Invest in the Journey, not the Destination.

(Archive: January 1, 2012 - June 19, 2012)
Notes from Phyllis



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Read about Phyllis and Jineen's trip to Botswana.

June 19, 2012
     Another good competition for the Windchase riders at Seneca Valley last weekend.  The weather was glorious, and for the most part the horses went really well.  Cindy had a great ride in the Preliminary wiht River Star, jumping double clear on XC and SJ.  Ballinore also went brilliantly in the Training, getting ready to move up soon Ė this horse shows the potential to go to the top.  Working student Tori Rosenblatt also jumped clean around the Prelim on her Aileron, successfully completing her move-up Prelim season.
     In the Novice, working student Jessica Gebbett put in a great performance on Knickerbocker Glory, placing 4th, and Heidi was 6th with Tulla Gold.  Hannah Milne and Emma Dixon had good performances in the BN as well.  Hannah has trained the four-year-old Lionís Share herself, and done a great job producing him into a confidant and willing competitor.  And congratulations to Emma for winning the overall series high point award at the unrecognized Loch Moy events with her good mare Stella.

Jessica riding Knickerbocker Glory 

Hannah and Lion's Share

     After a busy spring season, we will be letting down on the Eventing front just a little bit now and concentrating on starting the three year olds and bringing along the greenies.  But first, I am heading down to my sisterís house this weekend for our annual Dawson Family Reunion.  I am really looking forward to getting to spend some time with the family!


June 7, 2012
     The weather was perfect at Waredaca last weekend, and the horses went well.  River Star went like a champ for Cindy in his first Preliminary; there performance was only marred by going through the wrong set of finish flags for a technical elimination!  But they jumped great, which is what really counts.  Working student Tori Rosenblatt also had a productive run in just her second Prelim, and Tulla Gold and Logan both went well for Heidi in the Novice.

River Star and Cindy Anderson-Blank

Aileron and Tori Rosenblatt

     The lovely weather has continued all week, and I have been in seventh heaven just to be riding again.  Up to three a day now!  
I have been having an increased interest in flower gardening the last few years, and this time of year there is always something blooming.  The hydrangeas planted around my office at the barn are spectacular!


May 29, 2012
     Back in the saddle again!  After not riding for three months following shoulder replacement surgery, I got back on a horse Sunday for the first time.  It really felt marvelous to be riding again, and I have been walking around with a big grin on my face ever since.  I still have to be careful and conservative, as I am under strict doctorís orders to not fall off.  (Actually, the doctor doesnít want me to ride at all for another month, but I figure what he doesnít know wonít hurt him . . . )  So no jumping for a while, and no riding the ones that are likely to buck me off - but no matter, I am happy to just be back on a horse.   

     My good Irish mare Sirius had a lovely colt by Salute the Truth a couple of nights ago.  He is a flashy chestnut with four white socks and a blaze, and he is quite tall and strong.  I have high hopes for his future!


May 28, 2012
     Happy Memorial Day.
     I'd like to say Thank You to all of the soldiers, past, present and future, who have fought for the freedoms that most of us take for granted.  Americans place a high value on freedom, and it is something we expect - most of us have never lived any other way.  But this is not how it is in many parts of the world.  It is the Veterans who we have to thank for the privileges that we enjoy, those who have fought for our country and have died for her.  Freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press:  Thank you, American Veterans, for ensuring that values such as these are our way of life.


May 23, 2012
     Our first foal of the year, a filly out of our nice new broodmare Mah, by Windstar.  The babies are so much fun!


May 20, 2012
     We had a good day at Loch Moy yesterday at the Starter Trials.  The young horses all had successful outings, led by Cindy Anderson-Blank winning the Elementary with Pat and Jim Bewelyís Irish Sport Horse Warrior Queen in the mareís first ever Event.  Mariah Ben-David did a good job introducing Magix to competing, and Hannah Milne rode a double clear to be in the ribbons on Lionís Share in the Beginner Novice.  Karen Eichert also had a great cross-country round in BN with her Lochcarron.  Emma Dixon and Jessica Gebbett both had excellent rides on their own horses in the Novice.

