The Highs and Lows

I remember reading an article this spring on EN about the “dandelions in the park” — the people who never got to complete their Rolex dream or Pony Club Championships or took that long, sad walk back to stabling.

Another grew for us at Jump Start Horse Trials. 

You could hear me across the whole park singing whatever was coming out of my mouth. There was nothing I wanted more than just to make it to the finish line. We made it all the way to fence 11 before we were held up and had to circle several times.

There we lost our rhythm and confidence. I started to overthink everything, and we had three stops at fence 11, resulting in being eliminated.

Damn, I wish I could have crossed that finish line. It was right there, I could see it, I could feel it. Instead I had to walk back to stabling with tears streaming down my face and my brain trying to catch up with my surroundings.

My first recognized was over like that. We had our best dressage test of our lives, something I’ve been pounding on to understand. We jumped the best stadium round minus the one rail I grabbed.

We learned so much in only a few days. The support I’ve had in the past few weeks from friends and family and even complete strangers — I had the time of my life in the “big league.”

From the first moment I stepped into the park two years ago at the Hagyard MidSouth Team Challenge as a wide-eyed 13-year-old who just completed my first event season at Intro, I knew I wanted to be there one day in that big stadium ring and gallop on that turf.

It’s not about what score you finish on, how many mistakes you made. Eventing is never something you will always walk away from with a ribbon. That’s not how I see it.

Yes, winning is definitely a perk after the hours of practice. But the experience I had can’t even compare to a four-dollar ribbon. I took away all the little moments.

Jamming out the music as loud as it would go with my two best friends on the way home as they did everything to cheer me up. Standing outside that big stadium ring looking down at my trainer as we went over my course, one hand on my saddle, the other on my jump bat. Even hand walking him around as we both looked around in awe — we were finally here.

A stranger who came up to me once I was finished asked me, “You’re not gonna give up, are you?” And no, I’m not. We will be back again, Kentucky Horse Park, to pluck that dandelion and cross that finish line. Just you wait and see.