This is the story of two happenings: how I did outstandingly well at Didi [Hornberger]'s Oct 14  show, and how I dragged the winning horse up to State Gamelands 100 a week later and photographed him. The photos are almost eerie in their juxtaposition of model persnicketyness and natural beauty. It wasn't until I'd seen them on screen that I realized: Here was a perfect portrait of myself. Mightily focussed on a fine model horse -- able to live by, through and for him -- I yet found myself gradually becoming subsumed by the surrounding landscape, to the point where the last photos don't have Rikki at all.
The story starts with a fairly normal acquisition... Did I say normal? Is anything in this hobby normal? The roots go back to Titania, she who is Lady Phase in chestnut appaloosa, my decision to sell her at BreyerFest , and the fact no one bought her. I changed my mind about selling her after seeing all the chestnut leopard appaloosa Amber foals at this year's  BFest Open Show. Amber was a mold I didn't have yet. I'm sorry I didn't appreciate the real Lil Ricky Rocker at BFest when I had the chance; in fact, I didn't even see him. I was busy lusting after another horse entirely: Mudflap.
|Taken at NAN 2012 by y'r faithful photog'r|
The local dealer I bought my foals from did not carry Ricky Rocker, so I turned to my next closest dealer, Bonnie Valentine of Horses By Mail. Much to my delighted surprise, she gave me an excellent deal. What I did not know until afterward was she must have picked out an exceptional model for me. A friend at the show said, "All the ones we got in our shop had such bad overspray!" Having seen only mine, I thought they were all stunning.
The sleigh dates back to the mid-1990s. It started life as a Dick Eighmey green bobsleigh. I rebuilt it so its own mother would barely recognize it, a project taking several years. The harness is even older, originally built in 1990; however, it still has not been completely converted to gold-filled wire hardware! The white fleece and fake trees are all additives found over the years.
Rikki took first of 5 entries in harness class.
The second performance class was Costume/Parade.
There's probably not much question that the silver Parade Saddle maker's own saddle is going to be hard to beat. (Rainbow Brilliance, TSII #400, built in 2000.) What made more of a story was the judge's telling me that the other silver saddle entry was badly adjusted --- corroborating what I'd seen myself. It had a rider on a fine Stone Bogucki Saddlebred in glorious palomino; but the bridle didn't fit at all. There were other costume entries as well.
These ribbon roses and streamers date back to
Notice that some silver triangles have fallen off the fender, from sheer age. Yet he took first, out of 6. This triumph led to the Other Performance Championship ribbon. I was duly impressed; I hadn't won such a nice ribbon since last year at Intermediaire; and before that, since NAN 2008 -- a single Top Ten rosette, given me by a very kind-hearted good friend, who had used a TSII saddle to win it.
I recall I won a fistful of ribbons with my 16 head. All but Rikki's were turned back in at the end of the show. My Del Fuego took a second place out of 21 in Paso Fino; my woodgrain 5-Gaiter took 4th of 5 in woodgrains. My Kandinsky did not place -- but a Kandinsky won the class! My two appaloosa Stone Weanlings took 5th and nothing out of 15. My Precious Stone ISH took nothing out of 12 -- but one just like her won! My Decorator Fighter took 2nd in Decorator class; the mare that beat him, a Red Roan Running Mare (yeeps, I don't consider Red Roans to be Decorators!) went on to win Champ of that division. My Akhal Teke took 5th of 6; and Rikki managed to get 2nd out of 30 in his O.F. Breyer Stock breeds class. I tried a halter on him at the last minute but it did not fit, so left off.
Oh, the prizes! An engraved pewter cup. A fifty-dollar gift certificate (this is the FIRST time a horse of mine has ever won money!!) And the rosette!! I measured it later: 24-inch streamers. No other ribbon I've ever won, not in 33 years, measures as long. The longest previous was an 18. So you see, taking him up to the Gamelands for a shoot a week later was justified.
It is also a landscape in the heart of fall color.