Archive for September, 1998
Velvet and I spent an uncomfortable Firday night in the reedy lower pasture. I was in my tent with punctured air mattress and she had to paw her patch of ground to make it comfy.
Finally 6:00am Saturday morning came and we are up. At 7:00 am, I am to meet people who are interested in getting some information. They want names and addresses of people with nice trail riding fox trotters for sale I’m going to give them Larry and Mona Dollarhide of Larry’s stable. They want to find another Velvet at her breeder…Robert Lewis of Butler. They were intrigued about Natural Horsemanship training methods.
Velvet and I take care of our morning body and skin and hair care functions, adorn ourselves with makeup, and approve of ourselves in the mirror. Of course, Velvet had her breakfast immediately upon my crawling out of the tent. I look for my purse. I look for my purse again. I look again, for my purse. All of a sudden the glow of understanding lights up. It wasn’t one of my Internet boyfriends (Jeff, John, Craig…too many too list) trying to find me on the page last night!. It was someone who had found my purse, paging me! I expect my purse to be returned…I’ll just check in at the office and my purse will be there. I truly am Ms Lucky!
I ask Velvet, “Please crawl into the trailer. We’ll go up and find some nice grass.” We make our wide turn in the pasture and start up the steep hill. Hmmm, the flintstone rocky road appears to be wet. Funny, it’s in the middle of a drought, and the only wet stuff in sight is running down the road.
We charge up the steep, very steep hill and the water is coming down the road in a torrent. The truck starts slipping and the great adverse-condition driver quickly slips into 4X drive and forward progress resumes. The road goes straight up. The water comes straight down. We slow and stall. Not being a stranger to being stuck in snow and ice, I rock, I turn the wheels, I rock. We rock great, with zero movement. There is a semi-truck water storage unit, which is used for the water during the Celebration. Water is pouring out in a torrent at 6:45 am…right down our road. My tires are half buried and I’ve made some dandy deep ruts. I am a woman alone, stuck with horse-in-trailer. It’s 6:45 and I have to be at the lunch stand in 15 minutes. I do what any red-blooded 50-year-old woman would do: I look desperately around for a male savior. Unfortunately, it’s too early. All the male heroes are still asleep in their trailers. The thought occurred to me that Velvet weighs near 1000 lbs. I open the trailer door and tell the heavyweight to exit the trailer and go tie herself up. With a much lighter load, I pray that the truck will free itself. It does! It pops right out of the ditch and slowly tops the hill. Velvet whinnies in major relief. I cross myself.
I quickly find a nice grassy place to park and Velvet is brought to the trailer and tied where she can eat nice juicy grass. I quickly hike to the cook shack…penniless. The women are there and I lie and tell them that I don’t eat breakfast. I “allow” them to buy me coffee. One of them brings her own flavored toast and offers me a piece. I don’t let on that this piece of toast is all that is between me and death by breakfast-starvation.
After we get done talking I hurriedly visit the office to ask about my purse. “NO PURSE has been turned it”, the officewoman sez. I tell her that someone tried to page me last night from the cook shack. She sez that it’s probably still there. Grrrr, I think…”I could have had my purse and eaten breakfast.” I turn around to leave and in walks a man holding my purse. It was left in the cook shack overnight and they decided that it was time to turn it into the office. See what I mean about my purse return luck?
Unfortunately, the purse finder took their finder’s fee… my cash. However, my credit cards and checkbook are intact. I am grateful to get the purse back with the important things. However, I still am penniless!
I walk hurridly back and explained this money thing to Velvet. I promise her a nice surprise if she goes along with me. She agreed, knowing that her “momma gotta have money”. She leaps into the trailer and off we go, registering zero on the speedometer.
Guess what happens to the grounds on Saturday—the big night! Everyone starts coming into the grounds and parks with little car parts hanging out into the small road. The golf cart guy had to find the woman who stuck her who bumper into the road, before I could get out. I had my own traffic jam! Finally we made it to the highway and went into Ava. Thank goodness a bank with ATM exists on the big corner where there was plenty of turn around room. I don’t mind backing when I’m all alone at my own property, but other people get mean when I take ½ hour to back 5 feet. We zipped across the road to McDonalds and finally got my breakfast. Whew.
With a lovely breakfast in hand, we zoomed out on the open road. Velvet wondered if I had lost my mind when we passed the Celebration grounds. Velvet’s surprise breakfast was at the beautiful roadside park. She got to eat grass in the park and drank out of the babbling brook. I relaxed, knowing I had money and was again a citizen of the world.
We returned to the grounds and managed to squeeze the rig into a place where Velvet had room to stand and eat some grass. All this time, I hadn’t got to do my very favorite thing and that is to go on a ride on the roads behind the Celebration ground. I saddled up “Ms Ava Winner” and off we went. We were having a fine time when we heard footsteps behind us. Shortly the footsteps caught up with us and behold a woman riding another beautiful black horse asked if she could ride with us! I found out that the black horse’s breeding was the same as Velvet’s…Toddy’s Perfection. We chatted up a storm and she took me further on the road than I’ve ever been before. We came out on the side of the highway north of the Celebration grounds. The horse track is a long way from the pavement, and sometimes the pavement disappears as you ride along. What a great ride it was, too. I’ve forgotten her name now…I hope she reads this. She invited Velvet and I to participate in the flag ceremony. I found out that she carries the Missouri flag!
