Our journey to show at this year's US National Arabian and Half Arabian Championship Horse Show began with Ian picking up Renoir from Lonesome Dove Training Center (LDTC) on Friday afternoon, October 22. Since LDTC is 2+ hours to our northwest in Pequot Lakes, we decided to bring Renoir closer to home so we could cut some travel time hours. Renoir was a guest at Wildflower Farm in Pine City, where our other stallion, Goldmount Royal Design, lives. On Sunday, we spent the afternoon with Wildflower Farm owners Cathy & Jim giving Renoir the perfect show clip and bath. There are so many tricks and tips to learn to showcase Renoir's finest Arabian features. Finished, we swaddled him in a stable blanket to dry and rest.
Wet, and smelling like bubble bath, Ian and I returned home to finish packing the trailer and eat dinner with Richard, who is now living with us, working at the local casino and caretaking the menagerie while we're gone.
We returned to Wildflower Farm at 8 p.m., loaded Renoir and began our trek south. We traveled I-35 south through Des Moines, Iowa, on to Kansas City, Missouri, where we took I-435 toward Joplin, then I-44 into Oklahoma and Tulsa. After 700-some miles, we arrived at 2 p.m. Monday afternoon. We stopped in the wee hours at a roadside rest to sleep and for breakfast at the Waffle House outside Kansas City. Renoir travels so well. I, on the other hand, arrived achy, not having found the best position for sleep in the back seat of the Ford F-150. It was wonderful to find Tulsa bathed in sunshine and 80 degrees, after leaving home in rainy 50s.
Population-wise, Tulsa is the second largest city in Oklahoma and the 47th largest in the US. It is located in the northeastern quadrant of a vast state and, according to Wikipedia, is near the heart of Tornado Alley Luckily, October is well past tornado season.
US Nationals is being held at a huge facility, Expo Square. We were too road weary to have a good look around and I don’t know the stats regarding how many horses and people are estimated to be here, but it’s quite the venue! It was easy to find Renoir’s stall and our hotel, which is also located on the Expo Square grounds. What was really fun was to have our aisle neighbors so excited to see Renoir and ask to have photos with him – just like a rock star!
I have known Dali and Terry since the fall of 1973 when we three met at Moby Dick's 'whale of a drink' bar at 620 Hennepin Avenue in downtown Minneapolis. We've stayed in virtual touch through the years, but the last time we met was at a small brasserie for wine and pizza near Gare Montparnasse when I lived in Paris' 14th arrondissement.
The two were in Minnesota for a visit, they currently live in Nevada. It was lovely to introduce them to Ian. We met for dinner with another couple at Travail Restaurant & Amusements in Robbinsdale, where the food, wine and service were delightful. It's not often Ian and I rendezvous for purely social gatherings away from the farm, but this was SO worth it. Love you two!
Ian and I went to the fair on Sunday, September 5. We had great weather and pretty much covered the place. The best thing we ate was bacon on a stick and we love our Nitro ice cream. We had a quick rendezvous with the Talisman family too. It was fun and something I savor at summer's end.
Obviously I do not have the drive and discipline of other bloggers. I let all of September slip away without even as much as an update from Canadian Nationals in Regina, Saskatchewan in mid August! Shame! A lot has gone on and I will attempt to catch you up in a series of posts.
The 53rd Annual Canadian Nationals Arabian & Half Arabian Championship Horse Show August 16-21, Evraz Place, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada First, I must give a plug to professional barn helper, groom and farm sitter, Katie Heetland, who stayed at the farm and took care of all the animals while we traveled to Canada. She did a stellar job. If you ever need a farm sitter you can find her on Facebook or get in touch with me and I’ll put you in touch.
On Saturday, August 14, we began our trek north. We picked up Renoir from Lonesome Dove Training Center (LDTC) in Pequot Lakes around 7 p.m. and headed north on 371, then west on 2 to Rugby, where we pulled into a rest stop around 2:30 a.m. for some shut eye. Dawn welcomed us to a very flat prairie stretching all in directions. We rolled into Minot at 6:30 a.m., spotted a McDonald's, so we got off the highway. There were some cars in the lot and its lights were on inside and out. So, it’s open, right? We walked to the door and found it locked. There were no hours posted in the glass and when I beckoned the uniformed McDonald's staffer milling about inside asking in my brand of sign language (fingertip pointing to my imaginary wristwatch) as to when they opened, I swear, he looked at me, shrugged and walked away! We waited in the truck for about 30 minutes, watching as others had a similar experience at the door and drive thru and not seeing any other open eating alternatives, we gave up.
Near Kenmare, North Dakota, about 20 miles south of the Portal border crossing, we saw the aftermath of its killer tornado that had passed through the previous Thursday. Click HERE for photos.
