We went to Churchill Downs, and took the back track tour. There’s a front track tour that’s included in the admission price, but to cause more money to depart from your wallet, they charge if you want a chance to get a look at the training stables.
I thought this was pretty interesting. They use 100,000 gallons of water, per day, to water the track so the 3.5 inch top layer stays soft. Under the sand is concrete, so they have to keep the top layer watered and groomed so the horses don’t ruin their legs. (Not that it doesn’t happen anyway) The regular winners circle and the press area where they display the horses before the races is lined with recycled tires, which again is a softer surface for the horses’ legs. There are schooling stalls in the display area to get young horses accustomed to the noise and commotion.
For the back track tour, we climbed into a van and headed through an underground tunnel to the inside of the track. On Derby Day, they sell 100,000 $40 tickets, and have a huge party on the interior of the track! Most of the people in there can’t even see the horses run! They just go for the party. Personally, I don’t want to pay 40 bucks to be packed like a sardine into a small area with 100,000 of my closest friends!
The barn area was interesting. There is a school for anyone who wants to go that is staffed by volunteers for the people working on the track. There are free dorm rooms, too. Some of the barns have small apartments above them. The trainers lease out the barns, and they charge an average of 3,000 per horse per month for training. (And I thought Blondie was expensive!!) Some of the trainers have leased the same barns for decades! During the racing season, there are about 1400 horses stabled at the tracks. During the off season (now), there are only about 1000. We missed the morning warm ups, which would have been interesting, and during race season, the tour group can see the races start from the stable area. Missed out again!
After getting a late start, (and I thought Dean was bad in the morning!), we continued our journey to Louisville. Due to heavy traffic in southern Ohio, and accidents in Kentucky, we didn’t get to the hotel until noon. Since the morning session started at 9, I wasn’t sure if it was worth running across the street to catch the end of it. Instead we went to Churchill Downs.
First impressions of the hotel are very favorable. They are even running a shuttle to the fairgrounds, but the latest they pickup is 11pm. I’ll have to get up early tomorrow and hope I can watch some of the morning workouts, or wait until M & Laurie get here, and beg a ride back to the hotel from them.
I’m getting ready for a journey to another horse show. This time just to watch. I’m so lucky that Dean deals well with my obsessions; he hasn’t really complained once about me being out of town so much this summer (of course, I’m bribing him with a trip to Disney).
I am looking forward to attending my first state fair, as well. Hopefully I’ll find some entertainment value in it, since I have a feeling I’ll be spending a lot of time there, since I won’t have a car. I really hope that the hotel is within walking distance, as their website proclaims. Otherwise, I’m pretty much screwed since the rest of the barn people aren’t arriving until Friday afternoon, and they are staying somewhere else. I really want to watch the late night training sessions, but I don’t know yet how practical that is going to be.
M called the lady that I bought Blondie from, and told her that Laurie and I are attending the horse show. Laurie bought her pony from her. She invited us to come to their stabling area and meet them! I was excited about this when M told me, and after watching the live video feed from the show last night, now I’m really looking forward to it. They had three beautiful First Night Out yearlings in the yearling class, and they finished 1, 3 & 5. I liked Bingo Night the best (she finished 3rd), and hope I can see her in person on Friday.
I’ll update as time permits. Without a car to get back and forth to the hotel, I might only be able to post in the mornings, though. We are supposed to go to the Louisville Zoo, and maybe squeeze a trip to Churchhill Downs. Tomorrow there are a ton of classes during the day that I want to see at the horse show, so finding the time to do everything that I want is going to be tough.
I called M today to arrange a ticket swap with her. I was afraid that if I didn’t get the horse show tickets to her before I left, it would be difficult getting together on Friday. I don’t know when they are leaving for Louisville, and I didn’t want to keep dragging them around with me. I learned two things while speaking with her.
1. Never purchase tickets in advance for anyone again! Erin is not going now, even though the day I purchased the tickets, she was. That’s three people that have backed out, after I made the ticket purchase!! Lee said she would pay me back for her tickets, and she invited my parents to use them. Since I was going to pay for Erin’s tickets, I am probably stuck with them. Grrr!
2. Sunday died over the weekend!!! Sob!!! When I was there on Sunday, there was a tarp covered heap, but at the time, I didn’t want to know what (who) it was. It was Sunday! It’s too depressing to go into details. This was the ultimate bomb-proof horse; you could ride her through a battlefield and she would just plod sedately forward. Lunge line lessons will never be the same. She was 28. We’ll miss you, Sunday – you were the best lesson horse ever!
