Wednesday, Apr. 17, 2024

Blogger Erica McKeever

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Glad to be home after a very long and stressful week. I’m very proud of our wonderful Sara and McLain. Even though the week didn't go quite as planned, it was a fantastic experience. 

After arriving there on Saturday, the temperatures started to drop. It was freezing, but the horses were all healthy and fresh. Sunday morning was the jog, and the U.S. horses all jogged perfectly. Then we had to wait for Sunday night for the warm-up, which started at 7:30 p.m., and team USA went near the end close to 11 p.m.

Sapphire, or Sara, arrived in Kentucky safe, and sound.  She had a nice week with lots of turnout and beautiful weather until her departure time, when a tropical storm had moved through the area. Between volcanos disrupting travel to the FEI World Cup Final, hurricanes at the Hampton Classic and now tropical storms, Sara has had an exciting year.

Luckily it stopped raining during the packing and loading, and she was very enthusiastic getting on the truck. She left with Urico, and they picked up Quick Study and Cedric on the way.

Only 10 days until Sara will be leaving for Kentucky!!

Since winning the Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix, her days have been very full. She’s still working twice a day, which she is enjoying since the weather is much cooler. McLain was in New Hampshire at The Fidelity Classic with the young, black mare, O’d Eole, who finished third in the $75,000 Fidelity Investments Grand Prix. Goldika was scheduled to go, but she bit her tongue the other day while schooling, and it was bothering her a little, so she stayed home and will get to go to Harrisburg.

Wow! Thank you again Sara and McLain.

That was truly an unforgettable week. History was made in American show jumping, and everyone in Saugerties was a part of that. 

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The first round of the show jumping at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games is just four weeks away—how exciting! 

McLain and Sapphire’s preparation continued at the Hampton Classic this week—our plan was to show her on Friday in the World Cup-qualifier, and then the big grand prix on Sunday. Hurricane Earl meddled a bit with our plans, since the show organizers moved the qualifying grand prix to Thursday instead of Friday, so our departure from Castle Hill happened early Wednesday morning.

It's been a long and winding road to traveling the world with Sapphire!

I have worked at Castle Hill for 22 years. I grew up in England, where I first started riding when I was 10. I was pony mad, and my parents bought me my first pony when I was 12. I showed at local shows and spent every second I could at the stables. 

After a very nice weekend, everyone was home at Castle Hill. All the horses enjoyed being in their stalls with no horse show. This doesn't happen very often, but it's a nice change when it does. 

Well I guess it’s official—Sapphire and McLain made the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games team. We are all very excited and honored—what a great team it is!

Meet the Chronicle's newest blogger Erica McKeever. She's worked at Castle Hill, home of McLain Ward and Sapphire, for the last 22 years, first as a groom and now as the farm manager.

I am very excited to share this story of an amazing horse and rider. The question is where do you start?

This is a picture of Castle Hill, located in New York. This is the home and training grounds of everyone involved. It houses 34 horses and lots of people. 

Usually when people arrive the first question is "Where does Sapphire live, and can we see her?"

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