Looking Back on DressageDaily - Published July 22, 2007 - We are on the final leg of an amazing Alaska tour, it is all we were promised and more! Here is DressageDaily’s Mary Phelps riding one of artist Marian Beck’s morgans in Halibut Cove, near Homer, Alaska. Last September trainer Sue Kolstad showed us photos of her adventures where she has been coming for four years, giving clinics and judging, and arranged for us to follow her on a whirlwind 2 weeks of touring, teaching, and a dressage show where she judged. I want to take this moment to thank her for encouraging us to embark on a magical journey we will never forget. The Alaskan horse world has welcomed us with so much warmth, as we enjoy the best part of the country to be in during the hot summer month of July! They are an energetic bunch, making the most of the 24 hours of daylight before the winter and 24 hours of dark begins in October, and we are doing our best to keep up!! As I sit here and write this, it is 11:30 at night, and the sky is still light!
For the last two weeks we have been following a tireless Sue, from Anchorage, to Homer, to Anchorage, back to Homer, to Palmer, and then to Fairbanks where she has been coaching a large following of students, some who only get a chance to work with a trainer once or twice a year. We have stayed with wonderful people in their year round homes, met their horses and other pets, traveled by boat, been flown in private planes through the glaciers, fished, explored, and taken thousands of photos. Today we leave for Denali State Park, where we will drive into the park on a jeep safari searching for some wildlife. So far we have been lucky with internet connections, but there has barely been enough time to check e-mail, download photos, and be happily assured our team is managing coverage of the Pan Am Games while we explore this new frontier.
I have been kept busy at several barns working with incredibly special ladies, from all walks of life, whose common bond, the love of their horses and their training, each other, and their Alaskan lives, have been inspiring to me in my work.
Here is Ardene Eaton who started it all by e-mailing me as soon as she got wind of our arrival. Ardene is a former dog sledder, turned dressage rider, who shares a barn with five other women who all have a special bond, supporting each other in their lives and their riding. The photos are exciting and special, more we will share in the following weeks as I fit in more stories between our coverage of the upcoming events we will be doing on our return.
Sue is a wonderful trainer whose horsemanship includes not only dressage, but jumping, eventing, carriage driving, and even endurance makes her uniquely qualified to adapt to the vast variety of horses and levels of horsemanship.
The Alaskan horsepeople are a passionate group who know how to have a good time and work hard. We will be developing an article on Sue's techniques and approaches to the different situations and horses she has been encountering along the way.
So stay tuned for more, but I may be out of touch for a few days as we go into the wilderness. We will be getting home Wednesday, July 25, just in time to catch our breath and head for Young Riders. Hopefully I won’t get too close to the bears, but if you don’t hear from me by Thursday, better send out a search party!