Day 1 of the MFTHBA Spring Show began with Fancy’s hay bag stuffed with hay. Two square bales in the trailer. Tack, supplements, buckets, and brushes packed. Now to get Fancy. Fancy had to load in the trailer with two hay bales stacked out of her way but not where she could eat a bale. Of course, she protested for about six seconds. I led her in, tied her up, and shut the partition. She has a hay bag hanging in front of her and hay on the floor where she will stand for the long ride. The bag blocks her vision. I get out, lock the trailer door, and untie her. She can now put her head down.

I’m moderately sick with “runny” nose. I don’t feel at my normal 100%. Luckily, I had discovered work towels, those blue things that come on a roll. They were to be my constant companion both on this trip and even into the show arena, ick. No matter how much moisture was emitted from my nose, the blue rag handled it.

When I loaded Fancy into the trailer, I thought about canceling the whole thing. I’ll just stay home, I thought. I can lie in my bed and think about all the fun everyone is having. The trip was planned. Money spent. “Wonderful Warren” and Terry’s sister were going to take care of Terry while I was gone. I couldn’t quit now. Life in Ava was my destiny. How bad could it be being slightly sick? Snort

I hate the drive to Ava. It’s a 3-4 hour drive. I hate tires, all six tires. I hate engines. I hate axles. I hate all these things that could break or die. It’s been a rainy season, and we cross the bridge over Truman Lake, one of the Ozark lakes. Truman Lake water nearly is touching the bridge. Whew, we survived the crossing!

We stopped at my favorite rest stop. I looked at Fancy, but couldn’t see her head. She must be eating her hay on the floor. I checked her closer when done with my water rest stop. Her head is still down. I open the trailer door and peek in. She had drug a hay bale next to the partition where she was able to eat. Her head still didn’t come up. I got outside and worked to untie the hay bag. Finally, it came loose. I got back into the trailer and removed the hay bag. Finally, her head came up. Sheesh! Stop worrying me, Fancy!

No more stops. We arrived at the MFTHBA Fox Trotter World Headquarters. It is a glorious home-coming to arrive at headquarters, under the Missouri Fox Trotter arch with a Fox Trotter overlooking the world. Fancy stunned the men and woman who checked us in. The horse must have a coggins and a health certificate signed by a vet. We all gazed at Fancy in wonder. A woman checker was agog at her beauty. I explained what color she was (classic cream champagne).

We pulled into our home away from home space. I got Ms. Fancy out of the trailer and tied her up while I got her stall home ready. I had to clean her stall. It was a full tub. I had to get the new shavings in the stall and spread them out. I got her fan hooked up. (Later I discovered I had turned it the wrong way. The fan was cooling the outdoors.) Water hose was hooked up from a pump hundred miles away from the stall. It was hot and humid. I was still alive and able to do all this. I was shocked.

My good friend Chas Young who takes care of me-her elder, found me and said she was going to eat soon. I smiled and remembered eating my protein bar a hundred hours ago. Chas left, but her stalls were on the other side of mine. About five minutes after Chas left, my body gave out. I had zero energy and felt nearing death. The humid hot air didn’t have enough oxygen. One of my nostrils was emitting mucous like a fountain. My lungs weren’t getting enough air. I yelled at Chas that I needed to go with her to eat. She came over and unhooked my trailer. What an act of kindness! Chas took me to McDonalds where I got a life-saving Big Mac and vanilla iced coffee. Heaven! Life returned to my body.

We decided to ride. I got Fancy ready to go with newly restored energy. Fancy was calm. I mounted from the trailer fender. I’m so grateful for this Missouri Fox Trotter horse.

There are 17 barns on the grounds. Each barn has 50 stalls. Do you get the idea of how big this place is? It’s filled with trucks, people, kids, horses, trailers and gobs of golf carts.

Usually, on the first day at the show grounds, I don’t consider my horse ready to ride without warming up in the arena. However, Fancy was ready and my body couldn’t manage the walk up the two short steep Ozark hills to get to the arena. I rode around the barn first. We had a scary spot, so we just turned around and went the other way. A gravel road goes around each barn. It took two trips of going around the barn until I felt we were ready to go up the hills. Fancy calmly walked up the steep inclines. She was calm and getting used to walking on the gravel. “Ick,” she told me. “Where is the arena? Where is the dirt and grass to walk on?”

We got off the road and were approaching the arena. Fancy has been here before just last September. Still, it takes a million-dollar horse not to be reactive in this environment on the first day.

We went into the arena with other horses zipping around. We walked around the arena severe times. When I asked her for a speed faster than a walk, she hollowed out her back and paced. Oh this is (not) fun to have people watching Fancy and I pace! The arena footing had deep sand/dirt and was very dusty. Fancy with her recent cold started to have a few coughs because of the flying dust. I decided to leave the arena. We went into a nearby warm-up gravel arena. Oh how fun! There was no dust. We did all the gaits including canter both ways. I’m having fun now!

I decided to leave that arena and walk around some barns. Oh my! She remains calm. The main arena appears to be open. There is a horse and rider in the main arena. Fancy and I went in! Oh glorious! We zipped around. Occasionally, she paced, but we did all the gaits again, including the canter. HOW FUN is this!

Fancy appeared to be a little tired. We have been around many barns, people, horse, kids and golf carts. We rode in three arenas! It has been an amazing day. We walked back to the dusty arena and then navigated the steep rocky hills back to the stall. I have a million-dollar horse!

Fancy and I will practice the patterns tomorrow. We will find logs and canter over them in the versatility warm-up arena.

I settled Fancy in her stall with the fan air blowing into the stall. She got a full hay bag, water and more hay on the ground. She had her evening meal. She was set.

Susan B., Chas and I went to a Mexican restaurant where I discovered delicious veggie taco. Susan B. had just arrived at Ava and got set up in her two stalls. She didn’t have time to ride. Both women have two horses at Ava. That is a LOT OF WORK! I was amazed that these two wonderful people weren’t scared to death of catching my cold. Horsewomen are brave!

Back to my new Ava stall home to check on Fancy. I decided a trip to Walmart was needed. I have no idea now of what I bought. However, one daily trip to Walmart is a law.

Back at the stall in the big Ford, I got started with making my bed; Inflate the mattress, Throw stuff around, Lose stuff, Where are my shower shoes? Shower. I passed out. My nose seems to pour out mucous only when I’m upright and moving.

Day One faded into blissful sleep. Thank Gawd

See more about Fancy and all her accomplishments here


-Susan Engle-

Susan Engle

Susan is an accomplished author.  Want to order her books off of Amazon?  Go to