Sunday, June 6, 2010

Percheron World Congress 10/29/2006 Lexington,VA


Oooooooooooooook..... now that the trailer is unpacked , all the stalls are clean n' fresh, the normal barn work is all done, and Kris  ( me)  needs a break, I'll let ya know about the World Congress Show. It was a LONGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG Week !

Glenn n' I went out to dinner at a fancy restaurant for our anniversary on Sunday evening...we were so full of anticipation of actually MAYBE getting a look from the judge and having a horse worthy (maybe) of being shown at the Worlds !

We got there Monday afternoon, and Glenn had to pick his way around the area with the truck/ trailer once we checked in & found our barn . BIG RIGS- Semi's full of drop dead Gorgeous Percherons , all slicked up, still in short summer coats that were gleaming in the little bit of sun we had. Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr- it was COLD there in Lexington, Va !

Huge trailers behind, filled with big hitch wagons, shining patent leather harnesses, hay, straw, feed enough for the week there. Lots of help from well trained teams there, unpacking it all, setting up house. Slowly the Va Horse Center became a small Percheron City . We unloaded our things into our tack stall, disinfected Lynn's stall, bedded it and let her settle in w/ some hay while we finished unloading the millions of things needed for a week long show ( well- actually 5 days, but we traveled the other two). Turns out that the little red wagon we bought back when we first moved here to move weeds, tree branches, and general Junk really proved it's worth !! What a great buy that was..

We got done, then fed Lynn some dinner- she was whispering to me on the other side of the stall wall - she'd heard what sounded like dinner being poured into her bucket. I kept her on low doses of bute due to her side bone flare up. No need to be in pain while we wait for it to ossify .This container is apple flavored but, she figured it out pretty fast- so I added some vegie oil and that did the trick. Next time I'll be sure to get the vanilla flavored bute . She's been getting BL Solution and it works great here at home, but I wanted to be sure she had a good time Too. My vet said it'd be fine for a week of bute, just keep it as low dosage as possible. Then we went to look around. There wasn't much going on as the actual show would not begin until Wed. morning w/ the gelding halter classes.

Our neighbors were great- turns out we knew the folks stabled across the aisle from us, and the gal beside us with the Percheron stallion ( ridden dressage is his forte`) was the one who was carrying the American flag for the opening ceremonies each evening. The guys on the far end had some massive hitch geldings- and we got to be friends w/ all of them too.I met an online pal, Carol, and she's as great in person as via emails ! GOOD to have seen ya there , Carol.  I Finally found my long time pal, Kathy from California- her horses were beautiful to see, but we caught them in the middle of having some snacks so we didn't visit for long. I saw Jill Malone again- she and her hubby had some grand looking horses there too. Her stallion, Charles, looked simply marvelous- I was so happy to see him there. He was acting so proud of himself too. We met some other people who drove and showed in pleasure classes too- which was wonderful .( they loved our new Gig !) The Percheron breed is so versatile and it was good to see so many under saddle
( western And English ) as well as those "workin' boys'' pulling farm implements and plowing the earth. Not to forget the Huge hitch horses with fire in them as they trotted along side their handlers. It was a sight to behold for me again. It made me so very proud to be one of a group of owners of such calibre horses.

Tuesday was fun ; It was very cold n' windy with the temps not getting out of the 40's. Luckily I didn't body clip Lynn as I'd thought to do earlier ! The mid weight blanket I bought from a gal on Ebay worked perfectly. Lynn got a Much needed bath- with the both of us shivering and complaining ( Me, more apologizing to Lynn while SHE complained )- but my mare was back to WHITE again. Letting her dry in her stall w/ two coolers on to help her stay warm, we went exploring.

