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Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Great Migration

I love my house in Florida - it sit on the back of the farm; I have Doodle, Danny and Kobe sleep outside my house; great patio; and an orange tree 20 yards away...
Getting here is not so easy - David left Sunday with 6, Lauren on Monday with 4, Brewster with 3 and myself with 4 on Tuesday, followed by Hannah on Wednesday with 3. AND - we have 8 more coming on Tuesday - phew. Moving dressage rings, jumps, stripping stalls, bedding stalls, on and on and on... we have a great crew, we all get it done together, and we are really happy to be here.
Record high temps have us and the horses and I are sweating - 92 and humid today!
Coming home from Burghley, Karen I made a pact that we were going to listen the horses and let them tell us what they were ready for, how they were feeling, what their path needed to be. Doodle never was quite right after his colic on the Saturday night before Burghley - we should, have, would have, could have gone to Blenheim.

Reports on Southern Pines, Plantation, Morven and Fair Hill to come....

More soon....

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Good things about Burghley

There were some really good parts to Burghley...

- Meeting William and Sarah Micklam - they bred Mandiba and haven't seen him since they put on a plane as an almost 5 year old. They are smart, kind, funny and fantastic horseman. Defiantly a good thing.

- Getting to know Jessica Ransehousen - Missy's mom and dressage guru. She knows a thing or two about eventing too. She will be in the barns in a full rain suit staying dry and one hour later be all fancied up to have drinks in Burghley house; and think nothing of it. She made me laugh out loud on more than one occasion.

- Getting to watch the some of the best in the world - some may not have been there with their "best" horses, saving those for the European Championships, but the Kiwis, Aussies, and all did have their best - and you can always learn from watching them.

- Hanging out with Emma Ford - Philip Duutton's groom - Been on a bunch of team trips with her and usually my roommate... she and I have both dedicated our lives to taking care of the horses and not wanting to compete them. She is in Unionville in the summer and Aiken in the winters, so our paths don't cross a ton - and if we are at the same show, usually we are with 5-8 horses to look after - little time for coffee. And she's a great dancer!

- Shopping - the trade Fair at Burghley is awesome - from curry powders to tail wraps - you can find everything!

- Coming home - sometimes the best part about being away....

more soon....

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Too much too soon....

Wish we could do it all over again -

This is a sport of highs and lows.... and when the lows come - you just want to get away from them. Looking back on why Burghley didn't go as planned - we can come up with a thousand reasons.

Doodle was low on runs - He a gas belly ache three days before we trotted up - Karen's father just died - we missed Richland due to the funeral - footing was deceptive and we needed bigger studs - on and on and on - and in the end, IT IS WHAT IT IS.
Too much too soon on so many levels.

And for all the miserable people on the Chronicle chat room - the stirrups are adjustable, you try and ride that track - be nice, we already feel really bad, don't make us feel worse. Cheer us on and be a part of something great.

Home to regroup - Home for more runs - Home to let Karen's soul heal from loosing her papa - Home for more gallops - Home for hugs from friends - Home to kick on again -

For those that watched the TV coverage, sadly they didn't show where Doodle was great and where he really started to grow up on the course - he slipped with the off camber ground on take off to the first corner just as Andrew Nicholson's horse did and he landed on the corner with his knees and pitched Karen out of the tack.

Small scrape on his stifle is his only injury - Everyone is alive, everyone is going to run and play again. Perspective is an amazing thing - sadly we get it right after we needed it!

Horses fly out tonight - Karen home today and we are off to Five Points this weekend. If anyone is there - Hug Karen, she needs it right now. She is a brilliant rider, brilliant horseman, and needs people to give back to her like she has given out for years.

more soon....

