… not a destination. That was the title of a keynote speech I gave at CHA’s International Conference recently, in Lake City FL. CHA’s annual conference always has a ton of hands-on horse activities and they were held this year at The Oaks Equestrian Center, a David O’Connor signature facility. A lovely place and the conference had many great speakers and trainers. Although open to anyone, the CHA conference is attended mostly by riding instructors, trail guides, program managers and other horse professionals. As always, there are lots of good times and great opportunities for networking.
I always do several arena presentations at this conference and this year I also did the keynote speech at the Saturday night awards banquet. It was a reflective and introspective look at my journey with horses throughout my life and not the sort of thing I usually do. Here’s an excerpt,
“The first thing I learned from horses was a sense of freedom and empowerment. Believe it or not, I was a very shy and introverted child. My parents were worried that I did not have any friends and concerned that I chose to spend my time in my tree fort in the horse pasture instead of hanging out with the other kids after school. Riding gave me an incredible sense of power and adventure as a shy little girl.
I was never happier as a kid than when I was in the barn with the horses. I rode like the wind, usually bareback, in my bathing suit with no shoes, totally not CHA-sanctioned. I craved running the horses up and down the long rows of trees in the orange grove, the faster the better. I didn’t need any human friends because I was content to mingle with the herd and whisper secrets into my horse’s neck. This was far more preferable to me than slumber parties and hanging out at the park after school.”
One of the highlights of the weekend at CHA was the demonstration by Chester Weber with his four-in-hand Combined Driving team of gorgeous warmbloods. They were spectacularly turned out—just as they were recently at the World Equestrian Games—and gave a great introduction into the sport and it’s three phases. The Q&A session was awesome, with so many professionals asking astute questions. A good time was had by all! Next year’s CHA conference is in Lexington KY at the KY Horse Park, October 27-30.
Last weekend we attended the Equine Extravaganza expo in Richmond VA. One of the highlights of the weekend for me was getting to make a surprise side trip to Washington DC to meet my two sisters for dinner at a top-rated DC restaurant. Staying downtown, seeing the monuments, and all the landmarks was cool (even if only from the window of a car) but getting to have dinner with my two sisters was a blast! They had just flown in for the Jon Stewart/Steven Colbert rally an had a blast. The six course dinner was indescribable; the service extraordinary; the laughter and story-telling huge.
This weekend I am off to Denver for the NARHA Conference. I’ll be doing a clinic tomorrow on dealing with training problems and burnout in therapy horses. It should be a fun clinic that is a little different for me, so I am eager for the challenge. I am looking forward to working with these gracious mounts to help them and their handlers do their jobs better.
Enjoy the ride!