Saturday, October 21, 2017

Memories of Harrisburg

The Pennsylvania National Horse Show or "Harrisburg" as it's commonly known in equestrian circles wraps up this weekend.  I have fond and not so fond memories of my trips to Harrisburg back in the day with Sega or "Zelda" as she was known in the horse show world.

My very first trip there was by far one of my best memories of my chestnut mare. She is a 3'0 foot horse and we showed in the National Adult League Finals for which you have to qualify.  The first time we went, it was difficult to qualify. The top 30 horses in the country qualified and your jump order (where you went in the order when you competed) was determined by your points.  Lucky for us that year we had a lot of points.  I was very nervous and Sega was young, maybe 7 or 8 years old at the time.  I remember sitting by the rail with my trainer Patty watching all of the horses go and there was a jump with purple flowers that none of the horses liked.  Many were stopping at it. I am not sure what the issue was as horses are supposedly color blind.  But it was a problem for many horses that day.  When it was my turn to go, we went in and I don't remember the course but I remember when I got to that purple jump I could feel Sega also hesitating and I think she would have stopped had I not known, so I closed my leg as much as I could and she swapped off (changed her lead) in the front of the jump but we made it.  We finished up fifth out of 30 and it was a memory I'll have forever.  I was so proud of Sega but her best horse show trait was that she seemed to know when it mattered most and she always jumped a little higher and a little better at the big venues.  She loved Hunter Classics.

In the photo below, note we wore top hats with our shadbelly coats back then.  It adds a regal touch for sure.  

 (Sega at Harrisburg)

My second visit to Harrisburg was memorable but not in a good way. It was by far our worst horse show ever.  I don't know what was wrong with Sega that day.  She threw my trainer off in the schooling ring.  She has never done that since.  When we walked into the ring, I knew immediately that I was in big trouble. Her head went up, she was so tense, I knew something was terribly wrong. She was not the relaxed, happy, floppy-eared mare that she always was.  I counted the jumps as I knew we would not make it around the course at some point about half-way through the course, she threw me off too.  We never knew what it was but the next week we went to Maryland Horse and Pony where we earned the Grand Adult Hunter Championship and have our name etched on a trophy for eternity, so she made it up to me.

We made one last trip to Harrisburg late in Sega's illustrious career and finished 10th or 11th, not stellar but in the ribbons.  So nothing ever topped our maiden trip to Harrisburg.  Alfie is not a Hunter Classic Horse but I think Madison might be so maybe we'll try it again in a few years.  I love my memories of Sega and the fun we had.  It's always nice to "be in there" if you know what I mean.  She loved the limelight and she was "all business" at horse shows, except for that one day in Harrisburg.

Cherish all of your memories.  And if you don't have them then make them! 

Friday, October 20, 2017

Equestrian Tablescapes

I made my semi-annual visit to L.V. Harkness a few weeks ago and it never disappoints.  Their china selection is incredible but I adore their equestrian tablescapes more than anything else.  This pattern is Gien and comes in a few "disciplines" like racing, dressage and show jumping. 

This is Julie Wear and reasonably priced. 

This pattern is made for L.V. Harkness and is fun to mix with bright colors like shocking pink, orange or lime green. 

And I love this pattern.  They have some gorgeous linen embroidered plate mats and napkins to match.

Happy Friday. TGIF!!!

Thursday, October 19, 2017


Some people collect shoes.  Some collect handbags.  I collect coats. For the record, I could never move to Florida - what would I do with all the coats?  What would I wear?  Coats come in all colors and styles but mine tend to be wool or a blend.  Long over short.  Fitted over "relaxed."  You can never have too many coats.  The thing about coats is that you can dress up a plain outfit but adding the right coat.  You can wear all black and add a great coat for a pop of color. I am so glad it finally got cold so the coats can come out......

This new green coat from J Crew is on my "watch" list.....

This one arrived recently and I adore it......

You cannot go wrong with a classic camel coat.  My Max Mara coat is 20 years old and still going. Here is a reasonably priced model:

This green coat will add some splash to your winter and spring wardrobe:

Hope you have a coat-wearing day!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Fall "To Do" List

Fall is in the air, the leaves are turning, the mornings in Virginia are brisk and cool.  It's a wonderful time of the year.  So what's on my "to do" list for the next 45 days?

1) Fall Cocktail Party
We are having a party soon so I am working on the menu, the guest list, decorating the cabin for the event.

2) Needlepoint Projects
Now that the days are little shorter, the mornings a lot colder, and the grass is not growing (we have not had much rain for many weeks), I have more time to stitch.  This is a new project, to go on an old stool in my bedroom. 

And I love this one for fall!


3) Books to Read
I want to read this book!

4) Fall Antique Shows
We went to a favorite show last weekend close-by and may venture to Northern Virginia in November for another show. 

5) Horse Clipping
Alfie must be clipped by month's end. But he loves being body clipped.  But he looks so chic clipped and ready to horse show!

