Wednesday, August 26, 2015

"They've earned it."

As a teenager, I idolized the riders competing in the "Big Eq" (major equitation) on the A-Circuit.  I fawned over show results in The Chronicle, I followed top horses and riders, and worked like a dog at home to hopefully be as good as that some day.  I did the equitation on the state and regional level, wishing it was the big time.  Those big name riders and their famous equitation horses were major celebrities to me.  Missy Clark was like a goddess in my Equitation Dream World.

But let's talk about one horse and rider combo for a second:  Sarah Willeman and Grappa.

James Leslie Parker photo

These two were the epitome of classic equitation in my eyes as a teen.  Sarah was (I am sure she still is) a lovely rider, with the perfect build, feel, and style.  She was matched by her equally talented and stylish partner, Grappa.  Grappa's record in the equitation world is almost unimaginable:  in ten years, he won seven national equitation championships with various riders, in addition to many top ten placings and major equitation titles at top horse shows across the country.  He was, and still is, a living legend in the equitation world.

Meet Grappa:  Grappa Retirement Video

So color me thrilled when I stumbled upon Sarah Willeman's website not too long ago, and discovered that he's living the high life in retirement.  Willeman's former show stars appear to all be retired with her on her home farm in New England.  The old guys are fuzzy, barefoot, and outside as much as possible.  They go hacking.  What a lovely thing to see such great horses, beloved by so many of the sport's fans, doing so well after life in the show ring and being horses.  Hats off to the Grappa Lane crew.  I don't know Willeman or her family or staff, but they certainly seem to have priorities straight.  The horses look incredible, and even at 28, Grappa still looks stunning.  I'm sure lots of top horses get retirements like this, I hope they all do.  It's just extra special to see horses you followed for several years doing so well.  These horses gave a lot to the sport and the fans, it's gratifying to see them given so much in return.  I hope Soonie looks that good at 28!  ;)

Grappa Lane:  Retirement with a view

"It’s a good life, and they’ve earned it."

1 comment:

  1. That is so cool. I want to work for her and just hack the oldies. <3