Ride of a Lifetime


It was dark with rain clouds looming overhead. The wind was blowing and it was miserable and cold out. The weather was just plain rotten. Foreboding. Eitan was mounted on Santa Fe Renegade preparing for the biggest event of their lives.

They had been stuck in a “holding area” for two hours before entering the stadium for the closing ceremony at the World Equestrian Games in Aachen, Germany in 2006. There was no rehearsal, no prep. This was a “cold turkey” deal. Santa Fe had never seen the inside of the stadium or the 60,000 + people in attendance. USEF and the American Morgan Horse Institute had flown Eitan, Santa Fe and I for 10 days to Aachen for a 10 minute performance in front of the World. There was no margin for error or last minute stage fright. There were no margins at all and it had to go off without a hitch or glitch. For us that have never put themselves under that kind of pressure it is hard to imagine the depth and strength it takes to meet such demands head on with out reservations.

I am a worrier. I got an “A” in worrying 101 in school. I paced and fretted. I couldn’t stop worrying. I swear that my hair was turning white. I was beginning to feel like Bride of Frankenstein. What if it rained, what if it started thundering and lightning, what if Santa Fe refused to enter, what if he slipped on the wet grass? And worst of all what if they were just bad. I was making myself sick with all the things that could go wrong. While I was at my worst I looked up at Eitan sitting casually on Santa Fe as if he did not have a care in the world. I asked him how he could be so calm and wasn’t he scared. His reply was, “Debra, I have been preparing my whole life for the next 10 minutes. Santa Fe and I are partners. We won’t let each other down.”

The man can drive me crazy but no wonder I love him the way I do. You see while I was worrying about all the things that could go wrong he was reveling in all the things that were going to go right.

I asked Kathy Cox who was instrumental in getting Eitan and Santa Fe to the Games in 2006. She said that his reputation preceded him as a horseman and that it was known that no matter what the circumstances were, he would deliver. Deliver he did so much so that they were asked to return to the 2010 World Equestrian and open the Opening Ceremony in Lexington, KY. That is a whole other story of courage and adversity. One for another time.

That same confidence, drive, vision and passion is what drives Eitan and his Cowboy Dressage and Cowboy Dressage World. Am I worried? Not this time. I know that we are all in good hands.

Debbie Beth-Halachmy