Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse
International Grand Championship
A Member’s View of the
2009 International Grand Championship
by Ruth McMurtry (late to horses, but found the best)
For those that missed it: The 2009 KMSHA International Grand Championship was validating. There is something special about this organization. Maybe the fine nature of our breed is rubbing off on us! Who would have thought that the bad economy, unseasonably cold rain, the mess and inconvenience caused by all the construction at the Horse Park, and then, the last minute crisis caused by a key player’s sudden illness would bring out the best in us! It could have gone the other way.
Since my horse wasn’t competing, this year, I volunteered to put in a few hours at registration. When I arrived that first morning and found that Ruth was missing, with the cold and the promise of rain, I didn’t hold out much hope that the show would go on. I steeled myself for mayhem and short tempers.
The show did go on and a lot of good happened. Thanks to Ruth’s daughter, Shelly—calm, knowledgeable and untiring, and .Valerie—taking on more than she had bargained for, and the knowledgeable volunteers, we hung in there and forged ahead.
There were around 300 horses participating every day. There were new participants from far and wide, Michigan, Louisiana, Ohio, and even France, not to mention visitors from other events at the Kentucky Horse Park. Besides the return of many of our vendors, there were new ones, including a scientific saddle outfitter, a new food vendor, two new tack stores, two animal shelters, a new clothing vendor , an author with her children’s book, and a horse vet signing her memoirs.
Of course, there were rough spots—especially at first. Because some classes were cancelled and announcements were missed in the barn areas, the first classes were not as representative as they should have been. Where to park trailers was a creative challenge. The new computer program was just a bit too new, so mix-ups happened. Shortening the schedule to just three days put a lot of pressure on participants to make the tack changes and to keep on going. Although the frustrations and disappointments had to strike deeply--after all it is the culmination of a season’s work and anticipation--there was a group can-do spirit.
When people ask me what brought me to horses, I know, hidden in the question is, "You like those snobby horse people? And, "Why subject yourself to such danger? Horses are unpredictable and scary?" In the media horses are high strung and something sad always happens. Horse people are depicted either as loners, a bit cranky, not particularly fond of people or worse, moneyed snobs. When I am asked, "What is the point of the Kentucky Mountain Horse?" at the shows, I point out the "adults of a certain age" that are happily riding and the children that are hanging on horses like they are family pets. I love the ambience of can-do horses and can-do people.
The 2009 KMSHA International Grand Championship show celebrated that better than ever. I look forward to where that will take us next year.
2009 International Grand Championship photographs provided by Hoof-n-Paw Photos
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