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.