Pak Across the Pond – Day 6

Bit of a changing of the guard happening today. The eventers are packing up and heading home and the show jumpers and dressage riders are getting ready to start chasing their Olympic dreams. The eventing portion of the Olympics certainly had some bright spots, but after speaking to a number of owners and others directly involved, I think it is fair to say disappointment was a common sentiment. This sport is hard, even for the most talented pairs, and this was just not our year for Olympic eventing glory.

I am so impressed by the ability of those involved with administration of the team to shake it off and move on, but they do. And, with a new crop of riders comes a new dawn of possibility. And, you can feel the excitement building amongst the dressage and jumping riders as they get settled in for their shot at gold.

As for Sarah and I, we had QUITE the interesting day ourselves. This is such an absolutely amazing experience, but it is a bit exhausting and today was a chance to catch our breath a bit and better orient to what’s been going on back in the office…well, at least that’s how the morning turned out. Not to say there wasn’t some excitement! The entire US show jumping team sitting at a table in the backyard is far from a daily occurrence. I was having my coffee and talking to the owners of two of the eventing horses, when who but George Morris rounded the corner and introduced himself! Beezie Madden, Reed Kessler, Richard Fellers, and McLain Ward filed in behind George. Wow! Katie Prudent also checked in this AM and Steffen Peters came by a bit later as I was working at the kitchen table…I offered him a yummy scone, which he seemed to enjoy. :) Believe it or not, that was actually the quiet part of the day…

A note from Sarah: Hey guys! Have you ever been on vacation and met someone totally weird, or had something really strange happen? Today, I was that totally weird and strange thing for hundreds of people in downtown London. I’ll kick it back to Colby to explain the rest…

So, in case you haven’t heard, Stephen Colbert has made dressage his sport of the summer. We applaud his appreciation of equestrian sport and have gotten on board with providing foam fingers and trucker hats that allow you to fully enjoy a good piaffe while swigging an ice cold Bud (spectators only, of course). Stephen has gone so far as to take a recent lesson with Michael Barisone…after all, you can’t really appreciate a sport until you’ve sat a lengthening in another man’s breeches, so to speak. The lead-up to the lesson aired earlier this week and we wished Stephen the best in not “getting his skull kicked off his body” by a fearsome warmblood when the coverage of his actual lesson aired last night. While we can’t (and won’t) take credit for the howdy-doody get-up he rocked upon arrival at Michael’s farm, we will take credit for the sharp apparel he sported during the ride. Good gear can’t take the place of solid skills and good horsemanship, but we all know that having the right tools for the job certainly helps. Must be some REALLY good gear, because Mr. Colbert even managed a piaffe!

Another note from Sarah: Remind me to tell you guys about the time I came into work and opened my email only to find Stephen Colbert’s inseam measurement in my inbox! Anyways, back to how this all relates to our London adventures – remember those foam fingers Colby mentioned…?

Jim Wolf from USEF wanted to have a quick meeting to discuss the “O.F.F.” initiative with Sarah and me. That quickly turned into a whirlwind tour of London spreading the word of “competitive horse prancing” (dressage) with Sarah dressed as a human-sized red foam finger, complete with USEF and SmartPak logos. There were too many funny goings-on to even begin to articulate, but wait until you see the video. I apologize in advance for the occasional camera shaking and verbal outbursts. At points, I was in true physical pain trying to hold back laughter. Highlights included Sarah breaking it down as a member of a steel drum dance ensemble, a crazy encounter with a Ukrainian TV personality at the Prime Meridian, and about a million high-fives with excited children across the city. That last one left Sarah to exclaim “I’m better than Santa!”

Sarah’s the on-air talent here in the UK, and I’ve been the one behind the camera working with her to choreograph and produce the Pak Across the Pond videos. Thanks to Nels (our real videographer) for all of the work he’s put into taking the raw footage I shoot and making something useful out of it. I get a little better every day, but think I’ll stick to marketing.

Stay up to date on the latest London happenings by following @SmartPakerSarah and @SmartPakerColby on Twitter!

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Posted in SmartPak Features, Stories & Adventures, Travel

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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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