We first welcomed Lesley Grant Law (not to be confused with Leslie) to our guest blogger stable last year, when she told us all about the creatures of Ocala, and then gave us the runner-up for 2012′s Story of the Year with her Tale of Injury and Rehab. Today, Lesley’s back to update us on winter happenings at the Ocala Horse Properties Winter II HT. Thanks for writing, Lesley, and thanks for reading!
I have just returned home from the Ocala Horse Properties Horse Trials were we were all treated to a glorious Florida day of sunshine. The Powers that Be had been asked to write a short descriptive piece of the day’s events and of course all I really want to talk about is the fact that I shouldacoulda been 3rd and 8th with my most spectacular baby intermediate horses if I had not somehow managed to trip out of the water and get left clinging onto the corner on the top of the bank with the one horse at the third last fence!!!! But.. I don’t think that is what they wanted me to write about lol.
So as I sit multi-tasking, icing my knee, listening to SpongeBob amuse our son, trying to cook dinner, and writing this, I guess the first thing to say is that if you haven’t been to an Ocala Horse Park event you really should. It is run by Equiventures LLC which is basically Peter Grey and Jon Holling. I literally grew up with Peter who would take me from American event to American event when I was too young to do it myself. I would sit on the engine of his lorry (the engine is between the driver and co-pilot seats) and he and Paul would listen to me ramble on and on for hours across the country when I was a young brat that thought I knew it all. Peter is the consummate professional in everything he does; and so too is Jon Holling. These two guys take so much pride in their event that there really isn’t any length they would not go to to make their event the best within their powers.
The show jump course was stunning in both appearance and design as they have brand new jumps and the great Marc Donovan to do the course for them. There really isn’t many horse trials out there that could rival the Ocala show jump track. The cross country course was designed by another one of my childhood friends Jay Hambly from Canada. As usual, Jay did a great job putting together difficult enough tracks that were both fair and well built (although clearly the footing out of the water MUST of been amiss in some small way LOL). Most impressive of all was the work they put into their footing. It has been dry as a bone down here as of late and they watered and watered and worked that course for days. We were lucky to get a spot of rain last night, but even during the rain they were out there working the course. Very few horse trials put the effort into the footing that these guys do and we as Riders, are so very appreciative on behalf of the horses we love. What makes these events stand apart from many is that they are run by top class Riders for Riders and whether you are running at the novice level or at intermediate, they afford all levels the same high standards. I felt bad for them today as there were quite a few holds to the schedule so many areas got very mixed up in times but never once as riders were we made to feel rushed, confused, etc. They were brilliant at dealing with issues as they came along without any ensuing drama.
It would be ignorant of me not to mention the tragedy that befell Andrea Leatherman today and her beloved horse Neveah. The pair suffered a fall at fence 4 on the intermediate which resulted in the horse’s death. I have word that Andrea suffers from punctured lungs and broken ribs; wounds that will heal much better and quicker than her mind and heart. I lost my first horse when I was 17 of a heart attack on course. It was 6 minutes of my life, years ago, and every second of those minutes will stay with me forever. I can close my eyes now and relive it in a second. I don’t know Andrea very well, but my heart cries for her. The only solace is that I know she must have great parents as I see her father quite a bit with her, she has a wonderful partner in Buck, and a great support system that will help her through all this. The accident in my opinion was certainly in no way a reflection on the event which in every other portion of the day was a real treat to be at, but it is a terrible, most awful aspect of our sport and my thoughts go out to them.