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The show must go on -

Doodle and I made to England!
Long week last week saying goodbye to Phil - SO many people calling, sending flowers, stopping by to send their love to Karen and the whole Lende family. A beautiful funeral on Saturday with all three kids speaking and student Hannah Burnnett bring the church to tears signing a new version of Amazing Grace. There was a reception at Karen and Davids house after where we all laughed about our favorite Phil stories...
I left the next morning at 5:30 am with Sue Clarke, our ever wonderful farm manager, to bring Doodle and Allison Springer's Arthur to Gladstone for pre-export quarantine for the trip to Burghley. Fun to see the energy and excitement there - WE ARE GOING TO BURGHLEY.... so much going on, I almost forgot to take it in!
Dr Sarah Gold stopped by to run fluids on the horses to make sure they were hydrated - Shannon, Buck's groom, and I were flying with the horses and said goodbye to the other riders and grooms who left for their respective flights. Last minute instructions were noted and we left the horses for a while to rest; we all had a big night ahead....
Back to the brans at 10pm to meet the export vet, temps taken and ID's checked - boots on and horses loaded at 11:30 for the drive to Newark for the 3:30am flight.
Shannon and I grabbed a quick 15 minute nap followed by a diet coke (or two) to get into gear to load the horses onto the pallets with their hay, water jugs, buckets and airplane bags.... all on and sorted - and wheels were up at 3:40.
Flight was great - horses traveled like veterans - next thing I knew, we were unloading our gear at Laura Krauts at 5:15pm (UK time) with the horses eating dinner.
THAT was the easy part -
Shannon and I headed back to the airport to get my rental car.... we almost fell over laughing at the size of it - it says it holds 5 people - we could hardly fit 4 and 1 duffel bag. It is a tiny two door Fiat - gray with a red, white and green racing stripe down its side.... we call it the Italian Stallion - or Rocky to those who know it.
We then got on the M11 the wrong way (note - we weren't supposed to get on the M11) and the next exit was 14 miles away - SO - back again - we made it to the hotel. Forgot to mention, we had a GPS too - lack of sleep can effect your sense of direction. Got checked into the hotel and then had to make back to the horses to check them and get Hillary and Aubrey - Missy and Beckys groom, And again - it took 3 times as long as it should take to get there.... oh well - we now have all the addresses and have even made it back and forth without the GPS.
The horses have all shipped great - the stables are AMAZING - 20' x 20' stalls, nice indoor, plenty of hacking, and great turnout. All the horses had a long turnout and hack. The rest of riders will be here tomorrow, so it will be back to business. Laura and her crew have been amazing taking great care of us -
Off to bed - jet lag is kicking in...
more soon.....

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Sad times for the O'Connor Event Team

We lost our surrogate Grandfather Tuesday. Karen's dad, Phil, died after he fell at the house. He had a cerebral hemorrhage and never regained consciousness.

Phil was the kindest man - for those that knew him will remember him as soft spoken and funny. His dry wit would catch you off guard and have you laughing with him. He was very proud of all his children; Chip, Karen and Steve and all his grandchildren - Phil had an amazing life - an avid photographer, he told amazing stories of photographing atomic bomb testing in the southwest for the army. He was MADLY in love with Joanne - so happily married for 55 years.

Karen's parents had a big house here in Virginia and would be chaperones to everyone that came to ride with Karen and David, but wasn't old enough to live by themselves. From Will Coleman, Will Faudree and Clark Montgomery to Lauren Keiffer, Hannah Burnett and Anisa and Kendall Tracey, we were all lucky enough to spend time at their house and have the honor or knowing Phil. Let alone Christmas and Thanksgiving - too many names to list.

I came to the O'Connor Event Team on December 12th, 2001. I lived with Joanne and Phil for the two weeks before we left for Florida. I was nervous about living with "Karen's parents" - that all went away in the first 5 minutes I was there. Wide open hearts and arms - I was very lucky to be there. My life is so much richer for knowing him.

The OCET is going to miss Phil; one of the Founding Fathers. We will try and be great for him and try and make him proud. We will miss his smiling face at the horse shows, with the dogs on a leash, carrying a chair for Joanne to sit on and the quick grin we would get when he would see us.

Remember to appreciate the people around you - they are priceless - and tell them you love them.

Be good Big Phil! We miss you.....

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Stuart, vacation and Burghley....

