FLAIR® Strips Blog
Posted on Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013 at 9:44 am.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TEAM FLAIR’S KELLY YATES QUALIFIES FOR WORLD’S RICHEST ONE-DAY RODEO
Delano MN – Flair LLC, maker of the FLAIR® Equine Nasal Strip is pleased to congratulate Team FLAIR Barrel Racer Kelly Yates on her recent qualification to The American Rodeo and that rodeo’s more than $2,000,000 in prize money.
Yates — a resident of Pueblo Colorado and World Champion Barrel Racer — and her horses FIESTA DEL REY and FIESTAS CASH, finished seventh and eighth respectively in The American qualifying races held October 11-13, 2013 in the Lincoln Nebraska Barrel Bash, one of five of The American Rodeo qualifying events sanctioned by Better Barrel Racers. Not only will Yates be eligible to compete for more than $100,000 in prize money, but she will also have a chance to share in a $1,000,000 cash pool.
Flair LLC President, Jim Chiapetta DVM JD, says of Yates achievement, “As a sponsor of both the Barrel Bash series of races and the Better Barrel Racers Finals, we at Flair LLC are thrilled that Team FLAIR’s Kelly Yates has qualified for this richest of one-day Rodeos. We wish Kelly and her horses the very best of luck in The American Rodeo!”
The American, billed as “The richest one-day rodeo ever…” was developed by RFDTV in conjunction with Professional Bull Riders, Pro Roughstock Series, United States Team Roping Championships, Better Barrel RAcers, and the Ultimate Calf Roping, and will be held on Sunday March 20, 2014 at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington Texas. Due to rigorous qualifying standards, The American will draw, in addition to Kelly Yates, only the very top names in Rodeo — proving to be an exciting competition for spectators and television fans alike as they witness the best competing for a share of the $2,000,000 in purses.
About FLAIR Nasal Strips: FLAIR Strips provide drug-free support and protection to the respiratory system of the hard-working equine athlete. FLAIR Strips are proven to: reduce airway resistance, reduce lung stress and bleeding (EIPH), reduce fatigue, and shorten post-exercise recovery time.
For more information about FLAIR Strips, please visit http://flairstrips.com
Posted on Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013 at 6:59 am.
Well the last month has just flown by! It all started back in the States for my brother’s wedding at our farm in Iowa the first weekend in September. It was great to be at home and celebrate a wonderful occasion with my whole family. I then headed back to England and went straight to Blenheim Horse Trials; Flair was hosting a signing with Charlotte Agnew. It was great to catch up with her, as I have not seen her since Brand Hall in the beginning of June. Unfortunately the weather was not the best on Friday, which resulted in a low turn out for the signing, but we are looking to do another signing and Flair offer at Badminton this coming spring! However it was fantastic watching all of the North American riders go and truly be on top form! I was in total aw watching Meghan O’Donoghue’s cross-country round it was pure class and a complete joy to witness!
After Blenheim brought the start of university… it was a sad and happy moment knowing that this will be my final year as student and living in England but I am excited about my masters dissertation. It is going to be on Flair and conducting research on how to increase the use of the product in the British market. So if anyone has any ideas please let me know!
I then headed to Gatcombe Horse Trials with American rider Jules Ennis she was in the CIC** with her horse Walstraed. I had so much fun cheering her on! She is truly becoming a fantastic rider and made the very challenging XC course look easy! She finished off the weekend with a double clear and in 15th she was also the 2nd highest placed young rider. Some stats from the 2* division only 37% of the starters went clear XC and only 15% jumped a double clear (no xc jump penalties and no rails in SJ). So way to go Jules!
Next was a surprise visit from my sister Charlee and her coach Bec Braitling! They came over looking at horses for my sister. It was so much fun having them visit… they brought the sun with them, the whole time they were here is was beautiful and sunny! We even got to enjoy a lovely Sunday Roast before they headed home!
