Christmas is, of course, not about the gifts. That doesn't stop me from being excited about the gizmo Allison and Molly gave me that clips my iPhone to my bike (so I can run the "MapMyRun" app, which sometimes gets a little confused and tells me I've jogged a 6:45 mile - not a prayer in the world of that ever happening, but I'll take it!), and my parents' gift of "Born To Run," a book on barefoot running, the combination of which makes me sound like I'm quite a jock, when really all I want to do right now is sit on the couch and eat crap and watch reruns of NCIS.
But the best Christmas gift, given or received, to the Sprieser Sporthorse family was Billy's Christmas present. Billy, for those who don't know, is my now-20-year-old Young-Riders-And-Brentina-Cup horse, the first horse I showed Grand Prix, the first really good horse I ever had the pleasure of knowing. In many ways, Billy is the best gift I've ever received. He brought me to so many firsts in my career, even beyond competition accolades. He gave me my start, and then, when Liz, a client, was frustrated shopping for a horse for herself "cold," as she had nothing to keep her riding skills up in between trying horses to buy, I leased her Billy, on a week-to-week basis.
That was four wonderful years ago.
He gave her confidence, taught her new things; she treated him like the Prince he is, including winters in Florida. He struggled with the trip last year, and she's got a great horse of her own now, so Billy came home to me. And I've put a bunch of other clients on him since, including my 12-year-old phenom, Kristin. Kristin is a phenomenal rider, trained by another student of mine, Tori, who runs an outstanding Pony Club program  about an hour from us. Tori's evented Advanced, done the high-level jumpers, is going to earn her Bronze and possibly Silver medals next year, and bestows all of her young charges with not only excellent riding skills across many disciplines, but also a no-nonsense approach to horsemanship lacking in so many young people.
Kristin is no exception, and while dressage seems to be her focus (for now, at least!), she's also well-schooled over fences, takes fabulous care of her darling pony, Meg, and just about tripped over herself at the chance to ride Billy who, of course, loved her. A match was made.
Merry Christmas, Billy: your own 12-year-old girl!
Kristin will ride Billy through the winter, and she'll learn a TON about everything, but especially, I hope, about collection, to help teach Meg the pony to get her ready for the FEI Pony Tests. What a lucky kid! And Billy gets his own tiny person. What a lucky horse!