Sunday, August 23, 2009

Awe-inspiring and so full of history...

I have just watched the sun come up from the barn here in Gladstone, NJ at the United States Equestrian Team headquarters. We arrived here at 4:12am Sunday morning after leaving Richland, MI at 3:23pm on Saturday. After such a long drive, I would have thought that nothing could spark my attention other than getting Trevor settled and crawling into a bed in the upstairs dorm rooms. But then we pulled up the driveway..... The barn here must be 150 years old, if not older, and it is one of the grandest buildings I have ever seen. Unloading Trevor in front of the massive grand enterance to the barn was one thing, but leading him into the barn aisle towards his stall... I just had to take a deep breath.

This facility used to be the training facility for the USET back when Jack LeGoff was coaching the Team. Back when the US Eventing Team was a dynasty that could not be conquered. In those days, many Team horses were owned by the USET and those horses lived here and their riders trained here for international competitions. Some (if not *most*) of the greatest Event Horses of all time have lived in this barn. Just thinking about the great horses and riders who have called this their home, and how many gold medals have been won out of this building will almost bring a tear to your eye. I wonder what great horses lived and passed through the very stall that Trevor is napping in right now. Or who slept in the bed that is made for me upstairs (ya know, the one I can't bear to go lie down in because I want my eyes to soak up every square inch of this place before I leave). There are large signs by the front entry of all of the American riders who have won Team medals in the last 100 years or so. Some of the stalls are dedicated to great horses and marked by plaques. These horses include Brettina, Giltedge, Prince Pinache, Foltaire, and several more.

Kyle Carter arrived here at around 5:30 this morning and I helped him get Parker settled in since Missy and Brewster went straight to bed when we got here this morning. This is Kyle's first trip to this facility as well, but not Kyle's first big outing. Kyle and Parker have run Rolex several times, and were on the Canadian Team for both the Pan American Games in Rio, Brazil and the Olympics in Hong Kong. I had hoped to get some pictures and do all of my gawking before any of the veterans arrived....ya know, the ones who have done this kind of thing several times and don't think it's so cool anymore. But I was glad to see that Kyle was as in awe as I was. When I commented to him about that he just looked at me and said the best thing, and it's something that I will remember when I think that I'm supposed to outgrow being impressed by such greatness. He said "If this history doesn't effect you like this, then you are in the wrong business. This stuff is why we all do what we do. This is what it's all about." And he was so right.

I am sitting at the edge of the 'Dick and Jane Brown Dressage Arena' typing this, as it's the only spot I could find internet coverage. This "arena" is completely impressive in itself. It is surrounded by a low stone wall all the way around, brick pillars at both entrances with sculpted stone pots on top, and bleechers along one side. The plaque at the main entrance to the arena says: "dedicated to those who ride here with their hopes and dreams to make the team". That seems to be the theme of this whole place. Not the politics, the money, or the heartbreak, but the hopes and dreams of all who walk through those doors. If I wasn't ready to go to England before, I certainly am now.

I have several pictures to add to this post, but for some reason the connection is not good enough to post them now. I will make sure to add them later so that you can see atleast an idea of what this place is like. I wish I could send via blog the feeling of greatness this place gives off just before the sun comes up... I might never feel that again. It was almost like the ghosts of the great horses of the past were welcoming Trevor into an elite club.

1 comment:

  1. Amazing. You captured it brilliantly! I'm pretty sure this is meant by 'having the time of your life!' Wish I were with you!