As promised, we participated in the flag ceremony. Velvet has never carried a flag in her life, and it was windy. I was worried. BUT…no problem. We got our flag. We got used to it. I let it go and it flapped over her head and we both disappeared inside the flag. She didn’t move. The flag role call was called and away we went into the ring. What a thrill that was. I couldn’t have wiped the grin off my face. We tried to go as wide as we could around the arena to make the time last longer. Another surprise was the announcing of both our names. We revel in the spotlight! The National Anthem was played and we all let the flags wave in the wind. Velvet and I choked up with the glory of it all.
For a lowly nobody…our names were announced over the load speaker many times in our two days at AVA!
After the flag ceremony, we stood around and let people admire the beautiful Princess of the Pasture..but like any member of Royalty, she could only take so much. She wanted to go back to the trailer and eat hay and grass. I enjoyed the rest of the Saturday night stake show! Of course I had to check on her about every hour. It’s an amazing amount of walking.
That was the end of Ava adventure. When we awoke Sunday morning it was raining and taking down the tent in the rain was “just a thrill”. We drove all the way home. I slept for 14 hours in a row.
I’ll be back next year. I’ve decided having a stall would be worth a lot!
Both Velvet and I were on an emotional High. We were AVA winners in a SPEED event. Just wait till folks back home heard about this. They were the ones that snickered at the horse who wouldn’t canter the whole way around the arena. This news would knock em off their horses!
We returned to the trailer and went about getting Velvet comfortable. I took off her straight jacket saddle, and got her robe and slippers…uh..er I mean she got fed her special grain.
I turned on my switch to my water tank and nothing came out. I shook it, got the tube down lower and still nothing came out. Huh! I looked at the water tank and it was almost empty! This is a 35-gallon water tank and I had not filled it completely up. I imagine I had 25 gallons of water to start the day and now it was empty.
Well, this made my decision of whether or not to camp in this space really easy. The only water I knew about from a hose was at the end of each horse barn. I have a 35 gallon tank in the trailer. It didn’t take me long to figure out that I had to move the pickup and trailer.
As all good women who abhor backing do, I scouted out the track. Hmmm doesn’t look like I can go forward. There is no through place where I can turn around. Yech! I was in a spot where I could almost turn around. So, I loaded Velvet into the trailer after I got everything put away and we turned around. I love it when the trailer moves sideways and the tires skid. It only took me 10 or 15 minutes of extreme scary effort to get turned around. At least the truck has air-conditioning, so I was enjoying the weather.
We finally made it to the end of a barn and I filled my water tank almost to the top. We drove around the barn at top speed of –5 mph and headed back to find a camping spot. There were no big huge gaps in the back camping area for a pickup and trailer. I pulled into a parking spot and got Velvet out. I was famished. I got Velvet’s hay and water bucket out and tied her to the trailer so she couldn’t get her foot over the lead rope. She was happily munching on her hay, and I left her.
I got a sandwich and went to chat with Charlotte Blackwell and the internet stand. We chatted happily and I got to see the Out West Vacation pictures. My internal “worry-about-Velvet alarm went off and I made a graceful exit. Back at the trailer, Velvet was glad to see me. I decided it was time to find a camping spot, so back into the trailer went the obliging Velvet.
We went down the really steep road that goes to the south of the campground. There were a whole three campers parked down there. AHA! Said I. We drove to our very own tree and parked. I got out and surveyed the flatness. It was ok! I asked the Princess of the Pasture to come out of the trailer and she clambered out to survey the quality of the grass. She wasn’t thrilled, but started to eat anyway.
I got out the air mattress and attached it to that wonderful cigarette lighter air tank and filled it up. I got the tent out and staked it really well. I put my air mattress, pillows, books, and suitcase in the tent. It was ready. It was getting to be about time for the evening horse show to start. I decided that I couldn’t leave Velvet alone down in this place. There was no one around. I didn’t have the strength to get the saddle on Velvet. I got out the bareback pad and tied the lead rope into reins. We went up to where the action occurs.
Charlotte was gone, so she didn’t get to see Velvet. I tired to shop on horseback, but I couldn’t really get close enough to see the merchandise…although we went along the road beside all the merchant tents. We had to dodge some cars and people as it was time to start finding seats for the Friday night championships. Of course, Velvet being so beautiful, got lots of admiring looks and people stopped her to pet her. We enjoy that kind of thing and love every minute of it.
Finally one of the officials told us that it would be better if we got back to where the cars couldn’t get so close, so we went back to our favorite place to stand. We discovered this place last year. It’s right between the cook shack and the arena. It’s a triangle in the road with a garbage can. We just fit in the triangle and were out of the way of both pedestrian and car traffic. However, we were highly visible, so we got a lot more visitors to pet Velvet and tell her how beautiful she was.
One woman screeched to halt as she walked by and came over to talk to us. She was amazed at riding in the halter and stunned by Velvet’s perfect body! We chatted about her blood lines and the training that Velvet received to be able to be ridden in this kind of congestion with only a halter. She left. Not long after that, she brought her friend over to meet me. They were from Michigan. They had purchased some young horses from the DreamMaker auction. They wanted to know if they could get another Velvet! I told them probably. I also told them about Larry and Mona Dollarhide’s horses and how wonderful they were trained. They wanted to know about the Parelli training system. Of course, I had no purse..no addresses..no nothing to give them. We arranged to meet the next morning at 7:00 am at the cook shack.
