Andrea’s Return to the Maccabiah Games: Bronze is the New Gold

Two summers ago, EN readers followed the story of Andrea Glazer, an eventer among Grand Prix show jumpers at the 2017 Maccabiah Games. She catch rode an unfamiliar horse over 1.20-meter (3’9″) and above show jumping courses to help Team USA earn the silver medal, and was selected to represent the team once again at the 2019 European Maccabiah Games in Budapest, Hungary. Today, she reports on how the Games went — spoiler alert: Andrea is a bada$$. Read more at her blog, Dre the Zookeeper

Photo courtesy of Andrea Glazer.

Thank goodness for my parents, cousin, coaches, and teammates, because without them, I would not have gotten through the Nation’s Cup (rounds 1 and 2). After the completion of the first day of competition, to say I was disappointed, confused, and absolutely dreading the following day would be a polite way to put it.

Photo courtesy of Andrea Glazer.

I had to go to the Maccabi hub to the see the physical therapists for my leg because it was pretty painful – you could see exactly where the rail hit my leg. Half of my leg was numb because of the swelling (despite my parents being doctors, I’m not good at explaining medical stuff), and the other half of my leg was in a considerable amount of pain. When I went to get my leg checked, I asked if I was just being a wimp or if she would have been in a lot of pain too, just to make sure I wasn’t milking it. She assured me that it looked very, very painful and I wasn’t being a baby – thank goodness. We iced my leg and then she wrapped it up with an ace bandage that made me feel very cool, I won’t lie, and off I went back to the hotel, completely exhausted emotionally and physically from the series of unfortunate events that occurred that day.

You could say I didn’t sleep much before the next day of competition – I had never felt so nervous to jump a course in my life. Not even that I was concerned about it going well, I was nervous that if I fell again, I could really injure myself since I’m already down a leg.

After achieving a whopping 4 hours of sleep, Arly and I went to the stables early to flat both horses and get them out of the stall. Arly told me to canter Nando, for at least 20 minutes because he was probably going to be wound up from yesterday, and she saw how strong he was, so any energy we could exhaust, could help me.

Photo courtesy of Andrea Glazer.

Limping my way to the barn, I could barely zip up my ripped boots. It was my inner calf that was the major pain point – not the best area to be hurt since that’s a vital body part you use when jumping a horse. Anyways, I tried not to think about how much pain I was in, got on Nando and off we went to the warm up ring.

The venue wasn’t buzzing since the competition wasn’t starting until the afternoon. Nando was so quiet, listening to my aids, and rideable – similar to the version of him I rode during the practice round. I knew this wouldn’t be the case later in the day, so I still had a nice 20-25 minute canter, despite my leg feeling like it could fall off at any minute, and doing everything I could to get him listening to me with the hopes that this training could carry into our ride the afternoon, despite the change in atmosphere.

After our flat ride, I went to attempt to eat some food before watching them begin to construct the course. I immediately lost my appetite after seeing them build the jumps, hiking them up to a height way past my comfort zone. I watched in horror, noticing a double (oxer one stride to a vertical), a triple combination similar to the one he stopped at yesterday, and a massive triple bar 5 strides to a liverpool. There were multiple square oxers much bigger than the day prior, and #5 was probably the biggest vertical I had ever been asked to jump in a competition. I thought I was going to puke – are they trying to kill me?

Jump #5 – pictures don’t do it justice!

I walked up to the Israeli Chef d’Equipe as she was looking at the course and said, “I’m not a quitter, I never quit, but I really want to quit right now.”

She saw everything that happened the day before and goes, “I know you can do this, but if you really aren’t comfortable jumping it, then you don’t have to.” Maybe not the pep talk I was looking for…

I thought to myself, okay, if you can get through the first 4 jumps maybe you can just do a nice victory gallop, wave to your parents, and politely leave the ring. I went up to David, Carly’s coach, and told him my fictitious plan and he looked at me like I had two heads and goes, “nope, you’re doing this. You can jump this course.”

One of the many massive oxers

Next thing I knew, I was walking the massive course and planning my ride – David told me that I had to get the proper strides in each line because the jumps were bigger and I can’t take flyers at big oxers. On any other horse, this is so obvious – why wouldn’t you get the correct striding? Duh. Except I had little to no brakes on Nando, so fitting in the correct strides seemed nearly impossible. I was most concerned about the triple bar to the liverpool – how was I expected to get him back to fit 5 strides in?

The triple bar – hoping not to miss my distance to this one!

I couldn’t look at the course any longer – I had to get on or else I truly was going to throw up. I couldn’t believe I was actually going to attempt this – I went back to the stables to get Nando and start my warm up.

A major downside to falling off in the first day of competition was that I was the first competitor in the ring.

Yup, that’s me, first in the ring..

Are. You. Kidding. Me.

