Friday, March 25, 2011
For the Love of This Sport by Danny Warrington
I am finding it very hard to write this week. As most of the eventing community knows we lost a great friend and supporter of the sport last Friday. Phil Sawin.
I was lucky enough to spend some time with Phil on his family's farm in Bellville, TX over the past few years when I would come down to teach clinics. His wife has scheduled weekly lessons for me since my arrival here in Texas this December. Phil was in the process of building his dream home and the sport of eventing in Texas. I guess the reason I am writing all of this is to express my love for the sport and the grass roots people who also love the game. What I have found mostly here in Texas is a camaraderie of friends who share the excitement of eventing. There are dreams of making teams and winning medals from the youngsters but mostly its people having fun. Phil and his wife Ruth provide a great deal of fun for Texas eventers at their farm, Pine Hill. No training sessions, no push to qualify for Fair Hill or Rolex, no ulterior motives- only a love for horses and the sport.
As the news came to us at Meadow Creek this past Friday my heart went out to Ruth and their daughter, Ellie. I was coaching last minute dressage tips for Saturdays test when I heard.... I swallowed a deep breath and told the mother of the student next to me. It was so hard to keep working but I knew that's what Phil would have wanted, he had worked so hard to bring eventing to Texas, that I had to keep a smile (as well as everyone else).
I feel that way today, only maybe I see the best side of the eventing community. The show must go on (Pine Hill's USEA event on April 9th) everyone will enjoy Phil's hard work. How so many people have stepped up to help Ruth and Ellie. From volunteers at the show, to food for the family, the pony club dc, the parents of students. It really is amazing.
So the next time you suit up to ride cross country, take a deep breath, and remember why we all love this sport, and the love that so many others give to our sport. 5-4-3-2-1.... have a great ride!!
Photo of Phil Swain courtesy of Jim Stoner