Silver Lining.....Goin' to the Fair
By Heather Keller
I'm home from the week at the Fair here, perhaps one of the largest fairs here in the North Western part of Washington. I had a really great time, met a lot of people, introduced my Curly Girls to several thousand people, and am thoroughly horse... I mean hoarse, now. :-)
Silver Lining week. Started off rather rough. I thoroughly inspected my trailer prior to this whole thing, however in repositioning it near the gate the night before, I must have driven over something, because at 4AM (after only getting to bed at 2AM) when we went to load up I noticed one of the trailer tires was completely flat. Drove it over to the garage to refill and find out what happened, and it was actually sliced open, no one lives anywhere near here, so it had to be something I drove over, still don't know what it could have been, need to fine tooth comb everywhere I drove. So swapped out for the spare, loaded up Epona and Rora and headed out. I rode in the trailer with them, sitting in a fold-able chair in front of the front escape door, between the two sides - unfortunately right now only have a two horse straight load - I was terrified of something happening to Rora. She loaded faster and easier than Epona (we did do a couple of little trial loads before this whole thing). Rora then rode the whole time quietly with her little nose on my knees, sort of dozing. Got to the fair, checked in with the Vet, he loved Rora. Unloaded, then my friends Robyn and Dorothy set up our part of the exhibit while I drove home for Xandra.
Loaded Xandra up and headed back out. Met up with another friend of mine for a couple of other items for the booth, then stopped for a coffee and heard air leaving the same tire we'd replaced. Turns out there was a leak at the valve stem. So I called Brandon to come rescue me. He took the tire to the tire shop and had it fixed. In the meantime Xandra wasn't too happy. So I off loaded her to go stand in the shade (was actually the tow truck places locked back yard area, this older gentleman came out when he heard Xandra calling and offered I could take her in there where there was shade and some grass), it was maybe low 90s? and approaching noon by now. I felt badly because I left all of the water buckets with Epona and Rora thinking Xandra can't need them. As luck would have it, about the time I was thinking that, a lady appeared out of nowhere, across the fence, to talk to me about my horse and offered to bring over some water, which she did in a five gallon bucket, which she passed through a hole cut in the fence. Really sweet. ANyway, got the tire fixed, and hit the road, now 1PM, really hot out, and traffic. The truck over heated 4 times on the way back, each time I had to pull over and wait for the truck to cool down. At one point there was this guy in a little red altered for "sport" pick up truck. He kept going from 55 to 70 and in between, no consistency of speed. For ease on the engine I really needed to be going about 65. So while he was going 55, I gently pulled out, way around and in front of him, hoping maybe he'd just take my example and stick to one speed. Oh No Though! He swerved out around me, screeched in front of me and then slammed his breaks on, actually lifting his rear end. I'm driving 65 at this point. I didn't want to through Xandra through the front or break her legs, or make her fall, or have her injured. So tempting to just total his little rig. I ended up breaking a lot and pulling over onto the grass shoulder. I was fit to be tied. Incredible what people do. I really need a cattle pusher on the truck. I checked on Xandra, she was fine, not happy, but ok. Bless her soul for being so good natured and easy going, not to mention sure footed.
We finally got tot he Fair about 3PM, were supposed to be back by 10AM at the latest. Got Xandra Vet inspected, different Vet this time, he had two little cork screw curls deliberately in his beard, he thought Xandra was the best person he'd ever seen and proceeded to spend the next hour talking to me about her, followed me to her pen and kept right on talking to me about her. Was pretty funny. And then I got a migraine, which had me down and out for a couple of hours as I crawled into a ball in the truck with a pillow over my head trying to keep the light from my eyes. Lots of fun. :-(
As most of you know, Xandra is an extreme. I was told by one person at least, when I first met Xandra and was considering taking her home (very funny "considering" she choose me, so not really a consideration, but at least talked about it and pretended well enough that there was ever any other option than to bring her home), that if I did bring her home and really wanted to promote the breed to never take her into public and hide her when anyone visited, because people would think she was strange and/or ugly and would condemn the whole breed because of her. Harsh critique, hard to hear about my "kid", and it continues to follow me as a concern when allowing anyone to see Xandra. That said, she is the sweetest, most social horse I've ever met, I love her to pieces, and frankly, she was born for this sort of event. I think she is beautiful, absolutely radiant, just perfect. Right, so I heard several times "Oh my God, that is a beautiful horse!" and I had at least ten offers to buy her. Every person that walked through the exhibit stopped and commented on how beautiful she was, quite a few kids wanted their pictures taken with her, and well, she was a huge hit. This, standing next to the beautiful, five week old, Rora. Amazing. Not that she wasn't also a huge success with quite the fan club, but still, I was totally unprepared for how favorably Xandra was received. She is mostly covered in curl right now, so that helps, but still. It was wonderful. Both Xandra and a Rora were over the tp social, trying to interact with all of the people who stopped to admire them. I actually had to chain off Rora's pen, so no one could touch her, she was overwhelming herself with socializing. Xandra can handle herself I think, but at only five weeks, I didn't want Rora overdoing it.
