Sunday, November 29, 2009

Times are Tough

For the past almost 20 years, our favorite vacation venue has been the Pigeon Forge, Tennessee area. Not only for our family, but for our Inlaws as well. During that time, we have visited the area as many as four times in one year. We currently own a time share there and have done everything from numerous camping trips, cabin rentals to quick weekend getaways at a last minute motel. The trip this weekend was a spur of the moment trip that was special. For one thing, November is our Anniversary month and I spent this years Anniversary time in Florida due to a work assignment. Aditionally, we had not been to the mountains in two years due to our incredibly busy schedule what with all of B's hore shows and ball games/practices, etc. Anyway, the point is, having not been to the area in two years, we were very much unprpared for what we found. Pigeon Forge has always been the shopping mecca of the free world (at least to us). We were greeted, however, by front row parking at lots that had been previously full to capacity regarless of season or day of the week. Malls that had always provided endless shops of every genre known to man, now sit with well over half of their spaces vacant. The state of the Factory Outlet Mall, better known as the Red Roof Mall on the Parkway, was the most shocking. If you've ever been there you know that only a few years ago there were dozens and dozens of shops with everything from tools to towels or dishes to Dolly dresses. Of the sixty some shops that used to make up the mall, only fifteen are currently occupied. A number of those are in the midst of going out of business sales with many isles stripped bare. We found it really sad and depressing to see these places, with so many memories wrapped in them, left to waste, awaiting better times that may, or may not come.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Varsity Debut

B had her first varsity bball game tonight. As a freshman playing on the varsity team, I think she understands well that she is in a rare position and that playing time will be minimal as she develops and adjusts to the many challenges of a step this big. ECHS opened the season tonight at home against North Brunswick. One thing that surprised B (and us) was the size of the crowd. By the second half of the game, the gym was around 3/4 full, and getting hot. The ECHS Gators took a strong run at the Scorpions late in the game, after falling well behind early. In the end, the Gators came up on the short end of a 62-54 decision.

Monday, October 19, 2009

A Fair Day

This weekend we made our annual trek to the N.C. State Fair Horse Show at the James B. Hunt horse complex. This year, in keeping with our effort to reduce costs, we did not overnight which saved quite a bit with no stall fees or camping charges. We also only showed one horse (Missy) and kept a short class sheet, which was helped somewhat by a limited selection of options for our particular niche in the Walking Horse world. By far, this was the largest crowd we have seen at the fair horse shows since we have been going. And that not only in participants, but in spectators as well. Although we only participated in three classes, the smallest class we were entered in contained 19 participants. Our first of the day was the Non-Trotting Go As You Please English or Western. B and Missy finished a very respectable 9th place out of the 19 entries. In the Non-Trotting Pleasure English or Western (No Canter) she came in a solid 4th place out of 21 riders. To wrap up an amazing day, B participated in the Non-Trotting CHAMPIONSHIP English or Western (No Canter). Of the 26 entries in the class which included some very formidable competition, B shocked us all with a super 4th place finish. WOW!! A Fair day, if I do say so myself.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Back to Back

B guest played with the Impact again this past weekend in Florence, SC. For the second tournament in a row they went undefeated in bracket play and walked away with the NSA 6th Annual Fall Classic Championship. The tournament was held at Freedom Florence which is one of the nicest venues for a softball tournament I have seen. Ths was probably our last tournament playing with the Impact. We have been trying for some time to establish a team focused in our immediate area and things appear to be falling in place to make that happen sooner than later.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Pine Rock Fun

B participated in the annual Pine Rock Fun Show this past weekend in Kittrel, NC. As usual, the facilities looked great, the hosts were super and the turnout outstanding. We got off to a slow start in the morning events without placing in our first several classes. C had planned on participating but scratched her classes as the day progressed and proved to be a rather hot day for the middle of September. In the double show format, B brought home a 5th and 6th place ribbon on Missy in the Youth Trail Pleasure Western 2 Gait. Riding Red, she collected a 5th and 6th place in Country Pleasure Western Youth 2 Gait as well as a 5th place in Country Pleasure Western Open 3 Gait. Her best effort of the day was a 3rd place ribbon on Red in Country Pleasure English Open 3 Gait. In the Games portion of the show B and Red took a double 5th place in the Egg and Spoon class.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

First Jumper Show

Despite being very nervous and far less than confident, B and Peanut exceeded all of our expectations in her first ever jumper show at Wonderland Farms on August 22nd. Compeating in only four classes, B brought home a 2nd, a 3rd and a 4th place ribbon. B completed her classes, again, with no faults and no penalties. I think her confidence, as well as ours, got a big push in the right direction.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Perfect Weekend

This past weekend B once again played with the Impact. After finishing 3rd in their last outing due to a rain shortened tournament, they came away with the gold this time. Playing almost flawless all weekend, the team went undefeated in pool and bracket play, with a 7-0 record, giving up prescious few runs ans rarely being challenged. Another great weekend for Mom and Dad, behind the backstop, even though it was again hot and humid.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

