Sunday, April 29, 2007

So Close.....And Yet So Far

What a ride....again! Today was gorgeous--the perfect day for...well, for anything, but especially for stadium jumping. Not too hot, sunny skies, and a nice cool breeze that blew intermittently throughout.

Like yesterday, there were some real surprises, some upsets, and some glorious moments. Before the stadium jumping began, it was announced that Ian Stark of Great Britain was retiring--this was his final outing. He was given the opportunity to take a victory gallop before the stadium jumping began, and the crowd gave him a standing ovation. The ovation was repeated after his stadium round, which was one time fault away from being perfect. What a way to end a career! Once again, we see how much the fans of this sport care about those who put their heart and soul into it.

Speaking of heart and soul, I was crushed to learn that Will Faudre opted not to attend the jog up this morning, which means he's retired from competition after going double clear yesterday. We all knew Antigua was a horse with a lot of heart, but also a lot of years; he's the oldest horse at the competition. I fear that his age caught up with him, and that Will gallantly chose to make sure his best friend was ok rather than to see if he could better his own record. Bravo for Will, but I'm terribly sorry for him. My thoughts and best wishes are with Antigua.

Thoughts and prayers are also with Amy Tryon and Le Samurai, who damaged some ligaments yesterday, according to the paper. David O'Conner accepted an award for her before the competition, so I know she's with her horse. Let's hope both of them come back to this event again soon.

NOW--on to the Stadium!

While I was hoping that the women would pull one out, it was the men (for the most part) who remained "rock steady" and won the day--and the event. Clayton Fredericks from Australia, who was at his first Rolex ever, took his time and had a clean round on Ben Along Time, adding only one time fault to his score, retaining his third place before the final two went. The big, powerful bay Northern Spy was strong, and I think Heidi White Carty was tired, for the pair had one rail down, but 7 time penalties, moving them from second to fourth place.

My heart goes out to Kristin Bachman and Gryffindor, here for their second time, and sitting in first place with a rail in hand. They were putting in a very nice round, when she had a rail down and, flustered, made a left instead of a right. She found herself in front of the wrong jump, but it was too late; she took it and the next one, and was eliminated. Worse than Becky Holder last year, who got caught in rain and whose horse slipped and never recovered....she went from first place to elimination. Poor Kristin, who was having the ride of her life! I hope she's not beating herself up. I thought she did a marvelous job, and I look forward to seeing her name at the top of the leaderboard once more in the future.

Suddenly, the Aussie moved from third place to first: Clayton Fredericks and Ben Along Time are the 2007 Rolex champions! Congratulations on an excellent, solid, well ridden event!

But congratulations are also in order to a few others. Another man who has nerves of steel and whose clean jumping round and two time penalties moved him up from 5th place to 2nd place: The consistent, talented Rolex "always the bridesmaid, never the bride" Phillip Dutton, who is now riding for the United States. He and Truluck had a really nice, quietly masterful ride--one of the best of the day--and once again he proved that nerves, talent, and determination go a long way. Congratulations!

Perhaps, though, the day was stolen by the dynamic duo of Karen O'Connor and the Bionic Pony Teddy. The two entered the arena to a deafening roar, and the audience had a difficult time muffling its excitement as the pair (who couldn't see over any of the jumps!) had one clean jump after another. posting one of the day's two perfect scores, and moving them up from 7th to 3rd. As the top 20 horses were called back into the arena to accept their awards, Teddy wouldn't stand still, and pawed in excitement. When David O'Connor presented his wife, Karen, with her third place award, the announcer asked how long the two had been married, and Karen answered "Ben Along Time!" to the crowd's delight. Smart woman! And another lesson in grit and talent and determination and nerves of steel breeding success.

The other perfect round was put in by Lauren O'Brien (must be an Irish thing) and Dunraths Alto. The pair jumped big and carefully, and you'd never know the pair just finished one of the most grueling events in the world. Bravo!

Several of the horses and/or riders were clearly tired. I had hoped that Sara Mittleider and El Primero would go clean, but though they jumped well, they were obviously not at their best, with three rails down and a couple time faults.

Jonathan Holling was another man who rose to the occasion and had a clear round with only three time faults. His partner, Direct Merger, was solid and didn't look tired at all.

First-timer Melissa Hunsberger, who I was pulling for, had a tough round; she was tired, her horse was strong, and she wasn't seeing her spots. She had five rails and one time fault--but I'm happy to say she was still in the top 20. Way to go, Melissa!

