Local Norwegian Fjord horses and riders compete in national show
Last updated 1/4/2007 at Noon
One would think that braving a cold front and driving thousands of miles to a horse show with three freshly clipped California horses is a hardship. For Fallbrook resident Jayne Olson and trainer Claire Pelton, it was an adventure worth taking.
The horse show, which took place in Winona, MN, was an especially rare event celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Norwegian Fjord Horse Association. With only one chance to compete at a national level with her three best performance horses, Jayne decided to take the chance.
Jayne owns and manages Meadowlark Bluff Farms, specializing in breeding and raising top-notch Norwegian Fjords. She is also a member of the local Fjord club, Vestlandshest (West Coast Horse), which is dedicated to promoting the breed’s exposure in the western states. Since most Fjords are based in the midwest and on the east coast, Jayne and Claire thought it a prime time to gain recognition for their west coast horses.
Making the trip with Jayne and Claire were Jayne’s daughter, Tauryn Herber, and 14-year-old student Lauren Gilbert of Rainbow.
For safety and ease of traveling, they decided to convoy with fellow Fjord owners and Vestlandshest members Steve and Kathy Kramer. The Kramers own West Coast Fjords in Gavilan Hills, specializing in breeding rare-colored Fjords. One of their stallions is one of only two yellow duns in the world!
Both parties took their large living quarters-trailers, allowing overnight stays to be simple and self-contained.
The biggest challenge was in regulating the amount of driving time involved to help keep the horses as comfortable as possible.
With Claire at the wheel the entire trip, the team set out on October 7 to allow enough lag time for the horses to rest for two days before the show started.
Day one began at 3 a.m. with a destination of Ogden, UT. After the longest day of driving, the convoy arrived in Ogden to find a demolition derby going on 50 feet away from the stalls at the fairgrounds.
Driving through high winds in Wyoming, two plastic vent covers ripped off Jayne’s trailer. While California vehicles are known for their lack of rust, unfortunately, that same sunny weather can harm plastic- and silicone-based seals, Jayne notes. At the next fuel stop, Claire climbed onto the slick trailer roof and duct-taped two garbage bags to the vents to ward off oncoming rain.
The convoy reached Nebraska on day two, driving through heavy rain, freezing temperatures and fog with visibility of about 100 feet. With the temporary rain covers soggy but functional, the team left the facility the next morning and snaked through the mud back onto the highway.
Day three made for a less intense drive. Extremely tired, the team arrived at their destination of Mason City, IA (trash bags still intact). After many failed phone calls on day four to a local RV repair center, Tauryn and Claire created a stronger, better temporary covering.
The convoy arrived in Winona on the morning of day five to find their first taste of snow. Immediately upon being fed, the six horses settled into their new surroundings.
Thursday, October 12, was the first day of the show featuring an evaluation of stallions, mares, geldings and young stock. Each horse is scored by a panel of judges on their type, movement and conformation. The categories are: Blue (best), Red, Yellow and White. According to Jayne, in Denmark, horses that score at least a high yellow are considered appropriate breeding quality.
Claire showed all three Kramer-owned horses to Blues in the young stock class.
Thursday night, a stallion presentation was held to allow the competing farms to present their breeding stallions. The Kramers presented their two stallions in custom-tailored board shorts to the Beach Boys classic “California Girls.” The crowd roared with excitement and West Coast Fjords was an immediate hit.
Friday was a good start for the Meadowlark Bluff Farms crew. O.H. Stors, shown by Claire, received second place in his gelding halter class out of 19 horses. The best victory, however, was the subsequent repair of the two vent covers by trained RV repairmen.
Saturday was the biggest day for Jayne and her horses. While the Kramers campaigned their two studs, the Meadowlark Bluff Farms team went into action, showing all three horses. The day was again victorious with numerous firsts and seconds. Tauryn won the English Equitation Junior class and Training Level dressage and was later awarded Reserve Champion in the Dressage Junior division.
Lauren pulled through on 12-year-old mare Katrine, winning the English Pleasure Junior class. She also showed her in Western, receiving a second in Western Equitation and a third in Western Pleasure Junior.
Anika Reidun, shown by Claire, won the Western Pleasure Maiden Horse class and received two fourth places in her English classes. Unfortunately, by the end of her Western class, “Ry-Ry” came up sore, making it tough to get through the English classes.
Although all horses qualified for championship classes on Sunday, Claire and Jayne decided to head out Sunday morning.
On the way back, the convoy hit snowstorms throughout Utah and Wyoming. The weather cleared before the border of Arizona and made for a smooth journey back.
Losing only one quart of motor oil between the two trucks and two vent covers from Jayne’s trailer, the convoy had accomplished exactly what they had braved the elements for: to show the east coast that the west can win too.