We’re still reliving the action at this year’s Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event, and one of this year’s “rookie” five-star riders, Emily Hamel, shares her thoughts on a weekend she’d been dreaming of and planning for her entire career. Emily and her high-jumping Corvett finished in 21st place for their Kentucky debut. You can also take a look back with fellow first-timer Ema Klugman here. Many thanks to Emily for writing!
Reflecting on Kentucky is simultaneously wonderful and strange. Wonderful in the way that I finally achieved a goal that I have been working towards for my whole adult life. Strange in the way that I reached it, and nothing really changed. Sure, I was extremely proud of myself and Barry, but daily life continues, and planning for what’s next is inevitable.
Cross country day was a whirlwind of activities and emotions. Since I was lucky #13, I got to ride early in the morning, around 9. This suited me well because I prefer to get it done before I have too much time to second guess my plan and get nervous. I arrived at the barn early and was out walking my course as soon as it was light enough to see where I was going. On my last walk on any course, I always go alone, walk my exact lines, and visualize me and Barry going over the fences. This was the most significant and challenging course I had ever ridden, so I was 100% focused, and I apologize if I ignored anyone who may have seen me walking. I was in the zone…nothing personal.
The closer it got to the time I had to get on, the more nervous I started to become; however, as soon as I got on Barry, I breathed a sigh of relief. I knew we had done everything we could do at this point, and it was our time to put all of our hard work to the test. As soon as I got to warm up, I could feel Barry knew what was up, and he was going to bring his A-Game. All I had to do was not mess up…no pressure.
We were almost late getting to the start box because I was being held on the other side of the ropes since a horse was about to cross the finish. So as soon as they let me go, the starter told me I had 15 seconds, and I was still a little ways away. It worked out well because I didn’t have time to get nervous; I just trotted over, galloped out of the box, and off we went!
Once on course, all I could keep thinking was, omg, we are doing it! Barry was on it from the beginning, but I felt like he gained confidence with each fence and got better as the course went on. I was the most nervous about the hollow because I had never jumped anything quite like it. After we flew (quite literally because he massively jumped the brushes) through that, I knew that we were going to finish as long as I didn’t make any serious mistakes.
Crossing the finish line was an unbelievable feeling and then being greeted by my very excited support crew was the icing on the cake. It was all kind of a blur, but I remember lots of hugs, tears of joy, and loving on Barry. If anyone has pictures of these interactions, I would love to see them because at the end of the day that’s what it’s all about. The love of the sport, the horse, and all of the people who help make it happen!
Watch Emily and Corvett’s awesome cross country round:
Emily is currently making herself available for clinics and lessons if you’re local to the Chester County, Pa. area. To contact her for booking, visit the Emily Hamel Eventing Facebook page.