6) Wardrobe Shopping
I have bought a few things to round out my fall wardrobe. Everything this season is navy!

7) Wine Tastings
There are so many vineyards in my area, I am trying to venture out once a month to a new one!

8) Christmas Planning
I try to get a lot of my shopping done so I can enjoy the holidays. We picked up my Christmas at LV Harkness in Lexington a few weeks ago.  More china!

Happy Tuesday and welcome Fall!

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Afleet Alex - The Underrated Race Horse

I was fortunate to see Afleet Alex at Gainesway earlier this month and like most people are thinking, his name was familiar, but that's all I could recall about him.  The sad truth is that Afleet Alex's name should be remembered in the same breath as Seattle Slew, Affirmed and other great race horses.  He should have won the Triple Crown in 2005 and the two races he won - the Belmont and the Preakness - were won in such extraordinary fashion, that his story should be told again and remembered.  What could have been......

Afleet Alex is no slouch.  He was the top 3-year-old male and won an Eclipse Award in 2005. He won eight of his twelve starts including six G1 wins and brought home $2.7M in earnings, not bad for a horse that was bought for $75,000 at the lesser known Timonium, MD sales.

He lost the 2005 Derby to a 50-1 shot, Giacomo.  But he came back to win the Preakness a few weeks later.  He won the Belmont by an astounding seven lengths, running the fastest quarter mile in over 35 years, faster than even Secretariat.  

The 2005 Derby was a fluke.  It was a star-studded field full of talent in 2005 with many good horses and Afleet Alex finished a disappointing third to Giacomo, a 50-1 long-shot ridden by star jockey, Mike Smith.  In second place came 71-1 shot, Closing Argument. But neither the trainer, Tim Ritchey, or the jockey, Jeremy Rose, had ever raced in the Derby.  Tim Ritchey had never even raced a horse at Churchill Downs.  What might have happened if Afleet Alex had a Bob Baffert or a Nick Zito behind the scenes?  What if the horse had been ridden by a Jerry Bailey or a Mike Smith who knew the race and the track?  I'm not discounting the training or the riding the horse received, but knowledge is power and experience does count in horse racing.  What might have happened?

But the horse's performance in the Preakness will most certainly go down as one of the greatest feats in horse racing. In fact, Sports Illustrated voted his performance the best sports performance of the year, for any sport. During the race, Scrappy T blew out the turn at the top of the stretch and Afleet Alex almost fell to the ground.  It is amazing that the horse did not go down.  Somehow this athletic stallion of 16 hands managed to stay up. Not only did he stay up, he won the race, which makes it more astounding.  This is a very short race, often won by fractions of a second.  You can see the video of the race here, and it is certainly worth watching.  The horse came out of the race with only a few scratches at first.
The Belmont was next and the concern is always the length of the race and ability of the horses to run this distance after running in the Derby and the Preakness. Afleet Alex had what his jockey termed "the perfect trip.” He ran the final quarter mile in 24.5 seconds, even faster than Secretariat's 1973 run and won the race by seven lengths. He made it look easy. You can see that race here.

Afleet Alex was going to keep racing, that was the plan.  He would  go to the Haskell, the Travers at Saratoga, and the Louisiana Derby, before heading to the Breeders’ Cup.  But following the Belmont, he suffered a hairline fracture that was believed to be from his rocky trip in the Preakness. The hairline condylar fracture in his left-front leg, at the bottom of the cannon bone, ended all the plans. Surgery was performed the following day and he was expected to miss his next two starts.  But then a new injury was discovered before the horse was shipped to Gulfsteam Park and it would be another six to eight month lay-off for him so the decision was made to retire him.  He was sent to Gainesway in 2006 and his stud fee was set at $40,000. 

The handlers at Gainesway commented on Alex's brain and how smart he is and how easy he is to work with. His laid-back demeanor came shining through.  It's ironic to me that a horse named Scrappy T almost brought Afleet Alex down. Afleet Alex had a scrappy side to him - that will to win no matter what it takes .  That part of him came shining through in the Preakness. It's a shame he could not race on.   I think he would have won the Breeder's Cup and maybe the Haiskell and the Travers that year.  We'll never know...  Please see this video about his career.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Dressing for Fall

After a few weeks of 80 degree weather, I am hoping that I can pull out the fall and winter wardrobe for good. I've bought a few things here and there but here is a fun fall outfit I'd love to be wearing right now....

I'd start with this J Crew coat (which I have not seen in person) but I love the vibrant color and I'd pair it with navy.

Wear a great pair of skinny jeans...

And a navy bootie:

Add a turtleneck too:

A great handbag, of course!

A scarf will add a touch of zest to your outfit! Tie it around the handle of your bag, wear it if it's cool or tie around your neck and tuck into the collar of your coat.

And you are dressed for a great outing this fall!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Vintage Equestrian Finds on Etsy

I love perusing Etsy and finding one of a kind vintage equestrian jewelry, scarves, glassware and stuff for the country house and cabin....

Vintage is best!
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