Hey y’all! I’m back from Omaha, and I’m exhausted. World Cup was a long, busy week, and I’m glad to be back in Oklahoma and back in my office!
My coworker and I made the 7 hour drive north on Sunday; instead of bringing the store’s gigantic mobile unit, we opted to pack everything in boxes and load it into M.’s two-horse gooseneck trailer. Organizers had scheduled us to move into our vendor space on Monday, and we arrived at the CenturyLink Center in downtown Omaha bright and early Monday morning. Unloading and setting up for this show was the biggest pain in the ass I’ve ever experienced. Since our booth was near the front of the venue, we had to park in the driveway in front of the building and carry everything inside. We weren’t permitted to take carts or moving dollies into the building- that alone was a nightmare, what with all the boxes and pieces of gridwall we’d brought. Six hours later, we’d constructed a pretty sweet miniature store, complete with two dressing rooms!
On Tuesday, we met up with our IAGO rep, who was busily setting up her side of the booth. IAGO is an Italian clothing brand that’s new to the store; the mobile unit in Wellington has been carrying it for a couple of months, but those of us working in the Oklahoma store have never had our grubby little hands on the stuff. It’s nice- the fabrics are high quality, lovely to touch, and the coats fit beautifully on everyone from rail-thin teenagers to busty middle aged women.
I had some free time on Monday and Tuesday to walk around the CenturyLink Center and watch preparations for the show. I watched the crew finish setting up the public warm-up arena, watched other vendors move in and construct very impressive set-ups, saw a few horses going on walks, and got to walk down the entry way into the show ring!
The show began on Wednesday; there didn’t appear to be tons of spectators, but a few people dropped by the booth, and groups of school kids on a field trip circulated continuously throughout the day. I had a chance to watch a bit of dressage warm up and walk around and talk to other vendors. I had a great time chatting with Natalie DiBerardinis of Hilltop Farm, who was manning the US Sport Horse Breeders Association booth, about both that organization and breeding in general.
Thursday, Friday, and Saturday have blended into one very long blur; the organizers decreed that vendors stay open from 10 AM to 11 PM, and those 13-hour shifts were exhausting. I’m a pretty extroverted person, but even I got tired of talking to people around the 10 hour mark! I was very glad to meet both Piccolopony of Stubborn Together and Kathryn of Incidents of Guidance– each of them stopped by the booth to say hi (and put up with me saying, “Try this on! Try this on!”). I’ve met something like 10 horse bloggers now, and it’s always so much fun! (My next stop is Rolex- I won’t be there with work, so I’m much more free!)
I did have the opportunity to watch the Grand Prix Freestyle, which was a totally awesome experience. Seeing some of the world’s top riders perform was inspiring. I thought Laura Graves had a beautiful test, I loved Argentine rider Maria Florencia Manfredi’s pink-piped shadbelly (and glittery helmet), and I admired Carl Hester’s effortless connection with Nip Tuck.
Our IAGO rep had VIP tickets for all of the jumping, and she gave me one for the International Omaha Jumping Grand Prix on Saturday night. I had a stellar seat- one row up from the rail, right in front of a jump! I watched the first round of the competition, then sprinted back to the booth so my coworker could go watch the jump off while I ran the booth.
On Sunday evening, we tore down the booth in what seemed like record time, packed up the trailer, and went to bed early! I was glad to be home on Monday, and I think I’ve finally caught up on sleep. There are times my job is exhausting, stressful, and kind of a pain. The pay isn’t the best, and I don’t have a company-matched 401K or company-provided health insurance. But when it sends me to places like Wellington or World Cup, I can forgive the shortcomings!