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April 27, 2011

Getting To Rolex; Going Back To School—Literally

Sinead Halpin and Manoir De Carneville looked ready to go at the first Rolex horse inspection. Photo by Lisa Slade.

Because I want to keep this blog updated a bit more frequently through Rolex, the updates are going to be slightly less story like than my last few posts! Time and Internet access are going to get more difficult to find as the week carries on, so I figure I better just get some 411 out there, even if it lacks a little color!

Megan and I left New Jersey Monday to head to the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, the ultimate competition in the United States. We were expecting around a 10-hour trip, but unfortunately hauling a six-horse trailer, all your gear, plus one French horse through the mountains tends to extend the trip! We were fortunate to have an uneventful trip unlike poor Lainey Asker. She texted me about five hours into the drive saying she was breaking down and curious where I was to see if I could scoop up Al (her horse) on my way. I wasn’t close enough to help, but thanks to the close network of eventers all en route to Kentucky, Allison Springer picked her up less than an hour later!

We pulled in around 6:30 p.m. to a quiet Kentucky Horse Park, the calm before the storm of the 80,000 spectators this weekend! After Tate’s incident of kicking down 12 boards in his stall at The Fork we (actually my wonderful mom) had kick pads for his stall made. Tate also has a fairly bad allergy to dust so we bought rubber mats for the floor and a very low dust pelleted bedding that you actually add water to. I think my friend and fellow eventer Ashley Adams said it best saying his stall looks like a bomb shelter! But whatever it takes to keep princess Tate happy, we will do!

Around 9 p.m. we were just wrapping up the final hand graze of the night when I got a text from Samantha Lendl, our PRO (Professional Riders Organization) Executive Director, asking if I could join Allison and Rebecca Howard at an elementary school at 8 a.m. to talk to the kids. Kids—fun. School—not so much so...

Even as we walked into the school at 8 the next morning, I looked at Allison and said, "I'm so glad I'm a grown-up. I hate school!"

We spent the next few hours talking to three groups of first graders. We were coupled with the Black Stallion Literacy Program, where getting kids involved in reading and horses (being that these kids live in the horse capital of the world!) is a priority. The kids and I shared the fact that most of us are best friends with our animals. Most of the kids told me they were best friends with their dogs and cats, and I even got that a few of them were BFF's with their fish!

All in all it was a really fun experience. The kids were so eager to learn why horses tickle your hands when you feed them, how fast horses go, and one very educated 7-year-old even asked if we used ice on our horses (he has no idea the glaciers we use!).

When we got back to the barn I hopped on Tate to give him a hack and a light flat school. He’s feeling a little tired from his trip but was actually very well behaved.

I have to make sure to keep my priorities simple with Tate. Connection and contact first, then work on his footwork, then carry on to fine tuning movements. I got a bit ahead of myself for a few minutes today (maybe because I was watching Bettina Hoy teach Allison on her beautiful Arthur or Will Coleman fine-tune the perfect serpentine!) but we’re a different combination, and I have to have faith in the system we’ve been working with this spring.

Trot-up is today, but the weather is expected to be horrific so the attire might be wellies and raincoats! And we also get out on the course! So til tomorrow, ciao ciao!

Sinead

Sinead Halpin Eventing