Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Region 5 Championships....... The Colt's Class

Part 1

As we got closer to the arena I could see Jesse Saldana waiting in the darkness. I must admit I couldn't wait to turn this colt over to him. But when we arrived, the stallion's class was still waiting to be pinned. There wasn't another colt in sight. It would be sometime before it was Rhet's turn.

Like many halter trainers Jesse didn't want to take possession of the colt until the very last minute. They feel it keeps their horse "fresh" by not giving them any added time to get familiar with what is expected of them. So while Jesse visited with Angie and Richard, I stood with Rhet off near the outdoor arena taking in the the activities around us.

Rhet stayed "up" intently tracking every movement around him. Dogs, horses, people, it didn't matter. Rhet was surveying his world.......somehow sensing what was to come........or maybe he was smelling the testosterone in the air of the stallions in the ring......or maybe, just maybe one particular stallion..........that of his father. Whatever it was the colt was mesmerized.

Sometimes Rhet forgot that I was there and started to take off on his own to investigate. A swift reminder stopped his movement and brought him back only briefly to me. Standing in the darkness there was much for him to see even if it was beyond my vision. Sometimes the colt called out. It wasn't a plaintive call but a beckoning one. "Don't you know I'm here!" This attitude was what Jeff Schall had found so special in this colt.

Finally we could hear the announcer saying the numbers were being verified. It was at that point that Jesse Saldana took Rhet for a brief schooling session before it was time to enter the ring. I was relieved to hand the colt over. The colt's excitement had left me exhausted.

At first Rhet ignored the transfer of his lead to Jesse. A brief reminder was all it took for Rhet to notice the change. He immediately turned from the inquisitive colt into the trained show horse focusing his attention on something other than his surroundings for the first time since he'd left that stall. It took just a couple of set-ups for Jesse to have the horse he wanted to lead into the ring.

By now the stallions had begun to emerge from the arena. Slowly at first as each horse of the top five took their individual victory lap then exited the arena. Some stopped at the photographer's booth to get win pictures while the reserve champion and champion remained in the ring getting their final moments of glory. The last to emerge, these two horses finally showed themselves.

In the darkness I could only see silhouettes of both horses as they passed across the way. Voices carried across the night air told me one of them was NYN Hisani. I strained to see this horse, Rhet's sire, but all I saw was an outline underneath a tree as this horse and his handler passed by. Even without light, I recognized "that neck" that sets Hisani apart.......that neck that Rhet wears so well. Richard told me later Hisani had taken the reserve championship.

It was at this point I checked in with Jesse to see if he needed anything from me before I headed to the arena. My stomach began to roll in anticipation of the coming class. Something about another showing my horse always gets to me but with this particular horse it is much worse. I think it was Angie that said for me to go ahead they would do whatever Jesse might need. I gratefully headed off and found a seat with a couple of my breeder friends in the arena.

The next time I saw Rhet the colt was coming through the ingate. I was surprised to see he was the second colt to enter the ring. The rules require they bring the horses in by age with the oldest first. Rhet had been in the middle of the pack at Region 4. Yet in this group, here he was up front.

Many fear that being first or second can cost you in this new way of scoring. They think the judges start off conservatively so they have somewhere to go for outstanding characteristics they might see later. I guess we were going to have to wait and see how or if this affected Rhet.

It was interesting the difference between this arena and the one is Salem and how that affected the "look" of the presentation. In Salem those high white walls make the horses seem to "pop" into view. Here in Monroe with its low see through rail (that I hate) the horses come into view before they ever actually step a foot in the ring. The result is less dramatic..........less magical......less engaging for the crowd.

Also this rail puts the audience right there in front of the horses instead of overhead like Salem. I'd had to spend a couple of nights schooling Rhet to even get him close to this rail. He wanted to turn and face it instead of run beside it. Now as he came into the ring, it was obvious I'd done the right thing with that extra schooling. The colt showed concern about the crowd but still comfortable enough to stay parallel to his handler. Many of the colts did not.

It was clear from the start this class it was not just the entrance that was less dramatic than at Region 4. There was no overall crowd favorite only little pockets of people rooting for their own colt with a sprinkling of appreciation for a nice colt thrown in here and there. The "flavor" just was not fuel to fire up a horse with a big attitude.

And the colts were different too. There wasn't one colt in this class Rhet had shown against in Salem. Besides Jessem there were two handlers that had shown in Salem. A new day..........a new set of judges......a new challenge..........was Rhet up for it? Better yet, was I?

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

The Colt's Class Part 2

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  1. AHH! You have me on the edge of my seat with the stories of this colt! I love reading about him and can't wait to see where he goes from here!

  2. so much suspense! I'm getting edgy too.