My brother and sister treated us to "Paradise" in Paris this evening (Paradise is a Chinese restaurant in Paris, KY, which bosts of being in the "tallest three story building in the world"). We also got a tour of Paris and the surrounding countryside (mostly owned by Clayburn farms). What a nice town. I'm really looking forward to coming again next year.

Karen, I got the monkey butt breeches!

Until next year.....

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Another Amazing Ride

Can I say once again what an incredible honor it is to be a tiny, insignificant part of such an amazing sport? I was a fence judge today for the Cross Country portion of the only **** (Four Star) Three Day Event in the US, and I am humbled, excited, and awed all at the same time. What a ride!

The day couldn't have been any nicer; any threat of rain was thwarted by the amazing Kentucky sunshine which burned away the clouds and led to a glorious, semi-cloudy, breezy day, perfect for cross country. And the day couldn't have started with a more exciting, high-energy ride than Karen O'Connor on her "bionic pony" Theodore (Teddy) O'Connor. They literally flew around the course, never letting up. They were fast, athletic, and there was no hesitation on the part of the pony OR on the part of his rider. What power! If those little legs were longer, he would have made the time for sure. As it was, he only had 4.4 time penalties, moving him up from 15th place to 10th place (possibly 9th--more on that later).

My jump was an interesting one--it was jump 12, the Red Oak Rail immediately after jump 11, the open ditch. It's about 3'10" with a 5'6" spread--so it's no cake walk. Gail was the main judge (I was the assistant), and across from us was Mary and my former acquaintance from last year, Nancy Their, whose son John is likely to show up in either the next Rolex or the one after that. My eventing partner in crime, Donna, came with me and was drafted to help out as a divvit-stomper and as a possible stopping guard, in case we needed to stop a horse (Carolyn Borgert, who is the goddess who administers all of the fence judges, told us to pick the bravest/dumbest person to wield the red flag if we needed to stop a horse, because they're coming at us at about 35 mph...!). So Donna, who looks and, at times, still feels like she's in her 20's, volunteered.

The short of it: We didn't have any problems at our fence (that were recorded, at least). The long of it: our fence, while not completely consistent, was a fairly good indicator of who would succeed, and who would have problems. Those like Karen and Teddy, who took the fence boldly and either picked a spot from a long way back and adjusted early, or who just came on, usually took the fence well; those who tried to adjust too close to the fence had problems. I guess that means we had a "rider" fence--it was clear and relatively easy/straightforward for the horses, but if the riders got spooked and tried to mess with things, that's when trouble started.

Some folks who took the fence really well: Karen and Teddy, and also Karen and Upstage. They were bold, they were confident, and they both sailed over the fence beautifully. What a professional! Philip Dutton, too, on both of his rides (Connaught and Truluck) was spot on consistent--quiet and letting the horse do the work, helping without getting in the way. Philip's protégé and Fellow West Texan Will Faudre had an absolutely perfect jump on Antigua, too. Ian Roberts on Napalm had a lovely jump--that is one athletic horse. So did Kristin Bachman on Gryffindor, the current leaders after a double clear round. And first timer Melissa Hunsberger had a solid ride on her own horse Just Fun Stuff. Karen and Upstage had a unlucky break in that they were stopped on course before the hammock (because Heath Ryan had fallen and needed medical attention), and I'm sure it threw their rhythm awry, and they ended up with time penalties and a refusal. I believe the rest of the riders I mentioned moved up in the standings based on their rides.

I was thrilled to see Melissa at Rolex, for I've met her before: when I was trying out Guinness, my Oldenburg gelding, at Phyllis Dawson's Windchase Farm in Virginia. She rode Guinness to show me his gaits, jumping, etc., then I got on. Long story short, I was sold, and I bought him--and he's my partner now. I knew Melissa as a hard-working, straight-shooting person, and it warmed my heart to see her do so well; after a difficult dressage test, she incurred only 9.6 time faults to move up from 33rd place to 17th place. The pair had a good, solid clear ride, her first time at the four star level, and I'm terribly proud of her (and at how hard she's worked to get here). I am pulling for her to move up again tomorrow!

I'm also pulling for fellow West Texan Will Faudre, who grew up and started his career a mere three hours south of where I live--nothing in "Texas Time" (remember that Donna and I have to drive at least 6 hours to get to any eventing venue at all....). It's great to see the partnership that has developed between Antigua and Will--they really seem to have one mind (something he said was necessary in an interview on the Talking Equine Network Podcast. Even though Antigua is the oldest horse at Rolex this time around (17 and a half, I believe), he went double clear, and moved up based on his dressage score. Last year he placed 6th, his best finish ever; this year, I believe he has a chance to win it (and he's sitting in 5th, possibly 4th place right now).

