Hi everyone. Welcome to my first blog for 2012. I'm writing from the back seat of a US Airways flight to Gatwick England. I have the worst seat in the world and am next to some old grey bearded bloke who resembles a monkey. He's also a good advertisement for the reasons to wear sunscreen! I'm on my way to Barcelona to see 2 of the 3 most important girls in my life. Lexi 3 1/2 and Vivi 1 1/2. Number 3 Ruthie (not in any order) has been left at home in Ocala to hold the fort while I am away.
I landed in Charlotte this evening to the news that an old injury has been identified on Snip. He is not lame and gallops around his paddock daily, came through Rocking Horse advanced perfectly. I wanted to do a couple of events for his retirement. He has showed me every sign that he is in amazing shape. It looks like he will be fine to continue competing at some lower level stuff but that is not what he or I really enjoy.... It tears my heart out as I am just not used to not having him at the events. He has given me huge miles and confidence. We have been through everything together. Countries includinng New Zealand,England,Scotland,Ireland,France ,Portugal ,Germany,Belgium,Sweden,Holland,Hong Kong and our new home the USA, the WEG in Aachen, Beijing Olympics and many Badmintons to name just a few. I credit the majority of my sponsors to him and my Badminton Armada trophy to him. We have had more good times than bad times even though I didn't always see it like that. After numerous 3 stars and 8 CCI**** I feel fortunate to retire him from top level competition at 20 years old sound and still winning prizes. If you have had a relationship with a horse like I have with Snip over 20+ years you are a lucky person.
Touch down in England. Short flight,tail wind and monkey man has not died of skin cancer. Off to Churchill Stud for bag change. A quick trip to Pippa Funnels to view a horse for clients and then back to the airport and off to Barca.
Back in the real world of hustling and bustling Ocala (can't say how much I love the lack of traffic) things have been pretty busy over the winter so far. We are the proud new owners of Starfinder farm in The Meadowlands. It's a beautiful spot. The only noisy neighbor being John Travolta when he takes off in his oversized jet. There was plenty of work to do but it's now very livable and horses, people and dogs are all very relaxed. Our neighbors across the road have a fully equipped jump field that has been kindly lent to us. Also generously lent by Nora Macdonald Yaney is a fully functional Grand Prix jumper called Topliner. Toppy and I have got to know each other in the level 6 classes at HITS. I hope to move to level 7 when I get back and then some GPs. Look out Doug Paine. I have not jumped in the big ring for a while and it really does do your confidence a world of good.
We have competed at the Ocala horse park and Rocking Horse so far this season. The young horses have gone well. Classic Imp who is in for sale placed 2nd in prelim at the horse park. I will not be upset if he is not sold as I feel plenty of prizes coming his way. Tulip ( niece of Snip) had a nice first run at the horse park and promptly had skinny meltdown next time out at Rocking Horse at one of those skinny fences that if you have a problem at its hard to get another shot at. Something to think about at these lower levels? She schooled brilliantly at Kyle and Jen Carter's the following day so fingers crossed I might have ironed that one out. Snip as I mentioned had a nice little run at Rocking horse Advanced for 5th place. He wasn't really trying. It was just very nice to have an experienced horse to sit on.
Joe and Topliner at HITS:
We plan to go back to Rocking Horse in two weeks time with the young horses including some first timers owned Karen Bell and George de Benedicty of American Eagle farm. Following that Red Hills. I am really looking forward to Red Hills. I have heard it is a fabulous event. Although sadly Snip won't make it we will have a competitive bunch of Prelim horses.
Ocala really is a fantastic place. Right smack in the middle of horse country to live, work, compete and sell horses is just the way I like it. I do feel for our fellow competitors in Aiken. Well .....not really and to all of you in Florida I hope you are enjoying the warm winter sun as much as me! Florida has masses of attractions for everyone and if you are looking for wildlife you don't have to go far past The Beach Bar close to HITS. There is plenty there. Marked carefully with a black X on their hands they congregate at night to this local watering hole. Call me old fashioned but I thought the drinking age was 21? We were promised a good time and fast service. A good time we had but getting to the bar was like hacking through the jungle and once there one did not know if the the story was Tarzan or Jane. Thanks The Beach we will be back but please do something about more loos!!!
It would not be a blog without a plug for the sponsors. I will work my way through them during the the year. Very sadly the first to mention is Kesmarc. The tragedy there recently shocked us all. Kesmarc is a fantastic equine therapy facility that we all used regularly. Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to our friends there. Also the friends and family of Erica Marshall and the connections of Landmark’s Legendary Affaire. We hope Kesmarc will be back up on its feet soon.
We have been working closely with Voltaire design. This new Saddle company is not into gimmicks but a more stylish design and quality to last. The happiest of all is my bottom after riding in my new dressage saddle!
Speaking of gimmicks I am fascinated over the new craze of the helmet cam and have seen a few rounds on you tube lately. The footage from a helmet cam is fantastic for entertainment and self promotion but is very limited in value as a training aid. The view from the helmet cam and the view from the ground watching can tell two very different stories. Mark Todd never wears a helmet cam.
Churchill stud is in good shape, but England is as grey and miserable as ever and it's almost time to head to Spain. I have a good friend Albert who trains eventers just outside of Barcelona. I plan to visit him to see what he has for sale for some clients back home. Barcelona is a bit off the beaten track as far as Euro eventing is concerned so with any luck his horses have not been picked through. My good friend Brazilian rider Ruy Fonseca is threatening to swing by on his way to Lisbon Barocca D'lva CIC to visit his god daughter Vivi. I will believe it when I see it (said with smile on face).
I have enjoyed writing this and hope you all enjoy reading it. You can follow on twitter and Facebook if you enjoy the ramblings. Until next month.
Hasta luego baby