This Is The Fairgrounds…

Where the Fair is held. Any questions so far? (Geek props to anyone who gets that reference.)

The on-deck. The warm-up/exercise ring is behind them, the show ring to my right. We should have such nice fencing at my old fair.

OMG black draft ponies! It's like mini-mes for Percherons! Want....

Disreputable-looking characters.

Best. Cake-decorating. Entry. EVER. (Yes, it won.)

4-H dads, setting up the dressage ring. My dad could sympathize.

Thank goodness for telephoto lenses.

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Versatility Horse

How is it that now I’m much too old for 4-H, I have the perfect 4-H horse? I also spent too much time at the fair yesterday to ride, though I picked up shampoo and liniment at the tack van (and is it sick and sad that I thought “Hm, they’ve got a good price on Mane n’ Tail and two bottles left, I’m out of shampoo at home” and bought two, one for him, one for me?) and drooled over a lovely brown suede bareback pad. I also think I need to start showing Western, just because one can never have too many sparkly things and then I’d have real considerations about what colors look good on Lucky, rather than dithering over weaves of navy blue. I stopped at the barn long enough to give him a bath with the new shampoo and to find he seems to have a new roommate. Dino’s been moved to his stall paddock, while Lucky’s now sharing with Dom, the palomino pony. Dom, despite the wash rack being in full view, was convinced I was taking Lucky in for dinner and leaving him out. Even putting Lucky back out didn’t seem to convince him otherwise.

Today the other boarders were out working with their horses, so instead of starting off in the ring like I’d planned, I rode out to where they were walking Sky on the track. Lucky was not any different about being out there than he is alone, which is nice to know. I gave him a jog and a little hand gallop, not that he was too interested, then headed back to the arena. In the interest of seeing if people might be right and he really might respect a bigger fence, I’d set up trot poles to an x with what, given Lucky’s canter, would probably be two strides to an oxer. The back rail was set at 12″, with an X in front and probably a 12″ spread, maximum. (It would have been closer but the standards only fit so close together. It still looked freakin’ imposing from where I was sitting. But I put him over the X once and stopped straight, went back and took the poles and X and just looked past the oxer. Darned if he didn’t bounce over it. I wouldn’t exactly say he cracked his back, but he didn’t stop in front of the jump, either.

For once in my life, I learned from experience and didn’t ask for a second try. Instead, inspired by gymkhana day Friday, I had set up cloverleaf barrels, and put up buckets with flags. We tried it at the trot, both ways (right-left-left and left-right-right) and I tried for a canter. I swear, Lucky had figured the general idea out, because when I asked for more speed, he was already head up and ready to go. He doesn’t corner very well, but he doesn’t corner very badly either. Flags, we stuck to trotting, more due to my lack of eye-hand coordination than anything else, but they went into the bucket. Lucky I think could see it in my right hand and on our first attempt he wasn’t quite sure what I was doing, so we missed the barrel, but we went around again and got the flag in. If we worked on some neck reining–well, he’s probably never going to chase cans for a living and I doubt he’s ever going to be super-fast around turns, but he could probably be a passable gaming horse. He also seems to be figuring out the jumping thing. He’d be a great 4-H horse, assuming he could handle the fairgrounds.

Now, the real question, though: can he handle hounds? Must find some and find out.

Fun At the Fair

No, Lucky didn’t get to go. That whole no-trailer thing is kind of a drag sometimes. But I did decide to check out the Cass County Fair yesterday.

I will confess: I am one of those 4-H kids. I didn’t do much in the way of rated/”serious” shows, as the ones I did seemed very expensive, not a lot of fun, stressful, and did I mention expensive? I don’t know if there were Pony Clubs in the area. I’m sure there must have been some. But by definition, “Pony Club” seemed kind of limited. You don’t have Home Arts categories in Pony Club, after all. Or goats and chickens. (Not that I ever got goats or chickens to show. My parents did draw the line somewhere.) So Fair (Monroe County, MI) was like the highlight of my summers: hanging out in the barns all day, Fair Food, lots of stuff to look at, showing even when it was frustrating, watching the dads set up the dressage arena or the jumps, being on the fairgrounds super-early before anyone else was . . . good times. My old OTTB was increasingly mellow as the years went on, and pulled another OTTB trick out of his hat at the very first one: after he’d had a meltdown at the spring clinic (no one but the Horse and Pony people on the grounds) I was dreading the Monday-afternoon exercise hours as I was sure he was going to be a basket case with the midway on, all the lights and crowds and cars and people. He’d been a complete brat that morning, when it was quiet again. He came out, we got on, he gave one spook when we got to the corner nearest the midway, and then he was totally fine the rest of the week. In retrospect, being with just other horses, in relative quiet, with a loudspeaker on (see prior entry about Lucky and the PA) the circumstances were probably just track-like enough to break his five-year-old brain. Crazy carnival rides? Obviously, this is NOT the track, and I should cool it.

The Cass County Fair is smaller than the fair I went to, and is missing any real Open Ag animal classes other than draft horses (who are still impressive.) When I get the chance, I will do a photo post including pictures of the various barns (the horse barns for 4-H are a hodgepodge, having been built over time, with some . . . nicer than others), the lovely arena and warm-ups for the horses, and when I have that big barn of my own, I totally need a team of draft ponies. Little black ones. They’re just THAT cute. (And, okay, little is a relative term.)

My stomach, of course, is not going to forgive me for a while for fair food (but hey, corn dog and fries with vinegar and funnel cake are okay once a year, right?) And I got a tiny bit sunburned. But now I’m having fantasies of contacting the local extension and seeing about volunteering. There must be a local club who needs a insufferable know-it-all enthusiastic English specialist to help out.

Oh, and while I foolishly did not get his registered name, I did have one OTTB sighting–a tall eight-year-old bay waiting for his go in Dressage. I hope he does well.