Several "big names" had problems on the course: Darren Chiacchia on Better I Do It had a refusal and several time penalties, moving him down significantly in the standings (even though he had a nice ride over my fence). Poor Bonnie Mosser on Jenga (who had a pretty big fan club at my jump!) had a fall later in the course, and also heavy time penalties, moving her close to the bottom. Jan Byyny on Waterfront had two refusals and time faults. Polly Stockton had a refusal. John Williams, Bruce Davidson, and Buck Davidson all retired on course after refusals or unintended dismounts. Once again, Rolex became the leveling of expert and novice, of hard working and talented horses.

One of the favorites of everyone--including me--was Amy Tryon, who's another person who is hard working, committed to this sport, and who is an excellent ambassador for the sport. She's been in the Olympics and in the WEG, and every time has proven herself to be a team player. I read an interview with her in the Lexington newspaper in which she talked about her dressage test yesterday, saying she'd had a horrible warm up, and expected a terrible test--but she, being the professional she is, worked really hard to communicate with her new horse, Le Samurai (who was here with Robin Fischer before, and who has a reputation for being "difficult"). He put in a superb test, and she was number one after dressage.

She was strong to our fence, but the pair bickered a bit about the take off point; he wanted to take off earlier than she did. Amy let her horse have his way, and they took off long but with enough scope to make it (with everything but a slightly scraped back hoof on the intimidating fence). I could see fence 20 from my spot, and I saw a similar, but less intense disagreement there, and once again Amy allowed Le Samurai to decide, and he handled it beautifully. I can see a lot of negotiation, of give and take, in that pair, and it seems to be working, and working really well. However, after the pair finished, with just 3.2 time faults, we heard on the walkie talkies that they left one of their shoes at the last fence, and later we heard that she was withdrawing her horse. I don't know the details, but I think the injury is serious. I'm saddened that such a hard working and emerging duo who had a real chance to win this time having to wait until next year--or maybe longer. So though she was in 2nd place after cross country (and still is listed in the leaderboard), she seems to have withdrawn, affecting the standings of other riders. Rolex is a tough master.

Another pair who had a bit of successful negotiation going on was Heidi White Carty and Northern Spy. They came down the hill from the Hammock at a good clip, regrouping at the slight turn before our fence, and while they didn't have a perfect spot (he took an extra half stride before the fence), they took it in good form. They had a double clear round, and they're sitting in 3rd/2nd. I was impressed with this pair in dressage, and I wasn't let down in cross country. They hung in to come in second last year; they have an excellent chance to win it all this year.

One of the disappointments for me was Becky Holder on Courageous Comet. I was pulling for them to win it this year; she was in first place last year after XC, and then it started raining during her stadium round, and her horse slipped, never really recovering....and four rails later, she's not even in the top 10. Her dressage was solid, and she had a strong, radiant ride over our fence--but something happened later on in the course, and she retired on the course. I was hoping for her to reclaim her victory at Rolex this year...but I guess I'll have to wait until next year.

Two of the brits, Ian Stark and Mary King, took my fence boldly and, despite a few iffy moments, both went on to improve significantly in the standings (Mary had a double clear, I believe). Well done!

Once again, I was reminded that the people in this sport are dedicated and hard working--the volunteers all were focused and friendly, serving as ambassadors of the sport on a very human level. The TDs and Stewards weren't cold and condescending, and they might have been, but were gentle, willing to listen, and yet efficient. Overall, I was impressed with the sport, the people who participate in it, and the people who come to watch. An excellent day. I can't wait to see what happens tomorrow!

Friday, April 27, 2007


The good news was that it never really rained today (sprinkled/drizzled a few times, but nothing lasting). The bad news was that it was overcast and dreary all day long--and by the evening, the wind picked up to what I've heard call a "lazy" wind--too lazy to go around you, it goes right through you instead. Brrrrrr!

I THOUGHT I was finished with my shopping--but I'd forgotten about the great FITS breeches, and the Rolex Three Day Shoppe had a whole length of the shoppe at 50% what could I do?? We also hit Quillin's again, this time to buy leather halters for our "big" horses, and to get something special for someone in Donna's family. We also visited the Stackhouse Saddle place, and the saddles there were sitting on an easy floating on a cloud. A flotation device. Cushiony, Swimmingly Comfortable. So--how important is comfort?

