Monday, October 19, 2009
I love Fair Hill. I love it so much that I planned to attend as a vendor back in March when I received my non-profit status. It was the first place I scheduled to promote Thoroughbred Placement and Rescue, Inc. I attended my first 3* two years ago at Fair Hill. I had been there before, but to watch steeplechase and for a time I did work across the street at the training center for Gene Weymouth. That’s an entire blog in itself that I’ll probably never write.
We saved up our best tack for the used tack sale. My husband made a beautiful roll top to raffle and I even made a muck basket of “horse cheer” to raffle off. We had pictures, saddles, a tent – EVERYTHING we needed. To top it off two of my favorite people in the world were competing. Sam Allan in the 2* and Sharon White in the 3*. What could go wrong?
Well, you all probably know, it rained and rained and rained. On Thursday we arrived late to set up. Our instructions were to be set up by noon, but with the usual stuff that pops up we left the farm late and then there the traffic in the rain. Myself, a volunteer and her son who was visiting from Texas drove up in two trucks. Bet he’s glad he came. My good friend Kathy came along a bit later in the day.
It was 43 degrees and raining hard and steady as we unloaded and set up the tent. I don’t know about this tent. I don’t think it was made to take this kind of abuse. I only paid $130 for it. We went out to the hardware store to get a two by four to use as a center support. Kathy headed directly to the liquor store when the wine vendor didn’t show up by 2. I was glad. I don’t usually drink that early, but this was a very special occasion. We sat there and drank wine and talked about the money this was going to cost us. I think we sold one raffle ticket to the jump and about four to the basket. Someone is going to be lucky, the odds on these two are going to be great.
Friday, it was me, me and only me. I rushed to get there to see Sam and Simmy’s dressage test. They were stars. I was so impressed with how they handled the miserable conditions to put in a good performance. I was impressed with all the riders. This was their big day and Mother Nature didn’t care one bit.
I held my breath as I walked around the corner to the tent. Would it be standing? It was still there. I made a few adjustments and settled in for a long cold day. I did walk the course with Sam and Jennifer which warmed me up and it was fun, believe it or not. I was cold, wet and thinking about my horses at home. I will admit this was the best day of the four because it wasn’t raining hard all day. I left around 3 and had sold about five tickets for the jump and 25 for the basket.
Saturday, more heavy rain. I called Bernadette and told her I would pick her up in my truck at her hotel. She should not attempt to drive her car to Fair Hill. By now it was so muddy you could hardly walk. With each step you took, more mud stuck to your boots. There was Bernadette, full of cheer with her old, cold dog Ben. Oh I forgot, old, cold stinky dog Ben. I am the type of person who, when in a crappy mood – which I was – cheerful people annoy me. I was in day 3 of the Fair Hill survival course, Bernadette was about to embark on a very long day. Me, Miss Sunshine and stinky dog in a 10×10 tent.
As we walked into Fair Hill I told Bernadette that every day I held my breath as I walked around the corner because the tent may not be standing. It was there and we went in. Ben was cold and I was feeling bitc*y. I shamed Bernadette into buying him a coat. We also found a use for some of the wonderful turnout rugs we had brought to sell – Ben now had a great place to sleep. I love that dog, even when he’s stinky. As the day progressed, Bernadette proceeded to sell a ton of tickets. Well maybe not a ton, but she did sell more than I thought we would. We met a lot of nice people too. Then I noticed that Eric Bull had his jumps out. My goal is to get a jump from him every year at Fair Hill. I walked over and there were two I really liked and the adorable little squirrel that had been carved.
Sam and Simmy rode brilliantly and Sharon seemed flawless to me. I was really happy to be there to witness that kind of skill and dedication to a sport I have come to love. When Sam came to visit after her ride, I took her over and showed her the jumps I wanted. She agreed they were good choices and she even liked the squirrel. I asked Bernadette to get hold of Eric after the last horse completed the cross country and she said she would. It was a great day, but I will admit that as the day went on, my mood improved and the sunshine Bernadette brought with her dissipated. We were now in the same mood. I left to drive home and saw the Full Moon trailer going down the road. I thought I didn’t know they had anything competing here.
Sunday, I left the farm later because Bernadette was there to open the tent. She called me when I was about a half hour into the drive to tell me she had had enough and couldn’t take any more. Fair Hill had broken her. The tent had collapsed and everything was wet. I felt bad, but I told her this was no tragedy. The guy next to us had moved out of his tent so move in there. It was a surprise the tent had lasted as long as it did. Besides, maybe people would feel sorry for us and buy more raffle tickets. She is better than I could ever be at fundraising, and this fact lifted her spirits. Bernadette proceeded to sell even more raffle tickets throughout the day. Bernadette told me Eric had sold both of my jumps. I was so bummed, but she said we could get him to make the same ones for us. I was still bummed, but I will have those jumps for Leighton Farm. A bit later I saw my pal Cherie and her mom. She commented the jumps were gone and they took the squirrel. The squirrel, I forgot about him. They took my jumps and the squirrel too. Cherie, said I know who it was. I sounded like we were talking about a thief. It was Full Moon Farm. I had seen them driving the getaway trailer yesterday. Oh well, they have really great taste in jumps.
Bernadette and I witnessed wonderful rides by both Sam and Sharon in the show jumping. I have seen Sharon school with Jimmy on Rafferty quite a bit over the last year and it was a true privilege. As I watched her flawless round I thought this is what all the hard work was about. I was also amazed at how Sharon rode just the same as at home. I mean she’s that good. Most people ride different at the show than at home, but somehow she rides the same and all I can say is she is amazing to watch.
Bernadette called me from her car on the ride home to tell me Ben had upchucked all over the back seat of her car. All we could do was laugh, it was a perfect ending to this story.