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Monday, April 22, 2013

How To Meet Calvin Borel

It's really very simple. First you go here...
then you notice a not-too-tall guy who looks extremely familiar, and realize that you watched him on TV winning the Kentucky Derby the year before, and then you nearly faint, and then you pull yourself together and try to act cool and wait until someone else asks if they can get a photo with him, and then you shake his hand and smile like a grinning fool when he puts his arm around you and his wife takes your picture...
and then you send it to all your horsey friends and they're really, really jealous. :-)

Yep, I met Calvin Borel at the Maker's Mark Secretariat Center (MMSC) in 2010 during the WEG! I actually had been told he was going to be in the MMSC trade fair booth signing autographs later that afternoon, and the employees and volunteers were very excited to meet him. Since I was on my way out of Lexington I was very disappointed I would miss seeing him. What nobody knew was that he was going to drop by the Center (which is in the KHP) before he went to the trade fair. I was happily looking at horses in the barn when all of a sudden I turned around and there was Calvin!

The rest happened just the way I described. We were all kind of tongue-tied but Calvin could not have been nicer or more friendly, and his wife was a doll, too. She was also an expert at taking people's photos with her famous husband. I can't imagine what that would be like... I think Mrs. Borel probably gets a fair amount attention herself, though as she is taller than her husband and an extremely attractive young blonde.

One of the OTTBs in the barn. I especially noticed this one because he was a) grey and b) had the most Arab-like head I think I've ever seen on a TB:
After my barn tour I stopped by the MMSC office. I really wanted to scoop up this mailbox and spirit it out to my car but I think they might have noticed. I did get Calvin to sign a poster of Big Red that I bought from them, though. 
After I left the MMSC, I had one more stop planned before I headed back to St. Louis. It, too, was related to Calvin Borel: I went to Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby Museum. I am going to try and post about that visit before I leave for KY this time so you all will feel ready for the First Saturday in May!

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P.S. I may go back to the MMSC on this trip to Lexington, but I'm not sure if I'll have time. I will definitely be stopping by their booth at the Rolex trade fair, though, to see if any other celebrities make an appearance on their behalf!

Friday, April 19, 2013

2010 World Equestrian Games (WEG) - Part 2 - Behind The Scenes!

I apologize for the long delay in posting the second half of my WEG discussion. I finally managed to get into Photoshop at home and find some more pictures. Doing this has definitely gotten me psyched up for my Rolex trip, needless to say!

This table was the second jump by which I stationed myself on WEG Cross Country day, after trying - and failing - to get close enough to anything at the Head of the Lake water complex. I think people staked out spots there at about 6:00 AM (no doubt it will be the same for Rolex).
Anyway, once I got the hang of when to hit the shutter button on the iPhone, I actually managed to get some fun pictures.
You can baaaaarely see the simply enormous ditch before this fence  - it was wide AND deep!
As I mentioned in my previous post, one of my favorite things is how excited the horses are to be on course. I never get tired of watching them gallop by!
A lot doesn't go smoothly on x-country courses. Here's someone I caught sadly meeting the end of their competition at a ditch (the rider may have actually fallen in it, I don't recall):
You can see by the sky what a gorgeous day it was for WEG XC. What a blessing for participants and spectators alike! (I will be packing my raincoat and Wellies for my Rolex trip, though, as I will be out on course even if I am slogging around in muck.)
Unfortunately, the next day dawned cold and rainy. I was extremely grateful I'd thrown my raincoat in the car at the last minute or I would have been truly doomed. As it was, I hadn't thought to bring a down vest so I piled on literally every top I'd brought with me. I was also glad I had my paddock boots since they kept my feet pretty warm. I would have been dying in the sneakers I'd worn the day before.
 The stadium jumps were gorgeous, of course...

and the winners were deserving and proud. Unlike most of the spectators, I stuck around for the medal ceremony:
Afterwards I got to thinking about the warm-up ring. I had left my assigned seat and wandered around the stadium a bit, and caught a glimpse of it. The riders were going back in that direction after the ceremony. I wondered if maybe, just maybe, I could go over there... I figured it would be guarded and I'd never get near but I had to try. Guess what - no guards. Here's who I spotted first:
Why, I do believe it's none other than New Zealand's Mark Todd, one of the Eventers Emeritus at these games! Demonstrating good horseman's behavior, his main concern was getting blankets on his tired and patient mount. He was oblivious to me snapping photos and I dared not to even say, "Congratulations." (NZ finished third)