But at least half of the day was spent watching dressage. Once again, I was amazed at how these athletic animals can be...well, contained in dressage. I also noticed that, while many of the horses were forward, only a few of them were really "up" and under themselves.

A few horses with really nice suspension: Flame, ridden by Heath Ryan; Northern Spy, ridden by Heidi White Carty, and Courageous Comet ridden by Becky Holder (who really should have won last year). Two horses had better tests (I thought, anyway) than the judges scored them: Flame and Napalm (ridden by Ian Roberts, the only Canadian in Rolex this time--strange!). Both of these horses were nice moving and obedient, and both of them were "up" and under themselves, with a few baubles (late lead change behind, not square halt, etc.). But both of these horses got significantly higher penalty scores than *I* would have given them. Maybe they should ask me to judge next time!

Some things I learned from watching dressage today (once again, in no order):

In dressage, just like in jumping, you need to look where you're going. I noticed both Becky Holder and Heath Ryan doing this, with much success.

Several riders (Heath Ryan and Bruce Davidson, SR) rode with shorter stirrups than I am used to seeing in dressage--BUT both of these riders had lovely, lose legs, wrapped around their horses--and both had soft seats.

Heidi White USED her corners, perhaps more so than anyone else--nicely done. Corners are vital.

Fluid changes can't be over-rated: Heidi White on Northern Spy and Bruce Davidson, SR on Jam and Becky Holder on Courageous Comet had absolutely lovely changes.

Several of these horses looked like their trots were difficult to sit, yet each of the riders were able to sit quietly and easily without interfering with the horse's movement. Note to Self: Practice sitting trot more!

A good stretch in the extended walk can't be over-rated.

A soft seat and flexible hands are keys in good dressage.

A good transition from extended canter to collected canter is hard to achieve, but beautiful when it'd one well. Northern Spy was magnificent at this.

The audience loves a good showman. The men were better at it than the women, for many of them doffed their hats to the crowds, much to their delight. Some of the women, however, learned that waving can be effective as well. It's never a bad idea to have the audience on your side!

The confident riders nod to the judges on their way around the ring before the bell rinds.

Good dressage riders use their seats, but NOT their upper bodies.

Good dressage riders are constantly using their hands, but you don't notice them using their hands. They appear quiet.

Experience Shows: Both Karen O'Conner and Bruce Davidson had very obedient, workman-like rides (much like Kim Severson's rides have been in the past). They are supremely professional--never missing a beat (their transitions are clean and smooth; their movements are crisp; and their details, like square halts and obedient rein backs, are perfect. They use their seats nicely, but they really look balanced and tall in the saddle. Philip Dutton on Truluck appeared to have such a ride until the counter-canter and flying changes--and the horse just lost it. Philip didn't, to his credit, but it was too bad to see what was a really strong test go sour.

Poor Tara Ziegler and Buckingham Place had a tough ride: she lost her hat, but like a trooper, she continued without pause. The horse was obviously "hot"; he had no stretch, and more of a rear back than a rein back. I think she's better than that, but I guess it's good to know that everyone has a bad ride, and you just need to come back and try again.

One of the high points today was meeting Buck Davidson, who is one of the nicest guys I've met. The Amerigo saddle person told me how kind he was to a couple twins earlier in the day, and he took the time to talk to me and (blush) sign the photo that is at the right top of this blog. We talked about how much you learn when you watch an event like this. It's been an incredible ride!

Tomorrow my fence is #12. Here's how they are described on the website:


Boldness is the order of the day here.

Red Oak Rail – 3’11" high

It looks like a lot of fun. I can't wait!

Until tomorrow.....

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Decisions, Decisions!

The weather today was...well, typical Rolex weather, which went from glorious and sunny to pouring down rain. It simply couldn't make up its mind what it wanted to do--and I had the same problem.

The day started out a bit overcast, but the birds were singing and the grass was green, and we were thrilled to be in Kentucky. We started the day by going just a mile down the road to Quillin's Leather and Tack where we bought some beautiful, handmade leather foal halters for our new babies. They have some very nice halters and other leather material--I'll certainly be back.

As we pulled into the horse park, I remembered again that, while volunteers get free parking, it's in another county. We trudged up to the covered arena to check out the new venue for the trade fair, which, according to the Talking Equine Network report is a new experiment. We liked it, since it was inside and DRY--because it started to sprinkle as we headed uphill.

