Here we go…

So this is a start to another grand adventure. Whether we end up at the WEG or not, it will be an interesting process. It is funny, for it almost seems like the very first time Amy was selected to represent the USA. The year was 1999, and the Pan American Games were going to be held in Winnipeg Canada. The prior fall Amy had popped up on the US Team’s radar by having a great showing at the Radnor 2* Event. The spring season led us to have to travel to Ireland for the Punchestown 3* Event with Poggio. I now understand the old medieval saying of “for the want of a nail…;” basically saying that a major event was lost due to a missing nail in a horse shoe. Well, Pogi’s wasn’t missing, just placed in the wrong spot, oh well. That trip has many memories, all of which led me to be thankful that Amy picked the sport of Eventing, although it did begin a long slippery slope into the world of International Three Day Eventing. Perhaps I will write something about that trip at some point if anyone is interested in hearing it. Suffice it to say about the trip, the first time I heard Captain Mark Phillips (the US Eventing Team Coach) speak was in reference to Poggio’s show jumping round at Punchestown: “well that was interesting…” We still chuckle about that, although I am not sure it is laughing with or at? You know what I mean?

When Amy was placed on the short list for the 1999 Pan Am Games it was expressly stated to her, “Don’t think that you are going to the Games, we just want to train your horse.” So you see, you just never know the outcome life has in store for you. When you travel overseas you have to plan for everything: ice, transportation, living accommodations for you and the horse, etc. You are prepared for the austerity and “hardships” (i.e. the no ice thing.) So this year they are in the States. You’d think it would be even simpler. Here’s the rub, when you go to Rolex in the spring, you have your routines, you know the drill: what the plan is for prepping for the Event with the horses, what route you are taking to get there, where to stay and eat, etc; but at the WEG, the Kentucky Horse Park might as well be a foreign country. You cannot just come and go in the park, they are not going to let your pick-up truck (I am talking riders/team here) in.

As Amy plans for the work ups to the WEG and trying to make the Team, she starts with just getting to the East Coast. If you go by truck and trailer, you need to leave early enough that Leyland has a chance to fully recover from the trip (weeks.) That adds time and money, and reduces the income from teaching and training back home. If one flies the horse, well that is easier on the horse, but it certainly adds a significant cost and then you don’t have your vehicle and in Amy’s case her living quarters of her trailer where she usually stays on her east coast trips. Little things, but things that need to be taken into account when prepping for the WEG.

Did I mention the weather? In Washington we joke that the first day of summer is July 5th, you know the day after the 4th of July. Although a bit drab, the ground is great and it isn’t 90 plus degrees with high humidity…
That was all written a month ago when I was pondering the Blog thing again. I can already hear SmartPak “A month ago!, why haven’t we seen anything recently!…” So how do I know the time has come for Amy to go east and make the final push to try and make the US WEG Team? Let me share with you a bit of a text message I sent to my dearest the morning they had already left for the Rebecca Farms Event in Kalispell, Montana. Let me set the stage for the text; and I do not mean this to be about me, it really is about trying to go to the WEG after all, but the background should make me look a little less whiny (god I hope so at least…) So my Saturday at work, which starts at 0800, goes something like this: The day is warm and there are little calls here and there, you know the basic stuff: stubbed toes, chest pain, set my neighbor’s lawn on fire, get myself stuck in a rock crusher sort of stuff.

In Washington, the heat of the day usually sets in around 4 or 5 in the Evening, so about 6 pm we get multiple calls for a structure fire with a large column of smoke seen. So lots of people, lots of fire, lots of work later the fire goes out (Yeah Team). Get done talking to the press (more ice cream owed…) and the next call comes in: car versus telephone pole, wires down, people trapped, car on fire… I am thinking to myself what the heck is going on around here; admittedly, I did use a different word. Ultimately, once again the crews do an amazing job, and three lucky people are going to be okay after some healing time on their part. Gotta go back to the structure fire to check up on the investigation of the cause, it was arson.

I arrive spending a few minutes watching the investigation when the next call comes in, a long ways way at normal driving speeds. My crews in another part of our 200 square mile response area are getting sent to a shooting in one of the State Parks we have in our response area. Off I go to be a part of that response involving a whole bunch of cops (for the obvious reasons) a whole bunch of Fire/EMS types. Two dead, 4 wounded, all over a birthday party gone awry. Of course it was a little more complicated than that; however the results were the same, stupid. That happened at 9 at night. Got done with the call at about 2 in the morning, poor cops were there for the next few days.

So it is 2 in the morning and I walk into my office to have my dinner. By now I am really hungry (important for the story coming up where I actually get back to talking about getting to the WEG), I haven’t had lunch and I am starting to salivate as I watch the left over BBQ chicken I had brought into work spin round and round in the microwave… Of course, off goes the little pager, really an annoying sound, especially at 2 in the morning. So now I am going to call in another part of the Department. It goes from a simple motor vehicle accident to bystanders doing CPR. I have been to enough calls where someone doing CPR, could just mean the guy was a heavy sleeper and didn’t move fast enough, so someone decided to help try and save him. However, the reason I am employed is that some days (like this day) things are just going to be difficult. When I was a Captain (the rank before Battalion Chief in my fire department) I was called “Captain Chaos” since stuffed just seemed to happen when I was at work. I even had a Halloween Costume done up as “Captain Chaos”, I am choosing to not share that one for my embarrassment factor.

