Sunday, 1 November 2015

A Diversion to California

On Thursday August 27th I flew to Chicago. But I did not stop there, catching an internal flight onwards to Sacramento, California, where I had been invited to judge Welsh ponies the following day. It was quite an eye opener for me, not only in the different method of judging ponies, but also to see Welsh ponies competing in Western classes!
I was impressed with the quality of the in-hand (or should I say halter) ponies I judged with professional US judge Karen Iverson, and was pleased with my champion pony which had lots of bone, movement and Welsh character.  He turned out to be Clanfair Signature by Wedderlie Mardi Gras, the latter interestingly not only a half-brother to Waxwing Peru mentioned in the previous post, but also a former Royal Welsh youngstock champion.
My worthy champion in the 'Welsh Classic' ridden classes (which were run UK style) was Laura Stevens who showed how it should be done on her lovely Welsh cob.
I had hoped to visit a few studs, but unfortunately due to unavoidable circumstances was only able to visit Tammy Burgin-Reitzell of Farmore Farms - I had admired her beautifully schooled ponies at the show.

I have seriously been considering trying to follow the Pony Express Trail to San Francisco from its start at St Joseph Missouri, and took the opportunity to visit the former Wells Fargo office at the Hastings building in old Sacramento which was where the pony riders galloped in with the mail before it went by boat to San Francisco.
I had been also in contact with the then President of the National Pony Express Association, which run an annual re-ride over the Pony Express Trail.  Jim Swigart had kindly offered to show me the trail if I was in California and now was the time to take him up on his offer.  Laura Stevens arranged for me to stay overnight with Mark Howey and his wife in Placerville (thank you all for the help and great hospitality!) and it was only a short drive to Jim and wife Ginger's lovely house outside Pollok Pines in a stunning location overlooking a deep wooded river gorge. I had a wonderful day chatting, picking Jim's brains, looking at his mementos, and exploring parts of the Californian section of the trail...
   ..not to mention enjoying Ginger's marvellous cooking!

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