They left and Andy Odor, came over and to chat. He asked if I had heard my name on the loud speaker? “Huh?” My name was called on the loud speaker about 2 hours ago, and I was to report to the Internet area. Of course, it was now closed. I flipped my hair and said, “Maybe it’s an Internet boyfriend wanting to meet me!”
Velvet told me that she was tired and she was tired of me sitting on her backbone. I decided that I was tired of sitting on her backbone, and I was worn out. We left and returned to our new tent home. Both of us were scared going down the hill as it had almost turned dark.
I got Velvet lots of hay and some more nice water. She wasn’t very happy, but I thought she could survive. The ground wasn’t a lush pasture. It was more like half chopped off sticks. I climbed into the tent and got my sleeping clothes on and found my book. Velvet crunched on the hay and pawed the ground. I couldn’t read very long and turned off the light. Velvet was still eating her hay and pawing the ground. I woke up when the neighbors returned about 3 hours later. Was it my imagination that I felt the ground through my air mattress? Oh groan. I occasionally don’t get the little plug in good enough and the air leaks slowly out.
I got out to check Velvet. She had pawed a solid rectangle of black dirt standing place and was starting to feel better about a place to lie down. I fixed the air mattress plug so it wouldn’t leak anymore and climbed back into my suggestion of a soft bed. Groan.
VERSATILITY DAY WAS OVER,
BUT THERE WAS STILL A LOT OF SUFFERING TO ENDURE.
No one knew what a stake race was in the main office when I registered. Velvet thought she would be staked out to eat grass. When I asked her what kind of race that would be, she just snorted and told me that she was going to eat really fast!
We had a break while the speed fox trot class ran on. The versatility day would be ending with the stake race and jumping event back in the versatility arena. I loosened Velvet’s saddle and let her practice eating grass fast.
Soon the announcer called the contestants of the stake race to the arena. It was Duane Scott. To make certain everyone understood just how to run the race, Duane ran the pattern for us. Luckily the creators of the versatility event anticipated horses and Duane running in humid heat and set the arena besides a big shady tree.
After Duane ran the stakes in a “hot time”, I asked Velvet is she understood the game. She replied that it was pretty tough for a mere horse brain to figure out to run down to the end of the arena and turn around a stake and then run to the other end of the arena to turn around a stake. “Whoopee big deal”, she nickered.
I figured real stake racing horses would be practicing their sudden bursts of acceleration and supple turns by now. Accordingly, Velvet performed some speed bursts and blinding turns in the arena hoping for some admiring attention from the onlookers.
Velvet and I sat around the arena and watched the participants speed zoom their horses around the stakes. I discovered who Stacy Bowman was. Oh sickening. She is thin and cute and really nice. I’m positive that she looks younger than I do. I hate that combination. Oh, even worse…she did really well in the Stake Race. She looked like a seasoned Stake professional as her horse galloped like a speed demon around the stakes.
At last the announcer called our name. Velvet perked up as the spotlight shone down upon us. We were magically transported into the arena. I didn’t even feel us move. Suddenly, we were there, looking down the throat of THE STAKES. The crowd was staring at the two hot chicks wondering what surprises this heat would bring.
Suddenly, Velvet was transformed into a STAKE RACING CRAZED HORSE! Away we went, “down the alley”. (I just made that up…it really makes it sound exciting). An amazing transformation came over the “horse of no impulsion”, who, during the year before performed her highest speed…a one legged canter-three legged trot in the arena.
We galloped down to the far stake. We did a great speed check and wrapped our body around that stake with a great hindquarter spin. We galloped off again and did an even better exhibition of suppleness turning the 2nd stake. We pounded across the finish line. Whoppee!!
My hero, Rick Watson came over to tell me that we did exactly right. He was amazed at our gallop! I grinned, with all my dimples and freckles turning upwards. It’s a good thing that I didn’t know he was watching. My focus might have been a little too far outside the arena!
We went back over and stood and watched the other contestants. They all did great. It was over. Our last event was finished. We waited patiently for the winners to be announced. I did hear my time, but I hadn’t paid any attention to the other times except for the obvious winner, Erin Stevens. Her time, on an obvious right off-the-track fox trotter/ thoroubred mix, was a mere 9 or 10 seconds less than our time.
First through seventh places were called. Then: “8th place: Velvet, ridden by Susan Engle and owned by Susan Engle-!”
Velvet snorted and tossed her mane. I screamed really loud, frightening both horses and people innocently standing next to us. We galloped into the arena, stopping when I noticed the 6th and 7th place winners were still there getting their ribbons. Finally it was our turn. Our ribbon was beautiful. It was half as tall as Velvet and brought out the undercolors in her coat. She was happy to be so adorned. So was I!
After the great costume class had concluded, we scurried out of the arena to get ready for the very next class…the WATER GLASS Class. I thought it was going to be a race to carry water and fill a coffee tin, and like all the other times I assume anything, I was wrong.
Out of the ring we came. I slammed the costumed saddle off and the fox pelt. I got out of my green boots and put my regular boots on. I threw the other saddle on Velvet and was helped once again by my faithful crew of friends…Mona Dollarhide and Bob Howe. By this time, my face was a blazing flame, somewhat influenced by the real heat and humidity, along with my passionate flaring hot flashes in moments of stress. I staggered up the bleachers and signaled Velvet to slide her body in position for mounting. I was able to get on and stay on. At 110 degree body heat index I was ready for the next contest. The other contestants yelled at me to go through the DQP and amazingly enough…I grumbled. I love the DQPs. I love that they are there. I mistakenly emitted some kind of negative radiant speech like, “What! I just came out of a class!” When in my right mind, I would cheerfully go through the DQPs’ testing 50 times a night.
