My first week as a Nike athlete has been more than I could have imagined. I got to fly to Wellington for the USET fundraising dinner. What fun. And they raised over 300,000 for the WEG team. I got to see my friend Bebe ride, dress in a cute new dress and talk to lots of amazing people. On the other hand, the airline flights were delayed on the way to Wellington and I had to fly through the night and got no sleep. Then on the way back they had not re-ticketed the return when they changed my flight so what was a quick flight arriving back in San Diego by 10am now didn’t get me home until almost 9 pm! I missed a radio interview! Sorry Reese! I promise any time you want me I’ll make it up to you. The flight mess ups meant no sleep in over 48 hours and I am a bit slap happy.
I did get to show Sheryl Shade, my agent, a few Wellington landmarks. We met Sue Weakley at Cilantro’s for an amazing lunch interview. Although there were no polo players there (bummer) the food is so amazing. I can’t live without their prosciutto! Then we ran over to the GDF and watched a few rides of Sheryl’s first ever horse show! Right away she caught on to some of the details of our sport. I was impressed. The juniors were riding their tests at that time and we saw some of my friends ride. Good job Bebe and Cassie. Then we ran back to the hotel for a quick change before dinner. At the dinner Sheryl and I got to take some photos and talk to Ken Braddick and Sue Weakley. Sheryl was kindly introduced to people by Mike and Sarah Davis. Thank you for opening up our dressage family to her! I really appreciate it! The best part was getting to spend time with my little sis Bebe! Miss you already.
After dinner and as the party was coming to a close, Sue, her assistant Meg and I had some real off the mike ‘girl time.’ I laughed so hard my gut hurt. It was fun having some social time when I got to kick off my shoes (literally) and just be silly. That is a rare thing in my everyday life.
So as I was stuck with a nearly four hour layover in Newark thinking about what this week has meant to me. In all the motion the thing that struck me this week was how quickly the news of Nike’s involvement in dressage circulated around the horse world. Equine websites from the Netherlands to Sweden and Australia posted the info in the first days. By Saturday afternoon, I was looking up web codes like .ws and .nu to figure out where some of these places were. I found out that there must be a big equestrian community on the Island states of Samoa and Niue. I must admit that I had heard of Samoa (Hurst, Texas has a big Tongan and Samoan community) I had never even heard of Niue! I mean had you? After the excitement of just imagining some young girl dreaming of horses and dressage while riding on the island surf died down, I reflected on what that really meant to me. What I felt was that our shared love of horses made the world a much smaller place. They weren’t interested in me directly. They were interested in the idea that our love of equestrian sports might be seen for the unifying world force it is. On my first plane ride today, I read a story about the Saudi Arabian jumping team, an Irish trainer, a Brazilian breeder and a German jumping legend. What could tie all of us together economically, politically and spiritually in all our diversity was a shared love of horses. Many cultures around the world, on every continent have hundreds if not thousands of years of equine traditions embedded in their histories. It is a shared history beyond conflicts and religion. It is a shared love beyond financial imbalances. As the news spread, I saw for me a new understanding of what Nike could be starting here. I hope this Nike wave grows and everyone can see what a shared love of horses can do to unite us.