Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Don't stop till you get enough

No one said the climb to FEI would be easy. But finally, we made it.

To add to the celebration, we earned our first national title against a seasoned company, we're three quarters to our silver, and we did it flying solo that weekend (no coaches to help, but a really dedicated ground crew that dealt with an absent mind). But most importantly, we were surrounded and sent on by the people that matter the most. It was truly special.

On the surface, it's all champagne, sugar cubes, celebration and shadbellies. A few days after I'm still getting phone calls of congrats, and the pony is eating her way through a ten pound bag of apples. It's interesting to be in this spot.

This occasion marks Sinari's entrance to a special family. Sinari is one of a dozen ponies that has shown FEI. She is the fourth or fifth cob in the United States to go FEI. Even rarer, Sinari is the second cob mare, to go to this level, and now is the only one in the US doing so.

To be apart of her life and to achieve this has been really amazing. 

The show itself ran smoothly with exception of weather. Friday we went for our formal jog for our card in 90 degrees.  We were deluged on Saturday which turned the footing into slop. Management did its best to mitigate the issue, but because it's sand even if you drag it, it just takes one trip down the centerline to return to slop stage. But Sunday's weather was pitch perfect fall.

We had a lot of mistakes that first test, she threw fours, threes, twos and even one's in the lines (figuring extra credit here) and was very conservative in the mediums and extensions. But overall very obedient. The second day the weather chilled out and footing drained off enough in both the warmup and in the arena to give more purchase. She warmed up fantastically and pulled through to a Reserve National Champion FEI pony. Not bad for a first time out.

It gives a lot of confidence now to do my entries for BLMs and finish the year out at this level and clinch the rest of the Silver. By November, we'll pull shoes and stay in the fields for a bit.

For every step forward, there were times, if not spaces, of stagnate work. Work that was tedious, work that is about building up and breaking down of new and old habits. Focused work that brought out the very worst, and the very best.

If most of us could think their way into those levels (in fact, I know of a few who'd ride a good portion in their head), the majority would be there already. It is hard work and not for the timid. There's the continuous questioning, evaluating and second guessing. Are we really good enough? Are we really committing to do this? Are we fit enough? And finally: do we belong here?

That work is distilled into a product of a sound horse that is eager to work, and beautiful to look at and the worry, self doubt and questioning goes into one answer:

Yes, we do belong here.

For all the success this weekend, we couldn't have done it for a lot of people behind us. What no one ever tells anyone about going FEI is the sheer amount of heavy support work that goes on. Physically and emotionally.

A horse traveling through the levels isn't shepherded into it by a just a rider. It takes a small village of loyal, beyond dedicated people to bring one pair to this point and we'll be staying there because of them.

First there's the people at home. My significant other is incredibly supportive of my habits. He and my family (both blood related and those who I wish that were) have pulled for me longer than anyone and will be there long after. It's scary how more dedicated they've become over the years, to the point where they drive five or six hours to just watch, speak to me honestly during a tough situation, or keep an eye out for upcoming horses that would benefit the team.  

After the people at home come your team of professionals. Vet, coaches, farrier, chiropractor, saddle fitter, nutritionist, the breeder that bred the horse and the mechanic that keeps your car on the road. All of which play more than vital roles keeping everyone going in the right direction and encouragement.

Finally, in some odd way there's the readership of this blog. Who's watched patiently over the years from a barely working first level combination straight to this point.

Without them we wouldn't be here or remotely close. 

Thank you for joining us, and thank you, on occasion for the words of encouragement. The best is yet to come.

Photos and video will be posted, still getting everything in:)


Kelly said...

Congratulations! So thrilled for you - what an accomplishment!

Net said...

Yay Kelly! Congrats - that is very awesome!

Katie said...

So exciting!

As a rider currently at First Level with a non-traditional dressage breed you guys are a great inspiration.

Val said...

Wow! Thanks for putting it all in perspective and taking us along for the journey.

Jen said...

Yes, thanks for posting and taking us along for the ride! What a thrill, and I can't wait to see the photos. Congratulations! You're both my Dressage idols and my Welsh Cob idols. Hopefully Connor's full sister is on her way to being the next FEI Welsh Cob mare, you're really paving the way. You're a great inspiration to all of us!

Kelly said...

Thanks guys!