I arrived at San Diego airport late last night, to be greeted by hubby (who returned home two days before me) and Tinto (who sat on my lap for the whole drive home).
But between Dressage at Devon and home, I made a photo visit to one of my favorite places on earth, Iron Spring Farm. Iron Spring had a busy and rewarding couple of weeks: At Devon, Beaumont ISF won the 2 Year Old Colt class and the USDF Breeders Colt Championship; Rabiola won the Mare Championship; Dorado ISF won the Colts of 2008; Sir Sinclair’s offspring won the Get of Sire class. Before Devon, Iron Spring hosted the KWPN (Dutch) Keuring, and afterwards they hosted the Friesian Keuring…. Lots of First Premiums for their youngsters!
My subjects this week were Sir Sinclair, and Iron Spring’s newest stallion, the Friesian Brend 413. I couldn’t believe how many dapples Sir was sporting: he looks spectacular. His gaits have always been beautiful to watch, and now that he’s moving into the FEI levels, he’s got impressive half passes and changes, too. And oh, my, his wonderful temperment! At one point during our session, a dozen noisy guinea hens cackled their way into the dressage arena…. and Sir couldn’t have cared less!
Brend is so black he is nearly blue. He’s got a walk that moves completely through his body, and a beautiful trot and canter. And lots of hair: when I first saw him he was braided, and when the braid was taken down I couldn’t believe how much beautiful hair cascaded out of that braid! He has a kind eye, and everyone at the farm adores him.
Photo mission accomplished, I headed to Philadelphia airport. The first leg, from Philly to Atlanta, was unremarkable, except that when the gate agent called for Medallion members to board (we get to board first), almost everyone in the waiting area got up…. There are a lot of people who commute regularly on that route!
I was upgraded on the Atlanta/San Diego flight. As I settled into my comfy seat, I noticed that there were about 40 Navy guys, still in fatigues, filing onto the plane. I chatted with a few of them as they waited in the aisle: they were all on their way home from deployment in Afghanistan. One serviceman sat down in the empty seat next to me, and I asked him how he’d managed an upgrade: “I travel a lot in my other job,” he explained. He was a reservist and a network specialist. He lived in the mid-west, but all of these returning troops were processing through Naval Station San Diego, so he was flying almost right over his home town en route to San Diego.
Lindbergh Field has a steep approach over downtown and a short runway. Sometimes landings here are kind of like an amusement park ride, but our pilot set our bird down in the softest, most precise landing I’ve ever had at San Diego. I guess when you’ve got a bunch of Navy pilots as passengers, you want to make it perfect. My seatmate was watching out the window. I realized there were tears in his eyes. He was one step closer to home, even though it would be another week before he saw his wife and kids. However long and tiring I had thought my own travels have been these past few weeks, it was nothing compared to where these guys have been and what they’ve done.
An entire plane full of late-night travelers stood aside and allowed all the servicemen to deplane first. There was clapping. On the baggage carousel, instead of the usual stream of black pullmans, there were dozens of khaki duffels.