Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Day Twenty-Two, Last Day in Hong Kong

It took a while to get up this morning....my head ached and i could feel the pains from being in a different country starting to wear on my body. if i was feeling this crummy, i wondered how poor al and reggie felt?

we headed out to the barn to jog the horses for christiana, they were both sound and happy. with that, buck and i hopped up and took them for a long hack to stretch their tired limbs in preparation for this evening's upcoming festivities in the grand show ring. buck and i then headed back to the hotel for some lunch and then showered and primped to get ready for the steadily approaching trot up. I came back to see Al all braided up adorned with hind quarter markers thanks to ms. fiona and jackie. everyone pitched in to show off how brilliant our american horses looked! buck and i both had successful jogs, thanks to the help of team USA. Following the jogs, we watched a few show jumping rounds of the local riders, then headed back to the barn to get dressed in our show jumping attire in time to meet mark outside the gate to walk the first of the show jumping courses. the course was as bright as times square, with lights as blinding as the sun that proved to be a little problematic for some, including my own. after a quick warm up, i was the first to show jump and left a little to be desired. my rythmn was all off, my horse felt either sluggish or quick, and after a few bobbles in the ring, i was relieved to be done with that course! after a few minutes of deliberation, mark told me that i needed to keep kicking and let go of al's mouth! so easier said than done, but nevertheless, quite correct! buck was a few after me in the ring to jump. reggie sailed over all of the fences making them seem like a beginning novice course and bringing home a double clear for team usa. buck rode him with suck fluidy and poise, one couldnt tell the seperation between the horse and his rider. Since Mark had to jet back to england, George Morris was the new coach for the second round of show jumping. George had watched my horse warm up and watched our performance in the ring and had very few words to say: "Let him go..." That was it, and boy did it make a difference! Alex and i once again entered the ring, this time with more confidence. We sailed around the course with almost a faultless round except for one stubborn second to last fence that al barely touched mostly because my shoulders came too forward. George was very happy with our performance as was my true coach buck, who's words before i entered the ring were, "gallop him like you're doing xc!" proved incredibly helpful for me, as always. After a high five and a hug, Buck hopped on Reggie, quickly warmed up, and had another splendid double clear round, accompanied with voicetrous "ooos" and "awwwws" of the crowd. Buck had jumped into seventh place from tenth from his two professionally ridden rounds. It was surely a job well done.

After the closing ceremonies, I looked into the olynpic grandstand and thought of a past time when i was a little girl, acting like a horse in my hometown of shingle springs california. little did i know that the one dream that remained true for my whole life, to be an equestrian olympian, would finally come true. although it isnt the exact olympics, to be given this opportunity to represent my country, to work with the honorable individuals that i did, to ride in the venue that will host the actual olympics in less than a year, and to do it all on the horse that i trained myself, made me swell with pride. certainly i wanted to perform better and bring home a gold medal. however, what i learned in the time of two weeks here in hong kong made up for two years of information i would have attained at home, which is worth more than any first place prize. there is truly no price for experience, something that people my age and position in this sport must pay dearly for. This has been the most momentous experience for me; an "experience of a lifetime" if you will, and I have grown not only as a rider, but as a person as has Alex. I want to thank my mother, Valerie, for her steadfast support of a sport that knows no limits. I want to thank my father, Michael, who's presence even from California feels as close as if he were in the stands watching me, as I know he wanted to. My grandparents, for following me and my horses creating a global trail full of hoofprints. To Jackie Jenkins, for striving for excellence, on a daily basis. To my coach Buck, who I look up to not only as a rider but as a big brother. To Mark Ivie, for keeping Crow's Ear Farm in full swing even when we are gone. To the USEF, for allowing me and my family, both human and equine, to be apart of the american olympic dream. I have learned that the bittersweet path to success in all things pursued takes both failure and fortune. Those who truly strive to be the best, never cease nor fade away. Like true champions, they keep pushing forward, no matter the setbacks. Like George Morris told me, "trust yourself," I will forever strive to be the best, to follow the path of my olympic dream, and NEVER look back. Hope you all enjoyed my blogs! Have a safe and fun fall season!