Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Turkey, travel and tragedy

Ian and I spent a lovely Thanksgiving Day with our friends Beth and Tom and their daughters who live in Minnetonka. Beth and I met in 1993 when we worked at Public Radio International. Now she’s reinvented herself into a registered nurse and I’m a horse farmer! LOL Because we were going to begin our drive to Kansas City, Missouri after our turkey dinner we arrived towing our 3-horse living quarters trailer behind our one-ton truck. We swung through Minneapolis and picked up my son Richard. Our dog Lady comes with us to the shows, so she snuggled up to my son in the back seat. We had a lovely time at Beth’s, where we always meet interesting people. This time it was a politically involved and savvy family and we discussed all the over dinner taboos, like politics and religion. My cousin Brenda and her family live down the street from Beth’s so they came over and joined us for dessert and conversation. We gave tours of the living quarters and assured the neighbors that we were not hauling horses as well!

After dinner, we took Richard home and jumped on 35W headed south toward Missouri. It is an eight-hour drive and we got as far as Ames, Iowa that night and parked ourselves at a well-lit truck stop. The trailer is self-sufficient with its own heat, water pump, toilet, frig, stove, well-stocked kitchen and cozy queen-sized bed. We snuggled in and slept until about seven when the neighboring diesel trucks began pulling back onto the highway.

We arrive in Kansas City, MO around 1:30 Friday afternoon. Our trainer Tony and his family, who were hauling the three horses to be shown that weekend, were about four hours behind us. We checked in with the show office and prepared the box stalls with wood shaving bedding and water buckets.

Just before we arrive on the show grounds we received some tragic news. Our four-month-old American Saddlebred/American Paint cross weanling colt was dead. Our neighbor Donna who has had horses all her life and who watches our animals when we are traveling, called sobbing that sometime during the night Thursday Chocolate had caught his head in his stall gate and broken his neck. He was such a sweetheart of a horse and we three are heartbroken. The only consolation is that he died quickly. He was laid to rest in a peaceful spot. We close our eyes and see him galloping, kicking and bucking across Heaven’s hills playing with all the horses that waited to welcome him home. Amen.

Setting our sadness aside, we focused on the business at hand of participating in our last show of the 2006 season. The American Royal Arabian Horse Show is held in beautiful facilities that were built in what was once the country’s busiest stockyards. We and another client showed under the Genesis Training Center banner, and we did well. The three horses shown got either first or second place, which allowed the horse and handler to show in the championship class where we took either champion or reserve champion ribbons. Tony showed our horse Lookin For Trouble on Saturday and they got a blue ribbon followed by a reserve champion ribbon. I showed Trouble on Sunday as his amateur owner and won a blue ribbon and grand champion gelding for the show! My first grand championship and when I came out of the ring, Tony was there to greet me with a high-five and while he took Trouble back to his stall, Ian gave me a big hug!

On Saturday evening Trouble was entered in his first liberty class. This is a real crowd pleaser as the horses come in the ring one at a time and run around the ring without halter (at liberty) for two minutes to music. I chose Travis Tritt singing “T-R-O-U-B-L-E.” Trouble looked beautiful and Ian and Tony worked in tandem to keep him moving around the ring. When the music stops and time is called, the handlers have two minutes to catch their horse. Trouble had other ideas. With a full house watching, he ran full speed from one end of the arena to the other dodging or ignoring all efforts to get him back under control. The little bugger! Finally he snorted to a halt and Tony slipped his halter back on. The crowd cheered and they were on to the next entrant. Needless to add, we did not win that class. LOL Tony said a lot of his behavior could be attributed to the fact that this was his first at liberty class and that he’s still a youngster.