After a whirlwind last week in Florida, an exciting trip home involving—you guessed it!—two flat tires, and 2 1/2 days to move into my new house in nearby Warrenton, my Floridian team and I are safely back in Virginia, reunited with the home team, and back up and running. I’ve got a few relatively quiet weeks at home until we start the usual spring chaos of constant horse shows and clinics; I’m home one weekend between the end of April and the 4th of July.
But whereas last year I had a full string of horses to show, and even more at home, plugging away at their work, this year I have… Danny, who is maybe going to do a Grand Prix at the end of the year, or maybe not.
And that’s it. Hurricane is spending the summer at Camp Barisone. And other than my wonderful 25-year-old Billy, who I visited in his field today as he enjoys his well-earned retirement, that’s all I’ve got.
It’s weird, having the fewest horses I’ve ever owned since I was a teenager.
It’s a problem I’ll quickly remedy, with a trip to the Netherlands planned for the end of May, to come home with a young horse or two. But that leaves me with a long road ahead with whatever we bring home, because I don’t get excited about showing training or first levels with young horses, so the soonest they’d do something exciting would be age 7 or 8, three to five years from now.
So it’s a rebuilding sort of year, one where I step out of the competition spotlight myself and focus on other things. Danny, of course, is a tremendously exciting place to send my energy, but so are the clients I have making big plays this year. I’ve got at least two who will do their first Grand Prix this year, at least two more who will make serious bids at the small tour, and Ella’s new owner, Eliza, will try for the NAJYRC.
I’m also teaching clinics all over the United States and Canada, including to some super-cool new places for me. I’m teaching my usual cadre of lessons at home, to longtime clients and new faces alike. I have plenty to keep me busy, and I’m thrilled to have this year to focus on them, to give them my full attention and energy. They may be less thrilled when I go on a no-stirrup jihad, or start assigning reading homework, but sorry, guys, this is me unhindered.
But the one thing I’m not losing is my focus on the big picture. I want to get back in the Big Ring. I’m getting my fitness rolling, and am on an incredible new nutritional program that is simultaneously incredibly easy to take on the road with me, and effective as all get-out. I’ve got bi-monthly-or-so visits up to Michael’s scheduled, with clinics over the summer months when my clients’ competition season slows down a bit, and I’ve got a Pixio video camera system to video me while I’m riding at home on my own.
In short, I’m doing everything I can now, while it’s quiet, to be ready for the times when it’s not. I type my blogs in a text document on my computer, at the top of which I have a few of my favorite quotes (“Success is going from failure to failure without a loss of enthusiasm” is my absolute favorite), and one is this, from a top event rider: “There is no quick way to the upper levels of any sport. You can BE there, but that’s just geography and entry forms. It certainly doesn’t mean you’ve arrived.”
The one thing I can’t expedite is Danny turning 10. So until then, I make the progress I can across the board, and I hope to come home from the Motherland with some fresh new faces in June. And then, in 2018, I hope I’ll be ready to fill out some entry forms.