July 3, 2008

St. Johns, AZ

Who would have ever thought there would be a rated horse trials in tiny St. Johns, AZ. With a population of 3,800, it is a rather small blip on the map, but it is the Southern Apache county seat. It has a nice airport and a super fairgrounds, which, of course, is one of the reasons there is an Area X rated horse trials there.

I love the smaller events like this one. Many of the competitors come a day early to ride and socialize. The overall feeling is just so laid back compared to a large event. It's friendly like a schooling show. The cross country course has been recently rebuilt by Gunther Hardt and Tom Angle and they both come out to the grounds several times before the event to spiff things up and add new jumps. Everyone in town is friendly and happy to see all competitors and fringe visitors which just adds to the relaxed state of the competition. Many of the locals even come out to volunteer!

Even though the event is in late June in Arizona, the location's high elevation keeps the temperatures down some. Well, some of us felt like 91 is an oven, but then those from the Phoenix area reminded us it could be a lot worse! Besides, it was cooler in St. Johns then it was back in my part of the desert in New Mexico. It's just that when I'm home in the summer, I'm IN the home with the a/c during the hottest parts of the day. A Cool Medics vest definitely serves one well in St. Johns with it's low humidity.

The summer evenings there are just divine. Balmy with a great color show. The sunset put on a great display of brilliance every night with just about every color the sky can hold. Like "stop you in your tracks and watch for a while" kind of color show. Best watched while gathered with friends and talking about the rides of the day.