That CPR call ends with a guy going to our local Trauma Center in Seattle. So as I look up, the first tendrils of light are streaking across the sky, is the sun really coming up already? 4 o’clock comes early in this part of the world…never really understood that line, because I have always felt 4 in the morning was early, especially in boot camp. Off to my office to try and sort out the paperwork I am going to be spending the next week or so doing.

Okay, back to the horse story, so home comes Greg. The wife, the assistant, the working student, random boarders, the dogs (borders with a different spelling), etc have all gone east to Montana for the Rebecca Farms Event at “O Dark thirty” in the morning. So, drum roll please, here is the text I have sent my dearest after walking into the house after my 24 hours at work:

“Amy, can you warn me when the fruit, milk, bread, peanut butter, lunch meat, etc. all leave for a trip… :-)”

I would like you to please note that I did in fact use a smiley face after what I suppose could be construed as a mildly sarcastic text message. The problem being, the wife just didn’t read that far, apparently. Once Amy got through talking to the marriage counselor (these days just the Terriers, thankfully), she was able to see that although her husband may have chosen poorly in his method of communication, that with deep soul searching it could be seen that there was probably minimal malice intended, only hunger involved…

How else do I know that it is time to head east?, well, if I can’t find something it probably means it is packed in the horse trailer. If it is not in the horse trailer, it means it is in the garbage. Sort of an extreme form of spring cleaning I find. I should show you the pictures for my belt and a pair of winter gloves purchased for my dearest to keep her little hand warm as she teaches her lessons in the dead of winter sitting in the garbage can… To be fair, while I do not see it personally, I guess I could be classified as a future hoarder. Amy on the other hand would be the antithesis of that; a rolling stone gathers no moss. Although, I do find it fascinating that I am pretty sure that there are few horse related items she does not have, and they seem to be safelt immune from the garbage, hmmm.

As I was contemplating the need for food, the receiving of cute photos of the dogs on their way to Montana kept me in check. In short, the trip out:


Wilbur sleeping in his Mom’s lap to Montana



Buster, Razzle and Jasmine


The trip back:

Buster, Razzle and Jasmine

I will let others talk about the rides at the Rebecca Farms Event. I will stick with what I know, the place is simply beautiful. Where else can 500 plus horses seem manageable and not overwhelming (well except maybe in the novice warm up area!) The ride out to Kalispell is about 10 hours for us from the Seattle area. This year the Broussards helped to charter an aircraft to bring in some upper level horses (something like 16) from the east coast (Buck, Phillip, Karen, Boyd, etc.) By all accounts, the east coasters loved the event, and it was nice for the left coasters to compete with them.

The benefit here for Team Tryon was that it allowed us to fly Leyland back to the east coast with this group for a significantly reduced cost. Thank you Broussards!!! Leyland flew back to Virginia with Lauren. So early Monday morning, with everything packed that we think is going to be necessary for the next several month, yet still fit into two trunks, gets thrown onto a plane. Leyland, who I think will forever be ADHD, has grown up a lot since Burghley. He takes a lot more things in stride. One has to be impressed with all these horses. There they are standing quietly on the tarmac with a Boeing 727 engines running. Serenely, for the most part, the horses walk up the 40 foot ramp into the plane. How many of you have trouble just getting your horse into your two horse trailer some days?

Got a text from Lauren: they were in Minneapolis refueling, after two hours, all is well with the horse. She was enjoying Micky Ds and a cold drink, getting ready for her second nap of the morning. We still hadn’t made it out of Montana with the trucks and trailers, wench.

Leyland and Lauren are staying at the wonderful facility of Team O’Connor at Stonehall Farm owned by Mrs. Mars. Thank you David and Karen, and Mrs. Mars! It sounds like a tough life Lauren is leading right now… Oh well, we sort of did throw her on the plane at last moment, so I guess she is being a good sport, and I shouldn’t kid her too much about the country club life!

Amy is wrapping up a few last items here back at home in Washington before she heads out to replace Lauren at babysitting duties for Leyland. Hopefully, I will figure out a way to go see them at some point in the next two months. As the process starts to ramp up, we will be reporting a little more often. I will have Lauren talk about her trip east on the plane, and the flaming margaritas I saw in pictures…
I have a secret to share; it isn’t really me that is writing this blog…

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4 comments on “Here we go…
  1. Sarah Ellington says:

    Great blog, keep it up! It’s so much fun to hear about what’s going on behind the scenes…

  2. Greg really does have a gift! Even being a part of it all, I still love to hear Greg’s stories. Go Team Tryon!

  3. Dot Hamilton says:

    So much to look forward to as the adventures keep coming faster and faster. Thanks for coloring our world and letting us “ride” with you.

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Jen and Tally
Apparently I've been obsessed with horses since I was born, and I used to beg for pony rides on a regular basis. I started showing in 4-H, progressed to equitation and jumpers in high school and rode on the IHSA team in college where I also discovered the joys...

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