Trainer Heidi Wardle schooling Tulla Gold at Windchase

     The star of the day for the Windchase camp was Heidi Wardle, who won the Novice by a large margin on her dressage score of 24, riding Guy DeCorteís talented Irish Draught, Tulla Gold.  Heidi has done a super job developing this horse as a competitive Eventer, and though this was Tullaís first event of the year after a layoff, he was in super form.  And by the way, Happy Birthday, Heidi Ė we are so happy to have you as part of the Windchase Team!


May 13, 2012
     Even though I am quite happy for my life to be totally dedicated to the horses, it is nice to get away and do something different every once and a while.  Last week Jineen and I played hooky from work at the farm and went hiking at Skyline Drive, in the Shenandoah National Park.  We have been there a number of times before in the autumn, but this was the first time we have visited the park in the springtime.  

     It was a lovely day, with a few clouds and rain showers mingled with the sunshine.  We hiked down through the forest along a stream with a series of waterfalls, admiring the wildflowers along the way.  Then we took the trail up Old Stony Man Mountain, coming out to incredible views at the top.  We saw deer, ravens, squirrels and several types of birds that were new to us, but alas, no bears this time.  All in all, we had a wonderful day.


     I have long resisted the notion, but recently I finally decided to take the plunge and join Facebook.  I donít intend to use this to communicate with my friends as I donít enjoy the lack of privacy, but rather I will use it as a platform to display my photographs and to share some of what is going on around the farm.  So to talk to me, please send a regular email rather than posting messages and comments to me on Facebook.  But you may want to visit my Facebook Page to see recent photos and Windchase happenings.


May 4, 2012 
     Both of Windchaseís Training horses went really well at the Loudoun Horse Trials last weekend.  Ridden by Cindy, River Star placed 5th with a double clear, and Ballinore also jumped clean around the cross-country in great form. 
     Congratulations to Windchase working student Tori Rosenblatt, who completed her first Preliminary event at Loudoun with Aileron, jumping clear over a challenging XC course.  And Heidi Wardle had great double clear rides in the BN with Kilronan Farmís Bridon Loughlara and Nicola Haslingís talented young horse Reiver.     
     Springtime is magical, and this year it has been exceptionally glorious, with all the flowers and blossoming trees lasting much longer than usual.  The pastures are carpeted in yellow buttercups, and the wild irises along the creek are starting to bloom.  The flowering cherry by the lake was fabulous for weeks, and recently, when the pink petals finally fluttered down to the lake, the fish thought they were a delightful buffet.  There must have been over fifty bass, many of them over eighteen inches long, having a feeding frenzy.  

     I love to see the baby Canadian geese.  Each year, half a dozen pairs of geese nest around the lake, and it is fun to watch them raise their families.  The newly hatched goslings are fluffy yellow puffballs, incredibly cute.  One pair that made their nest right beside the water jump hatched out ten babies this year.

     But one determined pair of geese made their nest on the roof of the tractor shed.  The female goose sat on the eggs while the male stood guard beside her on the roof.  We thought this was ill-advised; though this high location would be safe from the foxes, if the eggs hatched how would they get the babies down off the roof?  
Sure enough, we discovered one evening that they had hatched out four babies.  There they sat, the mother and father and four adorable goslings, some fifteen feet above the ground, no food and no water, and it would be months before the babies could fly.  I had seen nature documentaries where ducks made their nests in trees high above the water, and when the babies were hatched they had to jump from these lofty heights to land in the water below.  But the difference was, those had been ducks not geese, and also, the tractor shed was a long way from the water!