Since I won’t be able to have a riding lesson for about 3 weeks, M said I could come out tonight and ride one of the lesson horses. She decided that Pepper would be a good choice, and not being in a position to argue, I agreed. He’s usually pretty fun to ride, and it’s been a while since I have ridden him.
Everything was great at first. We started with a nice sitting trot to warm him up, and moved to a posting trot. He is always fast, being a former roadster pony, but tonight, he raced around the arena. It wasn’t to bad at a trot. However, when M asked her lesson rider to canter, Peppy took off, too! The little ba$+ard!! He practically FLEW around the ring, totally out of control. I couldn’t get him to stop, and when I tried, he sped up!
With M’s verbal assistance, I was finally able to get the little d!ck to stop. She told me to walk him in circles to calm him down a bit. Then she asked if I wanted to try to canter him again. I thought about it while I walked him around the arena two times. If I didn’t, the lesson would end on a bad note. If I did, it might end on a worse one. Since I wasn’t riding again for a while, it was really important to me to end with a sense of accomplishment instead of failure.
I decided to try again, and she had me canter around Harley, who was standing in the middle of the ring with his lesson rider still on. After a few times around Harley, Pepper was down to a manageable speed, so M had me take him out on the rail, go around a few times, and ask for him to stop. This all went smoothly, and the lesson ended satisfactorily.
Silly old horse! He needs to start acting his age!!
So, to my utter dismay, I discovered that I am expected to wear a dress to the last night of the horse show. This is utterly insane! Why did I have to pick the one discipline of riding where you have to wear make-up, do your hair, and wear a suit to ride your horse??
Since I have no nice clothes, I ran up to the mall Saturday night. And spent about 3 hours fruitlessly searching for something that fit, didn’t cost a lot, and looked halfway decent on me. I finally got the brilliant idea to hit the girls’ department at Lord and Taylor. Pay dirt!! I found a black dress on clearance, that fits, and doesn’t make me look like I’m ten. It also hides the fact that I have nothing up top, and flatters my generous rear. Yeah! All that for 30 bucks!!
I also purchased a cute jacket at Marshall Fields and a skirt that matches at Kohls but I’ll be returning them this week. I wasn’t sure last night if the dress would work, but when I modeled it for Dean today, he said that it was long enough, and looked nice. I was worried about the length, but it comes to the tops of my chubby knees, so if I wear spandex hose, all of my jiggly parts should be contained, and everything should look alright.
Now, I have to find a pair of shoes to wear! This is stupid! I have to wear heels to the horse show?? God, I hope I don’t trip and fall down the stadium steps!!
Today was the best ride I’ve had on Blondie! I was able to keep her head up for most of the lesson, and she cantered for me both ways right when I asked. She even cantered in a nice little ball the second way of the ring, but then she started dropping her head and falling out of it, so M decided we should call it a day and end on a good note.
After, I was going to ride Woody, but when M warmed him up for her, he started acting like an utter a$$. She took him outside, and then Kim asked if I wanted to ride Sammy for a little bit. Since I haven’t ridden him in a while, I thought that sounded like a good plan. We took turns riding him, then, working on having him stop when he was asked. Then I tried to give her a lesson, but since I can’t really tell when someone is doing something wrong, I mainly told her what to do. Walk down that rail, canter to the end of that wall, stop and walk. Things like that.
M is going to be out of town most of the week. She said I could ride Sammy tomorrow, so I’ll stop by after work. I don’t know if I’ll be able to ride next Sunday, because D had left and we couldn’t ask him. Then the following week I’m in Louisville, so no riding for over 2 weeks. Boohoo! I’m not sure when their next Morgan show is, but I think it’s the start of September. *sob!* I’ll be glad when the show season is over!
Friday’s lesson was a lunge line lesson on Sunday. No stirrups, no reins. Yeah! Sunday is pretty short, so if I fell off, at least I wouldn’t have too far to fall.
No stirrups lessons are really hard for me. I post off my stirrups, which is a no-no, and my form is horrible. I collapse in the middle, instead so sitting up straight. I also can’t figure out how to sit back in the saddle without standing up in the stirrups.
We worked on the sitting trot, then the posting trot. In fact, we spent so much time on this, M didn’t get to toss balls at me, or ask my to mold things out of playdoh. Darn! I’m sure she’ll manage to work those into the next lunge line lesson…