These last few weeks have been chaotic, crazy, and filled with a multitude of ups and downs. After we finished Tryon on a high note, we headed to Venice, Florida with Ramsey for the last week of the Foxlea Farm show. We had plenty of good rounds and Rams blew me away with how calm he was at a new venue. We ended up Reserve Champion in the 15-17 Equitation and placed 6th in the Maclay, two spots shy of earning points.
Given the stress of the heat in Florida, the fact that Ramsey was a little uncomfortable one night during the show, and his hard, four-week campaign, we decided to give him the week off and skip showing the next weekend. He got to relax in his pasture and remember how to be a horse. The season was nearing its end, though, so we packed up after our short vacation and headed to Fairburn, Georgia for three weeks of showing with a very refreshed horse.
The first week of Fairburn went well and Ramsey was, once again, a rock star at the new venue. We started with some training jumper classes and placed 5th out of 28 in the 1.10 meter class with a very clean, sane, and handy jump-off. We also won the 15-17 equitation and it felt like things were finally coming together. With just four weeks left in the qualifying period, I had high hopes heading into the Maclay. Unfortunately, in spite of having a good trip, we ended up 8th out of 14.
The second week of Fairburn started out well with a 4th in the 15-17 equitation and got better from there. On Saturday, we were up bright and early for the WIHS Jumper Phase at 7:30 and finished with a score of 78 and a 3rd place ribbon. Next up was the Maclay. We got deep to one jump, which was my fault, and placed a well deserved 6th out of 14. This placing meant, with only two qualifying weeks left after this show, that we couldn’t conceivably qualify for the Maclay.
Determined to finish the show on a good note, despite the disappointment, I rode better than I have ever ridden and finished 2nd in the Medal out of 14 and won the WIHS Overall with a combined score of 154.
The third week of Faiburn, which we attended with slim hopes of qualifying for the Medal Finals, went by in a blur. Don Stewart showed up unexpectedly and, since my birthday was on August 23, my mom graciously allowed me to show with him as an 18th birthday present.
We got a 72 (76, plus a rail) in the WIHS Jumper Phase, showed in our first ever USEF Talent Search class, which meant we did our first trip at 1.15 m and first ever open water, and ended up with an 80 in the WIHS Hunter Phase.
At the end of it all, we didn’t qualify. There have been more downs than ups, but those difficult moments are our defining moments. Gus coliced and, after a long battle, pulled through to be healthy and happy again. Ramsey came to us having never jumped but, in 8 months, was winning Big Eq classes. So, even though we didn’t qualify, I can’t say I’m not proud of myself for the rider and horsewoman I have become.
Hearing Don say “You’re too good of a rider to not have qualified” at the end of this weekend was more than I could have ever hoped for. I may not have the record to prove it, but I have shown myself to be someone with a future in this sport. After Don saw me ride this weekend, on a horse I made, he made me an offer that I won’t be able to share until a later date, but it’s an offer that will start my riding career, if we can work the details out.
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed. It’s difficult to put your heart and soul into something, to fight through every setback, only to not achieve your goal in the end. But, I have said all along, it’s not about the end result. It’s about the journey. And my junior career is just the start of my journey in this sport. This is not the last you all will see of me, in the ring or on this blog. This is not the end. This is just the beginning.