There were Percherons Every Where ! White, greys, blacks, babies, mature stallions, weanlings , mares, and geldings- everywhere we looked, there were world class animals about . I told Glenn it made me realise how small-time we really were. That's where I choose to be now, having been showing horses at national levels for so many years... its fun to kick back w/ just one mare and one insignificant class (to the big time hitches anyways). WE could have fun there, and not have to work our behinds off like so many who brought in 10 - 18 horses to show. Some big farms had up to 18 horses.... Windermere had , I think, 14 ?? All world class animals- who didn't look any different than my Lynna standing there feeding their big ol' faces in their stalls. It wasn't til later when those blankets came off, horses got baths, manes rolled, tails done up and hooves shined that the difference became VERY apparent. Our neighbors were the Blacks / Ryanday folks. They had HUGE Geldings - OMG- no lie, those wheelers were 19 hands tall !!! I was amazed at how sweet they were- but SO BIG. One time, when it was time to harness their hitch, there were 6 black geldings tied to stalls, and one of those wheelers was tied to Lynn's stall front. I tossed a flake of hay in for her to munch on, and this big boy thought perhaps HE should get some too, so he stood there from WAY above my head, begging for a handful. In the meantime, Lynn was trying to impress on this horse that her hay was HER hay, pinning her ears back, postering, and generally looking Wicked. She looked like some Welsh pony standing there in front of that huge gelding !!  I moved her hay so she could eat in peace, and all was well.
She's such a pro at this showing thang :D

We Did get to the coliseum to see the stallions on Wed morning- missed the one horse I'd wanted to see, but that was alright- I saw him in the barns up close n' personal. We are Considering breeding a mare to him next year.... IF there's the money to do so.It is SO expensive to breed mares anymore and the fees alone knock me simple. Then there's mare care, foaling, and raising that baby to be safe n' sound.... so when I Do breed, I breed the best to the best possible. Its a TON of work having foals around when things are done correctly, so we want to have show quality foals hitting the ground when we choose a mare to be a mommy.

Wednesday was show day for us... Glenn and I polished brass on the harness, shined up the patent leather and that was set to go. Keeping DUST off things was a major undertaking due to the dry conditions and that winddddddddddddddddddd. Covered it all back up, and then got the Gig out to get it sparkling clean as well. I'd cleaned it all the week before but had not done brass fittings, so it was pretty easy. We made it to the ringside to see the stallions get pinned/ placed - I have a photo of Blue Ribbon Farms' Prince ( now owned n' shown by Windermere Farms)- who went Grand ( and World) Champion Stallion that day. Gerald was SO happy, he jumped in the air when it was announced.

Wednesday night was Show night for us . Pleasure Driving/ Cart... with breast plate harness only. We buffed n' polished all one more time, I found all my fancy driving clothes and felt Myself being oh-so nervous about this whole thing one more time. I've Never shown at world level and wished a little that I'd just stayed home. I kept telling myself that IF the class was judged as it should be, I would place somewhere down the line . If not ? We'd be one of those who were asked to leave " In no particular order" . THEN the winners would be awarded their winning ribbons. The judge placed up to tenth place, and there were supposed to be 15 entered - so I was nervous. ALL this work, to be asked to leave as we were not good enough for the World Percheron Congress.....

Glenn was so great, he ignored my being scared to death, and sniping at way to many trivial things ( Kris was getting in 'show mode' ). He just kept grinning ( I wonder if he was gritting his teeth ??) and telling me to go get ready, where was my whip, did I have my white gloves for under the seat ( Ladies always have some ready, once they are set to get off their vehicle ) and where was my driving apron ?? AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH- this was TOO much to think of , And then to get Lynn harnessed Too ! Glenn got battered by Lynn tossing her head, and therefore hitting him w/ her bit, as I adjusted her harness and then the cart to Perfection. We were ready. My stomach was totally butterflys and I really felt like this was all a dream. It was almost surreal. Gorgeous black slick horses prancing along, wonderful clothing their drivers were wearing, harnesses, and then there were the gelding teams waiting to go in the ring before us as well. It Was like a dream come true for me n' Lynn. In all actuality, Lynn acted like this was Just Another Show. She was calm, and right on the bit for me, nothing fazed her - not the big hitch wagons rumbling by, not the dark shadows waiting to enter the classes, not people popping out from darkness, nothing . As before- Lynn is a PRO- I am too- BUT, neverrrrrrrrrrrrrrr at the World Congress !! We drove around the warm up ring and checked out our competition, trying not to run in to anyone else. Its amazing how small a big warm up ring gets with 12 other carts in there.