Lastly the topic that keeps popping up on Facebook and twitter is volunteers at horse trials both in the States and in the UK. I can’t remember the last time I saw so many upper level riders volunteering at an event. It just amazes me how many riders are actually doing it now. I don’t know what it is like in the States but in the last few months in England I have seen William Fox-Pitt, Mark Todd, Andrew Nicolson, Bettina Hoy and Zara Phillips all volunteering. Check out Uptown Eventing’s Facebook page for photos! So my person goal for the 2014 season is to help out and volunteer more at events because without our amazing volunteers these lovely events would not take place.
So now that the season is coming to close I am looking forward to a winter of dressage and show jumping with Smurf and Mark the Plasterer! Ruthie is rehabbing well and I hope one day she can make a return to eventing!
Posted on Tuesday, July 30th, 2013 at 8:44 am.
Live and learn – and learn and learn some more. That would be the best way to describe this past week at NAJYRC. But that’s why we do this, right? I found myself telling people quite frequently, “it could be better, but it sure could be worse”.
So enough with the teasers…let me tell you about the past week. As you know, I was planning to take my young horse, “Brownie” or Clear Approval, to Champagne Run HT at the Park where he ran Preliminary. On Thursday night, I got in the car with my friend to go somewhere and I felt like something was in my eye. I was pretty miserable all night, but ignored the pain. When I woke up bright and early for dressage, my eye was killing me. One of the girls from the barn loaned me her sunglasses and eye drops as we all concluded I must have scratched my eye. I kept on with my weekend, as I didn’t have time to stop by the doctor, but finally my mother called to yell at me and told me to go to an urgent care. Sunday night, the general doctor found something in my eye and removed it with a cotton swab, but said that she couldn’t get out the other piece that was still left in my eye. My vet, Dr. Newton, made a few calls after here about my ridiculous eye, and got me in to a local optometrist’s office the next morning. When I went there, he found a rust spot in my eye, as the object in my eye had actually been a piece of metal, and supposedly metal when left in an eye, indeed rusts. They had to buff the spot out of my eye, and it left me in an eye patch. I started to cry prior to the procedure, but it was because he told me that I couldn’t be in the barn that day. That day happened to be the day that Area V was arriving at the horse park. Lesson learned: Go to the doctor the first day that your eye is miserable. You always have time.
I was able to join the team on Tuesday, and it was great getting to hang out with old friends, and getting to know the newer girls and boys on the team. We has a blast at the Spycoast competitor party, getting sprayed by the crazy Canadian team armed with water guns, dancing like goofballs, and building a human pyramid. Lesson learned: Hide from the Canadians when you see that they’re up to something.
With Wednesday came dreaded jogs. We were pretty excited about our outfits thanks to Mary Frances Cargile and Ann O’Neal Pevahouse’s style direction. We had a couple of scares with the hold box, but all of our horses were accepted. Yay! One phase of five was complete. After jogs we all gathered around our coach, Mike Huber’s, golf cart for a team meeting. He announced which kids would be individuals for the Jr. (one-star) team and what order each team member would be riding in for both divisions. I was awarded the trail blazing position. That meant that I would be the third horse out on course. Lesson learned: How to jog my horse the best way for him… The Phillip Dutton way.
Thursday was dressage day for the one star, and all of our riders did very well! Rowdie and Mary, my teammates, went out for a jump school, while my trainer, Allie Knowles, took me for a dressage school. At the end of the day, we had ring familiarization in the Rolex Stadium. WOW. Allie told me to take everything in because that was the day to do it… not the next day when we were supposed to be doing our test. We finished up by standing at A, looking down centerline and imagining my test. Lesson learned: How to prepare for a dressage test in a big scary environment.
My dressage test was at 7:45 Friday morning. What a great way to see the sun come over the Kentucky Horse Park! Team FLAIR’s Caroline Martin was extremely successful, being the first ride out and scored a 50.3. My test was a bit tense, as Mitch always attempts to get behind my leg throughout the test, and his reaction to me making him carry on is becoming tense, but we scored a 58.2— a score that may have benefitted from me not forgetting my last canter to trot transition. Whoops! But on the bright side, I earned an eight on one of my turns on the haunches!! Lesson learned: REMEMBER YOUR TEST.
