Welcome to EN’s third annual Rolex Rookies series! We’re thrilled to be profiling the new faces on the entry list for Rolex this year, and we couldn’t be more excited for these riders taking their first crack at Kentucky. We’ll be bringing you exclusive profiles on each Rookie pair, so keep checking back to learn more about the competitors you’ll see at Rolex.
“The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” — Robert Burns, 1785
My bet is Robert Burns was an eventer. Popular psychology today would advise that, “If you fail to plan, then plan to fail,” but who of us have not made specific plans to attend an upcoming event, only to have them thwarted by your significant other?
Now I did say significant other so you know I am talking about your horse and not your spouse, but in saying that I do know that I am not alone in this journey called eventing and the significant ups and downs we all experience along the way. At this time the Rolex entry list that started at 90 currently sits at 74.
I don’t have a time machine, but I do find myself back to the future! To put Back to the Future in context, just over four years ago I had just qualified for Rolex with Smart Move and as far as I was concerned my very near future included my first trip to Rolex.
However as significant others go it was not to be for the two of us so here I am, once again, back to my future of four years ago. With fingers, toes and everything else I can think of crossed I am hoping and praying that I will finally make my Rolex debut with Honor Me (Tali), who by the way is the late Smart Move’s full brother.
Tali is a 10-year-old, 17.1 Welsh Cob/Thoroughbred cross who gets his FEI name, in honor of his full late brother Smart Move (Smartie), hence the Honor Me.
As a sculptor, Michelangelo claimed to see, in his mind’s eye, the potential sculpture that lived within the stone and then he would simply work with the marble to release and reveal the full potential of the sculpture.
Clearly Michelangelo was a genius but it probably shouldn’t take a genius to figure out that releasing that potential from stone is perhaps a little easier than releasing it from a living, breathing horse that, unlike stone, clearly has a mind of his own.
That being said, don’t think that has stopped me from trying. I might not be a genius, but in my mind’s eye I have always seen great potential in Tali. Tali, on the other hand, seems to prefer to reveal himself more like an onion, one layer at a time, complete with both tears of joy and tears of frustration along the way.
As much as I would have liked my perfect picture of Tali to develop quickly, I have learned that Tali is less like the camera on your phone with its instant photos and more like an old Polaroid in his development.
I could shake him, I could blow on him and I could put him in the sun but this polaroid pony is revealing himself, from dark to color, one layer at a time and yes, in his own sweet time. In the big picture Tali is just 10 years old and it’s really just been the last year and a half that he has started to fully understand his job and for the most part he seems to be truly loving it.
The picture is far from perfect but with a strong performance at the Galway CCI3* last fall, combined with several solid spring outings, I feel we are both ready for the Rolex challenge.
Tali works hard everyday and continues to improve in all three phases and with just a little more time in the dark room, I believe, in time, we will all see him develop into that picture, perfect pony.
It truly takes a village to bring a horse up through the levels and Tali is no exception. I began a long list of all the people I wanted thank who have been such a great influence and help along the way but then I started to feel like that actor who wins the Oscar and during his/her acceptance speech thanks everyone , only to leave the stage and say, “crap, I forgot to thank my wife”.
I hope my “Village People” all understand how much I truly appreciate everything they contribute and that I am not forgetting them and everything they do.
I think my path and plans to get to Rolex truly define “AWRY,” but trust me on this, if you want to make it to Rolex, be patient, be flexible, be focused, be committed, be determined and I promise that you will be there!
Your course may change, your time might be delayed but if you work hard and believe, your time will come … mine finally has! See you there.