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 > TR: The Road to winning a National Championship

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Buzzcut1

Norcal

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Posted: 11/30/19 06:33pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

The Long Journey to the Championships

This is a voyage that started in 2005 when Ruth first started training in dressage Thousands of hours of traing two different horses and sacrifice on both her part and mine traveling up and down California for competitions, and many regional championships finally culminated in a trip to the National Dressage Finals at the Horse Park in Kentucky.

Many things had to come together, First Ruth and her horse Wyleigh had to score high enough in the local competitions to qualify to compete at the Regional Championship. At Regionals they had to be in the top 3 placings to get an invite to compete at the National Finals for a Championship.

Ruth Competes riding the at the internatinal test level (high end). She competed at Prix St Georges, Intermediate one, and Intermediate one Freestyle. She qualified to ride at the Finals with 0ne first place and two second place finishes at regionals so she was able to enter at all 3 levels.

Now came the hard part. We had less than 4 weeks to get the truck, trailer, horse and ourselves ready to go on a 5000 mile round trip. I took time off work, so did Ruth. I had the truck and trailer completely serviced. In addition there is a problem with the Bosch CP4 fuel pump and lack of lubricity in US Diesel. It tends to Grenade at over 120,000 miles, we were at 113,000. I had it replaced as well as all engine and drivetrain fluids and filters. 6 new tires on the truck. Ruth met with her trainers for some final tune ups and we hooked up with some friends that were also going to make the drive with horses from Northern Californa

The trip was going to involve 3 stop overs. Salt Lake City area, Ogalalla Nebraska, and St Peters MO. Then 3 days in Lexington at a facility near the Kentucky Horse Park (they had another show going on) to let the horses recover from the drive. 7 days at the horse park competing then another 4 days drive home. This was all going on in the first two weeks of November. We would be driving 11 hours and close to 600 miles each day

Finally after weeks of stress departure day loomed. We decided to head over the 90 miles to Kevin and Erikas barn by Sacramento the night before so that we could all leave together. Kevin and one of the trainers Chelsea would tag team driving their rig with 4 horses (all Clients horses) and Ruth and I would drive ours with our one horse. Erika would fly out 4 days later. One of the things that made this trip so much easier is that Kevin had done it before and had all the logistics and contacts for the layover barns already lined up. I owe him a debt of gratitude

We loaded up at our home barn in Dublin CA and headed out
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We fueled up in Ranch Murietta near Sacrament and Picked up a couple of Calzones for dinner then headed over to unload the horse for the night
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We were up at 4:45 the next morning to feed and walk the dogs, load the horses then the two rigs pulled out at 6 am sharp for a dawn drive up and over the Sierra Nevadas on 80 then across Nevada into Utah and stopping just south of Salt Lake City 11 hours later

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coming into Utah I misjudged the fuel stop and almost ran the tank dry

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It was dark and 15* when we pulled into our first Layover barn. An absolutely beautiful place 15 miles south of Salt Lake City. Our hosts served us a wonderful meal. They also had a 30 amp RV plug for us to use on the side of the barn

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Day 2 started out very cold, I was glad that we had relectix covering all the windows and doors in the camper, and yes we do like to sleep with the camper cool and nice down comforters on the bed.

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dressed to go load the horse and coil up the power cord to the camper
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The further east we went the whiter it got. The area around Laramie WY was the worst cold with wind gust of up to 60 mph blowing spindrift across I80

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after Cheyene the winds quit and we took a lunch break
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Pulling into our second overnight barn in Ogalalla Neb. Google sent me down a gravel “short cut”

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We were beat. It was unload the horses, feed and water them, clean out the trailer, feed the dogs and ourselves and pass out.

