So, when SmartPak asked Team Tryon to consider doing a blog, I was both secretly excited and publicly worried. Worried you ask? Well, my writing, such as it is, sort of happens on its own timeline. More to the point, my jobs as a Battalion Chief and a husband come first.
Also there is a technical point to this, the Blackberry. My Blackberry that I got for work has killed my ability to write (okay type). There is no difference between emails, texts or other written format when using it. My computer just doesn’t fix things like the Blackberry does, and I now routinely press the shift key to make other functions happen that, guess what, aren’t what I wanted. But who really cares about that, right, after all everyone else has an IPhone?
Devon and Leyland posing for their Christmas pictures (Photo by Sam Bergin)
As I was saying, a few months back at the Rolex Event, SmartPak asked if we would do a Blog for them about Team Tryon (i.e. Amy) working towards trying to make the US WEG Team. (I think there is supposed to be a reference to Land Rover in there now… Land Rover is the new US Team Sponsor.) It’s now a few months later, and after a second request, here we are. SmartPak is an incredible sponsor of Team Tryon and the entire equine community in general, so we cannot refuse. I am not sure you can go to an event and not see their participation! More importantly, on a human level, they are really, really nice people.
While sitting down to think about this Blog, I chose to read the past adventures we had at the 2008 Olympics in Hong Kong. (The Road to Beijing Team Tryon Blog) Delusions of grandeur I suppose, but I both smiled and cried in reading about the events we experienced that summer. In thinking about the path Amy and Leyland will have to take to make the WEG Team, this year seems a bit different, not the least of which the WEG will be in the USA. Which I suppose is a good thing, especially if you want to write about something—different is good.
Pogi & Jethro. (Photo by Sam Bergin)
Pogi is enjoying his retirement, hanging out with his BFF Leroy Jethro Gibbs (a miniature donkey.) He gives lessons to our niece and Momi Black’s daughter. Happy as a clam, as long as the donkey is near! We thought we were going to have to bring in a horse shrink for Pogi after Jethro got gelded recently. And if any other horse is caught looking at the donkey, they will have to answer to Pogi. Pogi really likes to internalize things, but he is a calm serene being in the pasture with his buddy or when either of the two girls is riding him.
As for Pogi’s groom Allyson, she is settling back in to growing her horse business that she kindly and frequently put on hold in order to support Team Tryon. She and her family are also working through the processes that life throws at us, whether we wish it to, or not. They are in our thoughts and prayers.
I am busy at work as we try to figure out how to not lay off firefighters, yet still deal with growing calls for emergency services. I will digress for a moment and quickly jump up on my soapbox: stop complaining and get involved with your local community—they need and want your involvement! Okay, off the soapbox…for the moment.
There are some other challenges going forward as well. Amy is recovering from a recurrent issue with her knee. You probably have seen online pictures or website commentaries. As we talk about prepping for the WEG and other events, we will touch on it. The fact that I mention it at all drives Amy nuts. She is both a shy person (no, really) and one that does not like to focus on limits but would rather see the potentials. For now, let’s just say that it has been interesting and that she is improving every day. Probably one of the greatest impacts has been our ability to support our sponsors in the manner that they have supported us, and frankly in the manner they deserve. In this time of economic challenge our sponsors go out on a limb to support equestrians, i.e. the events and the riders (yes they are in the business of making money in the horse world, but just as my fire department struggles to avoid layoffs they are having to do the same.) Sorry, forgot to forewarn I’m up on the soapbox again. The joke is that you are supposed to raise your hand if you are going to change the subject, kind of difficult in a blog.
Okay, I’ve mentioned before that my ability to recognize horses is basically on the level that 9 times out 10 I can recognize it is a horse, and beyond that any success is really just plain dumb luck. So this next story should really come as no surprise, and I will just throw in the final caveat: remember I am a horse husband!
There we are at Rolex 2010. It is hectic, as it always is, as you try and prep two horses to compete at a truly world class 4* Event. There is never the amount of time you want to spend in prepping your horse; prepping yourself to compete (walk courses, final lessons); meeting with officials, friends, family and supporters (yours and the US Team’s). Trust me, you end up disappointing someone (yourself or otherwise). SmartPak had asked Amy to again assist with what has become a very successful annual event, the SmartPak Rolex Course Walk. I am amazed by the number of people who turn out for the walk, literally hundreds and from all angles of the world. They range from some, like me (and I think most of the Chinese 2008 Hong Kong Olympic spectators), who didn’t know that they showed up for a horse show, to the Event fans who know when Rolex actually started and probably who has won every Event since. Being able to engage that wide spectrum of spectators is a challenge.
Leyland and Amy’s Assistant Lauren. Was that a bright shinny red ball? (Photo by Sam Bergin)
I like to tag along on these jaunts for various reasons, most known only to me. So the poor SmartPak gang has to not only wrangle the large crowd, remind them to stay off the galloping track, get them their gifts, but they have to make sure the riders who are giving the talk actually show up! (See the paragraph above about having enough time…) They even try to make me comfortable. And they seem to do this with a smile. I like following the process from the crowd’s perspective…are the riders speaking loud enough? …is it interesting information for us folks who get a little worried when we hear the term “coffin canter” used? Somewhere along the way I usually get a chance to talk to members of the crowd, perhaps even impart what little knowledge I have in some meaningful way to help the spectator come to enjoy the Sport as I have over the years. Heck, even Amy’s current assistant, Lauren, started her career with us by approaching us (although I do generally use the term “stalking” when talking with her about it) on the course walk 5 years ago.
So there I am, trying to be the social butterfly on the SmartPak course walk. I am standing in the back with a member of the SmartPak Team. She seems quiet and trying to stay out of the way, why not strike up a conversation? Again, I would like to point out that I am a horse husband (you heard it on the “radio” folks); and despite that we get our supplements and dog food through SmartPak, and that I look through each catalog they send us, I am still slow. You know that point in the movie where the well meaning guy walks up to the girl in the bar all confident yet everyone else including the audience sees the train wreck coming? Well there I am; I clearly missed the SmartPak woman’s name in the initial introductions, so I ask the infamous put my foot in my mouth question: How long have you been with SmartPak? She politely responds, since the beginning. So, the founder of SmartPak, Rebecca Minard, was very pleasant to talk to the entire way around the course. I am hoping that I was eventually able to extricate my foot from my mouth on how little I apparently knew about our very, very nice sponsors…jeez, way to go Tryon.
There is a Chinese curse that says something to the effect “May you live in interesting times.” This go round I probably will not be talking about 4 foot tall Hares, 400 year old houses with skeleton keys or cranky Chinese bomb dogs; but if the last few months are any indication of the future, I have no doubt that interesting times abound. After all, Leyland, who is owned by the Nicholson Family in Michigan, is the definition of ADHD. He is all focus and attention until the bright shinny red ball goes bouncing by! Amazingly talented and amazingly quirky he is. So, if the horses are quirky, repeatedly, does that mean we are too? Ahh, the questions we must answer in life.
I hope you will share with us the interesting times, where ever they take us. See you soon as Team Tryon gallops along on the road to, hopefully, the 2010 US WEG Team!