My show groom education continues..
The next thing I had to learn was how to pack the trailer for the show. This seemed like we just packed every damn thing in the tack room. We didn't really, but holy crap did we take a lot of stuff to the show. Bridles, blankets, buckets, trunks full of grooming supplies, cross ties, carpets, show clothes, drapes, plants, fans, hay, grain, shavings..the list is endless. All of this junk needed to be placed neatly in the trailer so that we could get as much of the stuff as we could. Then we'd get up super early the next day and head off to the show, were I'd get on-the-job training.
Once we arrived at the show, there was so much to do. Stalls needed to be bedded, horses unloaded, all the crap unloaded, and then the groom room and tack room needed to be set up. I actually loved this part. The groom room was just an extra empty stall that we'd set up with a set of cross ties and a mat or carpet on the floor. Then we'd put up shelves and set out the grooming trunks and hang the brooms and stall picks on the wall. We'd also hang spotlights in the stall so that it was brightly lit. This setup allowed up to put a horse in the stall andgroom it spotlessly from head to tail. Oh, and we'd polish the hooves too. Those horses would gleam coming out of the groom room.
We also had to put up show drapes. Now this is something that other breeds and disciplines do at shows, but Arabian shows go a bit crazy with it. Drapes are large pieces of fabric that are hung up on your stalls to create a custom space and a home away from home. They are color coordinated to match the farm logo colors, and one or more of the large drapes usually have the farm logo embroidered on them. There are drapes for the ouside of stalls, and drapes to be hung inside the stalls to create a hospitality room for potential or current clients. There are matching accessories including tack trunk covers, fabric chairs, table covers, stall panels - you name it they make it. Blair had a very nice set of drapes in her colors, and we'd set them up at every show. This involved nailing boards up to staple to drapes to. Sometimes if we coudln't nail something the way we wanted it we'd have to tie boards up with bailing wire to make it work. It was a lot of standing on ladders, climbing walls, and swearing, but in the end I think it looked really nice.
Usually we'd get to the show and Blair would help bed stalls and get horses off the trailer. Then she'd go park the trailer while the grooms started setting up. She'd help set up the drapes, but then she'd have to start riding horses to school them for the show the next day. So she'd be off riding and we'd be setting up. Truth be told it was nice to get her out of our hair sometimes. When everything was set up, and all the horses worked, fed, and down for the night, Blair would head to the hotel room. Sometimes we had a room and we'd go with her, but sometimes we'd stay in an empty stall at the show grounds all night to save money. We didn't get much sleep, but we did have fun. We'd usually regret it the next morning, however.
At an Arabian show, you have to get up early enough to feed the horses and give baths to all the horses going into halter classes. Most halter classes started at 8 am, and your horses needed to be dry before you went into the ring. Which meant we did a lot of bathing horses at 6 am with very cold water. Sure, we piled coolers on them to keep them warm and help them dry faster, but it still sucked for everyone involved. Then there were stalls to clean, buckets to fill, and tack to clean. Aisles needed to be swept and the groom and tack rooms needed to be kept neat and tidy. It was a lot of hard work, but it was tons of fun.
Eventually I picked up the title of head groom. I don't know if this happened because I went to the most shows, or I was the pushiest, or worked the fastest, but I wasn't complaining. I took enormous pride in having clean horses, tack, groom rooms, aisles, and stalls. Somtimes it was just me at the shows, so it didn't really matter. But other times there would be Liz, or Cami, or Laura helping groom too. Sometimes the parents of the junior girls that were riding would make them help us groom, which we always appreciated. I'm sure I was bossy and a little bitchy about some things, but nobody could say that I didn't get the job done.
Except this one time.
Part of my self imposed responsibility was to sit down with Blair when we got to the show and make up the board. The board consisted of a list of all the classes that she was entered in and on what horse. That way I would know who had to be groomed and tacked up with which tack at what time and I could plan out my day. And delegate responsibilities at the bigger shows with lots of horses and more grooms.
This one show I told Blair we needed to make the board, and she really didn't want to. What she wanted to do was go "network", which really meant she wanted to go visiting other trainers at their stalls. She wanted to schmooze and party. Which is fine - networking is very important. However, so is the board. I kept pestering her and she finally said that she didn't have any classes the next day until after the dinner break, so we had all day to make the board. I said okay, and she disappeared.
So the next day, before we could sit down and make the board, we hear the paddock announcer over the PA system calling her to the gate, saying they were holding it for her and her class was in the ring. I'm sure the look on my face was of absolute shock.
ME: Is he calling YOU?
BLAIR: He can't be! I don't show until this evening!
ME: (after listening to the announcement again) Oh, no, that IS you. What class is it?
BLAIR: English Pleasure. Oh shit, that's Andrea's class.
ME: Well someone (implying that it wouldn't be me) needs to run up to the ring and tell them you're not coming.
The owner of the horse wasn't exactly thrilled, but she kind of had the attitude of "eh, these things happen". Not on my watch they don't lady. I was kinda pissed. And Blair knew it. She said how sorry she was and that she felt really stupid for not listening to me. She promised that from now on she would sit down with me, when asked, and do the board. Which she dutifully did, every time.
To be continued...