Remember back a few years when Jon and Suzy could not seem to get a break from the weather during their events? Remember the first one where it rained 10″ in two days and they dropped an entire quarry of gravel on the XC course? This weekend was total payback. Weather was a perfect 60-65 degrees, some sun, and most importantly the first drops of rain did not come til 3 pm on Sunday when we were packing up! Pretty perfect, especially since I am hearing from my friends back east how that even the water is sweating in Virginia.
Polestar was well represented at the Aspen event, and it was a pipe opener for most of my students. Mary, Lori, Shauna, Annika and Hank were all entered and had lots to work on throughout the entire event. Annika and Lori were riding their first events on their new horses and there is a steep learning curve anytime you ride a new horse at a competititon. The horse you thought you had at home, did not get off the trailer with you on Thursday. He was replaced with his ironic twin who enjoys throwing curve balls when you least expect it. Mary was riding in her first USEA recognized event on her longtime partner, Lancer. After two years of wanting to do it, she was finally, actually, participating. Hank and Jake had not competed since last year and he was probably feeling rusty as he looked around for the medical armband and the lost lucky stock tie. Shauna was riding her mare who only in the last 4 days seemed to find her brain from some dark musty pothole in her skull. She lost the brain sometime during her 4 month winter break, fell into said pothole with all the rain dripping down the mare’s ears. Me? I was riding greenie, Cochlear, who was at his first event ever. He also has had a very steep learning curve in the last 4 weeks where he not only learned how to jump, but also was starting to pick up his canter leads with relaxed regularity. My expectations were low (clearly), but still excited nonetheless.
So, you can see that this was not a group of folks who felt that they were Inittowinit! But we knew that the weekend was going to be educational however the cookies crumbled. While driving home today I was thinking that the most difficult thing for me was to manage my guilt that some students maybe did not get my full attention when they most needed it. Or, said another way, often when I am riding and coaching at an event, I have to hope that I have prepared my students well enough that they can cope without me on the ground guiding them through all the pitfalls of the day. Yes, I feel guilty! And I know that I shouldnt feel that way but, instead it is important for everyone to learn at some point that they are the ones with the partnership with their horse. They are the trainers of that horse becase it is their hands, legs and judgement that guide dear horse, not me from the ground. It is clear that when the horse changes his personality at an event, that the rider only has a split second to adjust to the new beast and ride accordingly. That is a tough task when you are at your first event and are just hoping that you know the rules and dont get eliminated for wearing the wrong color socks!
But enough of my waxing, you want to know how everyone did. The final results do not reflect the total weekend package, but here they are: 2nd place for Shauna, 4th place for Mary, 9th for Lori, 13th for Hank all in BN. Annika was 14th on Ringo in Training, Susan’s Dalesman was 7th in Novice horse with me in the irons, and Lear was 7th in the Zeit Capital Challenge Open BN! Thats a bunch of ribbons, but ribbonsschmibbons. Most important were the little lessons learned: that Lori pulled out her inner cowgirl and gave Max a piece of her determination (that she didnt know she had) in warmup when he decided to alter personalities. Mary brought out her A-game motivational speaker skills to help Lori find her inner warrior. Mary also discovered that she can meet some of the goals that she thought might be impossible for her to reach. Hank discovered that he loves to hang out with a stack of women more than he likes competing! Annika learned that she is extremely helpful to me and that I love her. Shauna got a big ole kick out of almost every day. Susan watched her lovely horse cause the least amount of stress/angst throughout the entire weekend, and I learned that I own one of the nicest young thoroughbreds that I have sat on since Goldfinch and Blueprint! All those (and more) are so much better than a ribbon!