I last visited these pages in September. Its January. That is a fair amount of time to let pass. And a lot has happened in that time. October came and went frightening spped. I went to work, the girls went to school, my bride went to work and the horses ate and contributes significantly the compost pile.
One of the biggest events was Kumi's first Annual Show with Westernaires.
This is the only picture I have. And I'm not even sure Kumiko is in it. Why? I was a barn dad.
I volunteered to spend the night in a horse stall at the National Western Complex here in Denver to feed and care for the horses and to help flag the team for their rides. It is a good time. Each team has a kitchen set up for the team and the Barn Dads and there is always a nice variety of treats to select from. On Saturday night, after everybody else goes home, the Barn Dad's are left alone we partake of an ancient ritual - kitchen raiding. Yep, we go around checking out the various kitchens to see what the teams have left for us. We got to choose from chile and BBQ and salads and pasta and more cookies and cake than we can possibly eat. We sit and relax for a while before heading off to our respective stalls to sleep. Very interesting sleeping with 100+ head of horses around you. For the most part, they were quite all night. At about 5:00am they were hungry and more than willing to let us know. So began Sunday morning.
Now Sunday at annual show was a day I was not quite prepared for. If have mentioned in the past that the Sunday show is my favorite show because that is the graduation ride. The team forms two lines facing each other and the senior names are called out as they race between the two lines and out of the arena. It is their final ride in Westernaires and its a bit emotional. In the words of Paul Harvey, its time for the rest of the story.
This year I saw that final ride from the barn instead of the stands. First, take an average Red Division team with about 60 girls. 16 to 18 year old high school girls. Now take about 6 of those girls and make them graduating seniors so they know this is their final ride in Westernaires and invite them to say goodbye to the team. Then gather the team together and let the goodbyes commence. They say goodbye to their team and their monitors and their instructors and the team and the monitors and instructors say goodbye to them. Our seniors made a very nice book for their instructors that had pictures of the whole team and a little note from each of the riders. The team gave our graduation seniors some roses and other things (sorry, don't remember exactly what) to the seniors. From the stands, the final ride is a bit emotional. When you are down with the team during this farewell it is much, much more than a bit emotional. I know I had a few tears in my eyes and I think everybody had a tear at some point. Once the goodbyes are said the team had about an hour to get ready for their final ride at annual.
All went well; we got the team together, flagged and lined up like you see in the picture. They were first to ride in the show. When they were about 3/4 done with their ride I headed back to the trailer to catch the flags as the team came out. I didn't get to see the seniors ride through the graduation lines. But I did get to collect the flags from them as they came out. The seniors were, naturally, the first ones out and those big smiles they flash on the way out of the arena have turned to big tears by the time they hand me their flags. I don't know why I wasn't expecting the tears but I wasn't so it caught me a bit off guard. I tried to tell them, "Good Show!" but found my self a bit to choked up to trust my voice.
But that is why I have no pictures. For two days we feed and water horses, help the team get ready for their ride, check cinches while they are in line so we don't have any saddles slide unexpectedly. We eat, we laugh, we cry. We run hither and yon and before you know it, the show is over and you haven't had a chance to get your camera out of its bag. It was a good week end. And best of all, nobody got hurt!
To all the seniors that graduated from Crimson Rangers, Royal Rangers, Presesionetts, Warriors, Cavalry and Varsity Big Red - Congratulations and best of luck in wherever your life takes you!