When I first bought my modest farm in the upstate of South Carolina in 1993, I was secretly and selfishly pleased that the local Main Street was pretty much non-existent: store fronts were boarded up, the very buildings unsold even at rock bottom prices of $35,000 and $50,000. I was planning to move from Los Angeles County, home of approximately 18 million people and, having been raised in Georgia, only to see my old neighborhood unrecognizable from unplanned, sprawling development, I was very much looking forward to teaching and training out of my 27-acre facility, in a small town atmosphere, close enough to Tryon, NC, to haul the short distance to a show, and three hours from the bigger shows in North Georgia.
Then Tryon and Landrum, SC, were "discovered" by those seeking shelter from Florida hurricanes and West Coast violence and earthquakes. Most of the new arrivals were horse folk, so that was nice, and even better, some excellent trainers moved in. So, while Forrest continues his rehab, lucky me, I was able to audit FEI competitor and judge, Jennifer Roth’s, annual clinic featuring Andreas Hausberger! What a treat to drive 20 minutes to Kemper Penney’s Pennwood Farm and sit mesmerized as I watched the Chief Rider of the Spanish Riding School (and active coach of many internationally competing riders) apply his impeccable timing as he worked several horses in hand, developing half steps and full-fledged piaffe. His aids were precise, firm, absolutely correct and praise was always immediate and lavish. As someone eager to improve my own in-hand work, what an opportunity to watch someone who has developed the piaffe on, what would you guess, say, hundreds of horses? But watch I did as he worked Emily Wright's 13-year-old Lipizzaner stallion, Conversano Ivey, both from the ground, then coach his rider through some beautifully relaxed and active undersaddle work:
And I thought that Jennifer Roth, who, like me, along with Margaret Freeman, might be considering starting a horse rehab support group, as we have all been doing a lot of hand walking, lately, had a super effective ride on Kemper's 8-year-old Baroque gelding, Guapo, introducing flying changes and steadily improving the quality of the canter. Herr Hausberger echoed the thoughts of the auditors as he praised the textbook way she set up Guapo for every change.
So while I continue with Forrest's walking under saddle and look forward to his next ultrasound, how grateful I am that, if I can't be actively working my own horse, I can keep learning and absorbing, which can only lead to improving. And breathtakingly, our new Tryon International Equestrian Center is making an assertive bid to host the 2018 WEG! While others may be already listing their guest houses on Airbnb with dreams of supplementing their income, I am desperately hoping Tryon will get the nod so that I might pursue my continuing education while rooting on the best in the world, while, it is hoped, applying all I've learned to a happy, healthy, Forrest, and whomever else might be in my barn!