Monday, July 7, 2008

Celebrate the Horse Expo, July 5th and 6th, 2008

Whew! It was quite the weekend here in Seattle. We started our week off with Alav foaling a gorgeous, dark brown colt on Wednesday (thank goodness she cooperated with OUR schedule!), and then got everything packed up and ready to go for Friday morning. Our little caravan set off to Puyallup to the Puyallup Fairgrounds, where the Celebrate the Horse Expo was. We had me, my daughter Callie, my son Zach, our friends Margaret Pomeroy and her two daughters, Rachel and Tayler along. We got down to the Fairgrounds and got the horses all tucked in their stalls and unloaded most of the gear, exhibit stuff and feed. Galen was not at all happy in his stall (he lives outdoors year round, as he really HATES stalls), so we put he and Maz together in one stall. They were cozy, but Galen calmed down. We got the boys out into the big arena where we would be doing our exhibitions and got them a bit used to it. Everyone did well, especially Callie and Tayler, who both did absolutely fabulous jobs with their mounts. Later that evening, we watched fireworks at the campsite and celebrated Callie's 14th birthday with cake and sparklers (and a bit more for the adults!).

Saturday morning, we were up at 6 am, as we had a 7 am practice time in the big arena. The kids all did their morning chores without any fuss and we had another good practice session. I then signed up Galen and I as a demo horse for a few clinicians, figuring that the more exposure the better and hey, I was there anyway, might as well have fun! So, we got everything set up back at the barn, Zach demonstrated absolutely outstanding sales skills, talking to the people wandering the aisles and at 1:30 I went into the big arena with Galen for a demo with Steve Rother. This was to be a trail obstacles demo, but as I told Steve, the obstacles weren't a problem - it was being in the arena with it's totally non-natural obstacles that seemed to be the issue. So, he had us go out to the warm-up arena, trot circles for about 5-6 minutes and then come back into the arena and hang out. Our first time, Galen hung out for about 5 minutes and then got ancy again. Back outside, trot more circles, come back in. The arena was looking better each time we went out. By the end of the 40 or so minute demo, Galen was showing the other horses how to do obstacles - pushing a huge ball around, walking over (and thinking about dragging) a blue tarp, going between barrels, over poles etc. He was very pleased with himself, as he should have been. Our group went on at 3:30 and Callie, Tayler and I rode around the perimeter of the arena, while Monica Bretherton jumped Andy in the middle. Her husband, Bill Drescher, was our jump man and they all did a fabulous job. I have to also mention that Cindy and Larry Balogh, Andy's owners, where there helping with jumps and general stuff, my husband Larry and eldest daughter Alex came and helped out too. We'll have some video up soon. Our fifteen minute spot was up all too soon, and to enthusiastic applause, we exited the arena and swapped high fives and happy smiles. We did a bunch of posing for photos, as we were in our fantastic costumes, most of which Margaret did. I especially liked our helmet covers - I had told her I liked the traditional fuzzy hats, but wouldn't allow the kids (or myself) to ride without helmets, so she came up with authentic looking helmet covers! She also 'blinged' up the boy's bridles and came up with some non-authentic, but authentic LOOKING a-la-jas. Hurray for ingenuity!

Then, a bit later, Callie and I did the Warhorse Challenge! We had seen this last year at the Horse N Around Days and it looked like great fun. Callie and Ari did some practicing at home, knocking buckets off of jump standards and Ari really got into it, up to knocking the buckets over with his nose before she could. I hadn't practiced at all with Galen, but figured that if we can trot those winding trails in the woods and break off branches at the same time, we were fine. Callie and I went in together, starting with a spear each to spear through 4 rings hanging from standards. We both had to figure out how to hold the spear and not whack our horses. I did pretty well, getting all the rings, but Callie was having a hard time managing the heavy spear AND steering her horse. But, she preservered and we stuck the 'boar' (a bale of straw) and took up the sword to chop off the enemies 'heads' (pop bottles on standards). I chopped the head and got the other rings, but Callie was once again having trouble keeping everything balanced. We had practiced with light, plastic swords and these were heavy, wooden swords. But, she finished the course, and left the arena saying "I had better practice more for next year!" We also only trotted, instead of the full out gallop the veterans did - the announcer called it 'The saunter attack'. I figure we would have gotten the enemy stragglers. But, it was great fun and the horses enjoyed it.

So, we were done for the day and poor Andy had had enough. He started pacing his stall but happily calmed down enough that I felt safe leaving him. We finished up our day with card games, treats and stories back at the campsite. Sunday morning we skipped our 6 am practice time, as the kids were pretty tired from the day before. As soon as people started showing up, poor Andy was a basket case. I finally put Galen in the stall with him, which annoyed Galen to no end (Andy can be a bit of a butt), but calmed Andy down. Andy spent the rest of the day hanging out behind Galen, resting his head on Galen's back. We talked to the public and didn't have anything set up until 3:30, when we did our demo again. This one was even better than the day before, with us all knowing what to do and how to do it. Andy jumped higher and better, the girls did an even better job and Galen was super. Andy then was a demo horse for Barb Apple to demonstrate some ground training techniques and then was done. I then rode Galen in the Warhorse Challenge again, although I still didn't gallop, but got all the rings and cut the 'head' off. Our 'saunter attack' was excellent.

The kids got to see some of the other things going on, we had a good response from the public, and we started packing up and were home by 8 pm Sunday night. I couldn't have done this weekend without the help of Margaret Pomeroy and her girls, Tayler riding and Rachel being flag-girl and general helper; Cindy and Larry Balogh for letting me take Andy and taking loads of stuff to and from the fairgrounds; Monica Bretherton riding Andy and her husband Bill Drescher helping her; Callie for riding and Zach for his stellar salesmanship and flag-holding , and my husband Larry and my daughter Alex for taking care of the barn at home. It was a very good weekend, I'm sure we're all pretty pooped today, cause I sure am, but it was fun and we're already planning for next year's Expo!


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