Inspiration from Rolex

I watch a lot of upper level dressage at work; I spent most of the winter streaming competitions from the Adequan Global Dressage Festival on one of my monitors. I like to watch the tack store’s sponsored riders compete, and I like to see what trends are occurring in high level competition.

I mean…how?!

I didn’t realize how much all that Grand Prix dressage had warped my thinking until I watched Thursday’s dressage competition at Rolex. Here were horses who looked positively relaxed; none of them were going around in the ultra-collected frame I’m used to seeing. There were no tempi changes, no piaffes, no pirouettes! Nearly everyone was riding in a snaffle! Dressage at Rolex looked…almost easy.

Attainable! Maybe!
Attainable! Maybe!

Don’t get me wrong- I know it’s difficult. I know I can’t go out and ride that FEI Eventing 4* Test right now. But as I watched Rolex competitors, I thought, “This looks okay. This looks like something I could learn to do.” I never, ever think that about Grand Prix dressage. I look at riders like Lars Petersen or Shelly Francis and I think, “They’re so quiet! Their horses are so collected! How do they do that?!”

I felt inspired and refreshed after watching last Thursday’s competition. Suddenly, upper level eventing seemed attainable. Sure, it’s a long way off. I might never get there at all! I might take one look at a cross country fence like the one below and die of fright. But it’s nice to know that 4* dressage looks a lot more doable than I ever thought.


Things seen at Rolex 2016

Rolex 2016 is in the books, and I’m absolutely thrilled I went! It was a fast-paced and fun weekend; I was really sad I didn’t get to meet up with more horse bloggers while I was there. (My phone had zero data service at KHP, so I missed emails and messages all weekend long. Sad!)

Here are some of the things I saw in Lexington this weekend:


  • A dog in a bar
  • Someone fishing a phone out of a port-a-potty (a woman dropped her phone in and her daughter fished it out with a couple of sticks)
  • A jump that made me think, “Hey, I could get a horse over that!” jump8
  • Several very drunk people dressed as if they were attending an outdoor music festival (we’re talking cutoff denim shorts cut so short the pockets were hanging out and several-sizes-too-small tank tops proclaiming the wearer’s love of The Eagles)
  • Lots and lots of things I wanted to buy (my mantra for the weekend was “I work in a tack store. I work in a tack store.”)
  • A dog wearing a trash bag in lieu of a raincoat in Saturday’s torrential downpour
  • Chinch of Eventing Nationchinch
  • A dog cuter than Buttons
  • The backside of Keeneland (to visit a very cute Thoroughbred who’s going home with my friend’s old trainer when he’s done racing)keeneland
  • Genny of A Gift Horse (who I was absolutely delighted to hang out with on Sunday for an hour or so!)

(Of course, I saw all the normal Rolex stuff too, like dozens of excellent cross country rides, several jumps that would make me pee my pants, and Michael Jung winning handily.)

How was your weekend?

Happy birthday, Moe!


Today is Moe’s 21st birthday! Thanks to his baby face and permanently cheerful expression, he continues to pass as half his age.

Moe was bred by Hackett Brothers Thoroughbred, Inc. in Manchester, Tennessee. He raced once as a 3 year old in a claiming race; the official race report states he was bumped hard at the start, sent wide, and was outrun. He won a whopping $36.

When I bought Moe in 2003, I was in-between horses. I was riding whatever I could beg, borrow, or steal while I shopped for a replacement for Spike, my Appendix gelding whose hock surgery had ended his (very short and very unsuccessful) eventing career. I’d ridden a fellow Pony Clubber’s very nice Quarter Horse gelding for a few months until he was sold. My high school English teacher let me ride her elderly Thoroughbred mare who was just excellent until she died. (The horse, not my teacher.) I tried riding my family’s mutt-auction-horse-turned-all-arounder, Buster, but his devious attitude and refusal to deal with footing that even looked damp didn’t bode well for eventing. (Or doing anything but standing around and eating, really.)


At an early spring schooling horse trial, a Pony Club friend mentioned her trainer had a young Thoroughbred gelding for sale. This horse trial was the gelding’s very first horse show; he was competing at Beginner Novice. He won on his dressage score, and I took him for a test ride after the show. A few weeks later, he was mine!

Over the years, Moe has carried me over big cross-country jumps, to victory in match races against our college friends, and through 3’6 jumper jackpot classes. He’s taught me to be brave, to love speed, and to always see the long spot. He packs around beginner and experienced riders with the same cheerful attitude.



Here’s to another 21 years, Richnfree!