     We wanted to get the babies down, but this would present a challenge; they were at the top of the shed out of reach, the roof was not strong enough to support a person, and the father goose was prepared to go to any lengths to protect his babies.  (If you have even seen an adult Canadian goose in attack mode, it is an awesome sight.)  We put some corn and grass on the roof for food, along with a pan of water, and left them alone with the intention of getting the babies down the next morning.   
But sure enough, nature knows more than we do.  In the morning, the goose parents apparently instructed the babies to jump from the roof!  When we arrived at the tractor shed armed with protective blankets and a fishing net to rescue the goslings, they were happily trundling off across the field behind their parents.  Another happy ending!


April 24, 2012
     It was a beautiful day for Eventing at Redlands Hunt Pony Club on Saturday.  Cindy Anderson Blank had great rides on both River Star and Ballinore in the Training, with River Star finishing in 2nd.  Tori Rosenblatt had an excellent dressage test and show jumping round, but withdrew before XC to save her horse for his Preliminary debut this coming weekend at Loudoun.  Kilronan Farmís Bridon Loughlara placed 4th in the BN with Heidi Wardle, and Hannah Milne had a great go on Lionís Share, missing out on the ribbons because her stirrup leather broke on XC, causing a technical elimination when she got assistance by borrowing a stirrup to continue on.
Sundayís riders were not quite so lucky with the weather, and Heidi, Jessica Gebbett and Carrie Trimble all had to ride the Novice course in the cold pouring rain.  They made a good job if it though, and congratulations to Jessica, who placed 2nd with Nickerbocker Glory in their first recognized Event.

River Star and Ballinore at Redlands

     We had an odd thing happen last week; Cindy was driving her truck out through the galloping field to set up some XC schooling jumps when she drove over a deer antler, puncturing her tire and completely ruining it.  Two days later, our farm hand Kenny drove the tractor over another antler, which again punctured a tire and caused a flat.  The tractor repair people say they get several of these each year, but in 25 years at Windchase we have never had this occurrence.  What are the odds of it happening twice in three days!  We compared the two antlers, expecting them to be a pair shed from the same deer, but alas, they do not match.  So I guess there are two more out there!


April 19, 2012
     It has been a beautiful spring, but an unusually dry one, but finally yesterday we got a bit of much needed rain.  The bonus to the dry weather, however, has been that all of flowers and the tree blossoms have lasted much longer than usual.  Experiencing natureís glory each day is a real treat.

     We took a bunch of horses and riders to the starter trial at Loch Moy last weekend, and Windchase riders had a successful day.  Jessica Gebbett, riding in her first ever event, won a division of BN on her own Nickerbocker Glory, and Emma Dixon also had a win with Stella.  Hannah Milne had a good go in the BN with Lionís Share, and Heidi Wardle placed with Bridon Loughlara and Reiver at that level, and with Double Agent in the Novice.  Cindy Anderson Blank was 2nd in the starter division with Soul of Mercury in this talented mareís first event, and also had a great run with Ballinore in the Training to finish 6th.  Look for these horses on the For Sale page.

Jessica Gebbett on Nickerbocker, and Emma Dixon riding Stella.  Both were winners!

     My shoulder is coming along with rehab, and I am doing plenty of physical therapy.  Unfortunately my doctor says I canít ride for several more months, so I continue to live vicariously through watching others have all the fun riding my lovely horses.  It does give me a bit more time to concentrate on my photography, so that is the silver lining; but I am definitely looking forward to being back in the saddle.


April 8, 2012
Happy Easter!  

Easter at Windchase
Easter at Windchase


April 2, 2012
     At the end of each winter, when the trees are starting to bud and the grass is showing the first hint of green, there is a feeling of being poised on the brink of spring.  Then as the trees blossom and the early flowers open, the woods turn a hundred shades of pastel.  But there is always one particular day when you get up in the morning and go outside to find that suddenly there are leaves on the trees, where the day before there were only buds.  In place of the mere promise of foliage, the buds have now unfurled at dawn to present a million glorious leaves, all soft and moist and new, perfect, untouched by time.  And thatís when you know that spring is here in all her glory, full of growth and joy and potential.

