I'm at the age where it's easy to adopt a Carpe Diem mentality. You start to realize that opportunity doesn't always knock more than once, so you start grabbing chances as they are presented to you.
Last year just such an opportunity jumped out in front of me. The FEI World Cup Finals were being held in Las Vegas, which is not in my back yard, but it's a darn sight closer than Europe. So, while it's fun to watch these on DVD, I decided to cash in frequent flyer miles, hotel points, and anything else I could to get out to Vegas to watch the world's best do their thing.
I disguised this trip as a birthday present for my husband, who is somewhat OK with gambling. That means he can take or leave an evening in Atlantic City. So I said, "Here, honey, is a trip to Vegas for your birthday, and oh, by the way, they happen to be having the World Cup, so I bought some tickets to that."
Now, Joe is supportive of my horse stuff, but it's not his favorite way to spend a day. He can tell you one end of the horse from another, and now that both kids ride, can give you a brief description of the difference between hunter and equitation classes. He also knows a few of the big players from going to shows and catching parts of my "game tapes" (as he calls my many horse related DVDs. Let me tell you, by the end of our few days in Vegas, he knew who his favorites were (horse and rider) and who he did not like. I asked him to get me a snack at one point, and he turned to me and told me in no uncertain terms that while he'd be happy to get me one, Beezie, McLain and Darragh Kerrins were coming soon in the order and he was not about to miss their trips. Hysterical!
What an amazing chance to see my favorite riders and horses up close. We'd walk past the paddock every day, and Joe would inevitably wound up holding my stuff after I left him to push my nose against the fence because (OMG!!!!) there was Sapphire, or Shutterfly, or Oki Doki, or (GASP!) Ludger!! Yup, goober alert! I've met all kinds of celebrities -- sports figures, rockers, actors, and have never been remotely impressed. Put one of my favorite riders in front of me and I get a bit starstruck. Not speechless, mind you, just a tad giddy.
Stood in line to get autographs from Beezie, Todd Minikus, Ashley Holzer, and Mandy Porter. All were the souls of graciousness and happy to pose with me for pics. Beezie and Ashley were particularly kind. They'd overheard me mention my daughter and asked if she were there to take a picture (she wasn't) and each autographed another pic for her. Beezie even asked if we'd be attending an A show in our area that she would be attending. I remember when I was a child at the National Horse Show at Madison Square Garden in NYC. Buddy Brown, Michael Matz, Rodney Jenkins all were super about signing autographs for a worshipful young girl; it's nice to know that level of kindness hasn't disappeared from today's riders.
I was also one of the railbirds when the riders walked the course. Mind you, I was the oldest one. (Average railbird age? 12!) My husband laughed himself silly watching me jockey for position with kids my own kids' age. Did I care? Heck no! The opportunity to listen to the greats discussing how to ride the lines and combinations of Anthony Ambrosio's couldn't be passed up.
Aside from the riding, there were other attractions: Many of the top nutrition and supplement companies were on hand, and in my quest for knowledge (and the best management of my voluptuous, aging, easy keeper of a mare!) I badgered all of them with questions. Suffice to say, I came home with lots of extra reading. Yippee!
I spent what seems like days browsing the leather goods and tack shops represented - Devoucoux, CWD, and Freedman's. I found a lovely belt at the Freedman's booth, and it turns out the sales rep knew my trainer, so we had a good jaw while he was running my credit card. Check out the amazing selection they have: http://www.freedmanharness.com/. I got the snaffle buckle padded cavesson belt, and wear it with everything.
Had a good jaw me dead with the folks representing the KWPN, or Royal Dutch Sport Horse. My mare is Dutch, and I wanted to learn more about how I could access more info about her, possibly get in touch with her past owner/breeder, and learn more about the KPWN breeding philosophy and any resources in that area, in case I grow a wild hair and go there!
OK, enough on this topic for now. Will probably rattle on about more at some later date.