HELLO DARLINGS –
IT IS ALMOST CHRISTMAS ! And since WE have opinions on just about everything – Why stop with Christmas…
EVERY YEAR WE go through the same rant… Do you really need to ride your horse on Christmas Day? Is it really necessary for your groom to spend the holiday waiting for you to come back from a trail ride or lesson – so unless you are getting your own horse ready and putting ’em away think twice….. Did you remember to give your grooms a tip AND a present? They would truly appreciate it !!
NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS… I WILL pay my trainer, vet, farrier and feed man in a timely manner… I will take time to send a card, note or call someone who is sick… I will realize that my horses do not need to go to every horse show offered… I will take the time to take my groom a cup of coffee or lunch when he or she has been standing at the ring for ages… I will blame no one but myself when my horse doesn’t win… I will, instead of sitting at the ring texting, volunteer to help a local rescue or charity… I will stop with the snooty, affected behavior all too many horse show people acquire when they walk onto the show grounds… I will call a cab or accept a ride from a friend when I have had to much to drink – or even not let the drinking get too far ahead of me… I will be polite to the horse show secretaries, ingate folks and parking people… I will congratulate to person who beats me!!
THIS IS the time of year when associations hold their High Score Award Programs…
THE VIRGINIA HORSE SHOWS ASSOCIATION has one of the best. It is actually an important weekend of meeting which discuss rule changes and various programs The VHSA offers.
Held at the beautiful HOMESTEAD, they have a lovely award program… In addition to handing out trophies for the folks who have the most stamina, have a nice enough horse and a truck that will start most mornings when they have to get down the road to a horse show.
THE HIGHLIGHT of many of these evening are the special awards presented to horses and special folks. This year the MOLONEY’S hunter “SUBSTITUTION” was the recipient. But, perhaps even more special was the lady who accepted the award for him….
ELLIE WOOD BAXTER is 95 years old and while her vision is not the best, she is sharp as a tack ! She spoke about horses – and she rode many of the very best in the days if you hand cantered around a course all you got was the gate – it was run and jump!!! She is an extremely good horsewoman. She won the Equitation Finals many years ago. She continued to ride, show and foxhunt until her vision called that to halt not too many years ago. .
SHE entertained the crowd with wonderful stories of the old days… When someone asked her, ” What was the best horse you ever rode?” she answered, ” I never rode a bad one !”… Her style and turn out were impeccable and she could find the jumps the very best in a time where the only ground line you saw in front of a jump was a rail – if you were lucky !
After all the presentations were made, it was great to see a group of young riders standing with ELLIE WOOD asking her about riding back then.
ANOTHER HUNTER who won a special VHSA award was BETTY OARE”S ESTRELLA. Both BUCKY REYNOLDS and BETTY were there to accept.
IT SEEMS people pack up and head off to their favorite circuits and start showing like there might never be another horse show… Not the worst idea when so many now own a second home in the warmer climes. Recently, one of the Florida venues offered a grand prix and had over a hundred entries. Remember, the horses only have so many jumps in ’em, and if you waste them too early there won’t much left for later.
THE NATIONAL SHOW HUNTER HALL OF FAME has sent out the ballots for the Class of 2017. This is the best evening of the year!! Held at The Merion Cricket Club, during the Devon Horse Show this is a sold out event each year. YOU get the chance to nominate and vote on the Horses and Horsemen who have made the sport great. Contact JIMMY LEE for more information – but hurry nominations close soon !!
YOU MAY need some medication before going to pay the bill at the fancy Jumper shows you attend just wait… Before tooo very long, at the fancy events, The FEI says the horse show will be responsible for the hotel and meals of riders and grooms… Gee, does that mean those folks won’t be charging their customers day money???
THE FEI, in its infinite wisdom has also decided to remove the exchange of horses for The World’s Championship. This had to be one of the most exciting events ever and now The World’s Championship will be just another competition.
The Olympics will have no drop score for the teams – but they will put a 1.20 meter competition for adult amateurs in exchange.
THREE CHEERS !! WE HEAR that LAURA LINBACK is on the mend ! She has been riding, doing lots of physical therapy and even knitting as part of her recovery program. She recently competed and won at her first horse show back !!
GEORGE H. MORRIS continues to amaze… His calendar of clinics and training makes the rest of us look like a bunch of whiners. But in comparison, perhaps we are !!!
PHOTOGRAPHER JAMES LESLIE PARKER continues to set the standard for his craft. His beautiful pictures, especially his candids, which are available for browsing on his website are an historical wonder… They will make you laugh, remember the old days and even cry… His ” BOOK ” program was unheard of in the horse show business until he came up with it. And he still drinks that nasty old “TAB” and reads like there is no tomorrow …
CONGRATULATIONS to SBS FARMS and their riding programs ! They set the standard high when it comes to fund raising, teaching their disabled riding program, their college riding program and top flight horse shows… JENNIFER ALFANO holds the reins on the hunter program and produces a winning group of hunters and riders every year… All of this is done at the historical BUFFALO RIDING CLUB, which is in the middle of the city. Headed up by SUSIE SCHOELLKOPF, the building has been returned to the beautiful facility it was decades ago.
RAY FRANCIS is the recipient of the USHJA LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD… Throughout his long life with the horses SIR RAYMOND has done it all… He lived through the difficult times of war torn England… He has been a Rider, trainer, owner, steward and judge. He has done it all with great style and class…. His riders were always had good manners, his grooms and assistants top class, and his horses perfectly turned out…
One of his students competed at the very highest level despite being deaf – you never would have known watching her ride. They had their own set of hand signals at it was truly amazing to watch them.
His devilish sense of humor made the long days go quickly… The respect he shows to others – no matter the situation – sets him apart from many horsemen….
His string of performance horses over the years won many National Year End Awards…. He followed those performance horses with many young horses he bred, raised and showed in hand.
Few horsemen have led the life RAY FRANCIS has… His style, class, grace and great horsemanship has set a standard to which everyone in the sport should aspire.
CONGRATULATIONS RAY !!!
WITH COOKIES to bake and presents to wrap it’s time to close.
ONE LAST and dangerous idea… No matter who you voted for this year, remember one thing… We are all Americans – no matter our color, religion, political ideas, personal agendas or preferences….. Please take a deep breath after a difficult fall and reach your hand out to your fellow Americans… We are all in this boat together and it goes easier when we all row together.
And when fear come knocking at the door – don’t answer !
ALL THE BEST,
BUFFY AND NELL