Thursday, February 21, 2008

A Baby Boomer Dreams of Arabian Horses - Rhythm's Story - Tommy Garland - Part 3

Part One of the Baby Boomer Series

Rhythm's Story starts here

To haul horses to the US National All Arabian Horse Show in Albuquerque NM, Tommy Garland bought a brand new air ride semi tractor and trailer, much like the one that picked up Rhythm from my place. When the rig first left Garland's both grooms were riding in back with the Arabian horses. The girls traveled part of the trip that way to make sure that all the horses had what they needed and were traveling well. Probably good for the horses but not so good for the girls.

I believe that the rig from Tommy Garlands drove straight through from Virginia to New Mexico. The only stops were for fuel and food, and not too many of those. My guess would be it's a three day trip under those circumstances. I know from my location in Washington it's nearly a two day trip driving straight through.

In the Pacific Northwest we are spoiled at horse shows. We are used to arriving with our stalls already bedded but that isn't the case at the US Nationals. Not only do the stalls have to be bedded before horses can be put into them, but bedding is purchased separately and not included in the cost of entries. So the $1000 plus cost of entry per horse is only the beginning of the costs at the show.

By the time Brittany and the rest of the crew arrived at the show grounds, they were exhausted and the work was just beginning. They were dropped off with the horses with a list of things to do and left to their own devices to figure out how to get it all done.

First on the list of course was tracking down bedding and then bedding those stalls and getting everything set up for the horses so they could be off loaded from the trailer. After that, unloading the trailer with all the equipment and show clothes, and getting the displays built and stall curtains hung and landscaping finished in between lunging horses and getting them used to the facility.

At night the girls were supposed to sleep in the barns with the horses. I say "supposed to sleep" because it's next to impossible to sleep with that many horses in strange barns. The horses are squirming and blowing most of the nights until they just get so tired they can't stay awake anymore. That is somewhere around day three for most of the horses but some take even longer. Once the horses got to the point, the girls were able to get a little sleep.

Brittany ended up getting quite ill but still managed to struggle through. I spoke to her on the phone during the first week before the show. I hardly recognized her voice, she was so hoarse from coughing. She also was not eating both from a lack of time and not feeling well enough to even want to eat. The problem with the chiggers had gotten quite painful and the cold showers they had located only made it worse. I was thankful that I knew where enough to tell her where to find warm showers on the fairgrounds. At least that part could be helped. It was going to be a tough haul.

At home Rich was worried about his daughter. Even though she wasn't telling him all of the things that were happening, he knew enough to know that the going was really tough. The fact that she was working so hard as sick as she was really had him concerned. He fixed up a care package loaded with medical stuff for her illness and the chiggers and, of course, a few special treats. I found out where he could send it so that Brittany would actually get it in time to do her some good.

By the time it was actually time for the show to begin, both Brittany and Natasha were both physically and mentally exhausted. If it hadn't been for the excitement building around the grounds because the show was beginning, I don't know how they would have continued. But by that time both girls were feeling like being part of Tommy Garland's barn was some kind of special status. They could hardly wait for the winning to begin.

Many of the classes at this show are huge and require a number of elimination rounds before the actual championships. With Tommy Garland's barn specializing in western pleasure and hunter pleasure horses, both half Arabian and purebreds, all of the horses had to go through cuts.

If a horse makes it through to the next section, it is awarded a ribbon. Those ribbons get displayed outside right over the top of the farm's banner at the stalls for all to see. There is a kind of rivalry among the barns over who has the most horses advancing in the competition.

The highlight of the day for both Natasha and Brittany was being able to actually watch a class or getting to hang those ribbons. The rest of the time Brittany and Natasha were running their legs off. Their duties were feeding and watering horses, cleaning stalls, getting horses ready (and probably some clients) for the show ring, putting them away after they showed, cleaning tack and exercising the horses that weren't being shown that day. All horses that were shown were lunged before they were tacked up and readied for the ring. Most days began at 4 am and didn't end until midnight. Often there was no enough time to even eat.