By Saturday morning, I had walked my course four times, plus the few random times that I walked parts and pieces of it. We were warmed up and ready to go by 7:50 when Mike sent Allie down to watch a line that we had been questioning, 6A and B. The first horses out went through the line well and Mike gave me the lowdown when I walked to the startbox. I got the okay for the direct route at 6 AB and was told to make the 3 strides happen at the squirrel corner. Mitch and I were off and he felt fabulous… until 6 AB. We popped over the hanging rail, and slipped when we went to turn. My instinct was to grab my reins and hold him, but that instantly decreased his stride, making the 5 strides almost impossible, and the 6 way too short. He ran past the angled brush, but we circled around and he hopped right over it. It was that moment that I decided that I had to make up my mind as to whether I would be sorry for myself or get angry and make the rest happen. I chose the second emotion. Mitch was a good boy, slipping a bit before the first water, and catching his stifles on the log on the way in, but making it look easy to turn and hop over the skinny turtle placed five strides away. We incurred our second cross country penalty at Squirrel Corner when we got in a bit close to the table and the three strides just wasn’t there. Once again, we looped around and hopped over the B element. By then, I was furious with myself. Mitch jumped around the rest of the course like it was nothing. We came in at 9:01 and optimum was 8:42. I was amazed by how fit and healthy he felt. Our swimming, galloping routine really helped get him fit, and the FLAIR strip helped him perform the best he could. When I got off, I felt terrible for letting down my team. I felt like it was my duty to pull out a clean round, and I definitely didn’t do that. Our area coordinator, Diane Pitts came up to me and let me know that out of the five horses that had gone out, only two had even made it back. As the rides progressed, riders learned a lot more about the course, and began taking options where needed. Lesson learned: Once you’re out on course go with your instincts. Sometimes trying to please everyone is the worst thing you can do. You know your horse, and you know how everything feels. Go with your gut.
Sunday jogs were at 7:30 in the morning. Everyone in the two-star passed, and I was pleased to have Mitch practically galloping down the jog strip. Yay for fit and happy horses, and another yay for getting through the fourth of five phases of competition! We all ran to change and head to breakfast at the competitor’s tent were we reminisced on the night before. Usually Area V takes over the competitor party with their dance moves, but this time around, two of our people had been involved in a dirt bike accident in the campgrounds right before we were supposed to leave. Everyone was okay, except for being taken to the hospital for a knocked out tooth and stitches. Barrett Phillips, a groom for one-star rider, Calvin Ramsey, was the one who lost her tooth. She was back to her usual self, joking around at breakfast by slurping her yogurt and making jokes about her missing tooth. There is nothing like a little humor to get you going in the morning! We all ended up waiting around for the one-star to show jump before walking our course. It looked like a lot of fun. Then again, I love to show jump, so every course usually looks like fun. My teammate, Mary Frances, warmed up with me and went in the ring before me, pulling to rails on a tired horse. Definitely an acceptable round. I was then my turn. My goal was to ride a smooth round, and I was happy to come out feeling like I rode to the best of my abilities. We had an unlucky rail at fence four where Mitch tipped it off with his front toes, but I was a happy girl. We had to wait for the final round ridden by Rowdie. She had too unlucky rails as well, Boxer looked a bit tired, but she still held on to the silver medal, and we won team bronze! Lesson learned: Ride it like you stole it, and be happy with whatever happens. It could be better, but it could definitely be worse.
We finished up the day with interviews at the press conference and helping pack up the trailer heading home to Texas. I’ve never been so happy to live this close to the horse park, as our drive only took 30 minutes versus the 13-15 hour drive the rest of my team had to embark on. All in all, we went home with a ribbon and a medal from the “North American Junior Olympics”. That is something every young rider dreams of obtaining. I am so grateful for my family, friends, coaches, and how supportive every rider is of one another. It would be hard to imagine a better environment to live and learn in!
Sorry it took me so long to finally write this! I’m currently sitting in a host family’s home in San Diego, and will be heading off to Australia tonight with my US Pony Club team. We will be competing in a few competitions against countries from across the world, ending in a Nations Cup show jumping competition. My teammates and I are super excited! I hope everyone has had safe travels home from Young Riders and that everyone else is having a great summer.
