inside our house so she was there to greet us when we dragged in.
It was good to go, but good to get home too.