      The spring Event season has started well for us, with Windchase horses getting out for their first competitions of the year.  At the Loch Moy combined test in March, Hannah Milne took one of Windchaseís youngsters, Lionís Share, to his first ever competition and came home with a win in the Elementary Ė this is a particularly nice accomplishment for Hannah as she has mostly trained Lion herself.  Heidi Wardle was 4th on Kilronan Farmís Briden Loughlara in this division.  Emma Dixon also had a win at BN with Stella.  Cindy Anderson-Blank placed second in the training with both River Star and Ballinore, and I am looking forward to watching these two talented horses compete through the season and move up to Preliminary soon.  
Then this past weekend we attended the Morven Park horse trials.  Cindy Anderson-Blank had a great ride on her thoroughbred Windsor in all three phases, finishing fifth with a double-clear.  Cindy also rode Lochcarron to fifth in the BN, and Tara Swersie was fifth with her talented young horse Whiskey Tango.  Tori Rosenblatt had a double clear in the Training with  Aileron, in preparation in moving up soon. 


March 22, 2012
     One month and counting!  It has been four weeks since I had my shoulder replacement surgery - I would like to say that time flies, but actually the first few weeks went by at a bit of a crawl.  Sitting in a recliner chair was the only really comfortable position, preferably combined with an ice pack and an oxycodone pill.  But now I am getting a little more mobile, and am able to spend at least part of the day at the barn teaching lessons.  
In the meantime, we have been enjoying the earliest and warmest spring ever, following on the heels of an exceptionally mild winter.  The flowers are blooming, the grass is coming in, and the footing has been great for cross-country schooling all month.  The competition season starts this weekend, and the horses are going well.  Because of my shoulder I wonít be able to ride for at least several more months, but I will be living vicariously by watching Cindy and Heidi riding in the Events!


March 10, 2012
     Sadly, we bid farewell to an old friend: Lucky the duck passed away last month.  Lucky originally arrived at Windchase a dozen years ago as one of a group of thirteen newly hatched male ducklings that had been part of a school classroom project.  Windchase became their home, and they grew and thrived.  As the young drakes matured, in the absence of any female ducks, they attempted to mate with the Canadian geese and with each other, but neither option was particularly successful.
     Over the years, the other ducks were prey to foxes and other predators, but Lucky seemed to have a knack for avoiding being eaten.  The other ducks were picked off one by one, until finally only Lucky was left.  He led a mostly solitary life, hanging out with the Canadian geese.  But in his final weeks, Lucky seemed to have found true happiness; several pairs of wild mallards came to the Windchase lake, and they seemed intent on staying.  Lucky was thrilled to have company of his own species, and could be seen showing the mallards around the lake, and bringing them up to the house for corn.  
But Lucky mysteriously went missing about three weeks after the mallards arrived.  We discovered a group of vultures eating some feathered remains beside the lake, and Lucky has not been seen since.  Did he become involved in some kind of duck love triangle?  We donít know if it was accident or he met with fowl play, but it was clear that he finally met his demise.  I will miss the pitter patter of his little webbed feet, waddling up from the lake in the evenings for corn.

1999 Ė 2012

Ode to Lucky*  

Lucky was a valiant drake
Who lived on the Windchase lake
The last of thirteen
He was kind of a queen
But the vultures attended his wake.

Over the years he survived
Of other duck friends he was deprived
But for this lonely drake
It was a fatal mistake
When he tried to take mallards as wives

*This literary eulogy is definitely an indication of too many pain killers.