Into the arena we went for the water glass race. Whoops, everyone was getting a glass with water in it. I was suspicious that the judges were notconcerned about my personal heat index and had not given me this water to cool down. I was right. We were all holding our little water glass and were told that the person with the most water left in the glass at the end of the contest would be the winner. Well, Velvet and I haven’t got around to perfecting our smooth fox trot! We were in our disguise as a rough riding show horse. I knew that I should make the most of that water and just drink it, but I chickened out.
Away to the rail went the class. I was holding my glass in the outside hand…a big mistake. All my water fell out in one big lurch-right on my black pants…in a conspicuous spot! I tried to cover this up and wrap my midget-sized fingers around the glass in a vain attempt to hide the fact that my water was all gone. Had anyone looked down…they could see where it went. Well, at least I had one cool spot on my body! I prayed for a hotter day, so my pants would dry before I left the arena!
The Costume Class immediately followed the disastrous foot race. Velvet and I came out of the arena in the 90 degree heat and humidity and went right to our pile of costume stuff including the saddle which was weighted down by little stuffed dogs bobbing on the ends of all strings or clasps. It was a long walk, done hurriedly, and Velvet’s owner was glistening in the afternoon humidity shower. Curtain time was about to be called. With Bob Howe’s help of the KC fox trotter club, Velvet got her saddle on complete with hanging doggies.
My own costume in my role as “Ozark Fox Hunter” was a wool red and black checkered blazer and a red and black checkered antique pair of wool hunting pants. I was making a parody of those fox hunter people that ride around with those weird wide legged skinny pant things and knee length black boots. In pictures, they always have red coats-well someone in the group who chases foxes wears a red coat. I tried to get the blazer on, but my soggy arms wouldn’t slide through the sleeve. I threw the blazer on the ground. Then I tried to get my wool hunting pants on and almost stepped into one leg. But the thought of all that overpowering heat that would be generating up to nuclear explosive level was enough to stop that. I did manage to get my husbands knee high bright green John Deere boots on. Mona had to shove my big booted feet into the stirrups after I got on. I did plan on wearing my new coon light, but it was too late to figure out where to put the battery.. Besides, I saw another woman was wearing a coon light in the same color, so it wouldn’t be cool to look like anyone else. That was my total costume…a pair of John Deere boots and normal clothing. I did carry a Wal-Mart special pop rifle that I duct-taped an American flag to the end. I became an under-dressed OZARK FOX HUNTER!
Velvet wore a real fox pelt draped over her cute rear end. I forgot her coon skin hat back at the trailer. I had cut out slits for her ears, and she was to look very “Davy Crockett“. sigh… The dog hunting pack was tied to the various straps and clips on the saddle. I even had one stuffed doggie tied underneath Velvet to the cinch where the back cinch is fastened. When we accelerated into the rhythm of the fox trot, all the tied-on little doggies bounced up and down and around the saddle (including the one going helter-skelter underneath Velvet). !
I was shooting my rifle up in the air and yelling, YA HOO! I carried a large bag of stuffed dogs and other animals (my game bag). I threw these stuffed animals to the crowd. I threw a cute stuffed horse to a little girl in the front row. When Velvet and I zoomed around again, we saw the little girl holding the horse very tight against her cheek. Velvet went “ahhhhhhh” in horse language.
When we lined up, I offered each judge a stuffed doggie/animal of their choice if they would place me. Some of the judges even smiled at me! Velvet had a good time in the arena. Even “The Princess of the Pasture” loves having a good time with a clapping cheering crowd!
The depth to which imagination can go was really well done by the other riders in the costume class. The costumes were unbelievable…with many of them being downright hilarious. What a great time it was to be a part of such a group of people with amazing imaginations. It’s worth a long drive to watch this class.
VERSATILITY AFTERNOON was about to start. The announcer boomed, ”Class number 73, Contestants please enter the arena”. Velvet and I proudly walked into the CELEBRATION SHOW RING for the first time. I was first into the arena and Velvet followed me walking in her most royal Princess manner. WE OWNED THE ARENA!
We were the only contestants there. We stood proudly and surveyed our arena. The 100 or so people in the crowd stared at us. I flipped my hair using the “blond gesture.” The versatility judges entered the arena and went to their arena “judges’” home. They were talking excitedly among themselves.
Velvet nudged me and said…”What’s the deal, here?” I spoke up loudly toward the judges’ stand, “Are we doing this with or without the lead rope?” It must have appeared that I mimed these words as no one even looked up. No one acknowledged the presence of the Princess of the Pasture and her muck-slave. The large 100-person crowd continued to stare at us, no doubt wondering why we were in the arena.
Finally a nice kind man came over to me and I asked again, “Are we doing this with or without the lead rope?” His face took on the calming look that normal people give mental patients. He stated slowly and kindly, ”Mam, this is a foot race just for people.” Thud went my stomach. “I have been an idiot,” said my brain. Details…Details, they kill me every time. People like me, (“Expressive”), don’t believe in details like maps, adequate instructions, and we especially hate asking unnecessary questions.
Velvet snorted in disgust and gave me a horse snot shower. One does not embarrass the Princess without paybacks.