My holiday was great...

Had very strange deja vu riding the 5:10 train from Boston to North Beverly like I did for 5 years when I worked in Boston - stopping in Chelsea, Lynn, Swampscott, Salem, Beverly, North Beverly, Hamilton/Wenham, Ipswich, Rowley, and Newburyport.... weird, huh? Heard it many times! The only thing that has changed is that there is wifi in the cars - and the price....

Tamworth was amazing - great 4th of July parade - tractors, oxen, and singing floats - all very jolly. Dinner that night with about 20 cousins and 3 generations.... very cool - was talked into climbing Mt Chocorua with many of them - thought it would be a nice hike. 2 and 1/2 hours later I was sucking wind trying to keep up with my 18 year old cousin, Jocelyn. We finally got to the top a bit quicker than planned (30 minutes before the rest of the family) - so well worth it for the views. I did have trouble walking for the next 4 days!!!! Watching Wimbleton, naps and trips to Whiteface to put my feet in the freezing water made the trip complete.

Back home after another delayed flight (and some fab seafood at Legal Seafood near the gate) and all ago again - the home crew was so great, again, taking care of the horses while I was gone. Busy getting ready for Stuart....

Hannah, Karen and I left early in the AM with Cathy Weischhoff and her groom Mandy (who had been up for a few days of lessons) all in a row. We had to stop for gas and sending Cathy up ahead of us. Questions were asked which way was the best to go.... lets just say Karen gets and F for navigation. We had a GPS - and we still ended up driving through random towns in Pennsylvania.... Cathy beat us up there by 45 minutes.

Karen had three (Doodle, Rocket and Smartie) in the CIC**, Ivan in the OI and Sammy in the training - and Hannah had Nike in the CIC**

Nike is a cool story -
Dick and Vita Thompson have owned horses for Karen and before her, Jimmy Wofford, for 30+ years. Every winter they go to St Barths for a few weeks. After Joker's Wild retired and Woody was probably having his last season, they decided to buy another horse. Nike was owned and ridden by Lindsay Pozericki from Seattle - Lindsay stayed with us getting ready for Rolex with her fabulous horse, Holy Gallant. She called and said she needed to sell Nike to fund her next trip out to Rolex. With that - Karen flew out and 2 weeks later a red head arrived at our barn in Ocala - his track name was Red Track Shoes - Vita kept calling him "Red Sneakers" or "Red Sandals" - and got fed up with it... She and Kyra Stuart decided to rename him St. Barths - they were in the island on the day.... name stuck. Vita died a year later after a battle with cancer... he was the last horse she bought.

Nike was doing well - we started him doing some training and had just moved him up to Preliminary when he was wacked with EPM - wont try to spell the whole name - but it's a infection of the central nervous system of a small protozoa that leaves them very weak and neuralgic. He spent two weeks in ICU at Morven Park and finally came home very skinny and very wobbly. We couldn't ride him for 6 months - started ponying him - started riding him - and last summer while Karen and I were at the Olympics, Hannah took him back to his first event - 14 months after the illness started. She was doing such a great job that Karen gave her the ride on the horse - as long as she paid the bills.

And 1 year after that... Hannah and Nike rocked Stuart by winning the CIC**. She won from start to finish - she was nervous, but very brave and kept it all together to ride like a star. So composed in the Show Jumping, you would have thought she'd been in that position many times.... we are all very proud of her!!!!

Doodle continued to be great and was 3rd in the 2 star, Ivan was back on great for and was 3rd in the OI and special Sammy was 2nd in the training,,, he continues to be the envy of all - to bad he is NFS, Not For Sale.

Home again -

Back to the kids that didn't travel - Hugh, Bobby, etc. All doing well with the fabulous crew at home.

Exciting news - Karen and Doodle have been given a grant to go to Burghley! WOW - getting very grown up :)! It will be a big step for him - but certainly not out of his reach, Great group of riders that are going - should be an adventure! Hope we keep up and don't disappoint!

More soon - report on training sessions and mandatory gallop!