Wednesday, Apr. 17, 2024

Columnist William Micklem

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Today’s breeding trends toward ever more specialized animals, but columnist William Micklem believes the best horses can excel in any discipline.

The event horse is the ultimate sport horse: the paces and temperament to do a dressage test at advanced level; the gallop, jump and courage to go across country; and the scope, carefulness and soundness to come out again and jump clear in the show jumping.

Unless the person in front of you is naked or wearing a particularly outrageous outfit, you look at the face first. In this respect, the smile says it all. Not all animals can smile, but humans do it beautifully. Without a single accompanying word a smile can say: ‘Welcome, come on in,” “Keep going, you’re doing OK,” or, probably the most valuable of all, “This is fun. I’m enjoying this and enjoying doing this with you.”

So how famous is your coach? Are you in awe of him as he arrives in the arena? Does her gold-medal CV precede her and add value to the lesson? Or is it a barrier to learning?

The extraordinary William Fox-Pitt made headlines with his triple triumph at Tattersalls International Horse Trials in Ireland in the one-, two- and three star competitions held the weekend of May 26-29. With Ollie Townend second to him in both the three- and two-star competitions and also winning the CIC three-star class, the other elite riders were left with slim pickings. 

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The Tattersalls International Horse Trials, set to take place May 26-29 in Ireland, has set the standard to which others aspire in many ways. The permanent facility opposite Fairyhouse Racecourse is outstanding, and this year they’ve also invested heavily in a new cross-country track that is destined to mark a new direction for modern courses.

The provocative title of this year’s International Eventing Forum, “Risky Business,” may not have been quite to everyone’s liking, but the day itself delivered a whole sequence of subtle training treasures for the 350 delegates on Feb. 7 at Hartpury College in Gloucester, England.

Run in partnership by former Olympic eventing judge Jean Mitchell, international coach and judge Eric Smiley and Hartpury College, this annual gathering deserves to be a success with outstanding speakers, facilities and organization.

Sparks of possibility. Chinks of opportunity. Inch by inch.

Such small talents, such small moments and such small steps are the essence of making something meaningful of our lives. Can we find those “sparks of possibility” in our lives? Can we seize those chinks of opportunity? Can we take those small steps today and tomorrow? Our lives rush by, and for many, lives are cut cruelly short. So every day is important, even if it is a wonderful day of sheer pleasure that a day off can become.

The Payoff

Our columnist shares the tale of breeding Karen O’Connor’s WEG mount Mandiba and the lessons he’s learned along the way.

There were just two of us at the bar. The barman facilitated an introduction after discovering I was at the hotel for a meeting about developing an equestrian facility. Minutes later I was headed down a country road outside Ennis in County Clare, in the west of Ireland. We were off to see a mare “worth seeing, just five minutes down the road.”

Dressage coach and six-time Olympic rider Robert Dover recently wrote a blog entry about eventing on his website. ” The problem for me is that I am having greater and greater difficulty as I get older, finding a way to legitimize Eventing while horses which have no choice in the matter end up getting killed for the sake of sport.” Columnist William Micklem felt he had to respond.

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