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What Makes Our World Go ‘Round

Did you ever stop to think about why we do what we do? For me, a recent experience drove that thought home.

It was actually an experience long in the making, starting with a trade of the horse Winsdown Day Trader for advertising. The plan was to take this three-year-old and sell him quickly.

My friends Louise Gilliland and Randy Waller agreed on the horse, and he showed up in Missouri to begin his journey. But then Randy moved to Orlando and retired from the business, so off to Reiser Stables Day Trader went, also a trade for advertising owed. After a year on the Kentucky circuit, we sent him to friends Scott and Carol Matton at Knollwood, thinking pleasure was his calling. Then, since my young teen daughter had fallen in love with him (okay, maybe we all had) after about a year there he came home and settled in as my daughter’s pleasure equitation horse at Star Galaxy Stables.

Driving in a pleasure cart was much different than practicing in the jog cart.Those were fun years, close to home, great people … until that barn closed. So off to Glendale Stables and the talents of Kent Swalla we went, which was convenient, as my young teen was now a college student at Truman University, making Glendale Stables the exact halfway point between Kirksville, Mo. and our home in Creve Coeur, Mo. Day Trader was regularly ridden by my daughter, Kari, and shown locally. All was good. Daughter happy, dad could see daughter regularly, great new barn mates that were already friends…

“Dad, I’m going to study abroad this semester.” Those words instantly crushed my happy coexistence of having a college student that was still showing. There is no taking a year off from training in the show world, at least not for Day Trader. So what’s a dad to do, owning a horse, paying for its training, but not having a rider? Kent Swalla had the answer (of course)!

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How to Host the Perfect Derby Party

Kentucky is a special place for equestrians, especially for Saddlebred enthusiasts, as it is home to the World's Championship Horse Show at the Kentucky State Fair. But, you don't have to wait until Aug. 17 to celebrate great equestrian activities in Kentucky, and you don't have to wait for Stake Night to dress up.

Coming up, just a few weeks away, is the Kentucky Derby, on May 4, which makes for the perfect excuse to nuzzle our horses and dress up in our Kentucky Derby best - floppy, over-the-top hats, pastels, feathers, ribbons, bows and ties. After all, we have a kinship with the Kentucky Derby; last year's winner, Justify, is part owned by longtime Saddlebred exhibitors, the Glasscock family, through the Starlight Partnership. Justify is also part owned by WinStar Farms, Head of Plains Partners and China Horse Club.

Daulton Van Kuren, owner of The Refined Host, based in Buffalo, New York, puts together elegant events not unlike the pomp and circumstance that centers around the lively stands at the Kentucky Derby.

For this exciting annual event, Daulton suggests the following for putting together a Kentucky Derby party that will leave a lasting impression.

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Maybe We Should All Be Like Babs

Saddle & Bridle is truly a family, so when we lose one of our own it hits us particularly hard. On February 23 we lost Barbara Walker, or “Babs” as nearly everyone called her, and nothing in our world will ever be quite the same.

For 18 years she worked as our West Coast representative. Chris who knew her best, wrote a beautiful obituary for her in our March issue, which I encourage everyone to read when they receive the magazine. As I was proofing that particular page, I looked closely at the photo of her. While it was cropped for publication, I knew it had been taken in our box seats at Louisville in 2004. The photo was innately interesting to me, because the full version showed many people I knew, ever so slightly younger, but what I noticed most about it was Babs – more specifically the determination in her eyes.

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A Saddlebred New Year

I can recall vividly the end of the show season back in November when I was eagerly awaiting a break from the travel, the chaos, the dirt, rain, heat, mud and meals eaten in “hospitality stalls.” Well, here I am at the end of January having gotten exactly what I asked for, and I am over it. I am ready for a horse show.

I miss the anticipation of the arrival, the craziness and exhilaration of watching amazing horses and riders compete. I even miss peeling hairspray off my fingers after doing show bun after show bun. The holidays were fun with family and friends, the weekly Barn Saturdays keep us connected, but it just isn’t a horse show. My non-horse friends can’t understand why I am excited to book hotels in Anderson, South Carolina in March. But for me that weekend is circled in red and highlighted on my calendar. That weekend is my New Year. From that weekend on, I can be sure that one or two weekends every month will involve the chance to see my daughter and her fellow teammates do what they love.

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When Equitating a Horse, Love Makes All The Difference

I always appreciate a challenge. I love the hard work, the lessons learned, and the sweetness of any tiny victories along the way. So when my trainer Julie Ann Wroble suggested I’m A Holiday, a high-powered, young mare who had only ever been shown in Three-Gaited Park, as my next equitation partner, despite the fact she would be brand new to the division, I was completely on board.

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