Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Midwest Horse Fair in Madison, WI
I can't believe we are half way through April already. I've been so busy between work and trying to get ready for the Midwest Horse Fair in Madison, WI. The MHF is huge, I think they said there are about 650 horses on the grounds and more than 50,000 people that come through the gates. This was my third year participating as part of the curly group. The other curly folks are some of the nicest around. I brought my bay mare Walker's Curly Honey and gray filly Lucia Rose. Honey who is 14 years old, has only done trailriding and camping. Lucia ("Chia") is 3 1/2 years old has just been started under saddle. Neither horse has ever even been in an indoor area and Lucia hasn't left the farm except to go to the trainers. I had spent the last month trying to give Honey a refresher on riding since she hasn't hardly been ridden these last two years since she was raising foals. My friend's daughter Chelsey wanted to ride Honey in the demos which was fine with me since I hate having audiences when I ride. Lucia's trainer Amanda Andrews had been in a car accident in December and with the help of her husband, they got her under saddle and riding. Amanda really pushed to have me take Lucia to the Fair and I told her that if she thought she was ready I would. She also offered to show Lucia herself...even better. I was really nervous about how both the horses would behave. The Fair is absolute chaos at best.
On Thursday we were loaded and ready to go. We picked up Lucia from the trainers and then headed over to get Honey from my friends farm. She spent the last week with Chelsey riding her and getting to know her. The weather was warm and sunny. It was about a 4 hour trip to Madison. We found our group in Barn 5 and got unloaded in record time and the curly booth was almost completely set up before we had to saddle up for our practice sessions in the smaller arena and then in the big coliseum. There was a ton of activity going on every avenue, tent tarps flapping, forklifts, ATV carts, horses, trucks...... Plenty of stuff to spook a horse that's for sure and the wind was blowing too. I rode Honey during the practice sessions since my teenaged rider happened to have state forensic competitions to juggle in town too. The horses were a little leary of all those ad banners hanging on the rails but they seem to get used to them pretty quick in the smaller arena. It was then on to the big coliseum. We had a little time before our time slot so we took my horses down to the waiting area early to get them used to the sights and sounds on that end. They have a big tent without sides set up for shade or rain and with the wind blowing, it sure made for a good desensitation lesson. I kept the horses on the lead until they settled down to the creaking and flapping. The entrance to the coliseum looked a lot darker than the other arena and there were big barn fans blowing too. The fresh dirt that was trucked in was very moist and they were trying to get it dried out by showtime the next day. I was glad they turned the fans off for us. After practice it was back to the barns and bath time for my horses. This is where they hold the world dairy expo so there are rows of wash areas all over the place. My horses were still shedding and the baths sure helped spruce them up.
All the curlies and there riders looked great. Lucia walked so, so slow at first during the demo it was almost comical...if she hadn't been my horse. She finally got moving though and I think it went really well. We also had an informational demo with the curlies in hand in a small tent. We had about an hour time slot so Judy Schuster our group organizer was the speaker and we brought the curlies in two at a time for 10-15 minutes. The throng of people we had to make our way through was unbelievable. I think that one of the bigger more popular performances must have let out because the people were flooding out of the coliseum and our little tent was right near there. My horses were the last in the line up and we were waiting outside in the midst of that mob. Tons of people were petting them and asking about curlies. We pretty much had Saturday open which gave us time to check out the Fair too. The last demo was about 10:30am on Sunday which was nice since it wasn't too early but not really late in the afternoon. We had time to get our supplies all packed and organized before we could load up. I think that it turned out great, the weather was a little cool and quite windy on Friday and Saturday, but it was sunny. Overall, doing these shows are exhausting but you have a lot of fun and get to talk to tons of nice folks. My camera stopped working by Sunday but I got some decent pictures the first couple days.
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