Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, driving a four-in-hand of Cleveland Bays in a dressage test at Windsor Castle in May, 1980 (Photograph by Anne Wakefield-Leck)
No complex resolutions this year, but a few straight-forward ones!
by Charlie Leck
I'm keeping my new year's resolution simple this year and pretty straight-forward and realistic.
First, I’m going to be steadfast about working out all through the coming year. I’ve been working out three times a week with a personal trainer on cardio, weight-lifting and stretching exercises. It’s done wonders for me. I’m going to keep it up!
Second, I’m going to get those hundreds and hundreds of slides in that storage closet in the basement converted to digital photographs and put on disks so the kids can each have them if they want.
Third, I’m going to finish writing a book that I’ve farted around with for the last 5 years. It won't be published, but I’ll know I wrote it as I want it to be written.
I’ve started on the 35mm slide conversion project already. That’s where that photo of me in Calais came from on my blog a couple of days ago (Waiting in Calais). This project deals with photographs from about 30 to 35 years ago and it certainly brings back memories. I won’t over-burden you with presentations of these old photographs, but you’ll occasionally need to reminisce with me here about a few of them.
Anne went on a trip as a spectator in 1980 to the Royal Windsor Horse Show in England. I can tell by the number of photographs she took of Prince Philip that she was infatuated with him, his horses and his driving. The Prince, along with Philip Hoffman of the United States, basically invented the horse-sport of combined driving. I thought the world of Mr. Hoffman and cherish yet the memories I have of my few encounters and drives with him (but that is a story for another day).
My point here is that this trip my wife took to England back then basically changed our lives and, as a result, took us to many incredible places to meet some of the most wonderful people we’ve ever known.
Combined driving is a three day driving event that examines the coordinated skills of driver and horses in three very different tests. It begins with each driver performing a dressage test. The competitors are grouped in single, pair and four-in-hand entries. The dressage portion of the competition is very demanding and requires hours upon hours of drilling and training of both the driver and the horses. I began dabbling (and that is all) in this sport after my wife came home with her exciting photographs. I was never patient enough to spend the required hours learning to be successful at a dressage test. I entered events for the thrill of the second day of the competition. At that I was willing to spend some time practicing.
Now, top competitors at the highest levels often go through quite a few horses in the course of a season in trying to keep a single group of four together.
Windsor is an extraordinary show and happening and, after Anne brought the photographs home in 1980, I was motivated to join her on a couple of other trips across the pond to see the big show. Great fun!
Well, this was certainly a blog of a different sort (as in "horse of a different color") and I apologize to those of you who were bored stiff. To you, and to everyone, I present my wishes that you have a very happy, happy new year.
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