Athletux blogger Kristin Schmolze will be returning to Rolex for a second consecutive year with her lovely top mount Ballylaffin Bracken, and now that we’re officially at the one-month mark until the event, it’s time to begin the bubble wrapping! Many thanks to Kristin for writing, and good luck in Kentucky!
With Rolex quickly approaching and the countdown on, myself and several of my upper-level peers are starting what I like to call the bubble wrapping process. It is a bit funny to admit, but the truth is all of a sudden your horse’s leg — that any other time of the season may look completely normal — now looks like it could be puffy in one spot in what becomes your obsessive mind, and things like small scrapes from fun in the pasture that would typically receive a quick dab of cream now receive a full icing session and paranoid standing wrap. Welcome to the final weeks leading up to a CCI4*!
To make things more exciting, this is a World Equestrian Games, year so riders, myself included, are hoping to perform their very best perhaps even a bit more than usual to catch the attention of the selection committee members at just the right time. As the entry list for Rolex is posted, I think it is safe to say that many of us listed check back frequently to see whom our competitors will be, and then as the final weeks approach, wait anxiously for the number we will draw.
Most riders are a little superstitious, and it certainly doesn’t hurt to draw a number you consider to be a bit lucky, but one of the biggest things your competitor number (or numbers, depending on who you are) dictates is what day you will go for dressage and who you will follow into the ring. These things — although they should not in theory — in reality can make an impact on your final result.
The thing about many of us that is also interesting with about a month to go is that we all run businesses which involve teaching lessons and riding numerous horses a day, not to mention competing several horses of all skill and age levels. I myself compete on average about five other horses regularly during the season in addition to my Advanced partner Ballylaffin Bracken aka “Rox,” and that always presents the opportunity for something to go wrong. However, this part of my business pays the bills and makes it possible for me to compete my top level horse, and I also enjoy it quite a bit, so aside from being sure I am always secured in my Point Two air vest, especially during these final weeks, business continues as usual, and as they say, the show must go on.
Having competed last year at Rolex with Rox at his first CCI4*, there are things I of course hope to improve upon this year, and there are also benefits to knowing crucial things such as how he will react to the big crowds along the ropes and exactly what it will take for him to be successful fitness wise. When considering a horse’s fitness needs, we as riders must also think about how we will have a horse left to show jump well on Sunday without being too fatigued from what is always a demanding cross country course the day prior.
Just like any other rider you’re hoping to see in Kentucky in April, the next few weeks will determine a great deal. And, even when we pull into the horse park, anything can still happen, which we have seen in the past many, many times! Until then, we will bubble wrap and have those familiar butterflies that come along with this incredible sport.