The former “owners of the arena” were now idiots treading on hallowed ground. I slumped and tried to crawl inside of my body to become invisible. I slunk from the arena…all 50 yards. With every slinking step, Velvet snorted at me explaining in horse curse words just how stupid I had been. She was humiliated at being known as “that idiot’s horse”.
Let me explain. In our great Kansas City Fox Trotter Horse Breed club FUN SHOW, we had a foot race. We raced from the gate down to the other end, went around a barrel and came back to the gate. We did this with the horse following the human. We could not use a lead rope. We could use a bucket of grain-nothing was forbidden except a lead rope. The horse could not beat the human through the gate. This was the foot race that I had in mind!. It was only fitting that I had assumed that this foot race would be the same as our local club fun show. Did I think to ask? Naaaa. I don’t ask stupid questions.
Some minutes after I had slunk out of the arena…my name was called over the judges’ PA system. After all, my name was on the list of contestants, probably the only one. They wanted a contestant. They probably realized later that the poor mentally deranged person that was in the arena earlier was in fact, their contestant. I spit on the ground when I heard my name being called. Velvet flicked me hard with her tail. ”Punishment for Dumbness”.
While I was watching and listening to the versatility demonstrations, Velvet got a full body makeover for her debut at the most important horse show in the world. We decided on a new lipstick color but stayed with our same nail color.” Sinful Black”. We figured that she might sweat, so we choose thickened Maybellhorse waterproof mascara, and stayed with her regular eye shadow, “Bright Blue Barn Hue”. We let down her new “do” and marveled over how much younger and sophisticated it made her look. She cursed her farrier for the millionth time as she continually asks him for Black patent leather Mary Jane shoes…all he will give her the normal steel shoes that all the common horses wear. (Personally, I think that she was thinking of attracting that Black Stallion, Camelot, instead of the competition ahead of us 1998 Celebration.) I decorated her saddle for the costume class. We were going in as an Ozark Fox Hunter and we had our “brace of dogs” tied to every string or ring that I could find on her saddle. I gave Velvet her final makeover. The Princess of the Pasture was primped and ready to meet the public at Ava. I met my friend, Mona Dollarhide at the cook shack. We enjoyed the remainder of the versatility demonstrations when the announcer told us that the Foot Race, Costume class and Water Glass classes would be held in the main arena.
The second disaster occurs! Mona and I were contentedly watching the versatility demonstrations wrap up when the announce announced: “In twenty minutes the foot race, costume class, and water glass class will start at the main arena.”
We had twenty minutes to lug two saddles and the rest of my costume approximately ½ mile.Truck, trailor and costume changing staging area was parked down by the versatility arena. Now we find out that these classes will be held in the main arena!SCREAM!The foot race was 1st…no bridle…no saddle…just Velvet and I with halter and lead rope.
I told Mona the bad news…”I have two saddles and a pile of costume junque to get all the way to the main arena in 20 minutes.” I throw the costume saddle, the huge bag full of more stuffed dogs (to throw to the crowd) , the bridle, and the Wal-Mart special rifle pop gun with an American flag attached on the end with duct tape on the saddle…somehow. Mona puts the other saddle on the wheeled saddle holder and starts to pull. Unfortunately, the wheeled saddle holder decided at this emergency moment to throw a wheel and it became too heavy and unweilding to tote a heavy saddle. Mona picked up the heavy saddle and said…go ahead…I’ll get there as soon as I can. I asked her where her car was…it was parked ½ mile away at the same place we were struggling to get to. She said, “I’ll just carry the saddle.”
Velvet and I start walking–rapidly. Someone makes a “lady, there’s something wrong with your saddle” noise” and I turn around just in time to see the saddle slip under Velvet’s belly. A nice young man ran over to help me get it back to the top of Velvet…whew! Have I mentioned that we were right smack in the middle of Missouri humid heat?! Velvet was glad that she had switched to waterproof makeup! I have yet to find deodorant that is stronger than Missouri humidity and I wasn’t wearing makeup. Finally, we made it to the arena. I stripped the costume saddle off.
I looked around and didn’t see anyone ready for the foot race. All the other competitors were mounted on their horses with their costumes on. “Oh my,” I thought. I haven’t a chance of winning against some of these elaborate costumes. It’s good I’m here just for fun. I wondered if the costumed people were too chicken to enter the foot race…or that their horses wouldn’t follow them. snick
It seemed like an hour had passed and finally a small hunched over woman came into view pushing a wheelbarrow with a flat tire. Mona, with sweat streaming down her face, stopped and took one look at me and said, ”Susan, knowing you is an adventure! Mona didn’t appear like she could push the wheelbarrow anymore. So I exchanged Velvet for the wheelbarrow and pushed it over to the side. That saddle was awaiting the water glass class.
We are ready for the 1st class to start…the foot race.
AVA VERSATILITY DAY- MORNING DEMONSTRATIONS
Friday morning at Ava, I got to watch the great versatility demonstrations put on/arranged by Duane and Sally Scott.
SALLY SCOTT AND EQUITATION
Sally was 1st up with a demonstration of equitation. Erin Stevens was one of the examples along with a man warming up a horse for his daughter. At the beginning of the demonstrations, Duane picked this man out and made him enter the arena. He did really well as did Erin. I wanted to be picked from the audience too, so I quickly saddled Velvet and watched the demonstrations from very near where Sally was talking. Unfortunately, Sally wasn’t struck by the fine example of equitation and balance that my imitation one-legged hippopotamus look-alike presented as I slouched on the saddle waiting for the cue that never came.
