Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Region 4 Championships......Pre-Show Day Two Part 2

After my horses were done in the morning session, I sought out the USEF steward, Marcia Mealey, and the show manager, Russ Harris. I have known both of these people almost from the start of my show career, Marsha as an exhibitor mostly and Russ as a show manager. In fact Russ was the show manager during my Ghosts of Horses Past experience.I felt pretty comfortable that both of these people were approachable on the matter of the red stallion stalking Legs.

I probably should mention that before I spoke to either of these people I had actually ridden two classes at this horse show with the red stallion. The second class had gone something like the first. Legs had been fine in the warm-up. Only when we lined up to go into the ring did the horse begin to get "hot." Each time we got anywhere near the red stallion, my horse got stronger. AND the red horse had actually mumbled at Legs as he went by.

Knowing the red stallion was now actually talking to my horse indicated to me that things were clearly escalating. I've spent enough time handling stallions to know hearing what they have on their mind is just NOT a good thing. If this horse was now talking, I didn't want my horse anywhere near him. Most likely the next thing on his mind was going to be jumping on my horse.

When I spoke with Marsha she seemed a little flustered. I could tell she'd never had to deal with a situation like this. We talked some about the issues of maintaining a level playing field and what things that meant we couldn't do. She was going to speak with another USEF steward to get her advice. She was also going to check out the next class that the red horse. In the meantime she directed me not to talk to the stallion owner.

The show manager was equally caught off guard. He manages a lot of horse shows and has never even heard of such a thing. Like me he was concerned about the safety of all in the ring. He, too, was going to observe the red horse in his next class to get an idea of what I was talking about.

The next thing I needed to deal with was finding a handler for Rhet. There was another Big Name Handler at the show but he and I have history.....not good history. Many years ago I got a letter from this man threatening to sue me for something I had not done.......but he'd heard it through the grapevine so it must be true. The whole issue has never been resolved. I was pretty darn sure this guy would/will never lead a horse for me.

My friend, Wendy, is friends with this man. She thought if she asked him, it would change things. But hate is a funny thing and it doesn't make way for friendships, no matter how long or how loyal. I went along with Wendy's plan so she could see how deep the problem was. She spoke with the handler and he told her he'd look at my horse.........and I guess you could say he did. He glanced other the stall guard and said, "Nope! I want to win!" as he turned his heel and walked off.

With that out of the way, I called my trainer friend, Eric Krichten. He suggested that I ask Cheryl Fletcher from Silver Aspen Ranch. I have always known Cheryl as a trainer of performance horses although I have seen her show a couple of halter horses. She and Eric were an item for a really long time and I knew he'd worked with her some on halter. I really wasn't sure what to think about having her for a halter handler for my colt. But then, I trust Eric.

Eric has only steered my wrong once and I doubt that was really his fault. He thought he was really helping me........but then that's a story for another day. So I decided to find Cheryl to see if she was interested in showing Rhet. She didn't even look at the colt when she told me she would. She was unable to school him for a day or two but she would come by to see him later that day.At least I could quit worrying about Rhet's handler for a bit.

I went back to the stalls to find Louie (Scandalous Image) having a meltdown. He'd gotten through his morning class with everything we'd thrown at him but now he didn't want to go back into his stall. The poor boy acted like something was after him in there. He was fighting to get out.

I went in to try and calm him to no avail. Poor Louie was having none of it. He wanted out of that stall and that was all there was to it. He even nipped at me clearly saying "Come on, Mom, save me!" and save him I did.

We pulled the horse back out of the stall and actually saddled him back up. Jessica would take him out around the fairgrounds to let him see what was going on around him. The plan was she would longe him first to let him settle a bit, then she would ride him around until he looked like he was over "it" whatever "it" was.

In the meantime horse show was going on around us. Most of the kids at the barn had classes to see if they could garner enough points to show in the regional championships. A couple of the adults had classes as well for pretty much the same reason. It was a hectic time back at our stalls.

After what I happened with Dandy and Louie not being prepared properly to show, I decided it was time to break out another white board. We listed the names of all of the horses cross referenced with the days of the show. Then each day was marked with what needed to be done with that horse for the day. This should help take some of the stress off of Richard. The kids could all check the board to see what was expected of them. Richard and Angie could check the board to see what still needed to be done. Hopefully no more horses would fall through the cracks.

Sometime later in the day, I saw both the show manager and the USEF steward. Both had watched the red stallion in his next class. All of the other horses, except one, had stayed far, far away from the red horse. Both officials assumed it was the rider of the red stallion keeping the horse away from other horses but not me. I knew all of the other riders had been instructed by their trainers to stay away from the red horse.

However, they did have a plan. Both the show manager and the steward were going to stay on the rail throughout the two classes I thought I shared with the red horse. The ring steward was apprised of the situation. It was his job to be sure the red horse behaved appropriately. If he saw any signs of stud like behavior, he was to inform the judge. Hopefully that would keep things from escalating out of control.

Even after the plan was devised, I seemed to still be gathering information on the red stallion. One night in the restroom, I had a conversation with someone who had seen the initial wreck. According to her the red stallion hadn't accidentally bumped into Legs but had actually been coming after him at that time.

Melanie from our barn had been right behind me when this had happened so I asked her again what she had seen. She pretty much verified what the other woman had said. From her vantage point it looked like the red horse had gone sideways like that to get to Legs.

I have to admit I still don't quite understand how that horse hit us that day. All I know is he hit us hard I felt the concussion underneath me before my horse jumped. I know there was but a split second in there but I definitely felt the difference between the impact and my horse's response. It has bugged me from the day it happened.........and to be truthful it still bugs me...........mostly because I just don't understand how he managed to get to us. I was looking where we were heading not where this horse was coming from. Because I don't know, I guess I feel more vulnerable to him "getting us" again.

So the questions went on with people who had seen the red stallion anywhere near my horse. It surprised me how many people actually believed this horse was coming after Legs. It just seemed so implausible to me, my denial didn't want to let go but it was getting harder and harder to not be frightened. I began to think about what really could happen if this horse got out of control. What would happen to my horse? What would happen to me? What do you do if your horse is attacked by a stallion when you are riding it? Do you fight back........or will that make it worse? The very thought made my stomach turn. Again, I thought about going home.

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

Moving Along

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1 comment:

  1. I have always wondered how you select a particular foal. What traits do you look for? How big a part does the bloodline pay in this selection?