Oh, the deals! We really enjoyed going from tent to tent in DRY surroundings. So much so, that, I'm afraid, we ended up spending the bulk of the day at the trade fair! Great deals on Charles Owen helmets at Wise Horse, super deals on seconds at Tropical Rider, many super deals at Equus Now! and Stubben, and of COURSE, there are always super deals at Bit of Britain. It was there I saw and eventually met the hardest working man in the horse biz (Rose at Equus Now is the hardest working woman, btw): none other than John Nunn of Nunn Finer products, and co-podcaster with Glenn the Geek. As I watched him flitter from customer to customer, attentively attending to each person's every need (including helping Donna with some new Treadstep half-chaps), I knew he had to be John I tentatively asked him who he was. I guess that's a question that he doesn't get very often, but he recovered nicely and told me, and I introduced myself. I asked if Glen the Geek were around, but alas, he's podcasting from home--so I guess he's the techno geek who has to stick around making sure the podcasts make it online. So sorry I didn't get to meet him, but it was downright inspiring to meet John Nunn.

So many were the spoils of our conquests that we opted to drop off the heavy packages at the car before our course walk with Amy Tryon and Jan Byrny. The skies were clearning, and it was getting hot, so I opted to leave my rain gear in the car as well--after all, the weather report did suggest it would clear out by the afternoon. The coursewalk was great....untill the heavens opened and the rain began to torrent. I realized that I am the wimpiest of eventers (a TRUE eventer is ready for all weather--the poor dressage riders had to ride in this after all), but though we were only 1/2 way through, my lack of rain gear made it necessary for me to turn back early. We watched a few dressage riders--more on that later--but decided we were getting cold as well as wet, so we flitted into various trade fair tents, talking to Purina about feed, Well Pride about Omega 3, and so forth.

BUT--even though we only watched a few riders in person (we watched more from various tents that carried live feed, too), I still learned a few things. Here they are, in no particular order:

Transitions are VITALLY important, and preparation is the key, not just the "front end," either. The best riders I saw were deep in the saddle for both upward and downward transitions.

The outside rein can be incredibly helpful when a horse falls on the inside shoulder--BUT it cannot do it all; the rider needs to help by sitting tall and NOT leaning in.

Leaning forward in upward transitions cheapens them.

Sitting still in the halt helps the horse be still.

From the course walk, I learned that trying to "fix" your horse before a series of bounces is the "kiss of death" (this from Amy Tryon). Instead, push him forward. I also learned that, if your horse is threatening to bound up instead of bounce you do the opposite of what you WANT to do (take up the reins)--you give him his head, and he's more likely to come through and to use himself in the bounce.

The rain has let up, and I'm taking my brother to dinner, so until tomorrow, adios!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

A Journey Delayed

Donna and I have arrived! I thought, smugly, that since I had PAID for my flight, I would have a shorter, easier flight. Donna got a free flight on SWA, which means many plane changes. She left at an ungodly early hour, and I didn't leave until 9:05, but we were supposed to arrive about the same time. Not.

Once again, we find that SouthWest Airlines is ON TIME and awesome. American functions, but my 2.5 hour layover was completely eaten (and then some) by delays in both Lubbock and Dallas. I guess they were playing catch up from the night before. But why doesn't SWA have to play catch up??

We both sat next to "interesting" folks. I sat next to someone in Obama's campaign, and in front of four people going to Rolex. Intellect and Excitement! I won't comment on Donna's seat mates....

Even though Donna had to wait over an hour for my plane to land, we both got our bags, we were able to get our rental car (Alamo, of course-we ARE Texans, after all), and we made the trip from Louisville to Lexington without a hitch. Ok, there was this one hitch while I was gazing at the gorgeous horses/farms and almost hit a bus...but other than that, no problems. It's absolutely verdant here--green and lush and incredible. Oh, how I miss trees and rolling hills and water....sigh. What a beautiful place this is. It's not raining, though it's cloudy. I feel for the dressage riders who are going to be riding tomorrow; there is an 80% chance of rain. Ugh. But the forecast is better for the rest of the weekend. I'm so excited!

I even was able to get online to "teach" my class tonight (we had a guest speaker, so I merely had to "facilitate").

And my wonderful brother made baked spaghetti and salad for us.