This is the last thing you want because you have no idea how the course rides, if the lines ride like they walk, etc. To give you a better idea of how daunting this course looked, my mom was crying while I started my warm up – I’m not even kidding; I was absolutely terrified.

I started trotting and cantering around before heading towards the jumps. I again, checked to see what minimal brakes I was working with, doing everything in my power to get him to pay attention to me before I started jumping.

Starting over the warm-up jumps, I made sure to sit so tall to every jump, like there was a string connecting my pony tail to his tail, with my legs wrapped around him as much as I could bear (so painful with my bummed leg) – if he tried anything, I was hanging on with every fiber of my being. I jumped a few verticals and even some oxers (thank goodness) and it was like yesterday didn’t even happen. We found our groove again which was the only comforting thing I kept reminding myself before prancing into the ring (remember, he is ring sour #blessed).

Photo courtesy of Andrea Glazer.

I did 3 canter-halts before starting my course; one of them being next to the huge triple bar, getting his nose as close to that enormous jump with the hopes that familiarizing him to the monstrosity would better my chances of making it to the other side. The bell rang and I could feel the nerves from the spectators, but the 45 second countdown started, so I took a deep breath and headed towards the first jump.

Over the oxer we went and then he jolted in the turn to #2, the same thing he did yesterday when I was heading for the triple combination. I made sure to get him back as best I could to set him up to the next fence that was off a turn, which we jumped beautifully! Then we jumped our first related distance line – a big vertical, 6 strides to a massive oxer. I got him back in the line – it was perfect!

The vertical into the line to the 6 stride line.

The vertical into the line to the 6 stride line.

Just to prove how determined/terrified I was, please enjoy the following close-up of the previous photo:

Landing after the oxer at #4 was the first time I remembered to breathe before a rollback turn to the 5th jump, that I previously had no intentions of jumping. I got him there perfectly, and with a half of a second of feeling relieved, off we went to the first combination. I had to ride very aggressively (for obvious reasons) to the big oxer, so he hit it behind, but we made it through the combination!

Next was the triple bar line – he got very strong after the combination and I was yelling woah, along with some tugs on the reins to try and get him to listen; I wouldn’t say he totally came back to me, but I saw my distance to the triple bar in the turn, and we got there great. Despite using everything I had in me to try and get him to slow down in the line, he ate up the line and we got very deep to the liverpool, but I stayed so far back, preparing for the worst, and kicked him off the ground – he jumped it! Hitting it upfront because of the distance – I didn’t even care – I made it through the line!

Then we had the triple combination – we jumped it so well that even the crowd cheered! I’m still not sure if they cheered because we jumped it so well or cheered because they were in disbelief that I actually made it through on the first attempt, but nonetheless we cleared it with ease.

I turned to the last 3 jumps that included a square oxer, a vertical and then a bending line to an oxer to finish. I was absolutely determined to get this horse through those finish flags, and we managed to get all of our distances and fly though the finish flags!

Everyone cheered and I still got to do that ‘victory gallop’ around the ring! The truth is with that – I was so exhausted from holding him through the whole course, I couldn’t stop him so I didn’t have much of a choice in the matter.

Photo courtesy of Andrea Glazer.

Once I could finally catch my breath and slow him down, all I could hear was my mom screaming, “I’M SO PROUD OF YOU! I’M SO PROUD!!!”

That was when it really sunk in – this was that once in a lifetime feeling – I was so overjoyed, relieved, and just absolutely ecstatic – I DID IT!

I come out of the ring patting and hugging Nando, giving Arly a high five, to then jump off Nando (on my right leg because my left leg felt like it might fall off) to be greeted with the biggest hug from my mom, still screaming about how proud she is of me.

I watched the rest of the riders go and realized how difficult the course was. Rails were flying, people weren’t getting around – I’m telling you that triple bar was huge! Arly and Carly were the last in the ring because they had jumped clean up until this point. I was able to cheer them on, with the other families and Carly had the quickest jump off to take home the gold, with Arly taking home the silver – GO USA!!!

Cheering for Carly after she won the individual gold medal!

After the completion of the event, my mom, cousin, and I ran out into the ring and took pictures next to all of the jumps. Yes, I looked like a complete idiot being the only one doing this, but I mean, you have to do it for the blog!

Photo courtesy of Andrea Glazer.

That night we headed to the Maccabi hub for the medal ceremony. I got to limp my way onto stage for that team bronze medal. The blood, copious amount of sweat, and lots of happy and sad tears that got me this bronze medal is actually impressive. I mean, bronze looks better with my skin tone anyways!

Thank you to everyone for reading my blogs and going along this wild journey with me. Representing 3-Day Eventing, the Jewish Community, Louisville, and the United States is an unbelievable opportunity that I am so lucky to have experienced. It may not have gone as planned, but I am still very thankful to have ridden for the USA, and I mean, if you’re going to fall off, you might as well do it in your pinque coat in Budapest, right?