This weekend I was in Vermont at a Denny Emerson clinic and Irish Draught Horse Fair organized by the Irish Draught Horse Society of North America North East’s Regional. Ironically, the last time I was in Vermont was also on Labor Day Weekend for my wedding, which was overshadowed by a close encounter with the neck of a leaping then rearing horse that had occurred less than a week prior. I remained seated, but it probably would have been better if my reflexes shut down and I came unglued from the start. I had six stitches in my lip and two teeth, one now dead with a prior to travel day root canal, moved back from the roof of my mouth to their proper place. She had a bleeding gash in her neck caused by the cap I needed after I split one of my first permanent teeth in two at age six. Talk about poetic happenstance – that single cap probably saved me from loosing an entire mouthful of my front teeth on that day. I eyed my husband after the ‘you may kiss the bride’ statement imparting the need for extreme caution. It was only two days prior that I was able to ingest anything without a straw. Probably should have listened to that foreboding, but that’s an entirely different story that need not confuse this happy ending.
It’s always a treat to go back to New England with the tall trees, rolling hills, beautiful scenery and humble, down-home, country attitude that permeates the rural regions of this area. Even fresh cut hay seems to smell so much better in this region. It was wonderful to pass fields of land where farmers were likely capitalizing on some of the first dry and hot consecutive days of this weird weather year. While dirt roads abound in the New York Finger Lakes, it’s different in Vermont as you wind through hilly, narrow and forest-lined roads that present architectural surprises in the many bends.
There’s something about being treated well that can make a good experience super memorable. We lucked out in finding an affordable, clean and ideal place to park our stuff and rest our heads at the Baxter Mountain House B&B in Sharon. Ken, its proprietor, was a doting host that made us feel like family.
Denny and his wife, May, set the tone for the weekend by inviting us into their house the night prior to the event start as horses were being delivered and parked in stalls throughout this neat, expansive, beautiful and charming facility. Humble and inviting as can be, the pair made everyone feel special, heard and important as we enjoyed dinner, drink and conversation.
What fun we all had with the clinic – riders and spectators alike. The patient and helpful attitude Denny fostered permeated each of the four groups, where at least one horse and/or rider in every session faced frustrating problems that put them well behind the level of the others. Clinic participants helped and encouraged their peers instead of being annoyed about time taken to address the challenges. Auditors cheered on all, especially those who were having difficulties. It was a great, supportive, fun-loving community that embraced each other, literally and physically. While I’m usually anxious to return to the farm after time away, this time, I didn’t want to leave.
Personally, I was given the guidance by Denny to completely alter my approach to fences with the particular horse I was on and change my riding body position to go from awkward and interfering to smooth and quiet. I was more than halfway through the weekend before it occurred to me that, while I had prior experience competing at the preliminary level, it had been 25 years since I had jumped a course of fences. How time flies. Still, it was so much fun to go back and learn.
I had planned on getting this posted this morning to push people to the show today, but stuff happens, especially when returning to a farm after several day’s absence. I hope some of you were able to get out there for this long weekend to enjoy the facility, people and spectacle of Irish horses. I had a ball and thank those who helped make it so.