Last week, I went to the mailbox to find a fat letter from Carolyn Borgert. ALWAYS a thrill--it's my jump judge packet. Opening it to find my hang tag, my badge, and a Rolex bumper sticker...well, it makes my heart go pitter pat. I'm going to be a part of the greatest equestrian event in the US! It's coming! And here is my garb!

We've already decided to go to Quillan's leather shop on the way to Rolex to buy leather halters for our babies (Donna's mare is in foal to Routinier as well, and due about a week after Rolex). Then it's off to the Kentucky Horse Park. Until tomorrow....Don't forget the daily Rolex reports from the Talking Equine Network!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

A New Beginning!

Congratulations to me! Mary Beth, my lovely Anglo-Trakhener mare in foal to Routinier finally did it: she had her foal! Based on last year's tragedy, I opted to take her to the vet, and she HATES being in a stall (they put the mares in stalls at night) I think she crossed her legs, since she was over a week overdue...but finally she realized that she DID go outside during the day, so on Friday, April 20, she went outside, ate her breakfast, and at 9:00 am simply had her baby.

He's a gorgeous, big bay, with a big diamond and two hind socks (along with white splotches on both front heels). He's a big guy--bigger than the week old colt in the stall next to him.

Mary Beth is recovering really nicely, and once again, she's an excellent mom. Now I need to come up with an "R" name. The logical choice would be "Rhetoric" (that's what I teach), but I'm still playing with others (that I'm sure have been taken): Rattle and Hum, Radio Flyer, Revelation, Running Rhythm, even Rilke.

On another note, my yearling who was born just before Rolex last year (who was an orphan at birth--thus his name, Oliver Twist) has been feeling his hormones--mounting EVERYTHING in sight (geldings, mares, me...). So Tuesday he became a gelding. He's a bit put out, but I know we'll both be MUCH happier in the long run.

Once again, I've been listening the the Talking Equine Network, who is going to be broadcasting from Rolex, and I'm excited to hear about all the international riders. Mary King really is one of my heroes--she's still doing this at the highest levels and she's...well, at least as old as I am. Bruce Davidson is another one--as I've noted before, it was a book about him that got me hooked on eventing. There's hope for me yet.

Just a disclaimer: While I DO think I may be the first person to blog Rolex as it occurs (yet Jim Wofford, another hero, has been doing this for some time, of course. Ok, I'm behind the times), Matt the Rolex Nut has been reporting on Rolex far longer than I have. He's got some excellent pictures, too. I encourage everyone to visit his site--and his "mindless musings" site is a great political commentary/blog, as well. Rolex fans must all be genuinely smart, savvy, and kind.

I'm SO excited! Will Faudre will be at the Bit of Britain tent, and I know it's silly, but I'd really like to meet him--after all, he's a West Texan who's made it to the big leagues. NOT that I have any such aspirations--it's just good to know that West Texans can actually DO evening--and do it well!

Now if I can just get through the semester.....

On to Kentucky!

Just wanted to note, in the midst of my happiness, how my heart aches for the folks at Virginia Tech. One of my former colleagues (and a mentor) is now Chair of the English Department there, and I know it's hard for her to try to lend a voice to this tragedy. And the friends and families of the victoms--I can't even imagine how hard it must be to just go on. My thoughts are with you.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Gearing Up

I've just listened to the Talking Equine Network's "Ask the Vet" show, and they're going to do a special, pre-Rolex show next week (April 20th). I'm psyched! It's almost here! The podcasts have been really, really fun to listen to--I've enjoyed them all, but particularly the "up and coming" rider Will Coleman, Jimmy Wofford, David O'Conner, Kim Severson....and the "ask the vet". The equine dating thing was fun, too.

I'm bringing Donna to Rolex this year, my fellow West Texas Mommy who Events. We'll be coming back to do Greenwood, so it's going to be a rolicking, eventing spring.

We'll be staying with my brother again, who lives in Paris, KY, just a few short minutes (and the most beautiful drive ever) from the Kentucky Horse Park.

As usual, I'm waiting for a baby this year--but I FINALLY got smart; Mary Beth, the anglo-trak mom in foal to Routinier, is at the vet's. No more getting up every hour! No more stressing over the birth! I just wait for the phone call.

Last year's baby (the little orphan Oliver Twist, Ollie for short) just got "fixed" today....poor guy. He's feeling a bit out of sorts. And we've waited THREE WEEKS to avoid the rain, so guess what it started to do while he was still down??

Here's to a fantastic Rolex, a healthy baby (and healthy mommy), and a fully recovered Ollie. More to come!