Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Trouble comes to Scottsdale

Yesterday afternoon it began raining. It came in everything from cats-n-dogs to sheets and drizzles, but it never let up. West World, where the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show is held, has several covered arenas, but the halter classes are conducted in Wendell Arena, which is out in the open. The Arizona desert sand turned to a red sandy soup. The seating in the outdoor arenas left butts and backs with imprints, even those who tried gingerly balancing on chair edges got wet. Gone along with the sunshine were the warm temps. It dipped into the 40s last night, which is just as warm as it is in Minnesota today! The local weatherman said it would stop raining around midnight, but at 3 a.m. it was still tapping the trailer roof.

Today began chilly and overcast, and we rendezvoused at the horse stalls in fleece jackets and hooded sweatshirts. Tony and the Siddell family from Iowa, who also show during the year under the GTC banner, had already seen to breakfast and were beginning to groom the two geldings showing this morning; two-year-old Fire Hawk GR, owned by our friends at The Lake Arabians in northwest Iowa and our three-year-old, Lookin For Trouble. Tony was showing both in back-to-back classes, so both horses needed to be groomed and then ferried up to/back from the Wendell Arena. Ian and I were very pleased and thankful the Siddell family was happy to pitch in, as this left us to enjoy the classes as spectators.

Hawk and Tony joined 19 other horses in “Lake Wendell”, renamed for its newly formed puddles and swampy edges. Both handlers and horses tiptoed in to find footing in the less wet area before starting up their entrance trots. As you can imagine shoes were caked with mud and suit pants and horse legs were splattered up to the knees.

Hawk’s class was tough. To me, he looked great and he and Tony worked well as a unit. But, I’m not one of the three judges and sadly Hawk did not win a Top 10 as all of us working the GTC stables had wished.

As the sun broke through and warmed the stands Trouble and Tony came in the arena first in a field of 11 and that gelding of ours looked so handsome on his first pass that he brought tears to my eyes. I just love this horse! As I watched the class I wondered which one of all the good-looking horses would be eliminated? I tried to honestly assess each one with what I know about conformation and working attitude and I could not find fault with any, but Top 10 means 10 and only 10, one was going to go home empty handed. Would it be Trouble? I kept watching Tony and Trouble and I could not see how that well-oiled machine working so well together could be left standing without a ribbon.

As the class proceeded I stood at rail’s edge chatting with a man I’d recognized from shows in Minnesota. He agreed it was a tough class and that all 11 were worthy of a Top 10. As we gazed together trying to second-guess the judges he said, “Well, it could be that small black bay over there with Tony Steiner.” WHAT? I thought, my Trouble? I smiled and said, “I hope not.” That was when he realized we were looking at my horse. He smiled apologetically and said it could well be his horse, a dancing black beauty being shown by his wife because he wasn’t really in the best condition. Nice of him, but he’d spoken his mind and I took his comments in stride, after all, he’s not one of the three judges either!

In the end, the judges gave both of our horses and eight more Top 10 honors. Naturally, we’re thrilled and proud. When I gave Tony the conversation highlights as we walked back to the stalls he said that it’s hard for the judges to eliminate Trouble because there’s nothing wrong with him [conformation-wise] and when given the right cues by his handler Trouble does his job well. Then Tony patted me on the back, smiled and added, “You’ve got your work cut out for you in the amateur class on Saturday,” which is when I show Trouble in the amateur owner to handle (AOTH) class.

Tomorrow morning Ian shows seven-month-old Kiss in an AOTH class. Kiss and Tony won Top 10 honors last Saturday in the Half Arabian In Hand Stock/Hunter Type Yearling Geldings class. Kiss was also marked in first place on one of the three judging cards, which is a thrill to learn. Judging cards are posted for review so people can learn where their horses scored relative to others in the class. It will be interesting to see what Trouble’s marks were.


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