Day 3 was another long but uneventful haul across the midwest. 685 miles Butt Numbing. Ruth was working remotely on her laptop the whole trip so I was the long distance wheel jockey the entire trip

St Peters, The stop over is a clean but isolated barn with no one around. It had water and power but it was fenced in so we since we had the place to ourselves we let the dogs play

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we have a camera in the trailer that lets us keep and eye on Wyleigh . Start of the last leg into Kentucky only a 400 mile drive
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Spy Coast Farms Kentucky, next door to the Kentucky Horse Park our 3 day layup before moving over to the show grounds. Nice main Barn, we didn't get to stay there. We were in one of the back quarantine barns
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we stayed here
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The road crew, still smiling after 2400 miles in 4 days Left To Right Me, Kevin, Chelsea, Ruth

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Our Campsite for 10 days at the Kentucky Horse Park. One of the few times I have ever taken the camper of the truck on a trip

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On the day before the competition started we went over to Buffalo Trace Distillery did the tour, tasting and picked uo a couple of Bottles of Blantons single barrel Bourbon...WIN

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All right Let the Games begin. We moved into Barn 23 at the Horse Park, one of the few heated barns on the grounds. A good Omen. It never got above the 40s as a matter of fact on the first day of Competiton Ruth rode outside in a non covered arena. Pouring rain and 36* Day two was 24 and clear with frozen arena surfaces. Such fun

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Ruth was hoping to get top 5s in each of her Classes. On Friday she took Third at FEI Intermediate 1

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Saturday was the Freestyle in the indoor Arena. Its her best event Intermediate 1 movements choreographed to music. Ruth and Wyleigh were on fire. I was watching and just losing it After all these years I can tell when I am seeing a special ride and when she and her horse are totally in sync. There were over 1000 spectators and manyTV Cams as they were live broadcasting the rides around the world. The audience went nuts when she finished. I was clapping and yelling. I was with her when they posted the score of 73.9% which put her in first with 5 riders to go. You could cut the air in the barn around our group as score after score got posted and Ruth was still in first. Fianally the last score came up and we all started yelling and High Fiving. Ruth had won the USDF Intermediate 1 Freestyle Championship!

A pit crew worthy resaddling, and leg wrap of the horse, getting ruth back into her gear for the honor round and awards. Then it was off to the media center for interviews. So Incredible.

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Ruths Interview. https://www.usdf.org/usdressagefinals/media/pr/release.asp?news=938

her ride as it was streamed with commentary second row down far right Ruth Shirkey

https://www.usef.org/network/coverage/2019usdressage/?cl=t

The last day of Competition was Prix St Georges. Ruth has a slight bobble and it cost her a second championsship Reserve Champion in the US is not bad though.

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Impressive showing at the National Finals Championships
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After and exhausting week it was time to pack up to go home. We loaded everything but the horse into the trailer on Sunday night, I had put the camper back in the bed on Saturday. The weather looked bad for Monday so we needed to be on the road by 6 am.

Everything was fine until we hit Lousiville and it started to rain which turned to sleet near St Louis then the temps really dropped and we had snow on top of ice. I shifted into 4x4. It was starting to got to hell on the roads as we made the exit to the layover barn. The surface streets were nastys and the slight slope down to the barn was slick but we made it OK. As we were unloading the horses in the snow all you could hear were crashes and then fire engines going 20 with red lights and sirens on the nearby freeway. We got the horses inside. Filled all the water buckets before the waterlines froze and put the heavy blankets onto the horses. Neither Kevin or Chelsea had ice spikes for their shoues and I knew that the hotel parking lot where they were going would be solid ice so I gave them our spare pair. The next morning Kevin said that they would have been on their butts if they has not had them.

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The next morning it took us one hour to go 20 miles. It was so cold ( Zero) that I kept the Camper furnace turned on to keep water lines from freezing and we had the horse trailer vents almost completely close and the horse blanketed to keep her warm. Coming out of the barn I hit a bump and the windshield cracked all the way across, good thing it was below my eye level.

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The roads were icy there were over 50 wrecked cars on the shoulder and in the center median and thousands of semis parked on the shoulders, rest areas and weigh stations. Gradually as we drove west the roads cleared and all was well until Nebraska where once on 80 we got hit by a wind storm. My refridgerator vent cover got torn off by a gust. I made a patch out of Duct Tape

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Dawn of Day 3 was beautiful, the drive to Salt Lake City was a grind.

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Our SLC hosts out did themselves. The had a celbration for Ruth and a fantastic dinner for all of us

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The drive back to the bay area was a long one over 700 miles but the views near the Bonnieville Salt Flats were awesome, From Reno west it was traffic hell due to lane closures and too **** many cars I was so glad to pull into the home barn. Drop the hores and trailer and go home for a long hot shower

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The next day I brought the trailer home and we power washed the road grime off from under and over the truck and trailer then I took the camper off and scrubbed it down. All told 600 gallons of Diesel 5600 miles

But best of all is helping my wife achieve that incredible goal of becoming a National Champion. Both of us are still in a bit of shock.

