So today was day one of the Olympic Dressage competition. Finally, the nights of suffering through ping pong are over. What gorgeous horses – I’d kill to have half the knowledge that the horses do and a tenth of what those competitors know. Who among us wouldn’t love to have the opportunity to ride at the Olympics. I would not even care if I was the rider in last place. You could still say, “Ha ha, I rode in the Olympics and you didn’t” to pretty much everyone you know. What a rush it must be to head down that centerline. But then you’d remember that there were SEVEN judges watching your every move. No place to hide and no mistake will go unnoticed. There wouldn’t just be butterflies in my stomach, there would be a flock of hummingbirds with their razor-sharp beaks and tongues flitting about my innards.
I jokingly told a coworker the other day that I still had a shot at making a future Olympic team. After all, Japan’s rider is 71 and did a fabulous job today. I’ve still got 27 years to practice and train; Ike will be 31 by then and will have at least been told about the Grand Prix movements. We could get our Olympic medal and our Dressage Foundation Century Ride ribbon at the same time. The equestrian events are one of the few sports where you don’t “age out” by the time you are 25. [As an aside, it would be interesting to compare the average age of the competitors in each event. I bet the equestrian disciplines have one of the higher averages.] Never mind that my skills are average at best and that riding is my hobby. Truth be told, if Ike and I could qualify for the USDF Region 1 Championship at any level and place in the top ten so as to get one of the coveted neck ribbons, it would be just as awesome and a lot less expensive.
Yesterday was my barn-free day. Not by choice, but by necessity. Made sure to get to the barn today to see the boys. Ike and his stablemates were in the barn when I arrived. There was lots of bucket banging and whinnying when I walked into the barn. Quite the cacophony. Much like a celebrity walking the red carpet at the Oscars, “And the crowd goes wild as Alison draws closer.” This crowd though doesn’t want an autograph or picture…they want snacks and an ear rub.
I quickly curried off the salt crust from Ike’s coat, checked his hooves, and tacked. I was sweating profusely even before I placed a foot in the stirrup. Fall can’t get here quick enough. Ike must have taken care of his business before I rode today, because there was no awkward movement today. His floaty, rhythmic trot was back. I do like his trot and it only gets better as his balance and topline improve. I can now sit his trot for short periods without his back stiffening (that bouncing on concrete feeling we all know and love). Canter transitions were a bit exuberant today. I did introduce the Training Level Test 3 concept of continuing the canter around the short end and onto the diagonal. Surprisingly, Ike held his canter. What a good boy. Ike and I lasted 20 minutes before we withered.
Lesson tomorrow – need to stay sharp for the next show on the 18th.