Greetings! So where have I been you ask? Have I been working so hard to prepare for the championships that I have had no time to write? Umm, well, no. As a matter of fact, I was doing close to nothing along with my husband and another couple. We spent a week on the 17 mile long sand bar more commonly known as Ocracoke Island, North Carolina.
If you want to escape from overdeveloped beaches with busy boardwalks and chain restaurants, then this is your island. The beaches of Ocracoke were named the best beaches in the United States by Dr. Beach in 2007 (http://www.prweb.com/releases/Ocracoke-Beach/Best-Beach-List/prweb531647.htm). Yes, they even beat out the beaches of Florida and Hawaii. Most of the island is protected and part of the National Park System. Bring your four-wheel drive and claim your part of paradise for the day. However, going in September can be a crap shoot. You never know when a late season hurricane will come blowing up the eastern seaboard and short or even cancel your vacation all together. Ocracoke is always one of the first islands that requires evacuation since the only way on and off the island for most folks is by ferry. For those of you with your own private plane, there is a small airstrip to accommodate you. It is this remoteness that adds to the appeal. And every year, the afternoon “cocktail discussion” ensues where we discuss moving to the island. “Sure! Let’s do it!” It always sounds so easy with wine-soaked goggles.
Then reality sets in and I realized that I’m ill-suited for remote island living. First off, I sadly must admit that I like to have options for shopping. Perusing the shelves of the island’s grocery store finds that the some of the more off-beat ingredients that I like to incorporate into our dinner menu are not to be found. The closest Harris Teeter is 2.5 hours away (30 minute ride to the ferry, 50 minute ferry ride, and another 60 minutes or so north). And that assumes that Route 12 in intact and not closed due to storm damage. I’ve also traversed the entire island and never did find the local feed store, tack store, or a version of my favorite local clothing store. Hmm, that could be problematic.
Second is the lack of employment for career bureaucrats like myself. While I enjoy eating and cooking, I don’t have any skills as a line cook. I enjoy fishing, but I can’t see anyone hiring me as a boat captain or mate. It would also be near impossible to make a living with my art skills…and please don’t ask me to sing. My best hope would be to land a position with the National Park Service tending to the small herd of Banker ponies that are descendants of those who used to freely roam the island. And that leads us to the biggest problem of all….what about the boys?!
Ocracoke is currently home to two herds of horses: the Banker ponies and the herd owned by the local group who provides trail rides on the beach. I’ve scoped out both groups and unfortunately, I don’t think my 16 hand Thoroughbred or my 17 hand Dutch Harness Horse would blend well with either herd. There is absolutely no way that either could be mistaken for a Banker pony. The ponies are a hardy group whose descendants survived hurricanes, island flooding, lack of fresh water and life with no barn or fly spray. My pampered equines throw a fit if they are left in the rain or if breakfast is late. The trail horses look like bomb-proof souls who can carry tourists wearing shorts and tennis shoes safely through the sandy paths without terrorizing the tourist or local wildlife. My Thoroughbred believes trail rides are his cue to demonstrate his race horse speed. Luckily for the unfortunate soul perched on his back, the island will eventually end and I’ve never seen Cigar swim. Ike has never been on a trail ride, but his hulking size would not make him a crowd favorite.
My island exploration did not find the local dressage barn either. There was also no sign of a farrier, dressage trainer, hay field, or a veterinarian. I’ve already mentioned the lack of feed store. If I had a plane, and a large pot of money, I suppose I could fly in all the necessary help and supplies, but we all know that the large pot of money is about a real as the chance that I will be moving to a sand bar in the near future. And I can’t even imagine what it would take to travel to a show. I wonder if horses get sea sick?
So here I am safely back home. And while I was away working on the relaxation portion of the training pyramid, Ike was staying busy with Ms. C. Big boy had three productive sessions with her in my absence. I had a quick ride today and the realization that the finals are a mere three weeks away!! I see a lot of lessons in the next three weeks and just as many sleepless nights. This is going to be better than Christmas!