We arrived at the border just before 9 a.m. to find the Canadian Immigration Officers were just arriving for duty. That's right, it is not staffed 24/7, and if we had gotten there earlier we would have sat – not ideal when hauling a horse. By happenstance I'm sure, all of the immigration officers were blonde, blue eyed, very fit looking women in navy blue uniforms packing huge side arms. I remember wondering why they didn't list to one side from carrying such weight. When our horse and human paperwork was all checked and stamped, we rolled through and breakfasted at Canadian franchise coffee shop, Tim Hortons, known for its coffee and donuts. Sated, we drove another three hours, arriving Regina at 1 p.m. learning that somewhere along the line we crossed into Mountain Time and lost an hour.
Exhausted, we easily found Evraz Place, which is normally a hockey venue, where we off loaded Renoir into his stall in the Canada Central East building. After watching him roll in the fresh shavings, drink and begin nibbling on his hay, we drove the 10 minutes to downtown Regina and checked in at the Ramada Inn.
Regina refers to itself as the oasis of the prairie and I couldn’t agree more. It is a delightful city with its Wascana Lake, sparkling Casino Regina and mature-treed neighborhoods. It is the second largest city in the province (after Saskatoon) and it is the seat of provincial government.
Before leaving home I called our cell phone provider and added a week's worth of international calling time on our plan. I did not want to be hit with international toll tariffs for calls or texts made and received. In fact, I wanted to be able to freely contact folks with updates and the extra $65 for both cells was well worth it.
We were stalled with folks we hadn't met before, but we had the show in common and it turned out to be a fun, talkative group. There was owner/rider Sarah Ingram of Alberta, Canada with her gelding PA Sebastion, who became the two-time 2010 Canadian Nationals Champion in the Open and ATR Jumper classes. Ohio's Alexandra Ramage was our neighbor with her Sport Horse champion stallion Masterpiece PA++++//. She was also accompanied by her Vizla. I’d only seen these chestnut-colored hunting dogs when watching the Westminster Dog Show. This was a nice boy. Septuagenarian Roger Odegard rounded out our end of the aisle and kept us all laughing with his ever-present smile and well-told trainer stories.
Ian and I just love taking care of Renoir. We got to do all the day-to-day stuff; feeding, watering, mucking his stall, bathing, grooming, lunging, petting, loving, kissing. He's a very well behaved boy.
Renoir and Ian showed together in the AAOTH class on Tuesday afternoon. The two did well and came in 4th place, just out of the Top Ten ribbons. I guess I should explain that at the national shows Top Ten ribbons are awarded to 50% of the class versus giving out ribbons to the first 10 places. Renoir's AAOTH class with Ian had six entries, so ribbons only went to the first three places. LDTC's Erik Haff showed Renoir in the Open Stallion Breeding class on Saturday evening and, while we thought they did well, the judges placed the pair in last place (9 of 9). Ouch. I've said before that horse shows are our business meetings. We came prepared but we didn't accomplish what we wanted to. The fault lies with us (humans) and armed with the judging score cards we took the time to look at our performances objectively.
The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) rulebook states in part that "[Arabian] Stallions especially should have an abundance of natural vitality, animation, spirit, suppleness and balance." Looking at the posted judging cards Renoir's lowest numbers on his individual score sheet were in two categories, Movement and Substance at the Walk. The class scores were very close, with only single digits between a Top Ten ribbon and nothing at all. Basically, my take is that Renoir lacked the 'vitality' and 'animation' that the judges are expecting in a breeding stallion class. In short, he was too calm and well behaved. To improve his numbers and thus his overall placement in Tulsa at US Nationals we will have to show him with much more pep in his step. I'm confident we can do just that. Heaven knows he has it in him; we just need to ask Renoir to turn it on. We decided to begin heading home on Saturday evening when classes finished. We had packed up our Ford F-150 and the two-horse trailer earlier that day. We got Renoir loaded and headed out around 10:30 p.m. Ian is the driver. He likes to drive and I like to read or sleep. I climbed into the back seat and snoozed until the border, only becoming momentarily semiconscious when I needed to show my passport and Renoir's stamped papers from his entry into Canada. Passing inspection, I drifted off again and stirred briefly when Ian eased off onto the Rugby roadside rest again. We rolled into LDTC around Sunday lunch, offloaded Renoir and headed home.
Being at the Royal Red Show for the first time was thrilling and I would love to go again. It's always fun to be around high caliber animals and to meet other Arabian horse enthusiasts from all parts of North America. Now we're focused on Tulsa and US Nationals.
Lookin For Trouble, Ian & me (Janet) pictured. I worked in PR for almost 20 years and now work in the Travel & Leisure world. Ian works as a business analyst. We were living in Spain, but in 2005 to be closer to most of our children and to my parents, we decided to move from Catalonia to Minnesota. I am a mother of two sons Richard (1980) in Minneapolis and Michael (1977), who lives/works in Barcelona with his Catalan wife, Natalia. Ian’s children, Alexandra (1989) and Peter (1992), live in Canada. My father is Nicaraguan and lives in Managua. My mother is American from Scotch, Irish, French, British extraction. Ian (1956) is British with good Scottish roots. We enjoy our Arabian horses, listening to public radio news, travel, and cooking programs, plus TV shows like The Amazing Race, Downton Abbey, and Call The Midwife. This blog is about our various life adventures since coming to the US in 2005.