A Mid Summer Night

Our first show of the season at Wonderland Farms was the 2009 Mid Summer Nights Schooling Show on August 15th. B showed on her favorite Wonderland horse, Peanut. Despite being uneasy about her first competition over crossed rails, B performed very well with no faults and no penalties for being off course. I could study that course for a whole day and still not remember it. B did not place in the crossed rail event but did bring home a couple of ribbons in her other two events. Overall we were pleased with her first show at Wonderland. Next week will be her first "jumper" show at Wonderland.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A summer at the Farm

Wonderland Farm, that is. B spent most of the summer working at Wonderland Farm in Leland. She served as one of their horse camp counselors and helped with the day to day workings of the farm. Mike and Karen have a really nice farm with excellent facilities and a love for all things equine. The summer job was terrific for B. She learned alot about caring for horses, equipment and facilities. As the summer wore on, the things she was learning were relected at our own farm as she began keeping our own things better organized and cared for. As a manner of payment for the work they performed, the young ladies working the camp got free lessons. The lessons have already made a marked improvement in B's riding. All in all, this experience has been a huge positive for B and has paid dividends for us as well. Many, many thanks to Mike and Karen for the opportunity.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Public Housing

This summer we made our first effort with bird houses. Basically, it only happened because we were given the house as a Christmas gift. It laid in the barn until it was technically too late for Bluebirds, but we put it up in mid summer anyway. We also did not recognize that the access hole had been made undersized.

To our surprise, within a week or so, there was a nest under construction. Shortly, the established nest had five eggs in place, in spite of the difficulty we had observed mom and dad having getting in and out of the doorway. A brief check today found five little babies tucked as neatly and snug as eggs in a carton. These little ones should have no trouble making their way out into the world soon....provided mom or dad don't get wedges in the front door.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Guest Again

We had another great weekend of watching B guest play for a local travel team. She has played with most of these girls in the past so it was a good fit. After hitting the losers bracket right off the bat, they fought back with five straight wins on Sunday to finish in 3rd place. They were playing to get into the championship game and had a 4-1 lead when the rains came and washed the remainder of the tournament out. B pitched in four games and only gave up one run. Her work with Coach Bryon at the K-Zone has been making quite a difference.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The 4th and the Firecracker

As we have done for the past several years, the 4th of July weekend was spent in Williamston, NC at the Firecracker Jubilee/Liberty Bell Classic. The Senator Bob Martin Horse Complex in Williamston is a superior venue for an equine event of any sort. Due to limited lessons, practice, the economy, or just plain penny pinching, we submitted a very limited class sheet. Very limited. In fact, B showed in but two classes and C in only one. This was our first trip with our new horse trailer, other than brining it home from Alabama last January. It was a relief to make a trip without having to worry if the left rear brakes were going to melt the tire off the rim due to locking up. Or how many leaks there would be if it rained.

Anyway, I can do a piece on the pros and cons of the old dinosaur at another time. Just suffice it to say that the new trailer was great. Anyway, once again, the results for the weekend were pretty decent (JMO) despite limited practice. C brought home a double 4th place finish in her lone class and B captured a double 4th in one class and a 3rd and 5th split in her other. Again, not a bad outing. With regards to the practice/lesson issue, the current state of the economy, fuel costs, etc. has forced us to begin looking at several options for a closer to home solution.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Guest Play Means Being Dad

This past weekend B guest played with an area 12U team in the NCUSFA State Tournament for 14U travel softball. With a break in our sports for a bit, B had the chance to guest play and I got a chance to sit my wife C and be a Dad for change. Our softball weekends have seen me being coach/manager for as far back as I can remember. It was a nice change. This young bunch of girls had a good weekend as well, finishing 5th in a 14U tournament.

First thing Saturday morning,one of our girls sent a line drive screamer to the foul side of third base and struck one of our Moms just behind her right ear. Upon answering questions and a quick checkover by a bystander that was an ER nurse, we belived all to be well. Within the same inning, she had lost conciousness and began to aspirate. In the end, she was taken to the hospital and later released with thankfully, only a concussion. Bottom line, any blow to the head should be assumed to be life threatening. No matter how minor it may seem at the time.

Friday, June 12, 2009

First Show of '09 Under Our Belt

It was a long time in coming, but we finally got enough clearance on our calendar to actually sneak in a horse show. Our first of 2009. School and travel basketball as well as rec and travel softball have dominated our "free time" since last fall. Friday evening we visited Wonderland Farms for a quick practice warmup. Saturday we kept to a simple class sheet with only four entries. With very little practice or lesson time in recent months, B and Apollo came home with a 3rd, 5th and 6th place finishes out of the four classes. Not too shabby, all things considered.

Monday, January 19, 2009

A Sight Seldom Seen

Anything more than an occasional flurry or a light dusting of snow is a rare event in southeastern North Carolina. Since moving to the farm some three and a half years ago, I cannot recall even an honest dusting. This week we got an legitimate snowfall. We love it, the horses, I think, don't.