As I mentioned last week, I was laid up for several days with a nasty bug. I had planned to go to Devon on Thursday night, to see everyone’s favorite chestnut mare in her special retirement ceremony, but had to skip it. Thankfully, my friend Elise was there, and she offered to do a guest blog post for me about Thursday night’s festivities. (This week may officially become known as Mclain Ward Week here at TTW.) Enjoy!
The Devon Horse Show. Just the name tugs at the heartstrings of every 12-year-old girl who has ever experienced the show. The name evokes thoughts of magnificent horses seamlessly cantering around beautiful courses in a legendary venue. One look through the program at the names etched into the trophies, and you know the Dixon Oval has seen all of the legends of the past 100 years of show jumping. The 2012 edition of the Devon Horse Show did not disappoint, and may have been just a little more special than it had been in years past.
This year’s horse show was an Olympic observation trial. This alone would have made Grand Prix night special, but the real star of the evening was Sapphire. McLain Ward and his team were officially retiring her before the Grand Prix. Sapphire entered the ring and greeted her public. They loped around and then visited with the adoring crowd while the announcer told Sapphire’s life story, from her birth in Belgium through to her victories on the world stage.
McLain dismounted and removed the saddle and a beautiful cooler was placed over her back (at this point Sapphire looked a bit confused; as if to say, “Hey! I haven’t jumped around yet!!”) McLain then said a few words about his great friend and partner. He managed to thank all of the people involved with not only his horse’s career, but also his own. He was poised and composed. He then walked out with Sapphire.
Sapphire then stood by the entrance of the Gold Ring and patiently posed for pictures with her adoring fans. Professional horsemen, grooms, and children (old and young) stopped to pet, photograph and visit the great champion. Her caretaker, Erica, greeted everyone warmly. Finally it was time for her to go back to her stable and McLain to demonstrate his great composure and win the Grand Prix on Antares F.
Not every great horse has the chance to retire on the main stage at Devon. Sapphire’s retirement ceremony was symbolic of the honor most people wish to bestow on their great friends. Sapphire represents the greatness in all of our horses. They are our friends and partners. They teach us many life lessons. Watching McLain and Sapphire and his team, was a glimpse into the best parts of our sport and how fortunate we are when we get to spend time with a great horse. It is only fitting that her happy ending was part of the magic of Devon.
Guest blogger Elise Cook is not only a great friend of mine and Tucker’s, but she also had her own Devon magic in 2012. Originally entered in the Local Hunters with Turtugo, they received “the call” on the Wednesday of the show and were invited to compete in the older Amateur Owner hunters. In Elise’s words, “A splendid time was had by all.” Congrats Elise and Turtle!!