A Trilogy Comes Full Circle at Golden Spike H.T.

Photo courtesy of Jhett Jenkins.

Eventers near and far, I have news. The struggle will forever be worth it, as the victories to follow will for sure out weight the failures. I have written you twice before about the struggles of my horse Street and I, and I am going to end our story on a happy note. This past weekend has been possibly the greatest time of my life.

This weekend myself and my team traveled to Golden Spike Horse Trials in Ogden, Utah. Golden Spike has always felt like home to me because we have ridden there for as long as I can remember. Though the facility held a few demons for me, if you read our last story you would know that our previous outing did not go as planned, I was feeling hopeful about the weekend. The new cross country design was being debuted in honor of the 30 year anniversary of the event and everyone had good feelings about the tracks.

The Friday before the event my mother and I got on site early enough to do a schooling show jump round. Street got a little over faced in the warm up area, we both forgot how hectic Beginner Novice warm-up can be, but was a total pro once in the ring and jumped everything confidently and happily. That night I had the usual pre-competition nerves, but had a good feeling about how the weekend would go.

Saturday I had a painfully late dressage ride time, 1:52 p.m. to be exact, so I had to myself busy in the morning so I could give him a relaxed ride. I took pictures and watched my fellow eventers throw down some beautiful dressage tests — go Area IX, am I right? — I walked my stadium course for later in the day three times, and helped my mom braid Street. Finally once that glorious hour arrived, I was able to start warming up.

Street was distracted and nervous in the beginning of the warm up, but by the end was reaching over and being really fantastic. The change of scenery into the ring was a source of stress, but he settled in nicely for half of our test, the other half showing his greenness, but was a real trooper and tried very hard for me every step of the way. He ultimately scored a new personal best with a 35 and our test included a lot of encouraging comments from our judge about his future.

Photo courtesy of Jhett Jenkins.

At 4 p.m. we got to show jump, and he continued his streak from the day before in being foot perfect the entire time and adding no penalties to his score for the first day. Monkey received many carrots for his efforts that day and was sent to bed with dreams of double clears. When cross country day finally arrived, I had another painfully late ride time so I knew I had to bide my time.

My body apparently had no regard for this as I was wide awake at 5:30 that morning. I spent the quiet hours before the madness began sitting at Streets stall and walking him. And I was blown away by all the changes that he was showing me. Besides his obvious physical changes since I have had him, his entire personality has changed. He has become friendly and playful and now nickers at every human that walks by his stall in hopes of getting a carrot. He genuinely is just happy now. And I realized that that was the most important thing to me.

Sure, the weekend had been icing on the cake with him, but for him to just actually love his job and his life has been my ultimate goal. A happy horse means a happy girl. The rest of my day included two course walks, cheering on riders, and so many hugs and happy tears as I watched my friends have successful rides.

My wonderful trainer and I had made a game plan for the course, and I knew that if I rode it right Street would perform. He warmed up wonderfully and, with some encouraging words, we marched down to the startbox ready to fight. The next four minutes were so incredible that I can’t put words to it. It was as if a new horse burst out of the shell of my old one and knew his job, and did it all so well. I can tell you that I crossed those finish flags in tears, happy tears.

I can say that eventers  and especially my area are so supportive it is unbelievable. I send a thousand thank you’s to all that cheered us on this weekend and have believed in this grey horse because we both need it most days. Street ended the weekend on his dressage score and got to take home a pretty red ribbon.

Photo courtesy of Jhett Jenkins.

So, the point of all of this is that no horse is a lost cause. No rider is a lost cause. No dream is too big and no defeat can hold you down. This sport is tough, but eventers are tougher.

I want to say thank you, to my trainer Heather for putting up with all of our ideas, to my team, MB, Molly, Julie, Ella for not (openly) doubting all my decisions, to my encouragers from other states, I’m looking at you Grace, to the friends that don’t understand the sport but let me vent to them anyways, to anyone who has read these articles and thought of us,  and especially to my mom for making all of this happen.

This seemingly small victory to most is the most important thing to me, and this is why it’s the perfect happy ending to our Eventing Nation trilogy. I am positive I could write a thousand more of these, but I don’t need to. I want to leave everyone with some inspiration I received from Lainey Ashker’s Instagram, the comeback is always bigger than the setback.

Never stop fighting friends, because the rewards are bigger than we can imagine. Happy trails fellow eventers, kick on!

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