The Surefire Horse Trials was a great success once again. We were so lucky to have both SmartPak and the Shipka Family sponsor the $10,000 J.C. Chester Intermediate Challenge. And congratulations to Surefire’s Meghan O’Donoghue, who won the class. We had great numbers for the weekend, good weather, and I think the best courses we’ve had yet for all levels. As always, I’m grateful to have so many dedicated people helping out— the volunteers, the whole Surefire gang and all the officials—it was a really fun weekend.
I went straight from our horse trials to coaching at the Young Rider Championships, which was held a week earlier this year because of the Olympics. I was really proud of my one-star team; all the riders were first timers and just a nice group. As always, I was also really proud of Surefire’s Kendyl Tracy, who was first after cross-country in the two-star but unfortunately pulled a rail in show jumping, which dropped her to fourth. Luckily, her mixed team of Areas VI, VII and IX still won the gold.
Right after Young Riders and Tom and I joined my whole family for two weeks in London to celebrate my parents' fiftieth wedding anniversary and to watch as much of the Olympics as we could. Luckily for me, that included the eventing. Even though we couldn’t actually watch from the cross-country course, we were able to enter the Maritime Museum for free, where they had set up monitors to follow all the action. I was so inspired to watch so many great people ride. Not only was it incredible to see such great riders, but also all the amazing athletes in other sports. I watched Usain Bolt win the100m dash, Michael Phelps win the 200m butterfly and the individual and team gold medal gymnastics competitions among other things.
Tom and I were not really ready to come home from England, but we did and I headed to Richland with all three horses, Syd and Wyatt to run in the Advanced and JR in the 3-star. When I was in London I watched horse named Apollo, an eventer ridden by an Italian, which was so much like JR it was unreal. At Richland, I tried to emulate him in the dressage and finally bettered my typical score by six points for a 42. All three of my horses were great, really fun to do and I felt so lucky to have them all there at that level and sound to compete. It was also fun to have Meghan and Kendyl, who kept my horses going while I was gone, with their own horses in the Advanced that weekend.
There was a lot of press about how Allison and Sinead’s preparation at Maizey Manor contributed to their success at Burghley. As part of this, I thought Michael Pollard’s piece about team selection and team building was really well done. I think as a country we’re ready to rebuild, and we need to get behind David and be ready for a change for the better. Sometimes you have to look at things from different angles. We have a lot of talent in this country, and if we can get ourselves working together, our country can be on top again. We need a system that allows us to produce the best horses and riders we can, and also a system that produces a sense of teamwork among riders.
Back home in Virginia, I have my new horse Edmonton Affaire (Theo), who ran Training at Loch Moy and finished sixth on his dressage score. Next we’re off to Plantation with Syd, JR and Wyatt in the three-star, and then I’m planning to go to Fair Hill later this fall. Wish us luck!