Hey Eventing Nation,
I would like to start this off with a gigantic Thank You to everyone who was involved with this trip to WEG. That includes ‘my’ people, as well as those who helped all the other Canadian pairs. This isn’t intended to be an “I’d like to thank the Academy” spiel, so I will leave it with this. You know who you are, and we couldn’t have done it without you!!
I really want to remember the way that this competition felt for the rest of my life. It was uncharted territory for me, being my first team competition and my first World Championships, and it was also the first time I have been in a field with so many of the riders that I have looked up to (from a distance) for my whole life. To be in a barn aisle with Mark Todd and Andrew Nicholson, and to routinely be riding in the same ring as Mary King and Pippa Funnell made me feel more than just a little wide-eyed for the first few days at the park. But, once we got down to the serious final preparation, it was surprising to me how I was able to convince myself that this would start to feel normal. Comparing the way my horse was going to the way that all the others were going, I actually believed that I could hold my own, and for me that was such a proud moment. I am so looking forward to what I hope will be many more opportunities to be in that kind of an atmosphere to learn as much as I can from these seasoned pro’s about how to play this game.
Because of my position as 3rd team rider, I was able to watch a ton of the competition, and this was a huge tool for me as far as getting in the mode to go out and ride. Watching the dressage, I could think to myself how each move would feel and comparing what I saw all day Thursday to what I knew I wanted from my horse. This was a great way to really get my head in the game, and I think I will maybe start perusing the internet for as much video as I can find over the winter to keep “practicing” these moves in my head.
Obviously, I was elated with how our ride went on Friday morning. Ollie felt super in warmup, and he really let me ride him in the ring. I felt like I really rode to my instructions with only minor mistakes and Ollie was right there with me. To have shaved about 8 points off of my last 4 star test score with just a couple months of practice is very exciting for me. I’m really looking forward to getting back at it with David after Ollie’s vacation!
I have to admit, I needed to watch the morning of the cross country to let the pro’s prove to me that it could be done. It was a much bigger track than Kentucky, and even though I always feel well prepared by my coach and well taken care of by my horse, I would not have wanted to be too early on in the day around that course. By the time I had to go back to the barn to get on, I had watched a lot of people make it look effortless, and I had also watched just enough “how not to’s ” and Oopsies, to give me a very serious conviction that I would need to go out and take every step seriously. I felt pretty level headed in warmup, and Ollie was ready to rock, so by the time we left the start box I was so ready to go and get it done. He was amazing!!! He didn’t exactly make it feel easy, but he was right there with me the whole time and never gave me the impression that he had second thoughts about anything. He is a real Superman cross country, and I have never been more grateful for that in my life!! What a boy J
Sunday felt like an entire week and merely an hour all at once. The morning started early with all the jog preparations, but then once all of that was done, it felt like we went non stop until we finally hit the pillow at whatever time that was. I still can’t really wrap my head around the eon/moment that was Sunday, but I can tell you that it was so incredibly special to be a part of the end result. I am so happy for myself and my team mates, and everyone involved with the creation of this result. I think the standout moment for me was having David give us our medals. He has poured so much energy and knowledge and support into this program and into each and every one of us, and I know that we made him a very proud Papa on Sunday!! I hope I get to be a part of repeating that many times over the next few years.
I am referring to the way I feel right now as my WEG hangover. I’m tired, my head hurts, I’m overwhelmed by almost everything on my to do list… but I still think back and say “Man that was sooooo awesome!!! Can you believe we did that??” And given just how awesome it was, I would do it over and over again.
Thanks so much for reading….
Steph and Ollie