Go Eventing, Go Young Riders & Go USPC!
Until next time,
Alexa and Mitch
Posted on Thursday, July 18th, 2013 at 8:49 am.
Team FLAIR Eventer, American Meaghan Marinovich, lives and trains in the UK. From her blog post we gather that the quality of horse trial volunteers in the UK can be quite impressive!
Yesterday I went to Dauntsey Horse Trials with KLICQUOT (Ruthie) for the novice (prelim in the States) section. I have struggled a lot lately with Ruthie in the dressage, as she seems to have a mind of her own and does not always like playing in the sand box! But yesterday she put in a very workman like test to score a 29 her best score to date. There is much more room for improvement but I was very pleased with her. She went on the jump a clear show jumping round!
On to the XC. As I reached the warm up I thought “that face looks familiar…” and as I got closer to put my number down to go — it was Sir Mark Todd! He had competed earlier in the day and thought he would enjoy the beautiful sunshine we are having in England by volunteering! Its great to see the best riders in the world helping out at local horse trials — truly giving back to the sport!
As you may have heard we have had a heat wave hit England the last couple of weeks… if I ever move back to states I don’t know how I will be able to handle the heat! But with this heat comes a lack of rain so the ground over here is like concrete now. Sadly Ruthie does not seem to be fan of it so I ended up retiring her early on course. She will drop down a level at her next event, to get her confidence back, before moving back up to novice.
Its been a busy few weeks for me in the last ten days I have gone to four different horse trials all within a 50 miles radius of my house! It amazes me how many different events there are in England and how close they all are. Its fantastic! MARK THE PLASTERER (Paddy), owned by Pat Burton, has continued to progress at the pre intro level (beginner novice) and will look to move up at his next event. ENNIS, owned by Abbie Strong, has completed his first two events at intro level (novice) and MONACO, owned by Laura Davies, just had her first XC schooling session on Monday and is heading to her first show jumping show on Sunday.
It’s a blast working with these horses and watching them progress. All while having the opportunity to travel around the country competing at different estates and country homes. Here are some photos from the last couple events along with pictures of the beautiful estates!
Posted on Monday, July 15th, 2013 at 6:34 am.
Rain, rain go away… Or maybe don’t. This past week has been the definition of “pick your poison”. It felt as though Lexington was the center of a three-day long huricane—with torrential rain falls and flooding that has us eight times over our average rainfall for July.
Reasons why we don’t like the rain—rain rot, fungus, rapidly growing bluegrass and the obvious…no one likes riding in the pouring rain. If you’re the one person reading this and thinking, “I don’t mind a little rain,” stop yourself. After the third day of drenching your tack in oil and sticking your boots in front of a fan in hopes of having dry-ish boots for the next day, you will change your mind.
Reasons why we LOVE the rain—great grass, cool temperatures during the rainy days and AMAZING footing. I think the last reason is my personal favorite. It’s hard to dislike footing that acts like a sponge, especially when you’re looking to keep a happy and sound horse.
In my last blog, I said that I would be updating you guys on the schooling show that we were supposed to attend on Sunday. Sadly, it was cancelled in hopes of saving the show grounds from rigs being stuck in the mud. This meant that our plans were going to change a bit. Since my last post, I taught at the Wilderness Trace Pony Club D-Camp, where the girls and token boy, braved the rain to get in an educational and fun few days. As for my horses—Mitch has had two gallops, a jump, a few dressage schools and a cross-country schooling. Now it’s time to back off and let him “coast” into Young Riders. Sadly, we were unable to practice our dressage test, but we might try to sneak into a local farm to borrow their large court before next week.
In the mean time—I am preparing for my young horse’s fifth prelim at Champagne Run at the park this coming weekend. Mitch may come along to Lexington so he can go for a swim on Saturday, but other than that we will have a dressage school and a jump school before leaving to move in to the horse park with the rest of Area Five.
It is finally setting in that Young Riders is rapidly approaching, but I couldn’t be happier. I can’t wait to welcome in the Area V tack trailer that will be arriving with my favorite Cajun lady and groom, Lindsay Westerfield. Shortly after her arrival, the rest of the Area V crew and horses will arrive. To everyone else heading this way… safe travels and get excited, there is some fabulous footing awaiting your arrival at the Horse Park!
