A novel by Karen Lockhart
Copyright© 2016 Karen Lockhart
Friday dawned cloudy and warm, with a threat of rain. When at a horse show you dread rain; all the show clothing gets wet, with no real way to dry it out. This often means dressing in wet clothes for the next class.
At least it was warm; Cathy told tales of snow and sleet at this show in late April which is not unusual in Central Massachusetts. I can't imagine how miserable that would be.
We had no classes in the morning. This gave us plenty of time to give all six horses a bath. They loved the attention even though the water was cold. The protests came when we tied them in their stalls to dry. This meant the horses couldn't reach the scattered bits of hay left from breakfast. Once they were dry, we covered them with fitted show sheets in the barns' colors to keep their coats clean.
All I could think of was the Championship Western class on Saturday! Imagine, in my first horse show, I won both of my classes! These were amateur rider classes, one was open to both men and women, the other was a ladies only class. It was a good thing I wouldn't be showing against Cathy, we only had one saddle between us!
Ellen was in the fourth class after the morning break. This was a Novice Horse class. Chris and Tina's horses had won blue ribbons in the past; this excluded them, It was great for Ellen, all of our attention was directed towards her and Freddie.
Cathy was sure of a win, as long as they made no mistakes. In Ellen's other class, the two of them were perfect, until that little burp. Of course we didn't say this in Ellen's hearing. Freddie didn't care, so we told him.
Ellen's class was called. Pete sat with the video camera in our box seats with Kevin and Tina. Chris and I leaned on the ring's rail. Not a bad cheering section.
In came Freddie, looking steady as a rock, ears forward looking really sharp! Tina and I held our breath while Chris kept hopping up and down!
The judge's score card was turned in. When Ellen's number was called, we went wild, hugging each other and crying for joy! In her first season riding in the 'A' shows she had won in a class of twenty other riders. Next up was Kevin, but not for a hour or so. This gave Ellen plenty of time to bask in her victory.
Kevin and 'Doc' were the ones to beat in the Open Amateur Driving class. It was a good thing that Pete ran back to video, Kevin won this class too. It was starting to remind me of that round of golf the priest was having in the movie “Caddyshack”. I hoped this run of victories would end better that his did.
Cathy had her Open Western class that evening after dinner. All we talked about was our blue ribbon rides. Tina and Chris were slightly teased as the only riders without a blue but they would have their chance Saturday afternoon. Cathy and Ellen decided that Freddie deserved the day off. This would not only make less of a rush, but add another set of hands to get the horses ready.
Cathy looked like she was on cruise control, both counter clockwise, and clockwise. When she was asked to back, Tony went as straight as an arrow, even though he stepped on his long tail.
This time it was my turn to help pose our horse for presentation of the first place trophy. Our barn had done it again! Now that question I had asked Cathy was coming true. We both had won our two qualifying classes. Our only class left was the championship, and we had only one saddle!
While decompressing back at the stalls that subject came up.
“Cathy, it's your saddle, I'll cheer while you ride,” I said.
“Nonsense! I've already made arrangements to borrow a saddle from another trainer, and here it comes.”
Jayne Hooper whose stable was in New Hampshire was wheeling a saddle with even more silver than Cathy's.
“Wow, what a show you folks are having, seven blue ribbons, with more classes to go on Saturday. I'm jealous!”
Cathy smiled, “It seems to be our turn for the judges to like everything we ride into the ring. The next show we might be lucky to be pinned, you know how things go.”
Jayne laughed, “Enjoy it while you can. That's why I don't need my saddle tomorrow, we've finished showing. Hey, do you need help in the championship? The saddles are stripped, and the horses are posed.”
“Oh my, in the excitement I had forgotten.” Cathy looked at me. “Ginny, why not have Jayne tend to you, and Tina can help me?”
Jayne nodded, “That way a professional is with both horses. We get paid to goof up, where you guys goof up for pleasure!”
This started us laughing. Kevin spoke up, “Hey why not have me help with the saddles, I'm big and strong.”
Ellen looked at him and Pete. “Kev, your job is to sit with Pete, and answer his questions. This way us girls can talk about you guys.”
We broke up and went our different ways, promising to meet at the stalls at 8am, that way we could go to breakfast together at the IHOP. Chris and Tina rode with me to the motel. Ellen of course, rode with Pete. From our vantage point, it looked like she rode on his lap!
With everyone pitching in, the horses were fed, and their stalls mucked in record time. We managed to fit all seven of us in Ellen's Explorer; love that third seat!
Over eggs and pancakes, most of the talk was horses, until in a small voice Tina asked Pete about her father.
“Tina, I think your father is really hiding from the Dominican cartel, not the Mafia, nor the police. The Dominicans control drugs in New Hampshire, Maine, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. Their base seems to be in Lawrence.”
Kevin spoke up at this, “I guess the Governors of Maine and New Hampshire are right then; the drugs are coming from Lawrence and being moved north.”
Pete nodded, “Every time we catch one, two more show up, like cockroaches.”
With a smirk on her face, Ellen started humming, “La Cucaratcha”. Pete hit her before I did. We paid our bill at the cash register, and piled back into Ellen's SUV.
Tina and Chris had their Championship class later that afternoon, with Kevin's class early in the evening session, and Cathy and I next to the last class.
I wished I smoked, but I would've gone through two packs before the evening was over. There would be a barn party with all kinds of food and beer after the final class. Soft drinks also would be around.
Cathy's husband arrived, just as Tina and Chris were starting to get ready.
Tom whistled when he saw all the blue ribbons. “You girls are having a heck of a show!”
“You girls?” Kevin asked, Last time I checked, I still had....to shave, Tom”
Pete introduced himself while laughing at Kevin. I noticed he said nothing about being a State Trooper.
It was time for Tina and Chris to ride into the ring. Where this was a championship class, it wasn't divided, all twenty-four horses came in.
We decided Ellen would help Tina, and Cathy would strip Chris' horse.
Tina and Chris both rode great and were lining up in the ring's center in line, head to tail. The tack was off, the horses posed as the judge walked the line. At the announcer's command, the riders remounted and faced the stands.
When the winners were called the Champion was a rider from the University of Connecticut. We held our breath! Tina won the Reserve Champion, and Chris was pinned fourth!
I walked back with Chris while Tina rode her victory pass.
We were finished for the afternoon. Kevin would drive early in the evening session, Cathy and (gulp) I went late.
Same old routine, clean and polish tack, and help Kevin polish his Show cart, then feed and water the horses, giving only one flake of hay to the three going tonight.
Off we went for a light supper at that restaurant in Agawam Pete liked. Cathy and I had a salad and a shrimp cocktail, while Kevin dug into a steak the size of his head. When Chris mentioned this, Kevin said when he got nervous, he ate.
After returning to the stalls, Doc was groomed first. Hooves polished, teeth brushed (kidding!)
Cathy hitched Doc to the cart and drove him for a few minutes, then beckoned Kevin over to get in the cart. Quickly the ringmaster blew her cornet to call the Amateur Driving Championship into the ring.
Wow, I'd never seen anything like this! Everyone looked great. Soon Kevin lined up in the center ring waiting for the judge to inspect the horses and mark her card. When the winners were called, Kevin and Doc were the Reserve Champions! Another great ribbon.
Doc was brushed and put away without a blanket, he deserved to be able to roll.
The minutes flew by and then it was time for Cathy and me to mount up. We were escorted into the ring by Ellen and Jayne Hooper. The judge really worked us, finally lining up to pose and strip the horses.
Finally, the command to remount was given. Cathy and I were side by side. We held hands as the winners were called.
To be continued.
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