Thursday, September 3, 2009

Essay Winner!

Congratulations to Jennifer Smith from Chesapeake, VA. Her essay has earned her 4 FREE lessons with Bonnie to help her prepare for her first long format 3 Day Event. Here is what she had to say:

Taking the Next Step

Being a spectator at the larger events with the long format has driven the passion and desire of becoming a competitor. I have thoroughly enjoyed watching from the sidelines and cheering on fellow riders as they accomplish their dreams through our rigorous sport of eventing while testing each athlete, the horse and the rider, in the long format of competition. I dreamt of navigating my way through roads and tracks and the steeplechase phase, which has lead me to pursue that goal this year by riding in the Training Level 3 Day held at Waredaca. I know it is not Badminton or Rolex, and honestly I will probably never see those competitions as a rider only a spectator, so the next best thing is riding in a ½ star! The sense of self- worth and accomplishment from galloping through the finish flags would validate all triumphs and setbacks I have acquired throughout my years of riding. Everyone knows you win some and lose some… but you always gain an experience and learn something from each competition- something about you or your horse. I want a shot at that feeling on endurance day… I want to feel like I am competing in the biggest event of my life, my mini Rolex. It will be a bonding of horse and rider and also a sense of what great riders go through when they tackle the upper levels with the long format. I want to have the ride of my life and something I will always remember.

I became hooked or maybe even obsessed as my family and friends put it, during my first real cross country experience at an Old Dominion Pony Club Eventing Rally. No rider can forget those last minute butterflies you get as you enter the start box and your count down begins. 5,4,3,2,1 Have a nice ride! I remember my horse’s mane blowing in the wind and the tears that streamed down my face as we galloped a round our course and cleared the finish flags. For those five or six minutes my horse and I were completely in synch and could have tackled anything. We crossed the finish line with a few seconds to spare and proceeded to the vet box to have our TPR checked and began the cooling out process. It was my first real eventing experience and far from my last. I could not even make it home before I called all my friends, coaches etc. and gushed like I had a school girl crush on some boy and rambled on about my wonderful weekend and every obstacle we faced. Even though nerves gave me temporary amnesia and I blew my dressage test… I still finished the event and finished well- with a second place finish and receiving the Frank Bierman award for fitness and pace. Who would have thought my aged gelding from the flat lands with his novice eventer could do so well? As I continued to event and take lessons gaining new insight and objectives for the sport I soon realized to take the bad with the good. As every rider, I have faced my fair share of setbacks including ankle injuries and rib injuries… yet I still have not lost track of my goals in the sport; which are to compete successfully in a 3 Day and to complete a Preliminary run on my mare. Notice I say complete…. Not win! I want to have a successful, safe and learning experience at Prelim… not expecting to win a ribbon but I am hoping to gain confidence and experience at the new level.

I know I have a harder time getting the lessons and experience as I live in Southeastern Virginia, Chesapeake to be exact which is near Virginia Beach. For anyone who knows the area, they know it is far from rolling hills with cross country jumps. The closest cross country course is 3.5 hours away, which adds to the financial difficulty of getting the help and coaching needed to make the 3 day a successful debut. Yet my love and determination for the sport has allowed my partnership with my mare to be fairly successful at the training level while we have aspirations for more, I would like to use this opportunity as a stepping stone for greater things to come. These lessons would aid me in my final preparations for the Training Level 3 Day and answer all of those wonderful questions and concerns any new rider has when he/she riders competes in their first 3 day. I look forward to continuing my love and passion for the sport while striving to get closer to my final goals. I am so close my mouth is starting to water as I think about filing out the paperwork for the ½ star, I just hope I get an opportunity to put the final polishing on from a professional rider with years at a level I can only dream about. Seriously, what other sport can an amateur ride next to a professional? This is something that sets our sport away from others and makes it truly unique.

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