Tamie Smith, mom of Area VI CH-J* rider Kaylawna Smith, has been bringing us updates all week from NAJYRC, and she’s back with a great recap of the competition up to this point. Eventing concludes today with jogs this morning and show jumping starting at 12:30 p.m. Take it away, Tamie! [NAJYRC Results]
Dressage was perfect! I was so nervous, I could barely handle myself. I’m sure by the end of today, I will have an ulcer and need to squirt a tube of Ulcergard down my throat. As soon as I could talk to Kaylawna and coach her before her test, it was much better. As we were walking into the stadium, I went to say one last thing to Kaylawna and Emily (our vet) looked at me and said, “She’s fine. She’s got this,” and she was right.
Kaylawna went in the ring and rode like a professional. She was accurate and precise and asked her horse just enough to get a brilliant score and lead the dressage with a 45.6. It was so gratifying watching her hard work pay off. During her test, I was so nervous and honestly the most nervous I’ve ever been — I think mostly because of being the mom. It’s incredible how that changes the dynamic!
Eventing had the day off of competition on Friday, and so they were able to go study David O’Connor’s cross-country course, which I’m happy to report looked like a true championship course. I’ve coached at the last five or six Young Riders, and this year and last year really has changed in terms of turning into a more difficult course. As a coach and rider, I think it’s exactly what our sport needs to prepare these kids for the future.
Getting ready for cross country, I felt much more relaxed, but my emotions have had a much different feeling this weekend. Kaylawna is a very good competitor and knows how to handle pressure, but knowing if it will all align is so nerve-racking. Let’s face it, our sport is unpredictable, and you have a lot of factors you’re coping with to assure you have crossed your t’s and dotted your i’s. So the nerves started in full force yesterday morning.
The course immediately started riding tough. I knew if Kaylawna rode well things would go well, but I also knew that having the one-star be an eight-minute course, it would be difficult for Metro to make the time. He’s a big horse, and although he has a big stride, he and the kid don’t have an established relationship quite yet.
Watching Hawley warm her up was surreal, almost like an out of body experience. I had every emotion run through my body in a matter of 30 minutes. That is a difficult thing to deal with but so eye-opening. Yes, we all know parents are usually crazy, and I have turned into one of those. But wow! It was such an unreal experience. Once again, I went to say something to Kaylawna to give her one last minute advice, and Hawley put her hand on my shoulder and said, “She’s got this,” and she did!
It wasn’t that I had any doubt, I just wanted so badly for it all to happen. As she left the box, I cried, thought of everything from when she got on her first pony to struggling with her as a single mom. I stood in the field and watched as she rode the course with conviction and took care of her horse!
I was very proud, very excited and honestly had the best time watching her navigate a green horse around a tough course. She rode smart and in a steady rhythm. They jumped around clean with time, and I couldn’t have asked for a better result. She truly has shown what a champion she is, and how can you ask for anything more?
Area VI didn’t have the result we were hoping for, but every girl went out of the start box and fought. They supported each other, they handled their disappointed with class, and I really feel like each of these girls have formed a bond they will have forever. The grooms all worked so hard cooling off all of the horses, and watching them all work together was very rewarding.
We spent the night dancing the night away at the competitor party and truly had such a wonderful time with everyone. I haven’t had that much fun in so long! I’m sure pictures and video of crazy outfits and dancing will surface any moment. So today is the final day. Metro jogged up sound and happy yesterday evening. Jogs are first thing this morning, and show jumping starts at 12:30 p.m., so I’m looking forward to watching the results tomorrow.
I can’t thank the entire Area VI team enough for such a good experience for Kaylawna. Watching them all support each other and develop new friendships has been such a wonderful experience.
I don’t envy these coaches/chefs coping and dealing with all of the dynamics of a full Young Rider team. It truly takes a group of individuals who are willing to leave it up with the powers at be to let the everything fall into place, and that is a hard place to be in when things go badly. You’re either a hero or a zero! Area VI Young Riders were all heroes in my opinion. Everyone involved has been super, and that’s what makes the entire experience be amazing no matter the result.
3 a.m. update:
It’s the 3 a.m. psycho bug that has entered my brain. The mom nerves have officially kicked in. Show jumping has arrived, and this is where it all happens at Young Riders. Kaylawna will be the only 1* kid jogging for Area VI. Yesterday was one of those unlucky days for Area VI.
The water at the Head of the Lake caused a large part of the trouble, as well as the coffin for the entire division. Numerous falls at the infamous Head of the Lake shattered many dreams for these kids. The kids were jumping in, and the horses looked as though they were stumbling on landing. Some recovered well, and most fell victim to the monster grabbing fetlocks as they landed.
All of the girls who had trouble handled themselves fantastically. They all have been such a great team, and it truly has made the team experience one to remember. Having a good group of kids always keeps the fire alive.
Jogs start at 9 a.m. here in Kentucky. Show jumping will start at approximately 12:30 p.m., and Kaylawna will be 21st in the ring.
Metro or Kaylawna have never galloped a CCI before, let alone on terrain or for eight minutes, so today will be interesting for many.
Going to try and get a little more shut eye and then head to the barns. Sure wish crystal balls were real!