None-the less, I enjoyed the demonstration. Sally had the two subjects ride around and described the good equitation that they were presenting. She picked on some little technical points here and there and soon there were two perfect riders going around the arena. Not happy with that, she made them ride with poor equitation. She made them relax their shoulders into a bouncing slouch, put their toes down and heels up; stare down at the horse’s ears and bob their heads. Our two demonstrators had to be sternly “talked to” by Sally before they could mimic this style of riding. Our two demonstrators admitted that they were in pain to ride like this. Sally gathered them in and talked about equitation and balanced riding. She said there was “no excuse” to ride with bad equitation. She answered questions from the audience. Our two demonstrators gradually recovered from the painful ordeal of riding like a bumping sack of unbalanced potatoes.
THE BARREL RACER
Next was a barrel race demonstration. I was shocked to find an older woman champion barrel racer riding a fox trotter. I was shocked that she wasn’t 17-23 years old, I was shocked that she appeared to be almost as old as I was. I was shocked that she was many times a grand champion and I was even more shocked to have her riding a fox trotter. She was a good speaker and took the audience into the palm of her hand. Then she demonstrated the pattern and explained positioning and several other technical important details about running the barrels. She finished up giving pointers to our youth barrel racers..you know-the 17-23 year olds. Although there were another couple of older women (by older, I mean 30 and above) who participated. By this time Velvet had enough and made me take her saddle off and tie her up to the trailer. Otherwise, I’m certain that we would have been in there doing our best imitation of a barrel racer.
The pack demonstration was next. The packer was a former forest ranger and had been using fox trotters in the mountains for many years. I’m not at all interested in packing, so I groomed Velvet to show ready during this session. But, I did listen to what he was saying…something about you need a calm steady horse when climbing sheer mountain trails and the fox trotter was the horse that fit that bill.
DUANE SCOTT AND FELLOW TEAM PENNERS
The last session was a demonstration of team penning. The man doing the announcing and educating said he thought Fox Trotter Team penning could really take off. He told us that he never thought it would become popular for mules, but now mule team penning has become big. I figure if mule people think team penning is fun…there must be a lot of fox trotter riders that would think it was fun too. Count me in on team penning! I’m getting my cow pony fox trotters in readiness for this fun sport now. The team penners were handsome young men…Duane Scott et. al… Duane’s team showed that they knew their stuff. They went in and cut the correct doggies out of the herd before the doggies knew what was happening. Then they just slide the cows right up to the pen and made them go right in. It was an awesome demonstration. I thought it would be a lot of running and yelling. We were told that running and yelling was the mark of beginners…that would be me.’
‘That was the end of the demonstrations. In twenty minutes, the foot race, costume class and water glass class were due to start in the main arena.’
World Celebration Versatility Day
Arrival and Distater Number One
I slept for 14 hours after I got home from Ava. Since I was only there for two days and I didn’t party the night away, one would wonder just what caused the extreme exhaustion. Well, stay tuned!
Just as a note, I drove to Larry’s Stable on Thursday and went on a wonderful trail ride with my hero, Larry Dollarhide and April, their young neighbor and Larry’s apprentice. Mona and I got to gossip and chat face-to-face instead of internet messages and I got to enjoy the pleasure of being at home in their home. I got up early Friday and drove to Ava. I was worried about changing into my costume after the foot race. I had a complicated, but not elaborate costume and didn’t know how I could manage coming from the foot race class to get ready for the costume class. I drove onto the grounds and the 1st group of people I saw were Kansas City fox trotter people. They told me that all the events would take place at the versatility arena, so I drove back and parked right by the arena. “Fine,” I thought. ” I’ll be able to dive into my trailer and change my clothes post haste!”
I parked and made my little trailer space homey for Velvet and me. I had to go sign up for the classes which meant that I had to walk about ½ mile…no…I’ll ride Velvet. I put the bareback pad on her and rode to the headquarters with her halter and lead rope. No place to park horses around the headquarters. No post, no tree, no anything to tie a horse. AHA…trailers for sale. It was early in the morning and no humans were stirring around the trailers. I quickly tied Velvet to a new trailer and screamed into the building. I had to figure out which place to sign up and find someone to wait on me. I finally got done and zoomed out the door and rounded the corner of the building. There was no Velvet tied to the trailer! I knew that she had truly been there by a mound of round brown squishy things, so I wasn’t imagining that I rode her there. “She’s got loose. Where would she head?” A quick look around showed no movements of concerned people. “I’ve been here almost an hour and lost my horse.” I ran around in a few circles…”What to do? What to do? Where would she go? The loud speaker system-that’s it!” I headed back to the office intending to put a message about lost horse on the PA…and I caught sight of a worried black horse out of the corner of my eye. “Whoops…there she was-tied to the bleachers! Guess the new trailer owner didn’t approve of used horses tied to the new trailer. Whew!” The 1st disaster averted. I got back on her and rode back to the trailer with my shiny new contestant number.
It was a 5 day Fox Trotter Slumber Party and those in attendance were Dianna from Phoenix, Larry and Mona (Larry’s Stable), SusanFxtrt, Deina and Ray (Wilson Fox Trotters) The big even occurred north of Springfield, Missouri mostly at Larry’s Stable with nightly overlaps at the Wilson Fine Fox Trotter Stables.
