I’ve had my fair share of exciting experiences in life. I’ve jumped out of a plane, ridden around four star, traveled widely and been on TV. But I have to admit that getting my own patch of turf on Eventing Nation is one of the most exciting things to ever happen to me, and until I win Rolex, Badminton, an Oscar or the lottery, I think it’s going to stay that way.
They don’t give away these guest blogging spots easily. Like diamonds, hen’s teeth and dressage judges scoring 10′s, a guest blogging spot is a rare thing that’s only handed out on special occasions. Because of this I feel extremely privileged and honored to have gotten a call up and promise to do all I can to be a positive addition to the phenomenon that is Eventing Nation.
Avid readers of Eventing Nation may have heard of me before. Somehow I’ve managed to endear myself to those who wield power here at EN, and in comparison to my successes on the world stage I feel dangerously overexposed. When I was at Rolex earlier in the year I wrote a piece about my trip from Australia to Kentucky with my horse Sandhills Tiger. I sent it to some friends back home, and before long it turned up on these pages. Embarrassingly, it just happened to get posted on the same afternoon as Mark Todd (that’s the really, really famous, really, really tall MARK TODD) won Badminton for the 53rd time. Excellent timing – my little story about a plane ride gets posted after the Badminton report and suddenly I’m bumping the great man off his prime spot, stealing his thunder and pretty much doing everything except drinking his champagne.
Actually, that happened more recently. A few weeks ago – just soon after my arrival in the UK – I went to a barbeque hosted by Julian Stiller, an American eventer who has a lovely place here and who I had never met before. On arrival at this party – were a smattering of the world’s best young riders and a couple of famous old ones were letting their hair down – I was introduced to the host. She shook my hand politely, and as the cogs quickly whirred in her head she realized two things about me. That (a) I wasn’t actually invited; and (b) that she remembered me after all. “Ohhh, you’re the guy that John from Eventing Nation writes about all the time,” she says without excitement, pegging me now not only as a gate-crasher but also a publicity thief. As I pray furiously for a deep hole in the ground to open up so I can jump into it to escape the embarrassment, my good mate Chris Burton extravagantly pops the top off a beer, watches it sail into the perfectly manicured garden and exclaims “Don’t worry about that, I’ll get it in the morning.” It’s a beautiful piece of social lifesaving, and together we carry on our mission to improve the image of the Australian male in all corners of the globe.
Despite all of this, I’m obviously extremely grateful for the coverage that Eventing Nation has given me over the past 12 months. Quite rightfully, they’d never heard of me until I arrived at the WEG as one half of ‘Hamish and Dave’. We were the Australian equestrian federation’s behind-the-scenes reporting team that scoured Lexington and the Horse Park searching for hard-news stories but instead kept popping up with cameras rolling at bourbon tastings, fur stores and in front of bad-tempered security guards whose sense of humour had been digested with the last burger they ate. More recently, I was in Kentucky during April competing at the Rolex Three Day Event, and while I went home to ride the rest of the team my Rolex mount Sandhills Tiger enjoyed a vacation in Kentucky where he entertained himself by snacking on fried-chicken and making rude comments about people who shop at Walmart.
In early July Tiger flew to England via Dublin, Ireland, and has been based with Chris Burton – who now has his team of horses in the UK in the yard of Australian eventer Sam Griffiths and his wife Lucy – ever since. I arrived in the UK almost three weeks ago, and was stoked to meet up with EN’s very own Samantha Clark at the two events I’ve competed at so far at Wilton and Gatcombe. The most exciting thing is I’m off to France next week to compete at their World Cup event at Haras du Pin, before Tiger and I hopefully take our place in the field at Burghley at the beginning of September.
It’s an exciting time to be in the UK, and it’s an exciting time to be writing for Eventing Nation.
See you somewhere out there.