I have always loved the relationship between man and horse… they understand us. – James Holmes
As far back I as I can remember I have wanted a horse. As a kid I would see my dad getting into his car to leave the house and I always wanted to go. If for any reason he didn’t want me to go all he had to say was “you stay here, I am going to see a man about a horse” and that would end it… I would gladly and patiently await his horseless return.
It really wasn’t in the cards for me to have a horse in my youth so my attention was always split between riding my BMX bike during the week and attending auto races on weekends.
My intention to ride horses set in my childhood began to manifest in my life when my Janie Mills decided to take up dressage and began taking lesson and inviting me to accompany her to the barn to tend to her new horse. The experience made the idea of riding horses real to me and with Janie’s encouragement I committed to meet her trainer Mark Mead and consider taking lessons.
The Real Journey Began in 1995
It took a long time for me to realize my dream of owning a horse and it actually happened in a couple of steps. In 1995, I was introduced to my first trainer Mark Mead of Sleepy Hollow Farm who had a client who passed away, his name was Dr. Marvin Luches and he left behind an amazing horse. Appropriately named Great Scott and Mark felt he would be a great fit based on his size and athleticism. I leased Great Scott and began to feed my passion for horses.
It took a long time for me to get my horse… but its ok good things take time!
The time I spent with Great Scott was magical and I leaned more about the important task of caring for a horse out of saddle and how to ensure that my horse was cared for in between rides. Although I never showed Great Scott in the ring my childhood dream in part was met but the bigger dream was not yet achieved.
My passionate pursuit of horses has taken me places and introduced my to many remarkable people.
During the years between 1995 and 2000 horses played a big role in my life on both a business and personal basis. I have made many great friendships, business relationships, and spent thousands of hours on or around horses since 1995.
My Horses Under Saddle
Great Scott 1995-1996 (Trainer Mark Mead)
Artus 1997 (Trainer Vivki Hrdlieka)
Akarat 1998-2000 (Trainer Diego Ormedilla)
Cheval de Guerre (Oberon) 2003-2005 (Trainers Vicki Hrdlieka, Marcelo Garrido, Cheryl Willie-Garrido)
Riding Horses in Competition
I began actively showing in the Jumper Classes in 2004 at High Prairie Farms Equestrian Center now known as the Colorado Horse Park located in Parker, Colorado. In all I competed with two horses one under the instruction of Vicki Hrdlieka and the other under the instruction of Marcelo Garrido of Paris Equestrian.
My competing in the jumper ring wasn’t necessarily my intention in fact I rode horses on and off for nearly a decade before stepping into competitive equestrian competition. It is a tenet of my personality to want to have a big goal or objective so competing was inevitable.
In my experience every trip to the show ring represented a variety of objectives played out in competition; there is of course the ranking among riders, but also the schooling of your horse to advance his development, learning how to adjust your horses temperament on the day, not to mention the challenge of seeing a brand new course for the first time… no two courses are exactly the same.
I can say with certainty that one day I will resume my interest in horses at some point in the future. I cannot say whether or not I would have the intention to actually show horses again, but to have a horse to train, bring along and enjoy would be very satisfying.
Truth be told as much as love showing horses in competition, I love literally everything else involved in the equestrian experience. I love being in the barn at sunrise, mucking out stalls, cleaning tack, etc.
It is not uncommon to see riders competing well into there 70’s, which makes showing horses a true lifetime sporting endeavor and one that is truly rewarding.
Meeting Captain Mark Phillips
I had the honor of meeting Captain Mark Phillips former husband of the Princess Royal and holds the titles of Commander of the Royal Victorian Order and Personal Aide-de-Camp under the British Crown. In 1972 Captain Phillips was a member of the Gold Medal winning British Tree Day Event team. In addition Captain Phillips won the prestigious Badminton Horse Trials in 1971, 1972, 1974 and 1981. He has served as Chef d’Equipe of the United States Eventing Team.
Meeting Captain Mark Phillips alone would have been a highpoint in my equestrian experience. On the same evening I also met and spent significant time visiting with Karen O’Connor and David O’Connor United States Equestrian Team Members. Ms. O’Connor has made three appearances in the Olympics; 2000 Team Bronze Medal , 1996 Team Silver Medal, 1988 no medal, all in Three Day Eventing. Mr. O’Connor has made three appearances in the Olympics; 2000 Individual Gold Medal, 2000 Team Bronze Medal, 1996 Team Silver Medal, all in Three Day Eventing. David O’Connor is also only the second American to win the Badminton Horse Trials winning in 1997.
The Journey Continues… Once a Horseman Always A Horseman
The catch phrase once a horseman always a horseman is indeed true as I have experienced this in my life. My equestrian journey has been anything but linear and there have been periods of time when I have had access to three horses in my string and when I have been without a horse.
I do not have any immediate plans to resume active participation with horses; however, it is safe to say that at some point in the future this will change. As I stated earlier, horsemanship is truly a sport and leisure pursuit for a lifetime. Get within a mile of a barn and a horseman’s burning desire to be in the middle of the activities there rises to the surface.
In addition to being a participant I am a fan of equestrian sports and you can bet that a grand prix or two along with an occasional polo match will be on my event spectator calendar every summer. I love the social aspect of equestrian sport and the venue offers the perfect excuse to bring out a nice basket of fresh food and a good bottle of wine or two… see you there!