Sunday, September 19, 2010

Fandango's Big Adventure

Last Monday morning’s start was a near disaster. There I was, enjoying the pleasant moments before I knew I had to get up, in the sweet drifting in and out of sleep where the lines between them are inseparable, when I was rudely interrupted by a dog barking outside, coming from our good-for-nothing, yellow lab, Memphis.

Memphis doesn’t bark unnecessarily. She is too lazy. When she does bark tho, she has a vocabulary indicating different events such as the UPS truck coming down the drive way, another is the “I found a snake” bark, and the horses are loose, and so on. That morning’s heralding was pretty close to the snake bark, an anxious, quick, and high pitched bark so I got up to see what the heck was going on, and to tell her to hush so I could get some more snooze time.

When I walked into the kitchen where I could look out the front window, I was astonished to see a plume of smoke coming from the pot of grease I had left on the cook top the night before after cooking chips. The fire was somehow still on below it, a low flame, but it had finally reached the near flash point and was now smoking and dangerously hot. The lid was still on it and another smaller lid on top of that, and the escaping smoke was pushing these lids up and so they were rattling. This rattling was what Memphis heard and was barking about. How and why it seemed to mean anything to her puzzles me but I am grateful. This ol’ dog earned her chow with this one. A few more minutes and we would have had a major grease fire going while we snoozed away unknowing. It would have been a really bad day. Good dog.

We were leaving that afternoon for the Dutch warmblood Keuring in Georgia. I was taking Fandango, aka, Frank, and his mom Joline, for the jury to evaluate the boy. I got Joline out and gave her a quick makeover, pulling mane and trimming loose hairs, giving a good washing and general tidying up, which she loved. Frank did not think much of the hose water hitting his legs so that plan got shelved but he looked ok anyway. Mark and I got them loaded into the trailer box stall, and off we went.

They both traveled well with no big stress, other than ours, over possible imagined “uh ohs”. The facility was lovely and the stalls were big and airy, and the two spent the night comfortably. Frank made buddies with a big gelding in the next stall, who happened to be a close relative thru Joline’s side of the family, and they endlessly played bite face thru the grill work separating them. Joline was grateful for the reprieve of his attention on her. After their breakfast I got Joline braided and brushed and then it was Frank’s turn.

Any foal at three months is a bit lacking in real mane and his stands like a Mohawk of fluff. I did what I could with it and got it presentable enough. Mark and I then went off to watch a bit of the other horses until our time to go. When we returned I found that Frank had found another new source of entertainment, pulling mommy’s braids out, the little brat. He would take each one in his mouth and pull them like a sucker, unfurling the buttons. What fun. So, I redid the ones that were undone, and continued to redo them every time he snatched another one, until time to go.

Frank was the first colt to be presented in his class. He sort of stood still for conformation evaluation and the jury made their marks on their papers, and said to let him go. Janko, the professional handler from Holland and owner of a large stud farm there was to have the honor of running with Joline with the colt loose beside her. I handed him Joline’s reins stepped back to watch.

Janko is called “Runs Like the Wind” in the Keuring world around here because he can keep pace with a horse at its near fastest pace, making them look their best, never holding them back, and making it look nauseatingly easy to be doing so. A quiet spirit, he can calm the most terrified animal, and somehow coax them into gaits and positions that show the jury the best of the animal.

So off they went trotting around the oval. There were gasps and “oh my’s” from the crowd. I could hear the judges muttering between themselves about how extraordinary this colt’s trot was. They asked for canter to be shown and Janko stepped up into a faster gear, Joline kept with him. Fandango led the way barely touching the ground, hovering about a good 12 inches off the sand, lifting him self with power and grace, sheer athleticism, and natural talent, snapping those legs up with a crisp retort and a broad reaching for the next stride.

It was stunning, to me, to the crowd, and to the judges. There was clapping and hollering. When the colt was led out of the ring there was a cry from one of his new fans, “Yea Fandango!”

All of the mares and foals were called back to the ring and I was trying hard to keep the colt standing in one spot in a final line up while we waited on the judges. Fandango (Frank) began trotting in place and I watched a judge open wide eyes and say what a fantastic piafe the colt had. Wow.

It was so nice to have other folks see what I get to see nearly daily and have the jury, and the crowd, really appreciate how special this spunky colt’s talent is. I am admittedly partial but it is based on 20 years of watching my babies hatch and grow, and now, with Fandango, I am seeing perhaps my best result in him. He could well be Joline’s last foal, but I hope not. Anyway, it was nice.

He ended up third in his class, a result of averaging of all the horses’ conformation and movement scores. There were some very nicely put together foals, perhaps older than he and so more developed who had higher scores there, but he had the highest movement score of all the horses presented for the day, regardless of age. It stunning, gratifying, and delicious.

After the classes the head of the judges came over to our stall and was smiling and said how excited he was about this colt and said, “This is an excellent sport horse prospect. He has amazing movement.” We talked some more and I was giddy with the further affirmation of this judge’s excitement over this colt. I over heard, too, another judge retelling the day to anonymous person on the other end of a cell phone about how spectacular this colt’s movement was.

We loaded out stars and set our trek back home. The big Orange ribbon of the First Premium foal sat bench seat behind me and gleamed. Mission accomplished. Go Frank. It was a very good trip.

photos are on this site.

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