The World Where You Live

Gotta love Crowded House – I was lucky enough to see Neil Finn play back up in Boston in about 1999, and Eddie Vedder showed up to sing with him… amazing show for the 300 people that were there – somewhere there is a bootleg of that show – That was in my last life…

November 17th 2001 – I was riding my mountain bike with a friends brother when my phone just wouldn’t stop ringing, I had the afternoon off and decided to enjoy one of the last warm days in Gordon Woods – I only took my phone with me in case one of us tipped over and we needed extra help – it was the boarders from the barn I managed calling to tell me that Jim had died.

Jim Stamets was my boss at the time – standing only 5’4” and weighing 110lbs at best, he had a presence MUCH larger than that. Always a smile, always a laugh, always a friend, always encouraging, always a horseman, always loving his horses and always loving the sport of eventing.

That February Jim had convinced me to quit my job working in Boston and come run his barn and help manage his horses and schedule. I had just about had enough of commuting and was missing the horses enough, I didn’t take much convincing. We had quite a summer – we traveled to many of the top competitions; his 3 star mare, Bally-Mar, won a lot; Rolex was the plan for the spring; students did well, everyone was happy.

Jim had a bad heart and it finally gave up – at 49 years old. He fell asleep with his dogs and never woke up…

Suddenly, I had lost my boss and friend and had no job really… It was hard to get up and muck the barn the next day, the boarders all came and helped – we all cried, hugged and tried to make sense of it all…

My friend Joanie Morris and I were talking on November 17 last year – and I said, “Can you believe it was 15 years ago that Jim died??” Her comment back was “Where do you think you would be now if Jim hadn’t died?” – I had no answer…

You see – I had no answer because I have no answer… Just as my world was upside down, it somehow righted itself… eventually. Two days after Jim had died, John and Dianne Pingree, who owned Bally-Mar, asked if I would stop by their house. I thought they wanted to know how Bally was and tell me what their plan was for her – little did I know, their plan included me.

“We are sending Bally to Karen O’Connor and we want you to go with her”


So off I went – in my blue Ford Escort station wagon, with what I could fit of my life in it…. Packed my apartment, said goodbye to my friends and family and the world I knew. It was sleepless nights in anticipation of my new journey – so much controversy about the mare leaving – off to complete strangers and new towns – This was going to become the world where I live.

I still can’t thank the Pingree’s enough for believing in me and give me the opportunity of a lifetime, even if it came in a hidden form. I don’t see them anymore as our worlds do not cross, but I think of their kindness all the time.

The counties I have traveled to, the horses I have been lucky enough to work with, the amazing people I have met, the knowledge I have gained, the relationship I am in, the places I live – maybe none of this would have happened if Jim hadn’t died; maybe it would… Maybe I would have had a different adventure.


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