So, Sarah and I have officially been here a week. It frankly feels like a month with all of the experiences that we’ve had and the fact that one day just seems to roll into the next. We’ve been loving our London residence, the USEF/USET house and it is truly starting to feel a bit like home. Yesterday morning, as I was stretching in the back yard after a morning run around Greenwich (which has been a wonderful way to start each day), the caterers rolled in like an army.
Over the course of the day, our little house was transformed into party central for the US jumping and dressage teams. The gardens in the back of the house are spectacular and it all feels quite proper and English. Jim Wolf and the USEF definitely know how to throw a party and Allyn Mann from Adequan was kind enough to sponsor the evening’s events. I volunteered to give a number of tours up to the 4th floor, where Sarah and I have been living. After all, Sarah’s bedroom did host the entire US Eventing Team for a meeting last week and has become quite the hot spot with its view over the walls into Greenwich park (check out USEFNetwork.org for the view from her window via the weather cam).
So many great conversations with interesting people, but I especially enjoyed getting to know Adrienne Lyle and Debbie MacDonald a bit more and chatting both about her experience getting to the Games and what it was like turning down the centerline earlier in the day.
SmartPak has recently started working with Steffen Peters, and he and his team are just fantastic, so it was great catching up with them as well. His right hand in the barn, Dawn, is hysterical and even ended up in the foam finger get-up by the end of the night…as did the dressage team vet and a host of others.
All of the jumping and dressage riders were in attendance and it is funny how I’ve grown accustomed to the presence of all of these people that I followed (idolized) as a rider before I started working in the industry…not to say chatting with George Morris or standing at a table with Beezie doesn’t still give me chills on occasion.
The non-riders who help make it all happen I also find fascinating. Dougie from USET, who has been a team fixture since the 60s is a pretty amazing person. When something (anything) needs to get done, Dougie gets the call. This past week, I have seen him do everything from almost get shot down by the British military (in a helicopter) hanging a US flag off the roof to building a weather cam rig to nearly getting torn to bits arriving at the Olympic venue with boxes of “dressage is #1” foam fingers. He really has seen and been a part of it all.
We all stayed up a bit too late and had a great time, but these are experiences I will remember forever and Sarah and I are just trying to take it all in.