An Excellent Reminder Of Why We Do This

Dec 4, 2012 - 5:33 PM
Emma Ford has taught Jennie Brannigan many lessons over the years, the most important of which was to remember the love of horses above all. Photo by Shannon Brinkman.

Hello everyone! I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving and are prepared for the coming winter months. I’m certainly never ready for the cold.

I’m currently sitting on my good friends Hawley and Gamal Awad’s couch in Temecula, Calif., where I’ve woken up at 3 a.m. due to the time change! I flew home for a week to spend some time with my family and friends and horse shop before things start getting busy back at True Prospect Farm.

All the upper-level horses get pulled in from the field in early December to start getting legged back up. Ping and Indie have enjoyed their time off, and I’m sure they’ll be feeling fresh when they come back.

There’s been quite a bit of change at TPF over the past few weeks, and the most important thing to talk about is Emma Ford leaving and moving on to greener pastures. Phillip, Evie and Annie Jones threw an amazing party for Emma at Annie’s house, and Phillip gave the best speech I’ve heard in quite a while. We were dying laughing as he calculated how many hours Emma has spent in the rig with him on the way to the events (with Phillip not speaking), how many hours she’s listened to him hum, how many braid jobs she’s done, and how many cups of coffee she’s drunk…. I wish I had it on video for you all to see, because it was touching, lovely and hilarious all in one.

There was also a memory jar—everyone wrote down their favorite memory with Emma, and there were so many that were special to me that it was really hard to pick just one.

My relationship with Emma has been extremely influential to me. I’m not quite sure who I had more healthy fear of when coming to TPF as a young rider—Emma or Phillip! I feel like in the past four and a half years, she’s done a lot to shape who I am. She’s picked me up when I’ve been down, and she’s also put me in my place and given me a good smack to get cracking when I’ve needed it. And she would never be one to gloat or love public speaking or realize that she’s very famous in her own right in our horse world!

This fall Emma was extremely supportive of Ping at Boekelo, even when her own horse’s trip had ended early. It’s amazing to me everything she does. She never puts herself over the horses, EVER. It didn’t matter what was going on, she loved those horses like they were her kids.

In the end, it was tough to pick just one memory for the jar, but I had to thank her for what she did for Cooper and me.

When the accident happened on Sunday at Fair Hill three years ago, and I had to take Cooper in to New Bolton, it was quite late. Emma had obviously had a long weekend at the event, but she didn’t think twice about coming with me to the hospital and sitting for hours while they scanned Cooper’s leg and put him straight into surgery. She and I just sat there… and I was so thankful to not be alone.

Emma really held my hand through those few months. On Thanksgiving Day she came with me to check on Cooper in the middle of the night. She helped me every day changing his stomach bandages and was a voice of reason whenever I would lose it a bit.

It seems like it was quite a while ago now, and I guess it was, but that experience brought me very close with Emma, and I can’t begin to express how grateful I was for her compassion and kindness those few months.

Emma does the horses for all the right reasons, and I think it’s so important to try to keep that in mind when we’re all doing what we’re doing. It’s easy to get caught up in where you’re competing next and how you’re disappointed or excited about your past results and just keep striving for more and more. But in the end, we all do this because we love the horses, and I just want to thank Emma for being a constant reminder of that every day.

Read a 2008 profile of Emma.

I’ve made a lot of mistakes along the way, but I know so much more about the care of horses because of her. And I think if you took a survey, there’d be quite a number of people who’d agree that Emma has been very influential in their lives. We are all quite lucky that she will continue to do so, because she’ll be working for the Wildasins, but I’ll miss her in the day-to-day.

So, cheers to Emma! I’ll be bringing you a cup of coffee soon, I’m sure. :)


Brannigan Eventing



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