Well, the week beforehand could only be described as a bit frantic, thankfully we had a great donation from Brendan and Wendy for the Derby, had advertised like crazy, managed to sell jumps, banners and believe me if we could of we’d have sold the turf! Holly once again stepped up in pulling the Ad book together and with Barb and Dan chasing for Ads, it turned out brilliantly. The pressure was on for Gus and me to put on a great show.
Now what do you need for a great horse show, entries! We had created a web site just for the trials, and had about 20 plus confirmed two weeks out, but as the weather report started to look dire, and the rain came down, whereas us hunting dudes would say “great to get some rain” show hunters start to fret about their horses slipping. Our hearts sank as the first of many scratches came in. I even got scratches from people that hadn’t entered!
Two days beforehand the team working the show got together at Black River Farm to go over the day to ensure everyone felt comfortable with what they had actually volunteered for, and we got some great suggestions for improvements. We knew there were two areas we had to get right, the Signing-In desk, and the In-Gate. Meanwhile I flipped from weather apps by the hour comparing and contrasting the dire forecast and grasping at any slight positive variation.
Gus had designed a fabulous sweeping course of jumps that would need minimal adjustment for the different classes which we assembled together on Thursday afternoon. On the Friday, Cindy and I collected the huge array of plants that Rutgers Nursery kindly lent us and with the help of Barb we arranged almost a 100 plants to decorate the jumps. Thank goodness I had two artistic people in charge of that!
5.45am Saturday it was chilly gloomy and bloody wet! But the team arrived in good spirits, Maria, Jeanne, Christie and Cheryl G, set up the Signing-In Desk and once they sorted out their system and got through the first wave of entries, looked confident. Lauren assigned to parking, waved trucks and trailers in, Mary Pat stood to attention at the In-Gate and despite being 15 mins late, we were away with the first junior on course.
The day progressed and much to our relief got busier and busier, Franck and Brian turned out to be the best Jump Crew ever. Our Vendors were set up, Barb and Angie with the help of Jen and Ruth set up their stall and ended up doing a roaring trade in slightly used Hunt and Show clothing!
Dan, who clearly used to horse show prize giving, was super on top of the proceedings and riders were pinned, silver sups presented by Cindy in full Hunt Attire, and photos snapped.
Meanwhile, Gus and I charged around checking and generally I think annoying the team who had everything well under control. Bea a wonderful Hunt Supporter had decorated her car, I wish I had a picture with AVH written all over it, the Califfe family had their tent up and Robin and Tina had a raucous crowd having fun.
After the Parade of Hounds by Mr. Farrin, we moved on to tackle the 30 entries for the 3” Derby. By 5.30pm a gentle rain had started and I was thankful the grass wasn’t too slippery. Franck kept raking each side of the jumps like mad, and MP got the last of the 170 rounds into the ring.
After awarding the Derby, it came time to present the Wendy Hopper Memorial Award. I had seen Masters Cindy and Stephen comparing and contrasting notes on each rider, but was a little stunned when they informed me they had reached their decision- No 10 on a grey pony. I rushed to look at the entry forms. Went back to them and said “are you absolutely sure, do you know who you have chosen?” Both Cindy and Stephen looked at me as though I was nuts- they understood when I said No. 10 on a gray pony is Annabel Califfe- Wendy’s granddaughter!!!
So Art Hopper and his wonderful family stood and smiled through their tears with both sadness and pride when Cindy made a very moving presentation to young Annabel. Thinking about this later I realized Annabel looks and rides exactly like her Grandmother did, gray horse, elegant, and forward.
Sunday- A Hellva chase!
Why is it the days you don’t go out hunting are the days you sure wished you had! I arrived at the breakfast just as the field arrived back- they clearly had a blast chasing one fox all the way from Cindy and John Nance’s almost to Amwell Rd. Due to some great whipping from Lisa, Charlie Fox turned and they chased him all the way back until he went to ground. Apparently this happened twice (not exactly the same run- but good enough).
After a fabulous breakfast hosted by Robin and Tina (the French toast was to die for!) the clean-up crew including Claire, Cindy and I took the plants back, Masters Brian, Stephen, Gus and Mr. Farrin, packed up the jumps, returned the straw bales and we said goodbye to the sort of weekend our dear friend Wendy would have loved!