Blitzkrieg.  That’s what my first week back after vacation was like. 
We all know that returning to work after time off is like an oafish airplane landing. You hit the tarmac unwittingly, slam bouncing hard, brakes straining, tires screaming. It’s not comfortable or reassuring. You wonder how long the pilot has been flying for a living. Clearly, not long, you conclude. Thank God you’re on the ground!

Blitzkrieg or “lightening war,” is a term coined by the Germans in World War II. It was the name for a sudden fierce military attack of coordinated land and air force offensives designed to stun and quell the opponent. (Millennials think “Shock and Awe” tactics in the US-Iraq war of 2003.) You come in fast and from a variety of directions. You hit hard. You wipe out quickly. (Or so you  hope!)

Anticipating an onslaught of memos, phone calls, invoices, and requests facing me on my first day back from Maine, I decided to make a preemptive strike. I returned to Kentucky on a Saturday and fired up my computer. With fifteen  hours of MMSC counter offensive efforts logged in before I even set foot in the office on Tuesday, I assumed I had a decent handle on the situation.

One should know better at my age. Those who ASS-ume prove themselves to be just that. Self assured donkeys. The stack of papers that faced me on my desk made me draw a quick breath. I had expected the usual stuff: Adoption applications, profit and loss reports, phone messages, donations to record and acknowledge. I also knew with the final quarter of our season drawing nigh, and our annual fundraiser, Sips ’N Saddles on the September horizon, that my “to do” list would be in balloon phase. I didn't anticipate it being Hindenburg size, however and fit to burst.

“Where’s Tony?” I asked our office manager, Lori, noticing that our farm manager and his circumspect dog, Tank, weren’t anywhere in sight.

“He announced that he was taking some time off this week,” Lori said.

Hmm. Does one announce things like that? I didn’t remember his asking for time off? How could I have missed that?

Lori stated that she, too, needed to vamoose. Knowing how she always gives 110% and knowing that she had some stressful things going on at home and espying her frazzled expression, all I could do was sputter, “Ok,” forgetting when I did so the upcoming Monday was Labor Day and the day after that was a board meeting. Clearly I was not fighting fit.

The next day, the reality of having 50% of my platoon MIA, hit me full force. My infantry was gone too: Interns had gone back to college. Volunteers too. Summertime was over. The air smelled of September. I had forgotten how quickly the fall lobs itself upon us.

It’s hard to get from A to B on a day  even when fully staffed (me; Lori the office manager; Catherine the barn and media manager; and Tony the campus and farm manger). Slice the staff in two. Subtract the interns as well as our head rider, Carolyn, who was starting school, add four or five horses laid up with issues that require time consuming treatments and what you get is a very long day in action. As it is, you are lucky to get from A to a.

In addition to the depletion of troops, several fracas had taken place in my absence:
  1. The band that we had booked in May for our only annual fundraiser, Sips N’ Saddles on September 19 and which we touted on our invitations canceled.
  2. I found out that two other horsey fundraisers were occurring in Lexington on the night of Sips ’N Saddles. One to raise money for cancer research, colloquially named “the Betsy” after a beloved local horsewoman who lost her life too soon to this malicious disease, and the other celebrating... guess who? SECRETARIAT!!!!


I remember learning about the term blitzkrieg from my Dad. He is a biographer and historian. He also was in the Navy. He has written about many wars in his numerous books. Inherently, battle tactics don’t float my boat, but when my Dad talks or writes about them, I am on board. That’s because he wields the written and spoken word with force. As a child I remember watching his eyes narrow and focus as if zeroing in on an important target when talking about battles of yesteryear. His jaw tensed as his lips launched a fusillade of precise words. I marveled at his blitzkrieg use of language!

My mother could unleash an offensive like that too, but her tactics were different. She could fell an audience with her deployment of charm, humor, and metaphor. Her critics during her Reagan years complained that she left the President in a romantic haze after their debriefings. I don’t doubt it.  As a story teller, she could blow Scheherazade away.

With the examples of my parents very much in mind throughout that intense first week back, I inventoried the present campus assets I had to work with: Catherine; Britanny a former intern who stepped to the plate to volunteer when she could; Jackie, who signed up for a leadership project this semester; the MMSC board; local fans and well-wishers; my ability to strategize, and I, hoped, a fledging talent for blitzkrieg English myself, that was perhaps genetically predetermined, although more likely acquired by osmosis at home. Clearly we had resources and could and would fight back.

And we did. We attacked and cleared out the piles on my desk. We got the horses treated and trained. We welcomed all visitors and adopters. We attended all meetings on the schedule. We booked a new band. We sent out another 300 Sips N Saddles invitations to people we had overlooked on the first mailing. We made new improved plans for our life-blood fundraiser, and I know it will be more fun than ever! We prepared for and had a good board meeting. We logged in many hours. (Which is why when grocery shopping on Labor Day weekend at 8PM, I found after unloading the top items in my cart that all the rest were not mine! I wonder who got my stuff--heavy on the gluten/lactose free stuff-- poor soul?!)  Forget about weekend time or Labor Day, but with intense effort we survived. Not only that, we thrived.


How so? 

Because in life when under assault, we get turned upside down. We have to rethink our priorities,  redirect our efforts and reach out for help. We grow stronger.

I am not a fan of blitzkrieg attacks, but for these reasons, I do acknowledge that they can be instrumental in the long run. 

So what would happen, I ask you, if we all took a “blitzkrieg” approach to solving the aftercare issue? We could join forces and launch a brilliant offensive from the ground (those of us in the trenches who care for-literally and figuratively Thoroughbreds) and from on high (the industry leaders themselves). Would we win the war for the Unwanted Horse?

It’s something to think about. And, I hope, someday to work towards.

Cheery bye,