Here’s how is came about. Dianna from Phoenix was wandering through the gaited horse web sites and became acquainted with Mona. They carried on and talked about fox trotters – Prince-the beautiful golden palomino gelding in residence, horse things and normal Internet chat. Mona, Susan and Deina were acquainted through the AOL Fox Trotter List server. Dianna expressed interest in natural horsemanship training methods, so Mona introduced Dianna to Susan. More horse Internet chat occurred. Mona invited Dianna to come to Missouri and see fox trotters/Prince and Dianna accepted the offer. Susan was told/Deina was told and thus the 5 day slumber party was born. Deina and Ray live around 35 miles from Larry and Mona but they knew each other only from the Internet!
Dianna arrived at the Kansas City airport and was greeted by a woman holding a Dianna sign…just like the limousine drivers-only it was Susanfxtrt. On the way to Susan’s house Dianna expressed much amazement at the quantity of “green”. Green trees, green grass, green crops etc. It was like she had been roaming in the dessert all her life (25 years) and suddenly was transported to an alternate universe bathed in green growing things.
Velvet was picked up and pickup/trailer and two Internet friends took off for parts and other Internet people unknown. How would you feel if you were Mona and Larry and 3 total strangers were converging on your house. Three Internet friends about to arrive…or perhaps…3 axe murderers about to invade the home! Mona wasn’t worried. She and Larry deal with real axe murderers and the other pits of our society in their occupation at a nearby federal prison. A few unknown Internet horse friends didn’t make them break out in nervous chills.
The pickup pulled into Larry’s Stable. We stepped out and 3 strangers emerged from the house. “Deina!”, I screamed. “Mona!” Dianne screamed. We hugged. We screamed some more and exchanged people. A tall man stood there throughout this screaming with that smile on his face, which meant, “Screaming women-I wish I were somewhere else!” Larry stood there with no one hugging him…he is not an internet presence and he had to be judged before earning any Dianna/Susan hugs. He did get nice smiles and glad to meet you words.
Velvet disembarked and was shown to her luxurious stall and fed. Velvet-Princess of the Pasture- approved. Her stall had it’s own turnout pen and came with food and water with lots of other horses around to sniff and snort at.
The group decided to do the important things 1st (other than the ladies room) and we all embarked on a horse tour of Larry’s Stables. We admired and exclaimed over CodyPuzzle who was asking if that buxom young black filly was to be his. We strolled through the arena barn and met Prince-the glorious palomino and each other inhabitant. We went outside and met the 2-3 year olds. We strolled farther and met the brood mare herd and got to pet some of the braver babies. We met the beautiful and loud Cherokee Maiden and her equally loudly colored colt. We oohed and ahhed. We admired and tried to quell acquisition desires.
Back at the arena barn, Prince got to meet Dianna. Larry saddled him up and Dianna got on for a ride in the arena. Dianna was very impressed with how light Prince was and how he responded to leg aids and body language. Our feelings about Larry accelerated from the “wait and see” level zero to a level 6 on the respect scale.
Velvet let it be known that it was her turn for a debut into the arena. We played some ground games while her audience looked on. Deina said she understood now why they are called games…because we have fun when we play. Then I got on bareback and rode Velvet around the arena with her halter and lead rope. We showed off our best inconsistent gaits and switched from dog walk, flat foot walk, fox trot and extended fox trot every 3-10 strides. Thank goodness, these were real fox trotter people who could see the good in Velvet and complimented her ability. Deina told Velvet, “Show people would want you.” I could hear Velvet say, “Of course!” Larry told Velvet, “You are all natural..and your rider is not helping you by riding you with a halter and lead rope.” Velvet thought, “So…, I don’t need a rider to help me. I am a Princess and I gait as I want!”
Horses were put away and the next important part of life was enjoyed, “a sumptious feast”. The food had been prepared by Mona for weeks ahead of time. That’s how it seemed anyway. We had grilled hamburgers and sausage, a hamburger casserole, baked chicken, salad and vegetables. There was enough food to keep us 5 people alive for weeks! It was all wonderful. I was thrilled to think that we would be living on this food as leftovers for the visit. I live on restaurant food and I was in heaven. I was to find out throughout the visit that Mona didn’t plan on feeding us leftovers. I was horrified to see my leftovers being fed to the dog! We were fed all newly cooked food at each meal! (I have deemed Mona and Larry’s house as my own personal bed and breakfast [lunch and dinner] lodging!)
We ate, we chatted, we gossiped until we couldn’t lift the forks to our mouths any longer. We digested, chatted and gossiped until we could lift our heavy bodies away from the table. The lodging plans were for me to stay at Deina’s house, so Deina and I drove to the Wilson “estate”. The horses and barn were our first destination. It was after dark and long past feeding time. I got to meet all the barn mares with babies and then met gorgeous Romeo. He was huffing about having to wait so long to eat. He is an outstanding stallion in his prime!
Then Deina took a mare and baby out to a pasture for the evening and pointed me towards another pasture. She called and the brood mares and babies came running. Ooooh…aaaaah, I cooed. The babies came right up, demanding to get petted. They didn’t come right up to the fence, so I leaned through the fence to start petting them. “What a gorgeous filly you are. How cute you are.” Suddenly, a thunder bolt exploded in my brain!” As I was screaming and leaving the known world, I was thinking, “Now, what in the world could that be? Is that how a stroke feels? I wonder if I’m having a stroke”? As I crashed backwards on the ground, it occurred to me that my head had touched an electric fence wire. I started laughing and yelling at Deina, “I’m OK! I’m OK! Deina was running over to me-upset that she had forgot to tell me about the wire. Well, who in their right mind would remember something like that late at night with horses and babies to take care of!? I was able to get up, walk and keep talking with no bad effects!