It was a ways into the schedule before actual championships affecting Tommy Garland's crew were happening. There were so many different classes between the open, amateur and age splits for the ammies. There were plenty of ribbons along the way showing the horses were making their cuts. By the time the championships were beginning to run Brittany was running on a kind of euphoria being associated with a winning barn. She was pretty proud to be working for Tommy Garland despite how tough it was.

Rhythm is the meantime was home with Rich living a life of luxury for a horse. Eating and sleeping and playing.........

To be continued..............

Tommy Garland Part 4

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  1. Sounds like even though it is exhausting Brittany is getting a good education that will last her a lifetime. I remember those days, I'm not sure if I could say fondly. Especially when you arrived at a show and had to get the stalls ready in the pouring rain. We never had to actually sleep in the barn, but we might as well have since we probably got 3-4 hrs. sleep at the hotel.The one thing I did enjoy other than the competition was setting up our little display room. Even though I am kind of glad we don't do that anymore, sometimes I do miss it.

  2. Wow MiKael, my hat goes off to those two girls and the rest of the crew. I can relate to that feeling a bit. I took on photographing a reining show here a few years ago, it was a 5 day indoor event, which I normally avoid, I have never seen reining let alone shot it and they forgot to tell me that they started their first classes at 7am and their last classes normally ended at about 11pm to midnight!!!! I had Larry with me so you can just imagine, I didnt sleep for 6 days literally. So Brittany, girl, I feel your pain but yours sounds like it was more of endurance than my situation was. I am sure it has only succeeded in making you a better more responsible and mature person and horse owner in the long run, sometimes these life experiences are necessary to get our minds into the proper gear. I cant wait to see what you do with Rhythm.

    Looking forward to more.


  3. Wanted to ask if these last few pics are of Rhythm at his new home, if so he looks like a happy horse.


  4. Tell me that they had other grooms and not just the two girls. Two grooms for as many horses and rides as I'm sure he had would not be enough at any show, let alone Nationals!

  5. wow. that is a lot of work. Horses and strange barns = zero sleep.

    Whenever Scooter and I were on the road, if I was not near him he would whinny his fool head off-grrrr

    hes 29 and has not grown out of it either.

  6. grey horse matters, I have slept in the barn by choice one time, and only one time. It was an awful experience and a big name stallion came in the night before his halter class and kept everyone up screaming his head off.

    lori, well, I don't know how you every get any work done taking Larry along to a show. It's hard enough concentrating for that long with having someone seriously impaired to care for as well.

    And yes these pictures are Rhythm at his new home. He is one happy horse.

    dressagemom, I would love to tell you there were more but there were just the two girls. Tommy's wife was there to deal with client's I assume and also to keep the girls in line. Then Tommy and his assistant trainer. It was a monumental task.

    barn goddess, you are right, there really isn't sleep until you get so exhausted and even then it is fitful and patchy at best.

    Sounds like Scooter didn't get much sleep on the road. Poor guy! lol

  7. Do you know what the three worst words I always seem to read around here are?

    To be continued...

    It's a good thing those girls had that adrenaline rush to keep them going.

  8. Three days... no stop!!! did they even let the horses out to stretch their legs. Good grief. And the treatment of Brittney.. They moniter horse abuse at the barn, but what about groom abuse. If I had been treated like that, I may have considered leaving him high and dry.

  9. I admire Brittany and Natasha's dedication and determination. That is going to get them places.

    It sounds like a very large amount of work, but hey they were determined and pushed through it! Man if that isn't a true horsemen, what is?

    I hope they get/got the recognition they deserved for all their hard work.

  10. OK as you know Hubby acts as Groom for Trainer Tracey and I at all shows. Now its not that involved, but we do run his legs off. Those girls are awesome.

  11. Great story as always. I can't wait for your book.
    Oh, and the photo gave me the best laugh today - what a character.