March 1, 2012
     Well, I survived the surgery, or at least so far.  On February 21st I underwent a total shoulder replacement surgery, where they replace both the head of the humerus and the shoulder socket with an artificial ball-and-socket joint made of titanium and plastic.  I try to avoid thinking too much about the details of how they remove the existing joint and get the new one in, but on the whole it is a fairly serious and gruesome procedure.
     I have been having progressively worse problems with my left shoulder for a number of years, but its condition has rapidly deteriorated over the last 12 months, to the point where it hurt all the time, and it has significantly affected my ability to ride.  I finally decided it was time to do something about it.  It is very important to get the right doctor for such a complicated surgery, and after much research I chose Dr. Edward McFarland, at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore; he is one of the leading shoulder specialists in the world.
     I went back yesterday for a post-op check and everything looks good so far, and I started physical therapy today.  I have major rehab ahead of me, and it takes between six months and a year to totally recover from this operation.  But it is already starting to hurt less, and I have been up walking around in the spring sunshine a bit.  Some people might think worst is behind me now, but I know the hard part is just beginning Ė that would be staying off a horse for three or four months!  


February 20, 2012

     Today was a beautiful warm sunny day for February, and I went for a lovely hack on one of my homebred youngsters.  I made sure to enjoy every moment of it, because it is the last time I will get to go out for a ride for at least several months.
     I am going up to Johns Hopkins Hospital tomorrow to have a total shoulder replacement surgery.  I have really bad arthritis in my left shoulder, and it has gotten steadily and rapidly worse over the last year.  It has now reached the point where I can hardly use the arm at all, I can barely ride, and it hurts all the time.  So time to do something about it!  I have found an excellent shoulder specialist, and he is going to give me a new shoulder joint.  I am not looking forward to the surgery or the months of rehab, but I am looking forward to taking a positive step toward getting better, and just getting on with it!
     The good news is I have a fabulous staff at the moment, so I have no worries about the horses continuing in their training and progress.  Jineen does a great job running the barn, and with riders like Cindy and Heidi, the horses will all stay in top shape.  I have a super group of working students at the moment in Meredith, Hannah, Mariah and Tori.  And as always, Kenny keeps the place looking good.  So much thanks to the great Windchase Team!  And in the meantime, if you e-mail me in the next week or so, donít worry, I will reply when I can, but it may have to wait a week or two.


February 12, 2012
    Itís been a pretty mild winter so far, but it has turned bitter cold this weekend.  So on that note, I think it is a good time to read about my Caribbean vacation to RoatŠn!   Click here for Tropical Bliss.

Roatan, 2012.


January 28, 2012
     Hello from the island of RoatŠn, Honduras, where I am having a great vacation with my sister and her family.  Today we went on a shark dive; check out the video I took with my new underwater camera.


January 21, 1012
     Sleet, snow, freezing rain, wintry mix Ė that is a sampling of our weather today.  A patchy ugly couple of inches of snow under a layer of ice Ė tomorrow it will be a bit warmer but still sloppy and wet.  But hey, I donít care Ė by this time tomorrow I will be sitting on the beach in the Caribbean, sipping one of those drinks with the little umbrellas in it!


January 20, 2012
     Winter is not my favorite season, but so far the weather has been pretty mild, and I am hoping that trend will last for a while.  Although the majority of our schooling has been in the indoor arena, we have been able to hack the horses out often, and we even got to do a little cross-country schooling last week. 
     The Windchase jumping clinics are going strong, and we have been having a lot of fun jumping on Sundays.  Click here for more information if you would like to join us.

Windchase, January 1, 2012
New Year's Day at Windchase

      In the meantime, I am getting ready to have a little fun in the sun!  I fly out this weekend for a scuba diving trip with my sister and her family.  We will be staying on the island of Roatan, in Honduras Ė which, in case you donít know, is in Central America.  I am really excited about the trip, and will tell you more about it when I get back.  I am looking forward to testing out my new underwater camera!
     I hope some of you have enjoyed my Africa Journal from my trip to Botswana last July.  In case you read it early on, I have now added videos of an adorable baby elephant learning how his trunk works Ė if you missed it, go to Botswana Page 5.


January 1, 2012
     Happy New Year 2012!!
     Finally, it's ready - my travel journal from the fabulous trip Jineen and I took last July to Africa.  Sorry it took so long to get posted, but things are busy and I wanted to do it right.  I hope you enjoy the photos and the account of our travels.  Feedback is always appreciated.


For past news from Phyllis and the crew at Windchase, go to the