June 2016 - The Olympic Dream In Reality

Emotional waypoint on the road to Rio.

by Lauren Billys • photos by Kristin Lee Photography

While going to the Olympics should contain training and packing, something that I forget to mention in past columns are the hours spent organizing my life on the computer to prepare the travel of each person going to Rio, picking up wine barrels from a college friend for an event, and planning a week of fundraising efforts.

The May 14 fundraiser date also happened to be Lauren’s birthday!

TPurdy (Castle Larchfield Purdy) is ready to party.

In mid-May, I spent a week in the Central Valley, where I met with old friends and people who have been supporting me from my hometown.  It was an emotional week that started with speaking to a group of riders who are learning to ride from the same instructors, Laurel and Al George, who raised me and ending with a fundraising party with over 200 guests.

To say the least, the week had its own spark of inspiration by reminding me of the many people at home who have believed in the process, invested in it, and prayed for my horses’ and my safety and success along the way.

These people are a collective group who attended my fundraiser, but individually are people I’ve met in each facet of my life from soccer, church, high school friends and their parents, riding, wine tasting in college and the list goes on. Many of these people have just known me to ride horses, which was a dead giveaway from my randomized schedule, attire or accessories of hay and shavings occasionally intertwined in my hair. They have encouraged me because we have grown in friendship and life together.

So when we all joined together I felt honored to finally share with them what I have learned to love and have spent countless hours doing. And at the close of it all, I feel blessed to be surrounded by so many people in different walks of life and that we can enjoy this journey together.

Inspiring the equestrian dream in the next generation.

Silver Rose Ranch in Clovis is dressed to the 9s.

There are so many people who made this weekend possible: my mother, Betsy Billys and her husband Walt Hill, who organized my week and always make me feel at home; Dyhane Hawkins and her group of dedicated friends who etched wine glasses, made centerpieces and worked behind the scenes to make this fundraiser a beautiful success; my boyfriend Jeff Shady, who keeps me positive and excited for the future; Carol Patterson, who allowed us to enjoy her beautiful property, Silver Rose Ranch in Clovis; my sponsors; the Purdy Syndicate; and all my friends who came to support us.

It was a special memory I will hold onto when I feel alone in this process: that there is a community of supporters who have been and are continuing to root for us. I am now looking forward to putting my head down and working hard for the next short couple of months until we land in Rio! I can’t believe how fast this is all happening and yet I want to enjoy each moment of the process.


Lauren & Purdy give old and new friends an Olympic preview.

Equestrian photographer Kristin Lee specializes in people and horse portraiture, action shots and lifestyle images. She’s happy to make barn visits or meet clients at shows where she is the official photographer. Visit www.kristinleephotography.com.