Saturday, August 18, 2007, dawned unexpectedly sunny, dry, cool and crisp. It felt like mid-September instead of late August with breezes and an early-morning chill which made us think of shortening days, slanted rays of the sun, and a distant memory of the need to be prepared for the winter blasts that visit northeast Ohio anytime after October. It was just a fleeting memory, however, as the pleasure of the day surrounded us with the thought that 1404 bales of hay were safely stored for the horses at our farm and that many of the challenges of 2007 were now behind us. It was a day for adventure and opportunity. It was a time to treasure the beauty and peacefulness of the day and to savor with gratefulness the fact that we were together and had some time for fun with our horses! Oh, how we welcomed the diversion and the distraction!
So after gussying up our two youngest babies, four-month old WIW Imageofchoice and one-year-old WIW Legacy of Choice the night before, we held our breath as we entered the barn. 6:30 AM was the acid test. Had both youngsters survived the night in their cotton sheets (two apiece!), or would the sheets be ground into the feces within the stall? Would we need to do a major cleanup-again? Tom and I said nothing to each other as we thought our private thoughts and tried to gauge our available time for chances of making the first class at 10 AM on the Berea Fairgrounds, about an hour away from us in the best of all conditions.
First a look at baby Icky (what else can you get out of abbreviating Imageofchoice)... It was like Frances Scott Key looking at the American Flag. Both sheets were still there-intact, doing their job. A quiet breath in the form of a silent "Whew" issued kind of sideways through my half-opened mouth.
Now a look at yearling LC. The surcincles were wrapped around her. Two cotton sheets lay in a heap under her feet. Surely, they had been destroyed with feces and torn open. A second look told us that both were all in one piece. Neither sheet had been stained. LC was immaculate with her Barby Doll white mane fluffy and dazzling. Huh?? Surely the gods were smiling upon us. Could the magical charm in the air last much longer?
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Can you believe that both babies, still clean down to their light hoofs, were loaded in the trailer and we were off to the big fairgrounds by 8:30 AM? So there we all were, off to see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of Oz without a single calamity, a full tank of gas, a new truck, a clean white trailer loaded with good hay, and two happy babies that hadn't fallen or crapped themselves out of fear! Memorably wonderful!!
When we arrived at the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds at exactly 9:30 AM, we rejoiced knowing that our first class did not start until 10 AM. Except...where were we supposed to go? We saw no other horse trailers and not much activity. Gee, we were all cleaned up with nowhere to go.
Suddenly, like a miracle, up popped Joe Porache on his tractor! Oh, Joe, where do we go now? And there was Joe, his comforting self, showing us exactly where to park the trailer! And suddenly, there were other horses and exhibitors...and it was going to be okay. In fact, it was going to be splendid just to be there in the sunshine with fellow exhibitors of all ages. Oh, what a delight!!
I registered Icky for Class 1, Open Halter, and LC for Class 2, Jackpot Halter. Now this was going to be interesting, since this show was the very first away-from-home experience for both youngsters. Both came out willingly and immediately made friends among the humans besides us. I fastened on both show halters, and we just walked around, not really wanting to practice any more show setups with these two youngsters. It was enough that they both seemed to be taking it all in stride so far. There was Icky baby-talking every strange horse that came his way and LC playing the role of Alpha mare as long as she had Icky to lord it over on. What they would do in front of the lady judge...well, that all remained to be seen.
We admired the calm, cool Clydesdale carrying the flag around the track. The wind blew the banner, but horse and rider made the circuit without a care in the world. Job well done!
And then came the first call and the second call for Class 1. By the time Icky and I got to the starting point, Announcer Anita Cook made it known that there were thirteen entries. Wow, I thought, as I looked straight ahead. Icky walked to the judge, his Arabian brush tail held high. Then we trotted spiritedly and easily to set-up. Now, that might be the challenge for a four-month old! He set up...and stayed put...and stayed put...and stayed put, taking away a fifth place in the large field. Wow! Could this all be happening this beautiful clear, quiet, calm, ethereal Saturday in August?
And just as suddenly came the second call for Class 2, Jackpot Halter, the one that I expected to have twenty contestants. This time it was only seven in the class. LC and I approached the judge, her mouth open and crying loudly for Icky, who was perfectly happy to be in the outfield with Tom. The big challenge for LC would be the trot, which she rarely liked to do, but suddenly she was the picture of animation. Was this really sluggish LC? I did not worry about the set-up, but I should have. LC kept calling for Icky: "Where are you, little half-brother of mine?" No response from any horse on the grounds. She was totally on her own. By the time she was done fretting, she gunked up my new white shirt, and I figured us as also-rans, but somehow we pulled off a third-place, and we both beamed our joy to walk away from this class in the sunshine with LC's silver frizzy mane just glistening like a white beach on an endless summer beach.
We stayed to visit awhile and then did what we knew we had to do: Bring those babies home to get ready for riding lessons, stall-cleaning, and an evening appointment. Man, time sure flies when you're having fun and thrills, kind of like seeing the bottom of the roller coaster come up to greet you as the scream just tears out of your mouth without having to think about it...
Even if we had not walked away with ribbons, the experience would have been a pleasant highlight of our day. I will never forget that during the morning of Saturday, August 18, bearing number 155 with two exciting youngsters, both progeny of WIW Windys Choice, we made our appearance in the shining sunshine feeling healthy and enjoying the pleasure of the moment. Thank you, Cuyahoga County Farm Bureau, Cuyahoga County Equine Advisory Committee, all of the volunteer EAC members, Farm Bureau Operations Director Anita Cook, and Show Organizers, Joe and Georgeann Porache. You all made our day! May we long remember it when the winter blizzards, the ice, the sleet, the hail, and the darkness of winter remind us that summer is on its way again.