Lots of people who are allergic to horses came through or people who know people. A few people who have a curly came through, they didn't know anything about their curly, I told them to bring me a picture and I might be able to help them learn more about them. I actually recognized one of them, is another Arwen/Jubilee baby, another was clearly a Colonel Austin descendant, not sure more though, I could tell them she was an extreme and help them with how to get her coat looking better, I directed them to Denise's site. It was really great to chat with them about the Curlies. Got a lot of great questions and conversations, also lots of really ignorant commentary and questions, always entertaining. I had a skein of yarn from Bunny in NM on the table, along with the cookbook from Curly Rescue. Others wanted to know why I had Rora in with Epona and not with her mother (clearly Xandra's curly and Rora is, so Epona couldn't be the mother) Lots wanted to know what breed Epona was (her coat is very smooth and silky right now, but still curly mane and ear hair). Then across the way people were commenting how cute the baby camel was. There was an alpaca in with the camel, no baby camel. I'd like to know how they made the leap of alpaca being a baby camel, but couldn't make the leap of Rora being Epona's baby when she's practically a carbon copy. Impressive really. Several kids thought Epona and Rora were part cow (due to their tobiano splotches I assume) and, of course, that Xandra was part sheep (naturally goes without saying).
Oh! And, I started learning how to spin!!! I'm so excited!!! The yarn from Bunny and the dream catcher and zipper pulls from Curly Horse Rescue got me thinking I could do this sort of thing in the long, dark, rainy days that are starting up. There was a delightful group of ladies in the craft barn spinning, so I went and chatted with them for a few hours, so they walked me through spinning, letting me tacitly learn as I need to, rather than trying to read about it, getting frustrated and never really doing it. I did ok with it, got the hang of it at least, practice will help. But with a drop spindle, i could go sit in the field with the horses and spin. I'm considering weaving and felting with it. One of the spinners there said she knew a woman who made horse blankets, I think it would be awesome to have blanket liners on our rare really nasty nights made from Curly horse hair. I'm thinking of adding in our llama hair and/or acquiring a couple of angora goats to blend in with the Curlies hair. Their hair is just too short to spin all that terribly easily. Although one of the spinners took some of the raw Curly hair Adria so graciously included in my package, she said she really loved it, that she recommended I combine it with something else and had a few helpful suggestions on what to do and how to do it, but she thought it was really nice stuff and went on to say she thought if more people in the spinning, weaving community knew about it that there would be a demand for it. She got me some contact info. for two different guilds in my area so I could keep on learning, and also a clinic happening at a nearby sheep ranch with several classes being offered which I plan on attending. These Curlies just keep getting better and better; whole new meaning to versatile - you can ride, drive, or wear your Curly horse... :-)
So my friends Robyn and Dorothy spent the week there with me. We camped in our tent each night, showered in the exhibitors bathrooms and had 15-16 hour days each day. The exhibits were randomly judged each day by two different judges and then 5 awards were given at the end of the week. You could only win in one of them, and there were quite a few exhibitors. I didn't expect to win as it's our first year and I had no idea what to expect (we've got a few pages worth of notes for how to do better next year if we are invited back, which they kept asking if I'd be willing to, so I probably will be, which is exciting as it's incredible exposure for the Curlies.) Anyway, we won the Public Interaction award, apparently unanimously, which shocked me, I'm thrilled though, couldn't have done it at all without Robyn and Dorothy's help, no idea how some did the whole thing mostly by themselves.
Anyway, we got home and settled in about 3AM yesterday and I spent most of the day just quietly recovering, sipping tea, reviewing what I need in order for next time, and just relaxing. I think, given a reliable, larger rig, I could happily travel from exhibit to exhibit with a couple of my Curly Girls, just introducing the World to them, not sure if there's a way to realistically do that, but it would surely be fun.
Right, so the silver lining? I am left with a sense of the goodness of people. While several things happened over the week that made things a little less stress free than they could have been, lots of people appeared to lend a hand, who didn't need to, people helped support and make better a huge undertaking. Throughout the whole exhibit I had the feeling of extended family, of banding together to help educate the masses. I feel bolstered and optimistic about the future, for Curlies, and humanity on a whole.
About the Author: Heather has been around horses all her life, but acquired her first curly within the last few years. Her enthusiasm is contagious and am thrilled she is such a great supporter of Curly Horse Country.