Posted on Wednesday, June 26th, 2013 at 6:52 am.
My name is Alexa Ehlers and I am a proud member of Team Clear Eventing and Team FLAIR. I have been lucky enough to qualify to compete at the North American Junior Young Rider Championships that will be held in July at the Kentucky Horse Park. This will be my fourth time competing at NAJYRC for Area V, and to be completely honest, I’ve never been this excited about Young Riders. Normally, the month before Young Riders, I am running around like a chicken with my head cut off, being nervous about my horse’s fitness, health and overall way of going, but (knock on wood) I’m feeling extremely excited and ready to compete this year.
A little background about myself… I am an 18 year old born in Colorado, raised in Texas, and most recently, living and attending the University of Kentucky in Lexington for Nursing. Most college kids go home for the summer, but with having my two horses here, living in the horse capitol of the world and planning for Young Riders, how could I leave? So this all brings us back to Young Riders. It’s less than a month away and I already have butterflies…but the good kind!
So now it’s time to introduce you to my Young Rider mount, In Any Event or “Mitch”. Mitch is a 17-year-old New Zealand Sport Horse, but don’t tell him about his age. He thinks that he is still three—something I can’t complain about… until he almost bucks me off!
As for preparation, Mitch is on a very strict schedule for fitness that takes advantage of several different forms of strength training. Every five days we gallop or swim (alternating) and every first day back from a day off we do a trot set with a long walk before and after. We are currently up to 45 minute trots, and I’m hoping he will be doing 50 minute trots pretty soon. With the galloping/swimming days, he either goes to a nearby farm for a twenty-minute trot followed by a few gallops around the hay field (FLAIR strip on, of course), or he goes to swim at KESMARC. So for now, it’s our routine… trot, dressage, dressage lesson, jump lesson, gallop/swim, and day off. I almost forgot my fitness… You know what they say, “you should be as fit as your horse”. I’m trying to take that to heart, so in saying this, I have started working out at a local CrossFit gym, 859 CrossFit. All I know is that I’m sore any time I finish a workout, and I’m learning to love it!
I will try to write again after our schooling show on the 7th at Antebellum Farm where Mitch will do the NAJYRC test and my other horse will run the Preliminary combined test. I am so grateful for the assets that I have been blessed with—great places to ride and condition, and technology to keep my horses sound and at the top of their game. Can’t wait to hopefully be back with good news! Until then, best wishes to everyone.
Alexa & Mitch
Posted on Tuesday, June 18th, 2013 at 8:00 am.
It’s been a whirlwind of events these past couple of months!
The spring events are coming to a close and the summer is about to begin! It just felt like yesterday I was getting ready to bring the horses back into work from their winter vacation! However these past couple of weeks have been extremely successful. Just six weeks ago my young horses did their first one star at the Ocala Horse properties.
Then as a barn we made the trip to my farm in Pennsylvania where Buck (Davidson) and I are based out of till October. The next weekend I did my first CIC*** at Jersey Fresh with TITANIUM which was a fantastic event! Ty gave me a great round the cross-country which have me confidence to take my four other horses all in the FEI just five days later.
Buck and I jumped on a plane immediately after show jumping at Jersey and went down to Georgia where we competed at Chattahochee Hills! My horse CENTER STAGE placed 4th in the CIC* and QUANTUM SOLACE placed 4th in the CIC***! It was an exciting event, to compete all four of my horses in a FEI event. It was something I have never done and it went very successfully! I could have never done it without my coach and everyone who helped me!
But again right after the show Buck and I got on another plan and went to Saumur France where he showed my parents’ horse, THE APPRENTICE in the CCI***! It was a sad moment when Dirk jumped outside of the flags at the corner and got eliminated however the experience I received from that event was irreplaceable!
We returned home with some sadness but as soon as we got home it was time to get ready for Bromont! We headed to Bromont the next Tuesday to get the horses settled in and prepared for the upcoming week! I got to take three up there, CENTER STAGE in the CCI* , PETITE FLOWER in the CCI**, and TITANIUM in the CIC ***. CENTER STAGE received fourth place out of fifty and first for YOUNG RIDERS. TITANIUM also received fourth in the CIC***!
