By: Nicole A. Musmanno
The history books define Texas in many ways: southern, not southern, annexed, independent, Alamo, stolen country, its own country. Yet from my perspective Texas is not to be defined. It is better appreciated for all its individualism and secreted beauty. And nowhere is Texas better appreciated than at Greenwood Farm CIC **/* and Horse Trials, for me the ambassadors of Texas heart and wonder.
Hosted over May 3-6th, I was treated to the workings of a show that exemplifies southern hospitality and efficient functionality. From the organizing staff to the volunteers they banded together to create a show that proved nearly 300 horse and rider combinations can run on time, be safe and have fun. Not even an impromptu tornado during the Friday night party could dampen spirits, though the sudden temperature drop made for some blue fingers and toes. Show organizer, Christy Tull and her amazing band of helpers had us all safely tucked away at the pavilion which is one of two tornado proof structures on the property. With radios in hand and the local sheriff, Reggie (I believe that was his name), giving us regular reports, people laughed and talked as though the lightening was a display for our entertainment.
By the next morning the skies had cleared and the ground, though damp in some areas, seemed to relish the break from the unseasonable heat. Where there were slick spots, Marvin (whose last name I regrettably never caught) and course designer John Williams, were ready with various footing options to make for a safe go around for the horses. Their work paid-off as there were no serious injuries to either horses or riders, and none could be attributed to the footing which by mid-day had dried out.
Constant updates on ride times and show information could be clearly heard across the show grounds. Amazing me the most was the fact the show, even with its large number of entries, always seemed to be running ahead of schedule no matter what phase of competition was in the works. That anyone could manage to run on time with such high numbers and ease of getting behind given any number of circumstances, Greenwood ran three dressage arenas for two days. It had two stadium courses, expertly designed by Candy Gray, which had to be moved from a lower field to the upper field on Sunday (for the upper levels), a dog and human agility course (for a night) and of course cross-country which ran Saturday and Sunday depending on the level. I am still bewildered that so much could be going on at one time and yet the show staff had a sense of total control and Zen about them. Throughout the show grounds people were laughing and joking enjoying the fact that they were blessed to be a part of such a wonderful event and part of a greater whole.
Years ago I showed at a much higher level than I do now. I crossed the states backwards and forwards with the horses and saw more open country in a few summer months than most people saw all year. My father and I would drive countless miles to go to the shows we called, “destination shows”, shows we looked forward to every year and made certain to visit. Often we would schedule extra days so we could enjoy the local scenery and people. It did not matter that there were closer events to go to, we chose our events on a criteria of footing, organization and hospitality. Though most of our old favorites are long gone, I am compiling a new list of events with new horses in tow, and of course my faithful groom/sponsor/father. Greenwood, with its southern charm, Texas fortitude, cascading trees, and winding paths that transport the wandering spirit into a world of green laced meditation, tops the list as my new “destination event” and one I look forward to actually riding in the fall 2012 and spring 2013. It is already on my calendar.