Well, the past week has been a bit of an exciting one for me, as I had some "unforeseen complications," to put it mildly, during what was supposed to be a routine trip to Ocala, Fla., and then on to Wellington for the PRO DerbyCross. 
My trip began on a bit of a low point, as I had a serious abscess on my thigh that was crazy painful. It’s still unclear how I got said abscess, but a trip to the urgent care in Aiken, S.C., with my good friend Lillian Heard, who was visiting from Ireland, got me a bit more sorted, so we started off for Ocala.
I was headed there to try out Sharn Wordley and Scotty Keach’s horse Vamour, who’s competed up to the 1.35-meter jumper classes and done a CIC*** with Scott (and also won the inaugural bareback puissance at Plantation Field [Pa.] to boot!) I was thrilled at how well the two of us got along, and voila! He’s now the newest member of my team! “Toad,” as he’s called in the barn, is only about 15 hands, but he can seriously jump for a little Dutch horse. I am very, very excited about him.
I also took a few lessons from Scott while I was there, and I have to say, I really liked the things he changed about my position. After that, with my new pony in the trailer, I set off for Wellington with Lillian.
The trip was going quite well until suddenly, somehow, multiple belts broke on my truck, leaving us stranded an hour outside of Wellington with three horses on the trailer. On top of that, Lillian had a flight to catch out of Palm Beach in two hours.
After calling USRider and a cab for Lillian, things were looking a little better… Until the aforementioned cab driver made an illegal u-turn to pick Lillian up from the side of the highway. He did so right in front of the cops, and so he of course got a ticket. Not so smart... And yes, that meant Lillian missed her flight. A $139 cab ride for nothing!
I was slightly more lucky, in that USRider hauled my rig and I down to Wellington in time for the DerbyCross on Friday night. The competition itself was exciting but a bit stressful, and my ride Ben got a bit too keen when I tried to go fast on him. In hindsight, I think a clear round is a safer bet than trying to go really fast. Hopefully I’ll remember that next year!
My Team SmartPak teammate Boyd Martin did a great job on Toad, and our polo player, Pelon Escapite, rode like a champion as well... We were looking really good until our show jumper, Todd Minikus, had three stops at a table, which dropped our team out of contention.
It was a good time though, and despite his unfortunate go in the ring, Todd rocks. He was telling Phillip, Boyd and I how he once schooled the four-star cross-country at the Kentucky Horse Park on his grand prix horse and got seriously reamed out by the management… Maybe not the best idea in the world, but what a character!
I was pretty happy to see Karen O’Connor’s Team Guardian Horse Bedding win the whole shebang. As you might have heard by now, that resulted in me winning $10,000, because I bought their team in the Calcutta the night before, though it was half on accident. Thank you Karen... I really appreciated that!
There was some wild riding in the DerbyCross, which was very entertaining to watch. Will Faudree almost fell off, and show jumper Ben Meredith tried to leave out a stride to a corner and ended up with a chip-in that gave everyone a gasp and a big laugh. All in all, it was good fun.
On Sunday, I had a lesson on Indie with show jumper Lauren Hough, which was quite good, and then I left Monday morning to pick up Nikki Lendl’s horses to bring back to Aiken with me. Since my own truck wasn’t going to be ready for a few days and I neeed to get home, Phillip kindly lent me his amazing rig.
I was enjoying the ride and thinking life was looking pretty good until I noticed, pulling into Nikki’s barn, that I had a serious blowout on Phillip’s rig. Luckily Samantha Lendl and Ed Holloway were there to help me!
An hour and a half, one loose horse and a very sweaty Ed later, I was back on the road, nervous as ever to have another blowout, since I didn’t have a spare and couldn’t pick one up because it was Sunday... After a very tense 12-hour drive, I got home around 9 p.m., exhausted and never happier to be back in Aiken!
So with some serious ups and downs, I’m lucky to have a new amazing horse in my barn and an extra $10,000 in my bank account and be done with some serious hauling and health problems. It’s already been an interesting start to the 2012 season!
Hope everyone is well!