Sure beats work…

- -

Happy Valentine’s Day. I woke up like normal, helped Nolan get ready for school, made the bus (barely), then changed everything. First Maggie sent a text to say she couldn’t make it to the office today – she’s a two-day-a-week office manager/business specialist.

Then my dad called.

“Want to go for a ride?” he asked.

“Sure,” I said, making certain to not give myself time to think about it. “I’ll be there at 11.”

Dad and I went for hack in the Pennsylvania country Monday morning. Dad rode “Rich,” the world’s best foxhunter. I rode “Simon,” who might be ranked second. Those aren’t their real names. Rich ran on the flat as Diversified for trainer Rich Trimmer, origin of the nickname. The big, chestnut son of Marquetry won a race but found my dad in 1998 and has lived a life of spoiled luxury ever since (he’s 16). I don’t know what Simon’s real name is, but he was supposedly bred by George Strawbridge. I ride rarely, but Monday was great. Took me two tries to get on at the mounting block – Simon wouldn’t get close enough the first time but I don’t blame him (the block is adjacent to a snow drift).

We walked out the drive at Buddy and Kate Martin’s Winter King Farm near West Grove, crossed East London Grove Road and walked along the tree line to the top of the hill. Treacherous at times, the ground is a little rough with patches of ice, patches of snow, patches of gooey mud.

Then we turned left on Lamborntown Road, jogging ground of champions and went for a nice trot up the hill. Jonathan Sheppard’s farm sits along the road – which used to be all dirt and is now about half dirt. Thoughts of Flatterer, Storm Cat, Cafe Prince, Ratings, First Approach, Mo Bay, Summer Colony, Mixed Up, Forever Together and all the others ran through my head.

Simon was not awed. He powered up the hill, though he was blowing a bit at the top (he’s been taking it easy for much of the winter) and I was hearing all my old riding teachers questioning my form – “heels down, head up, back straight . . .”

We turned right, went up a driveway, turned right again into a field and walked/trotted back across the field to the road again and back down the hill to the driveway and the barn. Horses are amazing creatures. Rich fake-spooked at imaginary ghosts about every 20 strides – just to keep Dad honest. Simon basically told me to give up trying to navigate the footing – he had it covered and made a path that made far more horse sense than any one I would have taken.

Simon and Rich hunt with Cheshire and are gearing up for the re-start to the season now that the ground is thawing again. Dad’s got four horses to get going for himself, Buddy and Kate. Simon belongs to Kate, and he’s some ride.

Can’t wait to do it again tomorrow.