Honestly I could probably break this down into multiple posts, and have content for like a MONTH, but that's not really how I roll, so ya'll will be getting a super abbreviated version, haha. If you follow me on social media, you probably already have an idea of how I spent my last week. About two months ago, I was offered the chance to run the livestream for the 3rd annual Andalusian World Cup in Las Vegas. After some negotiating with DH about him being stuck at the farm alone for a week, and working out the time off with my boss (it's our insanely busy season at work, so terrible time to be gone, oops!), I packed my bags! I flew into Vegas last Tuesday (the 20th) and flew home on Sunday (the 25th), although my flight technically didn't arrive until after midnight on Monday morning. Aside from getting to put faces to names of a lot of my Facebook friends (probably 1/3 of my friends list are Andalusian enthusiasts who I rarely, if ever, see in person), I also got to work with my BFFL Ericka, making my long days so much more enjoyable!
It was an absolutely insane experience, in a good way! While technically my job was running the live stream, I also jumped in to help photograph on dressage day (mostly because the camera I got to play with is definitely worth more than my car, haha), and a general girl Friday whenever anyone needed anything (whether it was a cup of coffee, a shot of Jameson, or tearing down after the show). I know from my foray into the blogosphere and following a ton of blogs from people involved in different disciplines that many of you volunteer at events, but I don't think I currently follow anyone who competes in or volunteers at breed shows (or at least if I do, I'm too sleep deprived to remember right now). Breed shows are a whole different kettle of fish, ya'll, especially in the Andalusian breed. For those of you not in the know, there are currently several different organizations to register Spanish and partbred Spanish horses through, and the breed as a whole has experienced a lot of turmoil and division. I'm not going to get into all that (because I could probably write a whole series of posts on it, lol), but I am going to say that AWC is hands down the most inclusive breed show out there right now for those of us with Iberian horses. Not only are the Working Equitation and Dressage sections open to ALL breeds (special appearances last week from both a MULE and a completely blind Appaloosa), the AWC classes are open to horses registered with a variety of Iberian registries. Basically as long as you have some sort of legit paperwork showing that your horse has Iberian blood (Spanish OR Portuguese), you can show.
|Endo the Blind (an Appaloosa) showing Working Equitation (Ease of Handling Phase)|
|Thesebootsaremade4lopin (the most adorable mule ever) showing Working Equitation|
|Aurora KR, the quintessential Spanish mare, showing dressage (about 99.9% sure I took this photo)|
And the prizes were out of this world -- aside from the normal ribbons (1-5 in qualifying/regular classes, top 5 and champ/reserve sashes for championships, and best movement medals for halter classes), there were also bags of Cowboy Magic products for the "best turned out horse" in lots of classes, Dale Chavez belt buckles for championship classes, a custom Dale Chavez decked out western saddle for the Supreme Western Pleasure Championship, a Portuguese saddle as a Working Equitation prize, and prize checks/coolers/etc on top of the regular ribbons and roses for the supreme championship classes. I believe a lot of the youth classes also had gift cards to Riding Warehouse as prizes as well?
Wednesday kicked off with dressage and DSH classes, running in two rings. It was also supposed to be training day for the live stream programs, but since they also needed a photographer, Ericka manned the video camera while I got to play with a professional camera. (side note: if anyone knows anyone in the market for a kidney, I would gladly give up one to have this set up. the camera lust is real guys. I seriously only picked up my camera like once the entire trip and the whole time I used it I basically wanted to chuck it off a cliff because it felt so inadequate after using the professional one *sigh* someday.......)
At any rate, Ericka uncovered a secret talent with a video camera, so that basically set the tone for the rest of our work with the live stream -- she handled the camera while I handled changing the class names (or horse/rider combinations for WE) and the commercials. We were able to more or less seamlessly swap off for bathroom breaks and food runs (although if you watched any portion of the livestream where the camera was jerky and the zoom in/out was rough, that would probably have been the handful of times I took over, haha, sorry!). There were a handful of SNAFUs (some definitely our fault, some definitely not), but from what I've seen the general reaction to this year's live streaming was positive. Working together (as opposed to working in shifts) definitely did make for some longer days though! With the exception of Wednesday, the other days started at 7 or 7:30 am (which meant we needed to be there ready to go at least half an hour earlier) and ran to about 8 - 10 p.m. each night (I'm guesstimating, I honestly don't remember for sure, I just know I rarely got to bed before midnight!). Classes were split up into three time blocks for Thurs.-Sat.: Working Equitation started at 7 (or 7:30) and typically ran until around noon. There would be a brief lunch break and afternoon classes started around 12:30 or 1 p.m. Those classes ran anywhere from 3-4 p.m., and then there was another break until the evening classes started around 6 or 6:30 p.m. and ran until... well, until they ended!
One perk to being there all day instead of in shifts meant that I got to watch every single horse who competed in WE or in the regular AWC classes (as opposed to the ANCCE classes running in the other arena). I definitely found some stallions that I liked, and I've already started a list for Cinna -- half the fun in owning a mare is the hypothetical breedings you get to plan ;) she definitely won't be bred until she's older, farther along in her training, and has actually DONE something (having a working uterus should not be the only criteria when breeding, but that's a rant for another day), but it's fun to dream. I got to see a lot of FB friends cleaning up in the show ring with their lovely horses, and many of them made their way up to the live stream booth over the course of the week to give me a hug and chit-chat in between classes! I was able to FINALLY meet up in person with the woman who owned Cinna's sire (check out that story here) and she was also vital to my purchase of Ruby, so that was super cool! I could probably devote a whole post to the awesome people I got to meet and/or finally spend more time with, and it was one of the best parts of the trip!
The highlight was definitely the Saturday evening classes -- the Supreme Championship classes were all DEEP classes (for this breed, which means vastly different numbers than QHs or Arabs or something) and competition was FIERCE! I can't count the number of times my jaw dropped or I was rendered speechless -- this show truly had the best of the best!
Packing up to head home Sunday was bittersweet for sure. My flight was delayed a little so I was able to help with some of the packing up and tearing down of the show, which gave me a whole new appreciation for all the behind the scenes work that goes into making things look so professional! My hat is off to the main crew behind AWC (Amber, Kevin and Kate), because they've taken their vision and turned it into the biggest Iberian show in the country in a short three years, and next year things will be bigger and better than ever -- in addition to the Vegas AWC in the fall, they're also kicking off spring with an East Coast show (venue/date TBD) that will give Iberian owners on the other side of the country a chance to shine as well! Mad props to them for finding a way to bring owners from various different registries together to compete and focus on what's it's really about -- the horses -- not the papers. They also assembled a top-notch show team, and the show ran incredibly well. Obviously as with any event, there were the occasional hiccup, but every single person I spoke to Saturday had nothing but praise for the show and were excited to come back for 2017.
|I got to judge the stall front contest, and this was my fave!|
If you missed the live stream, you can check out the AWC photo galleries, and I posted a handful of videos on my FB page. I have about 50 more video clips to sort through, and some photos on my camera (that will look so pathetic compared to these *sigh*), so you will probably hear more about AWC in the future, but at least now you know how I spent my last week! I mean, if you're following this blog, you probably care, right?