Monday, June 11, 2012

Adventures without horses

Well without my own horses, that is.

This past weekend was the annual Western States Horse Expo in Sacramento and Karen and I volunteered to help support Neigh Savers in the CARMA booth--enlightening the world about the value and versatility (aka awesomeness) of the Off-Track Thoroughbred.

Apparently, it was also the weekend my clutch (or some part thereof) decided to crap out on me. While I am still stuck in Sacramento, the weekend itself was a marketing success and a solidifying of our mission. I also found out what a completely rock-solid travel companion Karen is--hard to find, truly appreciated.

The weekend started out early on Saturday, me my usual ten minutes late. I picked up Karen at her house at 6:40 a.m. with the goal of being at the Cal Expo Fairgrounds by no later than 9 a.m. and we made it in good time, even with a breakfast stop.

We had a great day in the booth, talking to people who loved Thoroughbreds and people who didn't know anything about Thoroughbreds--great stories one and all. We met a man wearing a Vietnam Veteran's cap (and his daughter) who loves the launch his OTTB exhibits on the trail and that makes other people say, "Uh...., should he be doing that?" To which this nice man just smiles and rides off ahead of them.

Jess and Karin Wagner, CEO and founder of Neigh Savers, by the Brag Board
Karin had our brag board done with plenty of pictures of Neigh Savers horses doing all kinds of fun things with their owners and it helped attract people to the booth to tell their own stories. There is so much TB love in the world, so many people doing different things with Thoroughbreds--eventing, barrel racing, trail riding, everything--you name it, they can do it--and it was great to talk with so many people who enjoy the breed. We also met owners of Quarter Horses, Arabs, Standardbreds, Drafts and draft crosses--you name it, most breeds were well represented in the attendee pool. And it seems we all have pictures of our ponies on our phones.

We were right next to the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association and had live racing to follow when there was a lull in the crowd. They sponsor the Thoroughbred Breed exhibitions at the Expo-a good example of something I'd like us to start doing up in our neck of the woods with our own OTTBs. There were three very different-looking OTTBs doing different things in the arena--from Polo to jumping. One was Calabar's age and build--dark, dark brown all over with no white. One was a stately older gentleman of 21, very tall, with the classic Roman profile. And then there was the gray--he is just four and had actually gone to an owner who tried to make him into a cutting horse. They said he was too tall and intimidated the cattle, so now he is learning to jump. And jump he did. And then for a fun finale, she took him around the arena at a fast gallop. He was quite pleased with himself after that.

Polo demonstration
Stocky gray and very talented OTTB
Having Karen there to explain the subsequent Dressage demonstration was quite helpful, too. I saw lots of things Bar and I could aspire to with a bit more seriousness in our work. Okay, maybe a lot more seriousness with plenty of trail rides tossed in the middle for good measure.

We also perused an impressive selection of trailers, including one that would look so pretty behind the new truck. Alas,while the prices were very good, no one was giving any away for free or at least as close to free as I need right now.

Wandering through the sale barn, we caught sight of a tiny spotty horse and a tiny stripey horse! Yes, a baby zebra. They made quite a pair and definitely deserve a mention on Spotty Horse News.

Spots and stripes
Besides more horses than you could shake a stick at, not that I did, there were tractors and trucks and lots of things to buy. Mostly, I refrained except for some joint supplement for Bar, a new pair of breeches (only $20!!) and some lotion that will supposedly cure everything under the sun. Mostly, it just felt nice and didn't smell. The miracle is yet to be seen.

Our replacements in the booth on Sunday were from The Square Peg and they are doing some really cool things with horses--including several OTTBs--and autistic kids. Joell told us some wonderful stories about how they use the horses to help whole families deal with autism--starting with putting the mom on the horse to be carried, to learn to trust the horse, to direct. They are having a workshop in July with the Horse Boy Foundation. Would be really cool to get down there to see that.

You're waiting for that car thing, aren't you?

We drove the Miata because I didn't need the truck with just Karen and me. Besides, it is fun to drive as well as extremely economical. We had a smooth drive up, no issues--despite the wind blowing us all over the road. The multiple loops we made trying to find the hotel, while irritating, were also a source of amusement. Did Karen get grumpy? Did she start to whine? NO!! I honestly can't thank Karen enough for her positive attitude. This could have been worse in so many ways--the Miata died in the parking lot, not on the freeway, it didn't catch on fire or strand us on the side of I-80--having a travel partner that didn't make it worse was fantastic.

However, it did die. A clutch pedal should not hit the floor with absolutely no resistance. Bah.

Steve's estimate was I'd be here until Wednesday but luckily the service department at Maita Mazda up here--despite being booked solid--squeezed Lenny in to do the diagnostic. Lenny apparently wants a slave. A slave cylinder that is, and apparently he wanted it when I was 120 miles from home, rather than politely dying around the corner from my mechanic like a good car.

Why yes. I anthropomorphize my car, too.

The part was delivered today and they will put it in for me tomorrow. And then I will drive as fast as is reasonable all the way back home to Sonoma County and my own ponies.

As much as the staff here at the Hilton in Sacramento has made my stay quite lovely, I'm ready.

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