The love of my life, Onyx, my daughter’s 12 year old OTTB, had the honor of participating in a clinic with none other than Boyd Martin — yes, that Boyd Martin, the one who married Silva. Don’t ask how it happened, it just did. I had the dubious honor of doing the first day of the clinic. Mr. Martin has a unique ability to size up a horse and rider combination within seconds and determine exactly what they need to do to get better. To me, he said, “A green rider on a green horse.” Ooof! We all know how that works — an abomination at best. To my daughter, on the same horse, one day later, “Looks like you’ve done a bit of jumping.” One would think that by virtue of writing the checks (mostly good, some not so much) alone, I would garner some respect. Yeah, that’s not the way the horse world works. My burning question: Does Silva know you wear that hat? I think not.
Boyd Martin and Phillip Dutton, to be exact. At the Millbrook Horse Trials at Coole Park Farm. I was stationed in the sand pit, which is exactly as glamorous as it sounds. My partner, who was better versed than me in dressage and the world of eventing by about 2000%, was all of 11 years old. It was our job to tell the competitors when it was time to wrap up their warm-up and head over to the arena. So yes, I actually exchanged words with Olympians Boyd Martin and Phillip Dutton! To Boyd, I said, “Excuse me, they’re ready for you.” He replied, “I don’t think it’s my time yet and I’d like to get a little trot going first.” I retorted (meekly), “They’ll be ready whenever you’re ready,” and gave a little curtsy. Well I told him! I can’t explain the curtsy, except that I was confused and mortified. And he had just returned from London so…oh, forget it! Boyd has become a bit of a pin-up in the horsey world, a cross that his wife Silva bears with grace. He couldn’t have been more approachable and friendly though, and in fact, he was far more approachable and decent than most of the beginner novices I interacted with. Though I suppose a BN has a far worse case of the nerves. I didn’t mention to Boyd that he has ruined my chances of ever owning a horse — according to my dear hubby, if an Olympian can ride a $850 horse, so can I. Bleh.
I told Phillip Dutton where to go, too, and when. It was his time, so he said, “Thank you.” I hoped he didn’t remember that the last time we spoke, I had fallen directly on my head not more than five minutes into the lesson he was teaching. Luckily for me, he meets about a million people a day and I’m sure I’m not the only one who has fallen on their head in his presence. The sweetest moment of the day, other than the little girl riding a palomino pony named Angel (she insisted the pony was, indeed angelic, but that’s the first I’ve ever heard of a pony without a nasty Napoleon complex) was when Phillip Dutton’s family came over to the ring and his kids all screamed “Hi Daddy!” He immediately stopped what he was doing and beelined for his wife and children. He gets a gold in the dad and husband Olympics, the most important Olympics of all.
Sprenger spurs might be a bit of indulgence, but I think not. They have improved my riding by at least 127% What leads me to believe this? Pre-fabulous spurs, I had five “emergency dismounts” in five days. Since I started wearing the Sprengers, I haven’t had a saddle launch in three months! Therefore, the spurs were not a luxury, but most definitely a necessity. At the rate I was eating dirt before, at least one of my air-trips would have resulted in a sojourn to the ER, a far more costly proposition than the spurs. So there you go – I’m actually saving money, saving my life and avoiding becoming a burden on society by having a traumatic equine injury — all for the low, low price of a pair of shiny new spurs. And I look really good in them. Thank you Twisted Bit for my beautiful spurs!
