Tuesday, January 7, 2014
Well, after being gone all year, my nephew, Rob, came home for a short visit during Christmas. It was good to see Rob and it’s always fun to hear about his adventures at the National and International Grand Prix Equestrian Shows. Presently, Rob lives in California and is employed by a family in San Francisco whose daughters ride in World Class Show Jumping Events. At this time, one of the girls is trying to qualify for the Olympic Equestrian Team. Rob has been involved in the elite world of show jumping since he graduated from high school and it all began with a boy and his horse. Rob Jones began riding when he was 9 years old and from that time on was always riding or hanging out in barns. His love of horses was evident when he commented on how good the barn smelled. Only a true horseman could say that because for the normal person barns smell like hay and horse manure. As Rob became more involved in horses he taught his horse, who was no jumper, to jump. Not having any real jumps, Rob began jumping over a large pine tree that had fallen in the yard. From there, he made his own jumps and became quite skillful for someone with no formal training. From that point Rob was lost to the horse world and especially show jumping. While his friends were out, Rob would watch hours of horse shows on TV and then practiced what he had seen in an attempt to master techniques and performance. Rob participated in several 4-H horse shows and became acquainted with many people in show jumping. The first riding lessons for the young horse enthusiast were with the late Charlie Beaman from Camden. Following graduation, Rob went to work for a large horse farm in Camden where he tried to learn everything possible about management and Show Jumpers. During that time Rob had the opportunity to meet and work with John Mellencamp’s daughter. Later the young man had the opportunity to work for Laura Kraut who was part of the 2008 Olympic Equestrian team that won a gold metal for the United States. Afterwards, at the age of twenty, Rob was employed by a family in North Carolina whose daughter would be traveling around Europe competing in international horse shows. His first trip overseas took him to Belgium, Switzerland, France and Holland. Besides the traveling, the European trip was Rob’s initial attempt in arranging flight transportation for horses. Getting on a plane for a human is one thing, getting a horse to another country is something totally different. Life in Europe is different and Rob is always happy to come home to the USA after the international show season. A few years ago, Rob was employed by his long time friend, Paige Johnson, whose parents are the co-founders of Black Entertainment Television. From the family’s farm in Middleburg Virginia, Rob would organize flights and ground transportation for the horses, prepare entries for all horse shows, and travel with Paige throughout the United States and Europe to horse events. With his present employment with the Coulters in California, Rob serves as barn manager where he makes all contacts with Veterinarians or blacksmiths and manages a staff of 6 people. He organizes all the flights and ground transportation for the expensive horses as well as helps plan and prepare show entries for the girls. This past summer Rob and one of the daughters, Saer, spent the summer in Germany at the Stuttgart German Masters. Saer will be competing in Florida during the winter. Rob comes home for Christmas because many horse folks meet on the east coast in West Palm Beach for the 16th Annual Winter Equestrian Festival. The festival is 12 weeks of horse showing and an unending social life. Most of us can not imagine a life traveling around the world showing horses, but for the typical North American Heiress, it is simply a way of life. The young women competing in the elite equestrian sport own horses worth millions of dollars and find great enjoyment in show competition. It’s always interesting to ask Rob who he has seen at recent shows. Some of the well-known people he named included: Madonna, Calvin Kline’s ex-wife, Kelly, Bruce Springsteen, Glen Close, Kelly Rippa, Billy Ray Cyrus, Steven Spielberg, Michael Jordan, and L. A. Reid. Rob also has several good friends in New York with political connections that he would not let me mention. In Billy Crystal’s movie, City Slicker, the guys talk about finding that “one thing” that makes life special. All too often people spend their entire lives looking for that “one thing” that brings them joy and contentment. Well, apparently Rob found his “one thing” years ago when he learned to ride a horse. It’s interesting that his love for horses takes him all over the world giving him opportunities to meet folks that most of us can only read about. And to think, a lucrative career began with just a boy and his horse.