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Rider Recap: Getting It Done

Thank you to Austin Eventer Lorrie A. for her recap of this weekend!

Like most horse shows, this one started before dawn, but with fog thicker than a death shroud, and a GPS with a mind of its own, the universe seem to be saying, “How badly do you want it?” I guess the universe doesn’t get that eventers are a determined lot because the team of Austin Eventing pushed on to Coyote Springs, although we arrived with only ten minutes to spare for the first rider’s dressage warm up. Eeep! I have to say the first rider handled the stress much better than I would have. Nerves of steel those eventers. Well, most of them anyway.

Thankfully, I was riding Goldilocks which left me ample time to walk my course and decide maybe, just maybe I could get around it—seven jumps in stadium then straight to cross country for the water obstacle, three jumps and a down bank. But then I had to stow away that fun stuff and concentrate on dressage.

My main goal for dressage was to be relaxed. For Heidi and I, success starts with being loose, limber and listening. I call it the three L’s. I’m not sure what Heidi calls them, but we had the three L’s as we entered the ring, and I’m thinking, “Wow, we nailed centerline.” Then I go to halt, either remembering some other test (oh, like Prelim B?) or thinking that’s got to be the end. Not really sure which, but I snapped out of my misconception, slightly before X. Whew! The judge only docked us for slight loss of motion, but even better she commented on our precise centerline. Yay! I won’t say the rest of the test was perfect, or even slightly imperfect, but with the three L’s present for most of the test, we slipped below forty for the first time ever on our dressage score—a win in my book.

After dressage, we headed back to the trailer for a tack and bit change. While I scurried around doing all the hard work, Heidi downed a bucket of water. Who knew dressage could be so dehydrating? Then off we went to warm up for the most fun part of the show, but also the most terrifying. I like long warms up—the longer the warm up, the more relaxed I become. We had a long warm up and we were definitely relaxed, however, there’s always that moment when I’m in the ring heading to the first jump that panic slips in. Then my body does things like lean ahead of the motion, or freeze in fear—or my mind blanks and Heidi takes over. I wished I could say that I conquered my fear, sailed over the first jump and continued around the course in just such a manner, but no, we didn’t. Don’t be sad, I wasn’t because WE. GOT. AROUND. THE. COURSE. Some moments were tough to watch—sorry Lisa—and some moments were more promising, but we completed every obstacle. Okay, some after the second or third try, but we stuck with it, and did I mention we completed the course?! Well, after that I was ready to slide off Heidi into a puddle of drenched relief, but then, I was ‘tapped’ to go another round of stadium by Barb Whitmire, owner and mastermind of the Coyote Springs facility and derby.

With both Heidi and I a little wobbly in the legs and pulling for breath, we attacked that stadium course again. I would like to say we sailed around the course with barely a bobble this time, but I won’t. Now I had Barb as well as Lisa coaching me from the sidelines, “Hold your line,” “Be fierce,” “Get there,“Don’t let Heidi take over,” and my personal favorite, “Do that whole line again.” LOL! The cheers from Team Austin Eventing mounted with each jump we completed, and maybe some from the crowd, I’m not really sure, but either way they spurred me on through the final jump. It wasn’t pretty, but it was done, and now I’m well acquainted with all the holes that Heidi and I need to patch. And you know what? Those jumps in the arena at home are gonna look small time, now.

Thank you Team Austin Eventing for rallying behind me. Thank you Barb Whitmire and all the volunteers for putting on a show that allows riders to work through issues in the midst of the competition. Thank you Heidi for continuing to be my partner in this sport I love so much. Lastly, thank you Lisa Bauman for being therapist and drill sergeant as well as coach and trainer. Bring on the lines!

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