My first fox hunt — Belle Meade Hunt Club in Thomson, Georgia — very fancy. I learned lots of fancy new things, like you don’t call them dogs, they’re hounds. Unless they’re male hounds and then they are dogs. So instead of saying hound dog, e.g. hound male, I guess we should be saying dog hound, e.g. male hound. Anyway, the females are just bitches, but you knew that. You don’t hunt in a particular area or piece of land, it’s a territory. The territory that is across the street and which is five steps away from you is different from the territory you’re currently in. Don’t say, “this is a beautiful place to ride,” say, “this is lovely territory.” Are we on some sort of Williams and Clark expedition? Flasks and sandwich pouches are mandatory and while I’ve never seen so many flasks in all my life, I did not see a single sam’ich. I think those pouches hold more flasks. Yes, you must share your flask, communicable diseases be damned. Guess we’re all counting on the alcohol to kill those nasty germs. Refreshment truck arrived mid-hunt, carrying beer and bourbon. Nothing for the horses, hounds or tee-totalers. One of the hounds was loaded into the truck, hurt paw or too slow or some sort of thing. As we galloped away, we were invited to toss our beer cans into the bed of the truck. One of the Yankees in our party did not have the greatest aim — nailed the hound on the noggin — he yowled as Coors Light dripped down his snout. Belle Meade is fancy, but we, clearly, are not.
Is that a compliment or an insult? I suppose it all depends on who it’s coming from — in this case, Bob Smith, owner of Netherwood Acres, after I told him I had my third child when I was 41. Bob’s 84 and still riding, still jumping cross-country courses. I don’t think he was coming onto me, but he did tell me that I was “cool” and warned me not to tell his wife, Lisa, that he said that. Lisa’s at least 30 years younger than Bob, but my guess is that her broodmare days are probably over, too.
Now that I’ve been laid off for a little over a month, I’ve found all sorts of new and exciting activities that I can add to my resume. Of course, most of these activities require a sizeable investment, but I see it as an investment in my future! Or some such drivel — these career/life coaches are rubbing off on me and not in a good way. Or maybe just rubbing me the wrong way. Whatevs, on with the new skills:
Cross-Country Fence Judge. In the biz, we refer to ourselves as XC Fence Judges, but I thought I’d spell it out for you civilians. I was a XC fence judge at the Horse Trials at Fitch’s Corner. You know you’re impressed. I judged fence #6. A giant carrot with a rabbit head sticking out. Those horse people are a wacky crowd, aren’t they? I wore a swanky, WASP-y straw hat while judging. Though the fact that my hair isn’t blonde, my ancestors didn’t come over on the Mayflower and my last name sounds suspiciously Eastern European kind of blew my cover.
On-camera talent. Yes, I emerged from behind the camera (where I really belong) and onto the set. While the cameras were rolling! More on that in a future post, but suffice it to say, I am meeting with my director later this week. Sounds important, doesnt’ it? Also sounds like my Botox has become a business expense. And that’s a very good thing.
Fence installer. Now that I can judge a fence, why not build one? It’s a learn-as-you-go type of thing. Fence should be completed by Christmas. One hopes. But it should increase our property value (fully fenced backyard!)
Failed foster parent of rescue dogs. Totally related to my sudden interest in fence installation. Thumper the Bumper was a great dog, until he decided that he was the alpha of the pack and we were all below him in the hierarchy. When he started stealing food from out of our mouths (yes, you read that right) we knew we were not the best foster home for him. The bumper was assigned a new Nurse Ratched-type of foster mom and we welcomed Jerrie/John/George into our home. For three hours. Who knew he was a flight risk? As soon as we got him into the house, he started jumping from table-top to table-top (yeah, you read that right, too) trying to leap out of the closed windows. Smart he was not. As soon as we took him outside to go to the bathroom, he was off like a shot and ran for five miles without looking back. He was found three days later. He, too, was assigned a new (better) foster home.
Artisanal Organic Farming By-Hand Bug Population Control. While installing my new fence with my handy-dandy new post driver (that’s the red thing in the photo), I became distracted by the war waging between my cucumbers and tomatoes. Cukes were wrapping their killer tendrils around my tomato plants and as I was sending them to their respective corners, I found what I thought was a little baby cuke — until I plucked it and it squished black-green goo all over me and I noticed it had about a hundred legs. Ewww! I threw it in the neighbor’s backyard. But I think there’s a future in my gross-out — slap artisanal, organic and by-hand in front of anything and everybody wants it!
YouTube – Dylan Day 1 –just off the truck and I hate my left lead