It’s been an exciting season so far but it’s no where near an end. With all these big competitions I still go to the little ones with my younger horses! Just yesterday I took my six year old ROLLERSKATE in the preliminary and she placed 4th! Next week I also head to a local event to take my four year old homebred to a beginner novice!
This is a crazy life style full of adventure but I love every minute of it! Thank you for sponsoring my horses and I! It is your product that keeps my horses and I successful and healthy!!
Posted on Friday, April 26th, 2013 at 1:20 pm.
Being at my first BBR finals is very exciting and is redemption from being unable to compete last year. I wish everyone the best of luck and remember that being here is a blessing and regardless of what happens in the arena, it is better than being stuck at home.
Check in was smooth and after getting my girls all numbered we got them settled into stalls. The weather cooperated and my mom had a ball visiting with everyone. I can say after dragging everything to the tack stall, I may have benefited from a flair strip!!! I got to peek at all the vendors and I look forward to doing a little shopping for the horses and myself.
My mare, Kiss My Ashe has a packed week between the open and the futurity. For the first time, she will run twice in one day and with the stress of traveling and environment, she is fortunate to be protected by a Flair strip each and every run. I appreciate her speedy recovery and I also rest easy knowing she is protected from bleeding. One simple step in my run preparation, multitude of benefits. I would encourage everyone to stop by the booth, learn more, and see the difference yourself!
- Annie Hasselbalch, TEAM FLAIR Barrel Racer
Posted on Monday, March 18th, 2013 at 4:44 pm.
FLAIR had a successful weekend at the Barrel Bash race in Hutchinson, KS, this past weekend! Over 70 Strips were applied at the FLAIR booth, and many successful runs were made. There was one Bounty Bonus winner each day, and the fastest time of the day wearing a Strip received 5 FLAIR Strips, a FLAIR cap and a $50 VISA card.
FLAIR would like to congratulate the Bounty Bonus winners and thank everyone who signed up to participate. The winners of the Hutchinson Barrel Bash Bounty Bonus are:
Friday – Amy Prather
Saturday – Suzette Vandoren
Sunday – Amy Prather
Bounty Bonus Winner – Amy Prather
The next Bounty Bonus will be held April 11-14 at the Lincoln Bonus Race Finals in Lincoln, NE.
Follow Bounty Bonus updates on the FLAIR Facebook page for upcoming events and results!
Posted on Thursday, October 18th, 2012 at 8:41 am.
As you will remember, there was much disappointment in the Griffiths Eventing Team camp when Sam wasn’t selected for the Games. However, no less than two weeks later, Sam was called by one of the selectors saying that one of the reserve horses had gone lame and would he and Happy come into the Olympic Training Camp as a replacement. Lucy wrote this piece for an article for her old school magazine so we thought we’d share this extract with you all:
“Despite still feeling a little cross with the selectors – being called in as a reserve was an opportunity not to miss. So at the beginning of July I waved Sam and Happy off for two weeks of intensive training with the other team members, only to expect them home again two weeks later when the training camp was over and the team left for Greenwich. Sure enough that day came and Sam and Happy arrived home, trained up, fit and ready to go but having waved the team off from the camp that morning. I had a very deflated husband on my hands and many hugs, cooking of his favourite meals and sayings such as ‘there’s more to life than the Olympics’ ‘it’s only a sport’ etc etc followed!! We went about our daily business and had just got back to life as normal when the phone rang at 5am on the Thursday morning – the day before the Olympic three day event was due to start – it was one of the selectors ringing to say one of the team members had gone lame and they were 99% sure Sam and Happy would be needed in the team but they would call back to confirm at 7am. Well, we tried to get back to sleep but that was hopeless, we sat up in bed, drinking tea and just longing for that phone to ring with good news. Sure enough, the phone rang at 7am and Sam was told he and Happy needed to get up to Greenwhich ASAP! I can’t begin to describe the excitement, panic, packing chaos, phone calls to Sam’s parents in Australia that followed! The girls in the yard got to work packing all Happy’s gear and Sam got his things together. I nipped out to the shops and got some champagne and croissants and we all had a quick Olympic send off breakfast together – a very special time and lovely to have all our hard working girls there to celebrate with us. Waving Sam, Happy and our headgirl off at just after 9am was a very emotional moment and one I will never forget.