It was time..........................Up til now, I was had been nervous about doing everything correctly and not embarrassing myself, or my fine mare who'd won so many first place ribbons for me during our life together. Glenn looked so grand in his " header" attire too. He was excited at all this too... I was just Nervous and  scared to even be trying this. I knew my mare, knew that if the class was judged correctly we might place, but still, ''What IF" ??

 The ring man called our class, and off we all went, one at a time. When I got to the 'in gate' - it hit me.... I was showing at the WORLD CONGRESS !!! Me.... and my little ol' white mare. One class, one horse - in a world of beautiful tall, dancing on air animals when they moved-- it was like it was seemingly make believe.

We trotted into the arena - wow, it seemed Much bigger now. I told Lynn, " we're here- so lets go have some FUN " I'd already figured that we were not going to do well, so why not have a blast doing it ?? We were asked to walk, then trot, then I heard something said but it was muffled... The other horses all were stopping and we, being at the far end of the ring, had not heard the announcer say to STOP. Once I realised it, we did- a perfect four point stop- w/ no movement afterwards. I asked Lynn to stay in dressage frame and ready to trot on- which she did happily. The mare was perfection- she popped right back to 1998 when we were winning in driven dressage classes against the light horses. I could not believe how she turned it on- I do love this special mare. Anything I asked for, I got - tenfold.

The announcer asked us to trot again- from a stop- which we did easily. Then to reverse ( I don't remember that real well- I was in a fog of excitement ) and work in the other direction. Then to line up. We ended WAY up at the far end of the ring, which meant poor Glenn had to walk the entire length of the ring to get to us. He'd joked before hand that when I lined up to pulllllease be down at the gate end so his poor knees wouldn't ache so much w/ the long walk..... Oh well :)

At long last, after working his way down the line of gorgeous horses, the judge hardly asked me to back, never checked out my harnessing job - or anything ! That meant I wasn't getting placed.... at least in most shows it did. The announcer began calling numbers of the winners . She released a couple who didn't place at all, but never called my number. She began at the 10th placing, and worked her way up. Never calling my number ! Right about then, I thought perhaps we hadn't been judged- but that we'd been forgotten. It got to where there were three left in the ring- and they still hadn't called my number, down to two- that's when I thought " OMG- we might be second at the Worlds !" But nooooooooooooooooooooooooooo- we won the class !! I was in tears as Lynn n' I did our winning drive around the arena- there were a ton of people cheering and clapping- some even standing up and cheering for us- we had WON. WE had become World Champions. My little ol white mare with no show shoes on, barefooted behind and me had cleaned their clocks at the World Congress ! As I took my first place ribbon, I was still in tears, and had to stop outside to wipe my eyes so I could see. From all over, there were calls of congratulations for our win- from whom, I don't know as it was dark. I got back to the barn and everyone outside wanted to know how we'd done- and when I told them, there were more cheers and clapping for us. Draft horse people ( Most of them) are so kind that way- light horse folks would have been griping behind backs about it all- but the drafter folks were all so pleased. Of course my ear to ear grins and tear streaked face helped them realise how much this win meant to us. Lynn was cooled out, given some hay, and all over the barn, folks were teasing me about sleeping w/ that ribbon, and saying congrats !

A gal from Canada who happened to be a photographer got these shots of us -and was kind enough to email them to me.  Here we are in the line up, waiting.....  Then me hearing our name being announced that we had WON.  Then Lynn and I leaving to get our ribbon...And me looking at it in tears as I see its' Real. 

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