Deina and I went to her house and talked into the evening. Ray came home from work and I got to flirt with Ray until my eyes started closing and my body started to sleep. We ended the day. The next morning was a trail ride morning at Larry and Mona’s and I got up early and drove back to their house. Deina had to stay home and catch up with her Internet web site business.
The trail ride was fantastic. Larry had the truck and trailer hooked up the 3 adventurers were off. Mona doesn’t trail ride, so she sent us off. The early morning weather was perfect and we rode a trail that went besides Stockton Lake. Our judgement about Larry skyrocketed to Level 8! Larry had a two-year-old BOJANGLES and he led the trail ride with him. He helped BO navigate the scary things found on a good forest trail…streams, hills, loose rocks, and scary things. The young horse’s confidence was boosted by Larry’s patience and excellent riding skills, and he navigated the trail as good as most older experienced horses would. The horse was ridden with a loose rein and allowed to develop his natural balance. Dianna and Prince came along fine. Larry was pleased that Prince responded to Dianna as Prince had only been ridden by Larry this year. Prince was kept as a stallion during his two year old year and not ridden. His current three year old year was more like his two year old year in emotional fitness. He performed well under Dianna’s excellent riding skills. Larry was upset again that Velvet was going to be rode with a halter. I told Larry that this was just a trail ride and we had no need for a bit on a trail ride. hmmmm!
We got to meet April. April is a beautiful young lady (a high school senior) who came to Larry’s and Mona’s house shortly after they moved. She asked how much they wanted for one of their horses, and had to tell them that she couldn’t afford to buy one, but asked if she could help them with the horses and ride. Larry has taught April how to ride and train Missouri Fox Trotter horses. It was Dianna’s and my judgement that he has been an excellent teacher. April also has that natural ability with horses that can’t be taught. I am expecting April to be training fox trotters for show or trail during her college years and in her future. April told me that in all the time that she has spent riding with Larry, she has never seen him be mean or hurt any horse. I thought that teaching April to ride and train fox trotters was a wonderful thing and April’s statement about his manner with horses made my respect for Larry shoot up to a PERFECT 10. Dianna and I became a Larry admirers.
I got only to spend one morning playing with Deina’s horses. I got to spend some time with my favorite horse…the little DOT COM who was born to a mother with no milk. I sat afar from Deina last year while she fed little DOT.COM every 2 hours until she could survive without milk. Now, here I was with the yearling Dottie and playing with her. What a smart beautiful young filly she is. I showed her what I wanted, and as soon as she understood…she had it. She tried to please me and was a well-behaved horse. I’m in love with her, of course. She would make anyone a fine horse. She will be a loyal and true best friend, and is able to think and figure out what is needed. Plus, she will be beautiful horse when her body matures.
Unfortunately, our visit was during the hot steamy 90-100 degree humid weather. That curtailed our outside horse activities except for the early morning and evening hours. I got to demonstrate Velvet’s prowess and ground skills again to Mona and Dianna. This was a good and bad demonstration as Mona’s horses also attended our demonstration and Velvet started to show off for the horses instead of focusing on me. We then had a dandy show where Velvet woke up and became a “spirited” horse. Dianna was helping me with Velvet and feeling worse and worse. She had to quit playing outside in the intense humid heat and went inside to become sick for the evening and next morning.
One one of our days there, we were required to take Dianna to Branson. If you come all the way from Phoenix, you just have to visit Branson. We shopped for crafts and I bought a dressy dress. We ate. We shopped and we left. Dianna thinks the area north of Springfield is much more desirable and wants to relocate from Phoenix to central Missouri.
On our last day, I finally pleased my hero, Larry and rode Velvet with her snaffle. I had been having trouble slowing her down from an extended trot. The problem was my hands were bouncing around and my slow-down brake was broken. April gave me some advice about bracing and tensing my body, and I was able to relax. Deina gave me some great advice about my hands. I was able to slow Velvet down and with Larry’s help, get her head set in the correct collected position and away we went…fox trotting across the field. …get the head in the right position…not let my hands bounce….relax and presto…there was that fox trot! We all enjoyed it. Dianna was also riding Prince in the pasture and we all had a fine time.
I didn’t get to spend enough time with Deina and Ray and their fabulous horses. I got to chat with Ray at only one breakfast. I didn’t get to ride enough with Larry.
One of our early morning trail rides was disrupted after 10 minutes of riding by tornado skies and forcing us to run back to the trailer and scurry home.
It never even rained…but those skies were dangerous!
Dianna — Larry — Susan
Right before Dianna and I left, Larry got two of his new Larry’s Stable hats and presented them to Dianna and me. Mona took our picture with our hero, Larry.
I will end the slumber party story with a commercial. If anyone wants to buy a fox trotter from honest people who treat their horses with love and dignity…If anyone wants to buy fox trotters with great bloodlines…big front ends and all the physical characteristics needed in a naturally gaited horse…If anyone wants to buy horses that have been started “right”…you can do no better than to contact Wilson Fox Trotters or Larry’s Stables. These are my friends and they are good people!