As a wife of an Olympic athlete, we do not get accreditation, but we do get tickets to each phase of the event. So the next evening I got on the train to Greenwhich ready for his dressage test the next morning. I managed to see Sam for about 10 minutes that evening before he had to get the shuttle bus to the Athlete’s Village. The next morning, I spoke to him on the phone to wish him luck for his dressage but it all felt very strange as I normally help him in the warm up etc and am much more ‘hands on’. Nevertheless, I was so incredibly proud when he trotted into that amazing Olympic arena and performed a test that took the lead. I couldn’t believe it – my husband, in the lead at the Olympics! I rushed around to the area where they leave the arena and I knew I could get a glimpse of them through the 8 foot wire fencing! Luckily Sam saw me and came over for a hug – everyone was thrilled and tearful! But no time for tears as he was whisked off for a press interview and a drug test! Later that day, Sam was able to come and meet me and we had time to discuss the test, the cross country course for the next day and how everything at home was. It was a brief interlude of normality!
Cross country day dawned and we knew it was a good course for Happy as he has proved himself over much bigger courses over the years. Of course, the atmosphere made it all incredibly nerve wracking but incredibly exciting too! I got into the park very early so as to beat the crowds but it seemed as though everyone had had the same idea and there were just hordes of people heading towards the ticket gates – my hear sank – had I allowed enough time to get in or was the nightmare scenario about to happen and I would be left standing in a queue whilst my husband was tackling the most important event of his career?! My worries were soon dissolved though as the incredibly efficient team of ‘Games Makers’ and the Royal Navy got everyone through security (which, yes, did involve no liquids, aerosols, taking jewellrey off etc) at a very good pace. Once in the park I met up with Sam’s Dad, who had jumped on a plane from Australia as soon as he heard the news, and together we decided where would be our best place to watch him warm up, where would be the best viewing point whilst Sam was on course and where we might just be able to congratulate him at the finish! I had a quick phone call with Sam, wished him luck, told him to go for it and that I knew he could do it. Soon enough, his time came around and off he set…..All was going brilliantly, we had watched him on one of the many big screens negotiating the tough fences and were waiting for him to come into the last section of the course when we heard the commentator say those words I will never forget “ Well, we can see Happy Times, but we can’t see Sam Griffiths on his back” Just ghastly….I started running to the area where I knew Sam was roughly, bashing many unsuspecting spectators out of my way as I went and then I saw Sam covered in grass stains, also trying to fight his way through the crowds to try and find Happy who had long since galloped back to the start box. I was just relieved to see he was in one piece but, as would be expected, Sam was seriously disappointed – they had slipped up on the flat between the fences – just the worst luck and something that could have happened to anyone at anytime but it had to happen to us at the Olympic games. I went with him back to the team area where one of the other riders lent me their accreditation so that I could be with Sam but nothing I, or anyone said, was going to console him at this stage. All those years of work had been thrown away by one slip on a turn – unbelievable. But then you just have to remind yourself that much worse things happen. Sam and the horse were both fine, he was going fantastically well and of course, he is and always will be an Olympian and how many people in the world can say that? At the moment, it all still seems quite ‘raw’ but time is the best healer for these things and having had a taster of that amazing Olympic atmosphere it has made Sam even more hungry to get to Rio and win a medal for his country.
We are back home in Dorset now and I think we are getting our lives back to some degree of normality. It was incredibly touching how many messages of support we had throughout the Games and this in itself is very heartening and motivating for the future. Despite things not quite going or way, it was an amazing and unforgettable experience which I feel so lucky to have been a part of . Yes, it’s been a rollercoaster of emotions and yes, it’s really tough being the one picking up the pieces when things go wrong but I wouldn’t change it for anything and I just can’t wait to see Sam represent his country again. “