I’ve always ridden as an Adult Amateur. I’ve had to work to finance my hobby, and at times that has taken me away from riding long enough that I had trouble progressing. Being able to come to Florida has never made sense before, as I never had the money and felt I never had a suitable horse or was at a place in my riding that I would benefit. This year, for the first time, that all changed. At the moment, I have the opportunity to ride a well-trained, older Grand Prix horse and we are both having a blast!
But let me back up a little ….
About three years ago I was given a horse to ride. His name was Al Pacino. Al had taken his owner, Jen Huber, to Grand Prix, winning the 2008 USDF Adult Amateur GP Championship. Shortly after I started riding him, Al had a major injury that put him off for nearly a year. Then, as many of you know, last winter in the northeast was terrible, and Al, at 21-years-old, did not stay as fit as he should and had a tough time with the cold. After all, he had always been in Florida for the winters with Jen.
But this winter, Al and I had a fantastic opportunity to accompany Jen at her beautiful farm in Wellington, Florida. This is a HUGE deal for me! Not only is this the first time I even thought of spending the whole winter in FL, but the first time I felt I had a horse that made it worthwhile. As an Adult Amateur this is a huge step for me. Especially because my trainer, Vicki Hammers-O’Neil, wasn’t coming with me, which meant I had to work with someone new. The other VERY hard thing was to leave my 27-year-old horse, Satch, in Connecticut. He is still doing a lot of the Prix St. Georges work, and I just love him SO much. But he, unlike Al, dislikes the heat and humidity. So he stayed home and is being leased while I’m away.
On December 27, my husband, Steve, my son, Rob, and I left for Florida. We arrived on December 29 at a cute little cottage that I am renting through March, and Al arrived in wonderful condition the next day. It took us a few days of hand walking and light under saddle work before we started working in lessons with William Warren.
My husband and son returned to CT on January 8th. It was 82 degrees here and 17 in CT when they landed! I must say I felt guilty. But I’ve kept busy. Shortly after arriving, Centerline Events, my show management company, was used for a CDI and I was the show secretary. I was also a Technical Delegate at the Global Dressage Festival for the following week.
Now, I am totally focused on training. I have no intentions to compete, as I really want to lesson and learn as much as I can from Al.
I’ll share more … so stay tuned!