Saturday, August 11, 2007

Day Twenty, Dressage Competition

I could hardly wake up when the alarm sounded at 4:30 this morning. My bones ached, my head hurt, and overall I felt quite crummy. Soon enough, I found out that I wasnt the only one feeling a little shaky. I could hear Buck arrive to the shuttle from his incessant coughing. I think being in a different country is finally starting to take its toll. Nevertheless, we arrived to the barn, hopped on the horses, hopped off the horses, and prepared them for the 7:30 am trot up. Despite some last minute changes and set backs, everyone was ready and surprisingly prepared enough to have successful jogs. Following the jogs, both Buck and I went to our allotted corners in the tack room to focus on our upcoming dressage rides. Buck listened to his Ipod while I read my mind gym while the hustle and bustle going on around us seemed to dissapear into thin air. Finally, Buck was ready to get on Reggie to start his dressage warm up. After about thirty five minutes, he was ready to head into the main ring to perform his test. A little aprehensive about going into the ring, Reggie turned out a splendid test that surprisingly didnt get the scores that it deserved. However, Buck was happy with Reggie's performance and being that he is so young, moved on with a bright grin on his face despite not feeling all that well. With a score of 58.0, he will surely be in the running on the final day. After Buck's test it was my que to hop on Al and begin my preparations for the dressage test. After a good half hour warm up with Mark, Al was ready to head into the ring. While I was heading around the massive olympic venue, Al seemed relaxed, which in turn made me follow suit. My nerves settled down as I entered the ring and zeroed in on my test. Despite being quite behind my leg, Al was a rock star, scoring a 53.4 which grasped second place which only three more riders to go. The next rider, a Brit riding a four star horse Don Giovanni, had a wonderful test which came less than a point below mine, squeezing me out of the second place position and into the third. I ended the day in fourth place, which is strategically a good place for me to be, being inexperienced at the international level. Despite this, I was happy to have been in second for at least six minutes with people like Nicolaus Tuissant (Olympic Gold medalist), Shane Phillips (Australian olympian), my coach Buck Davidson, and other highly accredited international riders in my class. After getting tons of carrots and pets, Al was left alone while Jackie and Kathleen packed the horses' things for their ride to Beas river, where the xc course is held. Buck and I headed earlier to the venue to walk the course and then head back to the hotel for an early dinner and an early bedtime. So, with this day finally done, the competition feels like it's really underway. I am very pleased with Al's professionalism and maturity in the ring, which is something I was apprehensive about in the beginning. Tomorrow is another day, and I will ride the horse I have on that day. Although I have a Plan A, as every rider knows, sometimes plan b, c, and d become the new plans of attack. I am eager to attack the course tomorrow with Al, but as Buck reminded me, I have to ride smartly. That is, I cant come out of the gate bursting with enthusiasm that would essentially scare Al. I plan to come out quite relaxed and let the course carry us around. At the end of the day, he will tell me the speed and endurance he has in store for me tomorrow. Stay tuned for an excited xc report! Keep your fingers crossed that the Americans kick some butt like we did in Rio. We sure have some big shoes to fill (or small if you're alluding to "The Pony"). See you tomorrow!