Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Olympians in Selle
Three Olympians in little ol' Selle.
Yup, that was the count yesterday afternoon when USA Olympic Show Jumping equestrian Rich Fellers and his Irish Sport Horse Flexible showed up for an overnighter at my neighbor Roxane Conrad's stable.
Roxane competed in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics as a Marine sharpshooter. Nowadays, after 26 years with the Marines, she runs a beautiful boarding and training facility just a mile or so away from us.
We were talking a couple of weeks ago, and in the midst of the conversation, I learned that Rich Fellers had kept his horses at Roxane's stable a few weeks before this summer's London Olympics.
When she learned he'd be coming back through Sandpoint on his way home from a Canadian show jumping competition, she said she'd call me when the horses arrived.
So, for a few minutes, I had the opportunity to stand and watch in awe as Rich and his two grooms unloaded eight beautiful show jumpers from their two trailers and led them to their overnight accommodations.
Of course, I focused most of my attention on Flexible.
After all, he's been a star this year worldwide. I got to thinking after looking at some the photos that his equine eyes have seen more of the world that most humans.
It was interesting to learn from a very down-to-earth Rich Fellers that Flexible is pretty small for a world-class show jumper---just 16 hands.
He's a stallion and he's got plenty of spunk. One of the grooms cautioned me to "be careful" and step back cuz when Flexible comes out of the trailer, he's pretty animated.
Actually, Rich was quite pleased with how calm he was during yesterday's unload and walk to the stall.
It was a thrill to meet Rich and to tell him firsthand how much I had enjoyed his son Chris earlier this year.
I also congratulated him on all his equestrian achievements, which included winning the World Cup earlier this year aboard Flexible.
While cleaning out one of the horse trailers with his trusty manure pick, Rich humbly responded, "Thanks, but I'm more proud of my two children than anything else."
A classy man, indeed, and all the more reason to be grateful for the few minutes spent getting acquainted with him and the horses.
Once again, I thank Roxane for taking the time to call and invite me to her place to meet the Olympians.
This morning Rich, his grooms and his horses are headed back to their barn in Oregon.
They'll have three more show jumping competitions this year before taking a break and starting all over again in February.