The Second Annual Sips ’N Saddles

You haven’t heard from me in two weeks. If you read my last blog you know why: Blitzkrieg! I have only overseen two big parties in my life: My own wedding and the first Sips ’N Saddles last year. Both of those were wonderful and flawed. I had hoped that number three would be the charm. No goofs or glitches. Big crowd. Impressive demo. Amazing food, drink, music. Time to visit with every guest.  Lots of money raised for the cause. In short…perfect.

But like a race horse that stumbles out of the gate, I had had a bad start. The perfect band, booked months before, dropped out three weeks before the party. And two other well established horse themed fundraisers for very worthy causes were being held that same night. We had sent out five hundred invitations already. Who would come to Sips ’N Saddles #2?  Should we cancel? I asked the board.

“ABSOLUTELY NOT!” came the response. 

Marching orders received, I flung myself into battle. I worked long days for three weeks straight—including Sunday, September 14 when I normally I would have written a blog entry.  The next Sunday, September 21, just 30 hours post party, my spirit was willing to attempt a blog post, the flesh,  however, was hopeless. Instead, I self medicated with a prescription of my mother’s old Russian hairdresser, Zaneida— a  “vwee-spat-sa” order. This prescription calls for the following:
  • A prior declaration to all in your family that to restore your mind, body, and soul, you have to “fill yourself up utterly with sleep.” You are not to be disturbed. But you are to be served should you need something.
  • Sleepwear attire: P.J.s, nightgowns, oversized T shirts, or nothing at all. Your choice. 
  • All day napping alternated with reading. Preferably no TV or talking on the phone.
  • No blog writing.
I highly recommend vwee-spats-ing, generally several times a year, most especially after a blitzkrieg effort (such as Christmas, for example). It works.

My silence thusly explained, let me sum up the party for you:

Angels come in all ages such as beloved
Enid and Tom...
The weather could not have been more spectacular. Mid 70s. Cloudless, cerulean skies. A little breeze. The tent placement, parallel to the arena this year, was ideal. The Holly Hill Inn catering coordinator Donna and her staff worked with the precision and fluidity of a Swiss watch preparing the food and drink, serving it silently and seamlessly. A legion of angels arrived from far flung places, (Minnesota, New York,Virginia, to name a few) to help. They were of all ages (high school students to retirees) and surged to the fore to do anything necessary: setting up tables, stuffing gift bags, grooming horses, vacuuming the office, bundling up carrots for the horses, sorting tickets and more.I was humbled by the outpouring of assistance, but sadly, I didn’t have any time to savor it. Before I knew it, I had to shed my dirty jeans, toss some water on my dust streaked face, slap on some make up, and slip into clean clothes. Show time!
and species! Stanley (and his jockey) brought good cheer
and kisses to all!
Guests were greeted at the door by handsome young valets to park their cars and pretty servers holding trays with bubbling glasses of Kentucky “champagne,” (Makers with apple cider). They streamed through the office, to the outside tent, where the bluegrass band, Newtown, played songs about Kentucky, horses, heartbreak and bourbon. There were games to play, and horses in the barn to visit.
I couldn’t resist getting my picture taken with all the handsome swains of X-Press Valet!
Take your cookies when they are passed! I say!

The demonstration illustrated the facets of the Horse Centered Reschooling Program®.  Horses were good… and bad. Some bucked and shied, as young horses will do. Some had jitters, too. But all behaviors were welcomed as a way of describing what we do and how we do it as well as the issues we face, and the solutions we have to come up with to reschool these horses so they can go on to second careers. We bomb proofed the horses dressing them up in costumes and took them over obstacles.

We showed off a hunter prospect, a dressage prospect, a polo pony prospect, a Western pleasure prospect. A former adopter brought back her horse that she is training for eventing. One seasoned campaigner, Bordeaux Bandit, a nine year old gelding which last raced the May, was ridden bareback, with a rope around his neck.  

Having the Ians--Ian Cole of Darby Dan (left) and my son Ian Thomas (right) and my husband Jim and daughter-in-law Elaine (not pictured) as well as
dear friend and Hall of Fame Jockey Patty Cooksey (right) at Sips N’Saddles 2 were
highlights of the party for me
Bids were made at the silent auction and over 40 items were purchased. The live auction was successful too, raising for us twice as much money as it did last year. At party’s end, gift bags were handed out. Guests left in good cheer.

So all, in all, it was a big success! So many things went well. But perfect?… No. There were glitches and goofs for sure. Just different glitches and goofs from last year. I made notes so 
Board member Louise Riggio (second from left) and friends

we don’t repeat them at Sips ’N Saddles 2015. The next day, I checked in with board members to get their take on things and their suggestions for improvements. I made more notes. So be it. Good. But not perfect. But, as Zaneida, my mother’s Russian hair dresser always says ”Perfection is death.” Zaneida knows her stuff. I need to remember that.

This said, there was an absolutely perfect moment in the day. I was zooming around campus , in the barn out of the barn, to the tent beyond the tent, talking to the caterer, the light men, the volunteers, Tony my Tiger about the arena and the campus, the sound system, Cat-erine about the horses, the demo, the demo props, to office manager Lori about the innumerable unexpected things cropping up at the last minute. Zipping and buzzing, tired I blitzed into the office and almost tripped over a small  bespectacled man in a wheel chair waiting in the foyer.

I stopped and focused on his face. I knew it well. I seen it in newspapers and books a lot. Since 1973, in fact. I had met him twice before. The last time was four years ago at the World Equestrian Games.

“MR. TURCOTTE!!!!,” I exclaimed.  

He looked up at me, smiled, and opened up his arms for a hug.

“I have to be at the Secretariat Festival in Bourbon County tonight.  But I thought I’d come by to check up on you, Susanna, and to wish you luck with your party tonight.”

I was flabbergasted.  Ron Turcotte! Secretariat’s jockey! He remembered me! He made time before the Secretariat Festival in Bourbon County to visit and show his support for the MMSC!

“Oh, THANK YOU!” I said, hugging him. THANK YOU!"

That, my friends, is better than perfect.  

That is GRACE. 

Cheery bye,

Ron Turcotte with the MMSC stature of Secretariat