Concluding A Chronicle Career

Mar 12, 2018 - 12:17 PM

How long have I worked at the Chronicle? Let’s just say I covered the Medal Final when Kent Farrington won it. We’ve both come a long way since then. One of us has an Olympic medal. The other has a computer keyboard with bare spots on the space bar and the N, A and E.

Back then, in the dark ages of 1998, it was the Eisers & Pessoa/AHSA Medal Final. I had to smirk when I looked that up because if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my 20 years at COTH, it’s to use the ridiculously arcane correct title for every class or show. (Do you have any idea how many times I’ve replaced “Harrisburg” with “the Pennsylvania National” while editing stories?)

I’ve also learned how to spell ’s-Hertogenbosch off the top of my head. #useful

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Covering the Olympic Games in Hong Kong was just one of Molly Sorge’s many adventures during her 20-year career with the Chronicle.

When I was a horse-crazy eventing teenager, working for The Chronicle of the Horse was my dream. I’d spent my youth poring over the black-and-white photos, reading every article, and getting so excited on the (very!) rare occasion my name appeared in that tiny results print.

Post-college, one of my childhood friends, Beth Rasin, made that dream come true, interning at COTH and then joining their staff. I, on the other hand, rewarded my parents for paying for a nice college education by keeping a firm grip on a pitchfork. A few years later, I was in Wellington at the Winter Equestrian Festival, grooming, when Beth came to cover a show for COTH. We re-connected, and when a position opened up on the editorial staff, she called me and told me to apply.

Long story short, 20 years ago to the month, I started working for COTH. Back then, we looked up phone numbers in a Rolodex, called for interviews on landlines, developed our own black-and-white photos in a darkroom, and compiled Late News from faxed results on Monday mornings.

In those 20 years, I’ve been able to witness the U.S. show jumpers win gold at the Olympic Games in Hong Kong, Rich Fellers and Flexible win the first U.S. victory in the FEI World Cup Final in 20 years, the great mare Brentina bring down the Las Vegas house with her retirement dance, and McLain Ward realize the World Cup Final goal he’d chased for decades. I feel truly blessed in the great sport I’ve been able to see, the awe-inspiring horses I’ve been able to get to know, and the stories I’ve been able to tell.

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Highlights of the job definitely included being present for Rich Fellers’ 2012 FEI World Cup Final  win. Photo by Molly Sorge.

Along the way, I got to the point where I felt like “from the Chronicle” was my last name. “Hi, it’s Molly from the Chronicle.”

I always maintain that, most of the time, this is the easiest job in the world—I mean, it’s not that hard to get people to talk about their horses! (Well, it’s actually pretty difficult to get some people to talk about them, but those are the minority!) I’ve met, interviewed and written about some incredibly wise, articulate, witty and lovely horsepeople—from the most decorated international rider to the teenager with big dreams.

Above all, I’ve always felt like it’s an enormous privilege to be able to tell the stories of these amazing creatures in our lives, the horses. Saluter, Royal Kaliber, Classic Importer, Diplomacy, Sapphire, Authentic, Flexible—they were some of my favorites, and what a remarkable cast of characters they are.

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Just a little celebration photo with McLain Ward after his FEI World Cup Final  win in Omaha, Neb. From left: photographer Amy Dragoo, McLain Ward, Chronicle staffer Kimberly Loushin, Ward’s longtime groom Lee McKeever and Molly Sorge.

And then there are the behind-the-scenes memories. A never-to-be-forgotten meal at a restaurant truly above my culinary rank in Aachen, Germany, during the 2006 World Equestrian Games. That time my luggage got lost on the way to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, for the World Cup Final. (It still boggles the mind that the World Cup Final was in Malaysia—it was like a one-year effort by the FEI to expand the sport to less traditional venues.) Note to readers: washed-in-the-sink jeans don’t dry on a balcony in 100 percent humidity. I came within hours of covering the first day of the World Cup Finals in the hotel bathrobe. (I still have the bathrobe.)

There was the time I conducted a lengthy and highly detailed interview with a horse’s owner in which she described the footing and how the horse went in each round, only to get a call after the story was published that in fact, someone else rode the horse. The time I waited outside the bathrooms to corner a particularly wily interview target. The time I hid under the bleachers in a downpour at Devon with the Chronicle’s fancy camera sheathed in a vet’s rectal sleeve to get a photo of a hunter champion. (And it was a stunner of a photo—she still uses it quite a bit on Facebook.) I have loved my job. I wasn’t just Molly—I was Molly from the Chronicle.

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Sometimes you do what needs to be done in order to protect the camera! Photo by Amy Dragoo.

But they say that life begins at the edge of your comfort zone, and I became very comfortable at the Chronicle. So, it’s time to see a long one to the edge of the rut and kick on. After 20 years, I’m going back to being a COTH reader and moving on to new professional challenges. I’m still in awe at the talent and integrity of the COTH staff, and I’ll forever be proud I was able to be part of that team.

To everyone I’ve written about, all the bloggers to whom I’ve given a platform, and all the readers who have been so kind as to spend their time with my words, thank you from the bottom of my heart. It’s been an honor.

Molly Sorge ended her 20-year career at the Chronicle on Feb. 28, and she wrote this last blog about her experiences here before leaving. The Chronicle won’t be the same without her, but we wish her all the best in her new endeavors!

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