New Jersey: Rest and Preparations
After the intense two week selection trials, we finally had a minute to slow down and take a deep breath. There was such a whirlwind of activity and logistical planning right after the trials, and I stayed in Gladstone that following week to make sure we had everything in order. Wizard enjoyed a well deserved week of rest and trail rides through the rolling hills at the USET headquarters in Gladstone. Then I was able to make a short weekend trip back home to Idaho. I hadn't even set foot in my home state since last November (we had been on the road, at Linda Fowler's Epona Farm in California, and then at Betsy Juliano's farm in Florida), and it was so wonderful to finally be able to return home. I got teary eyed as I watched our beautiful little mountain valley come into view out of the plane window, and I realized just how much I missed that place. My first order of business was to stop by River Grove Farm and say hi to Peggy and Parry Thomas, and scratch the muzzles of the rest of the horses that I hadn't seen since California. Hugs and nickers all around!
One of the best things about living in a small town is that the hometown support is amazing, and everyone I ran into was so excited about Wizard and I going to the Olympics. Jane Thomas threw a wonderful BBQ dinner party in her incredible gardens, nestled up to the beautiful Big Wood River. It was so nice to finally have a chance to catch up with friends and family that I hadn't seen in a long time. After the BBQ it was off to a night on the town for another wonderful London send-off party planned by my amazing friends, and then a night of boot-stompin dancing at the local bar. :-)
The weekend flew by and then on Monday morning it was back on a plane to New Jersey. Debbie McDonald re-joined us this week and we have begun to ramp up Wizard's work again, and get him back in the swing of things. The weather has turned quite hot, which means early morning rides before the scorching sun comes up. Steffen Peters, Jan Ebeling, and Heather Blitz have all stayed at the USET headquarters in Gladstone as well. It has been great having everyone together. And when the day's heat begins to relinquish its grip, we usually fire up the grill and have a barn BBQ in the evening. We are now approaching our last couple of days on U.S. soil before packing up and heading across seas. We fly out this Sunday, and all the U.S. dressage riders will train together at a barn north of London for the next 3 weeks. Stay tuned!