St. Patrick’s Day seemed like an appropriate day to say goodbye to an extremely successful Irish stallion, one I first took photos of before he was at the grand prix level, and say hello to the young Irish mare that may take his place in the grand prix ring. Yes, Rich Fellers is retiring Flexible, a 21-year-old phenom who beat the odds in so many ways. Thanks to Rich, Shelley and the grooms for letting me take pictures of the 8-year-old Irish mare and the 9-year-old Swedish mare Rich is bringing along. Fellers, who has mostly competed on male horses said, “I guess I’m a mare guy now.”
Like Fellers, Richard Spooner is also in a transition phase when it comes to horses. If what I saw of Quirado RC, a 7-year-old and thus just a baby at the grand prix level, is any indication, Spooner has the ride on a very nice grey horse. Speaking of grey horses, Spooner informs me that Robinson is still going strong at age 29, having outlived one goat, the infamous Nanny, and has a new stablemate, the diminutive Nanette. Thanks Richard, and thanks to your groom.
Ashley Bond also had me look at her string of horses and graciously allowed me to take photos. Since we last spoke, she has gotten married and had a baby. She said, “It’s great!” She also said with a laugh that her husband, a professional soccer player, “is better looking” than Beckham. Thanks Ashley, Steve and the groom.
In consideration of the heat, misters and fans are placed along the outward-facing stalls as well as near the end-gates of the competition rings. Great for cooling horses as well as journalist, but not good for cameras!
Although I started to fade by mid-afternoon in the 96-degree heat of the California desert and did not manage to get as many hunter photos as I would have liked, I must say that I was totally impressed with the pride that the grooms have in their charges and their efforts in making the horses look their best for the photos I did take. Good job, guys and gals, and thank you very much!
For those ‘professionals’ who wander about the show grounds thinking that other people do not hear you making snide or nasty comments about others at the show, I want to remind you that even though you may not recognize the people within earshot, they may recognize you. They may even form an opinion about you and your level of professionalism based on how and how often you talk about others. And when they get asked to recommend a trainer, your name may not be mentioned in a favorable light…if at all.