Here is the second-place Canadian team, doing a group photo with their coach David O'Connor. It was weird seeing one of the best American riders ever a) not riding and b) coaching somebody else. No worry: he is now the new American coach, back where he belongs.
And last but not least, I was truly thrilled to lurk not 12' feet away from the champion British team, who were doing a TV interview with a reporter! I actually captured some of this conversation on video, too, but due to technical ineptitude I afraid I don't have it for you. After a couple minutes I was shooed away from the scene by a volunteer, but it was very cool.
Yes, even though the goofy (undoubtedly custom-made and extremely expensive) British hunt cap William Fox-Pitt is wearing adds a few inches, William Fox-Pitt is extremely, and I mean EXTREMELY tall. Very pleasant and polite, too. His height only adds to my awe of his eventing accomplishments, because imagine the potential for lawn-darting when you're so far above the horse's back.

I made one last trip through the shopping area on my way out of the Games, stopping to admire these bracelets. Only slightly out of my price range, LOL.
After another very long walk, I arrived tired and happy back out front of the KHP where my friend would pick me up. I'll be seeing this sign again soon, though, and I can't wait!

Rolex, Here I Come!

Been a little busy lately, helping Son plan and carry out his Eagle Scout project. All went well and I'm extremely proud of him. However, my busy-ness has not prevented me from laying plans to finally, FINALLY make it to Lexington for ROLEX!!! Yahoo!
I wanted to go last year but started a new job in April, so leaving town for several days was not in the cards. So despite much hemming and hawing, rearranging and feeling guilty on my part, the tickets are bought for the weekend phases, the vacation from work is secured and the lodgings with my friend (same one who kindly housed me for WEG and the National Horse Show) set up. I've also notified a couple other bloggers of my acquaintance that I'd like to meet them there. Wendy (From Racehorse to Showhorse) and I got together the last time I went down to Lex, but I have not met Stacey (Behind The Bit) so I'm looking forward to that. Maybe I will trail around after her in the shopping venue watching her scoop up lots of goodies.
My own shopping is probably going to be limited to a Rolex t-shirt. I already have a cool hat from WEG, so I'll get a Rolex pin to add to my collection that I have on it (WEG pin and NHS pin). While I might not be actually buying much, you can bet I'm planning to try on or sit in some fun stuff, like helmets and high-end saddles. I've read that my bony rump will undoubtedly love the butter-soft environs of a CWD, for example, so maybe sitting in one isn't such a hot idea - I don't think a saddle like that is ever going to be in my budget, alas!

I debated a great deal over what ticket to purchase for the stadium jumping on Sunday. The most coveted seats are those close to the ring, but I finally opted for sitting up higher in the grandstand underneath the covered part. Rolex has a bad habit of being rainy and I didn't want an excess of water to spoil any part of my fun. I'll be sitting towards the in-gate end of the arena which I'm hoping will facilitate me being able to scoot over to the warmup ring, either during the competition or directly afterwards. As you will see in my next post - World Equestrian Games (WEG) Part 2 - doing the latter yielded some up-close and personal photos of Very Famous Eventing People, which was a lot of fun.
I have also gone all to pieces and purchased an actual camera. No more relying on my trusty iPhone for photography! My budget was miniscule, so it's nothing fancy, but I'm hoping it will be useful enough for some decent jumping and galloping photos. It does do HD Video so I'll be filming a bit, too.  Probably nothing will emerge as good as this...
but I will certainly try. I think my favorite part of watching eventing is seeing the enthusiasm on the horse's faces when they're going XC. My plan is to track down Wendy and her husband Matt and see what they are shooting. In case you think they don't know what they are doing, may I present the cover of the brand-new issue of Practical Horseman... photo taken by none other than Matt Wooley!
I'm just tickled for him and Wendy - it's actually his second Practical cover, too. Congratulations!