Thirteen days after moving into my gorgeous farm, I'm back on the road - to Loxahatchee, Fla., with five horses in tow for the winter season. And what a winter I picked to miss! It was 20 degrees when I left Thursday morning, which seemed downright tropical compared to the 4 degrees it was the morning before. (And before any of my readers from Northern Climes give me crap for this, I'd like to remind them that a) I'm from Chicago, and therefore have plenty of Frigid Yankee Street Cred, and that 4 degrees is still flipping cold, and b) I moved to the south for a reason, and it was to get away from Frigid Yankee Winters, thankyouverymuch.)
Here in South Florida, it is 80 degrees, sunny and flat-as-a-pancake, which made biking at 17 mph for my workout today really quite pleasant. The horses left a few days after me (and 12 hours after they were supposed to, due to ice, freezing rain and generally disgusting conditions), but arrived in good spirits, though they all immediately crashed asleep, and today looked like zombies, so I'm not holding my breath for amazing first rides tomorrow.
And this is ok. This is what happens; I plan for a skunky first week in Florida no matter the weather; the 20-or-so hour trip is hard enough, even without a 60-degree temperature swing.
This Florida trip couldn't come too soon. With Midge still on the bench and Ella going freaking BRILLIANTLY but still not sold, I've been feeling a little uninspired. This is the way things go, the ebb and flow of the equine universe. There will be high times, when you have two genius young Grand Prix horses and the world at your feet; and there will be the low times, when the oldest thing you're showing is 8 and still isn't totally convinced that the right canter pirouette isn't against the laws of physics. You start to worry that you might not get back in the Big Ring for years.
Johnny's amazing, the most incredible work ethic I've ever sat on, EVER, and that includes Billy and Ella, who I thought could never be topped. Fender's right on the brink of Prix St. Georges and is getting more and more coordinated in collection every day. I'm joined down here by two client schoolmasters, who are awesome, plus a charming rising 7-year-old named Fiero, who's owner has handed me the reins and told me to make him the best horse I possibly can, which is a pretty damn great opportunity.
And while yes, being down here means being surrounded by lots of people who do NOT have injured Grand Prix horses, who ARE out there in the Big Ring, winning the Big Things, it's also being surrounded by people who are in the Exact Same Boat, or who don't even have a boat, or who are barely able to keep their heads above water. It's a reminder to see the trees for the forest. And it's a BIG reminder that I am incredibly, incredibly lucky to have all the good - and the great - that I have.
It's so, so easy, isolated on my little farm, to lose sight of the Big Picture. No one is on top 100 percent of the time. Even the ones who are on or near the top all the time now were, at some point, really, really not. Maybe I'm at the bottom of a wave now, but I'm here to gain the momentum I need to push off and peak even higher.
So I watched Grand Prix freestyles at the Global Friday night, and watched Michael and Vera ride and coach their students all day yesterday. I cared for the stellar young horses I brought with me, plus the two fabulous schoolmasters here for their owners. Pretty soon they'll have recovered from their trip, and I can start getting lessons myself, and get back on the water.
So bring it on, 2014! You may be the year that makes next year possible, or maybe you'll be the best year yet. Either way, I'm ready to get paddling.