Thursday, April 28, 2016

Missing Rolex

In Lexington, Kentucky, right now, one of my tribes has gathered. They're walking across the dew-drenched grass of the horse park in Dubarry boots, large cups of coffee clutched in their hands. They're setting up, getting ready, listening to volunteer instructors or grooming horses or watching riders warm up or fiddling with the electronics for the judging and the commentary. A few of them, a very lucky few, are getting their game faces on. They're riding today in the first part of a four-day competition, the biggest American event in my sport. It's officially the Kentucky Rolex Three-Day Event, but we just call it Rolex. Last year I wrote about being there with so many friends from our small, intensely-connected sport.

This year I'm spending the day with my novel. My daughter has a conference tennis match this afternoon; Saturday she's going to her Senior Prom. My daughter first went to Rolex when she was three months old. Last year she got to be the electronic scribe for one of the dressage judges. She only gets one prom, one final varsity tennis match, and so I'm glad we've stayed home, but part of my heart is at Rolex this morning.

It's an Olympic trials this year. Lauren Kieffer's riding Veronica. Hannie has William (Harbour Pilot). Ellie's on RF Eloquence again. Marilyn's got Demi. I care about all these tough young women; I care about their safety and I care about their success. Watching Lauren, in particular, grow up with the sport is something I've very much enjoyed. I told her before that I've dubbed myself her honorary great-aunt, removed from her day-to-day life but interested in her success. Two years ago, when she absolutely killed her Rolex dressage test to take the overnight lead, I told her just afterward, "I can say I knew you back before you were famous. This winter, in Florida, she congratulated me on my Newbery Honor, grinned, and said, "I knew you back before you were famous!"

I'm supposed to be home this year, but good golly, I hope she kills it again. I hope they all do.