Sunday, 10 p.m. I'm at home in Virginia, having just come back from celebrating the Super Bowl with friends, and decide to check my email one last time. There's an email from Rick. Would I like to do Dressage Under The Stars, a fun freestyle competition at the Player's Club, this Wednesday?
Sure, I write back, except I have no wheels (there's still 150 bales of hay in my trailer) and no freestyle music.
Monday, 5 a.m. Rick's written back. No prob on the music; I'll have the DJ put something together and have it to you in time to practice. Just figure your trailer situation out.
Well, OK then!
I'll be back home tonight, I write him, and will take a video of some choreography on Tuesday morning and email it to you. It's a plan.
Tuesday, 10 a.m. How many fun things can Tres do? He can passage. He can do pirouettes. He can do changes pretty much however I want them to—straight, bendy, between pirouettes. He's adjustable and hairy. So let's play on those two.
For adjustable, I pick choreography that's clever. I half-pass at trot facing the judges at B, instead of facing the short side. I extended-canter to pirouette. I do threes on a curve, and twos between pirouettes. And I extended-trot with the reins in one hand. Awesome.
For the hairy, I figure you can't have a Spanish horse and NOT do Ricky Martin music. I mean, come ON. That's, like, a rule.
Video's on YouTube, music suggestions in an email to Rick. Awesome.
Tuesday, 2 p.m. Rick's gotten all my stuff and is sending it onto the DJ. I'll either have the music emailed to me, or Rick will drop it off at the farm before lunch Wednesday. I can hop on Tres really quick right after lunch, run through it one time so I save my best horse for the evening, and rock and roll. It'll be a Hail Mary, but Tres is so perfect I'm not worried.
Wednesday, Noon. No email yet, no word from Rick. Whatever, it'll be fine.
Wednesday, 1 p.m. Hmm.
Wednesday, 3 p.m. Crap.
Wednesday, 5 p.m. @#$*!
Wednesday, 5:45 p.m. Music is done and waiting for me at the local feed store… which closes in 15 minutes. And is a 20-minute drive. Gack!
Wednesday, 5:52 p.m. Of course there's a school bus. OF COURSE.
Wednesday, 6:04 p.m. WHEW. They held things open for me! It's there I learn that the DJ's work didn't hold muster, so Rick had to ask another rider, Lisa Payne, to save the day. She started working on it at 1 p.m. WOW. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Lisa!
I listen to the CD three times on the way home, then load up my stuff (into a borrowed truck and trailer; thanks, Joan!), slap my sparkly polos and bell boots on Mr. Tres, load him up, and hit the road. I am joined by my trusty friend Becky, who works for Michael, and more glitter and ribbons than you can shake a stick at. Hit it.
7:30 p.m. We arrive at Players, and it is pitch dark. Can't see where we're supposed to be parked, but we can certainly see where we'll be competing. It is lit up almost as bright as day, with a BIG floodlight at each end of the arena, on grass. The warm-up is on a track, and once I'm all tacked up, I'm having to really restrain myself from going for a gallop.
8:00 p.m. Show time! The evening starts with a reining demo, which is very fun, and I get a good luck at the audience for the first time. Players is PACKED; I know how many of my friends are around because they told me they'd come, but I can't see any of them through the masses of people. Sweet!
I warm Tres up, and he's at his absolute best. He's keen to the aids, a self-starter. And his "costume"—glitter in his tail and over his haunches, ribbons in his mane—looks stellar,
It occurs to me, though, at some point, that I have no idea how Tres is going to react once I'm in the arena. I've seen many a civilized animal totally lose it under lights, or with a large crowd. But there's no time for that now, because the rider before us has received her score, and we're up!
8:30 p.m. A quick round around the ring and they're ready for me. I wave and my music begins; I ask Tres for the passage, and we head down centerline.
And Tres is AWESOME!!!!
He's TOO FUN! He's wonderful, fluid and agile. He makes no mistakes, and he's a blast to ride! I'm thrilled, and the judges are, too—straight 9s! The crowd is wild!
8:50 p.m. Results are tallied, and we've WON!
Tres gets to come back out for his big award ceremony, and he doesn't even bat an eye at the camera flashes, or the check as big as he is. They take some photos, and at the end of our big, powerful lap around with the crowd screaming, Tres makes a lovely transition back to walk, cool as a cucumber. What an amazing, amazing animal.
9 p.m. Becky and I untack him, give him lots of lovings, and chuck him in the trailer while we do a quick lap around the crowd, mostly because I'm hoping someone will say, "Wow! What a swell job. Can I buy that horse?" I talk to a few people about him, and give my number out; hopefully something will come of it.
But I don't want to make Tres stand around forever, so I keep the schmoozing to a minimum and hit the road.
9:45 p.m. The trailer is parked, the bottle of champagne I won that's as big as my head is chilling in the fridge, and all three horses are tucked in for the night. Tres looks very pleased with himself, maybe even smug. And his butt is still covered in glitter. I think that's something we'll deal with tomorrow.