Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Reflections on Rolex

Here we are entering the last few days before Rolex and it’s an exciting time for the crew at Chesterland. Lusty has been back at the farm for the past few weeks, since Boyd returned from Aiken, and she is positioned so well for the upcoming challenge at Rolex. She is in fabulous shape and this paring has proven to be a top choice. We’ve opted just to gallop her a few times since her 3rd place finish at The Fork, as we both feel she’s fighting fit and she’s such an athlete that we don’t want to over train. We’ve focused on her dressage work & have approached it slowly & methodically to ensure she remains relaxed.
This year definitely threw us a bit of a curve ball with my recent back surgery. Of course there is a certain level of disappointment as I won’t be able to compete with my son this year, but I still get to enjoy several other roles as owner, trainer & father. There is no greater fulfillment in life than to see my son share the same passion & personal achievement within the sport that we both love so much.
Buck has truly dedicated his life work to eventing, and it is fabulous to see how our lives have come full circle since the 1978 World Championships in Kentucky. Buck was then 2 years old, (please enjoy all these old photos) and happily came along to watch me defend my World Championship title on Might Tango. He spent a good amount of his time playing with his trucks under the grandstands until they had to take them away so it wouldn’t be a distraction during show jumping. What an honor as a father to now be able to watch him give everyone a run for the money, as he is such a hot contender this year!
After Rolex, Ciaron Thompson, Buck & Boyd will continue on with the horses back at the farm. Buck is going to be evaluating his partnership with Cruise & if all goes well he will run him in the Bromont 3* in mid June to qualify for Worlds.
I’m really encouraged by my rapid recovery & reduction in pain. My plan is to be back in the saddle shortly after Rolex to manage the horses' preparation, flat work, etc. If everything goes swimmingly, nothing would make me happier than for Buck to have another possible contender for September. But as one knows in this sport, there are so many variables with both horse & rider being able to keep sound. Lots of stars have to align.

There is some bittersweet news this year that Janie Atkinson will be retiring after more than 30 years of skillfully organizing Rolex Kentucky. She has done the best for this sport and the trainers, competitors, owners, staff, volunteers & spectators at the Kentucky Horse Park. Janie is not a push over and there are not enough like her in this world. I’ve been connected with her every year, and with every encounter she has stood up for her opinion & always done the right thing for The Event & everyone involved. I’m sure Janie would say that I’ve been a big challenge over the years, with my inconsistent communications and correspondence. But Janie has put up with me & has remained a friend. One more reason to love her! We will miss her desperately.

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