When the U.S. Olympic Eventing Team competes next month in Rio, a husband and wife couple here in Central Kentucky will have played a significant part in their journey. Samantha Lederman has their story.
Joanie Morris is originally from Boston, but her job at the US Equestrian Federation based at the Kentucky Horse Park brought her to Lexington in 2007.
There are events across the US almost every weekend of the year, and in peak season the US will send a team abroad at least once a month. Morris arranges transportation & accommodations for horses, grooms and riders all over the country and the world, making sure their entries into various shows arrive on time, that vets are on call if they need to be, that trainers arrive where they’re supposed to, and that all the human and equine kit in all the right sizes is cleaned and delivered so that the US teams look the part.
Six years ago Morris met her husband Richard Picken at Cincinnati airport. Picken was working for Pedens Bloodstock and was part of the biggest ever airlift of horses that were flying into Kentucky for the World Equestrian Games in 2010. They got married in 2013 and bought a farm together in Bourbon County in November of last year.
Picken will be coaching US Olympic Team Eventers Boyd Martin and Phillip Dutton in Rio, as well as Puerto Rican Rider Lauren Billys. Specialising in show-jumping for event riders, he says, was a conscious decision.
Both Picken and Morris will be in Rio supporting the US Olympic Eventing Team, and Morris is currently trying to schedule a few days off for them both in November.