Debbie McDonald: Ready for Liftoff with the Olympic Dressage Team

Editor’s note: With Peggy and Parry Thomas’ Brentina, Debbie McDonald has represented the U.S. at Olympic Games, World Championships and a Pan American Games. In 2009, the pair became the first American combination to win the World Cup Dressage Final. Debbie now trains Adrienne Lyle, who will represent the U.S. as an individual at the 2012 Olympic Games.

July 9, 2012–After the grueling two weeks of trials I made my way back home to Hailey, Idaho, a place I haven’t seen since last November. I haven’t even seen my husband or my kids more than a couple of times. I guess they aren’t really kids anymore, but in my mind they always will be! It was truly breath-taking to fly into our valley, where everything is still very green with full rivers and lakes. We live in heaven, and are so blessed with the beauty and wonderful people.

One of our clients got Parry the London Olympic flag for his birthday. It now flies over the other Olympic flag and under the good ol’ USA flag! | Photo courtesy Debbie McDonald

The town was full of buzz about Adrienne and Wizard making it to the Olympics! In a small town when something makes it into the local paper, everyone knows about it. They also are very familiar with River Grove Farm and the Thomas family, and know this is not their first time doing this. In fact, this will be the third Olympic Games in a row for the family with two different riders on two different horses. Both started as young horses, home grown and trained in Hailey, Idaho. It truly is amazing to see Parry at 91 years old still excited about this. It was pretty emotional.

I tried to fit as much in as possible in the ten days I was home. I took hikes with my puppies, and went to lunch and dinner with our amazing clients who have put their lives on hold while Adrienne and I are traveling the world. I flew back to N.J. on the July 3 and was shocked at the humidity and heat. So we are up very early and out of the barn by no later than 9:30 a.m. We had a fun barbecue at the barn with the team and grooms on the 4th of July.

I have been very happy with Wizard’s schooling, and we are hoping that we are timing everything just right. I am hopeful that he will love the cooler weather in London. We leave on Sunday ahead of the horses and are hoping that plans go the way we want so we are there on the receiving end to greet them. I always worry about the travel, especially after I had a problem with Brentina loading on the plane one time. But Rick, the team vet, will be on the plane and that is a huge peace of mind. We will do our best to keep you all posted! Stay tuned and pray that the team arrives safely!

For more from Debbie, check out her book Riding Through, which details her system for dressage success.

Read more about Debbie’s Olympic experience in the Olympic dressage coverage.

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