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case, the arrival of the two judges from the American Warmblood Registry heralds the start of the day when all those impeccably turned out weanlings, mares and stallion prospects are paraded for scrutiny of confor- mation, movement, gaits and overall impression. I am annually reminded of “Admiral’s Inspection” in the Navy, when every aspect of operations is put to the test and thoroughly debriefed some 24 hours later to the benefit of all. And so it is at our equine inspec- tions with the comprehensive debrief of qualities of all participants to the betterment of the AWR breeding programs.

And then there are the ‘downsides’ of breeding – the illnesses, the losses, the injections, and the wound care, and alas – the burials. I recently had to bury an unborn colt and his dam–both lost to a slightly prema- ture and incorrect presentation to the birth canal; despite all our vets’ best and determined efforts we were unable to save either. That morning as I closed the grave with emotions running high, I strongly recalled the military graveside ceremony when I was the ‘boss’ of a squadron and had to bury two young navy officers who were killed in a tragic flying acci- dent. I found that the unceremonious way in which the equine burial has to be handled makes it in some

ways even more tragic, but neither will be easily forgotten!

“Always look on the bright side of life” is the chorus line to a famous Monty Python song – and whistling that tune has always helped me through tragedies in both careers. By doing so I hope to continue through to 25 years of service in the Warmblood breeding world and eventually get to experience the thrill of navigating the first team of American Palomino Warmbloods through The Gulch hazard at Live Oak!

Two careers. Two vastly different mounts. Both roller coaster rides of emotion. Are they similar? Yes, in many ways! Or perhaps it should be ‘No’ if I view the assisted births of foals and the giving of life as my recompense for numerous days of planning and practicing death and destruction!

WT

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Denis and Jean Thornton, with cremello German Warmblood stallion Blue Eyed Dream, win Pleasure Driving Reserve Champion and Driving Games Champion at Silver Sands Bridle Club

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