One other item of note. The California contingent was 12 horses strong and we came back with 4 championships and many second and third place finishes from both the Professional and Amateur ranks.

* This post was last edited 12/01/19 09:09am by Buzzcut1 *   View edit history


2011 F350 6.7L Diesel 4x4 CrewCab longbed Dually, 08 Lance 1055, Torqlift Talons, Fast Guns, upper and lower Stable Loads, Super Hitch, 48" Super Truss, Airlift loadlifter 5000 extreme airbags


naturist

Lynchburg, VA

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Posted: 11/30/19 07:03pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Wow! Congratulations to your bride, champion that she is. What a trip, what an adventure, what a win!





jimh425

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Posted: 11/30/19 07:08pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Congratulations and nice pictures. Wish there was a video of the horsemanship.


'10 Ford F-450, 6.4, 4.30, 4x4, 14,500 GVWR, '06 Host Rainer 950 Dbl Slide, Torklift Talon tiedowns, Glow Steps, and Fastguns. Bilstein 4600s, Firestone Air Bags, Hankook DH-01 225/19.5 Fs, Curt front hitch, Energy Suspension bump stops.


Lwiddis

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Posted: 11/30/19 07:12pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

CONGRATULATIONS! Great report, interesting pictures.


Winnebago 2101DS TT & 2020 Chevy Silverado 1500 LTZ Z71, 300 watts solar-parallel & MPPT, Trojan T-125s. TALL pole for flags. Prefer USFS, COE, BLM, NPS, TVA, USF&WS, state & county camps. Bicyclist! 14 year Army vet - 11B40 then 11A - (MOS 1542 & 1560)


Buzzcut1

Norcal

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Posted: 11/30/19 07:13pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

jimh425 wrote:

Congratulations and nice pictures. Wish there was a video of the horsemanship.
there is I put in a link to it in the storyline
but here it is again

second row down far right Ruth Shirkey https://www.usef.org/network/coverage/2019usdressage/?cl=t

* This post was edited 11/30/19 07:26pm by Buzzcut1 *

bighatnohorse

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Posted: 11/30/19 08:22pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Thank you for giving me a look into dressage of which I know little to nothing. Very fascinating - and what a passion!
And a "layover barn"? Who would know?
The trip looks both beautiful and difficult at times and certainly memorable.
When the meter says "29 miles to empty" - just hope the cleaning exhaust filter warning stays off. BTDT
Great TR! thanks again


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Are full of passionate intensity."
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kohldad

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Posted: 11/30/19 08:27pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Congrats to Ruth and job well done for all of your support. 14 years is a lot of hard work and so glad it finally paid off.


2015 Ram 3500 4x4 Crew Cab SRW 6.4 Hemi LB 3.73 (12.4 hand calc avg mpg after 92,000 miles with camper)
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Reality Check

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Posted: 12/01/19 12:32am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Woot Woot..!!!

****, I'm still stuck on 600 plus mile days. The payoff of course, was spectacular!!

Congrat's to you both.


'07 F550 with Link Ultraride air under an '11 AF 1150. It's either a fishing boat, snowmobiles or dual sports; something is always being towed.

Switching over to a 2016 F550 with new Ultraride air...just need to get the flatbed built.


Dave in TN

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Posted: 12/01/19 05:51am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Fascinating read! Thank you for taking the time to share, and congratulations to the 3 of you for a fantastic accomplishment.

Buzzcut1

Norcal

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Posted: 12/01/19 08:36am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Reality Check wrote:

Woot Woot..!!!

****, I'm still stuck on 600 plus mile days. The payoff of course, was spectacular!!

Congrat's to you both.


The speed limits once you are outside of California are 75-80. I found myself thinking of 1975 and the gas crisis when they dropped the national speed limit to 55. It would have been unbearable crossing Nevada, Wyoming and Nebraska at that speed and added 3-4 days to the travel time. 600 to 700 miles a day is not something I would do for fun. We had a very limited time window off work to get there and back so I did what needed to be done.

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