Rolex actually is as overwhelming and exciting as everyone imagines it to be. I told myself over and over that it was just another 3-day, just like another horse trial, to try to convince myself that I would be able to get through it. I can’t even count how many times I told myself that I had done this all before, this is nothing new. Despite the continual struggle to control my mind and keep focused, the voice inside me was screaming, “This is ROLEX! This is your childhood dream come to life!! Don’t screw it up!”
Hey Eventing Nation, John asked me to write about my first Rolex, in 2007 when I rode Keep The Faith. Enjoy!
The week starts as magically as it finishes. From the requests for interviews from local newspapers and worldwide websites to the showering of sponsored gifts for riders, grooms and horses; as soon as I arrived I felt like a celebrity. The hospitality tent is always stocked with different types of sustenance, although I can only remember eating once the whole time I was there! The barns are booming with energy and everyone is happy to finally be there.
The first jog is electrifying. Everyone is a bit tense until their horse jogs up and is “accepted.” Other than getting my horse through the jog, I was pretty determined to win the Dubarry boots that they give to the best dressed rider. I didn’t win even though I had worn a darn cute outfit (in my personal opinion) and curled my hair…not that I’m bitter about it at all!
I expected to have trouble getting over my nerves in dressage, looking around at the grand stands and large crowds, but as I finished my warm-up and headed into the ring, the nerves slowly subsided. At one point during the walk I did feel the slightest bit nauseated, but quickly got back to work! Upon finishing my test, I was whisked away in a golf cart and bombarded by reporters. This unexpected press exposure only added to the nerve-racking atmosphere.
While walking cross-country riders have to wear their pinnies and people are asking for autographs even if they don’t necessarily know who you are. Saturday morning is unlike anything I had ever experienced. I had a good night’s sleep (thank you John for providing the Nyquill) and felt ready and focused. Even though I knew my horse and I could conquer the course, I could only think of each individual combination and succession of the course separately. It was too long and difficult for me to comprehend all at once. So I focused on the first fence as I was led into the start box by Clark Montgomery, who must have seen my face and told me that I was going to be fine and that I’d feel better once I got on course. Only once on course did I notice the crowds, when my horse took a look right before the head of the lake. After I jumped the creek oxer (the jump I was the most scared of) I remember taking a deep breath and smiling. The finish was no let down of exhilaration. So many friends and family were gathered outside the fencing and Lindsey Pearce and I jumped up and down and screamed. My mom shook me and said, “Way to go girl. You did it!” There was lots of ice and fluids for the horses that night and I was so relieved it was over but also wishing I could do it all over again.
I remember being pretty sad when Sunday came and the weekend was coming to an end. Show jumping was the quickest day of all and its funny how I started to get used to the crowds by the time I went in for my round. I didn’t want it to ever end, but it came and went like the best things in life often do. I hope every event rider gets to experience Rolex at some point in their life, whether it be riding or spectating–it truly is unforgettable.