Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Thinking about Lexington

WEG has come and gone. It's always a strange feeling when something you have looked forward to for years is over. And I was just a spectator! It's like there's this feeling of absence over what's next? But what an amazing trip with such amazing friends! And special thanks to my mom for financing the adventure and for being a great travel partner! Lets do it all over again next week (this time we'll smuggle in our own food and booze!)

Several people have asked me what happened to my final WEG post - other than hitting some roadblocks getting the last pictures together due to cameras being dispersed across the country and my own technological lack of prowess... and, well, what can you say about Team USA's final day? If you haven't seen it, Jim Wofford's last blog entry for Practical Horseman was heartbreaking. When Boyd put in his double clear round, the crowd went absolutely bizerk! FINALLY the eventing fans showed up the dressage fans! 30,000 feet stomping the metal stands and cheering for AN EVENT RIDER - while he blew kisses to his fans (I was waiting for young girls to start fainting a la Elvis Presley!) - it put chills up my spine (which also could have been the result of freezing my ass off, despite 10 layers of waterproof clothes). It was spectacular to be part of that crowd - can you imagine how it must have felt to be on your horse in the center of all that? And then the dream of a medal was gone.

Since making a 9AM trip to the ghetto Lexington liquor store on Monday morning (SERIOUSLY - who buys "horse piss beer" and 4 bottles of Maker's Mark at 9AM on a Monday - damn horse tourists). Anyhow, since starting the drive home, I've been thinking a lot about natural mistakes that are part of a solid learning process, bad luck, and excuses. If you've picked up on any theme in reading my blog entries, it should be - eventing is hard! There are 1001 ways to mess up. And when all 3 phases come together for you in a single day (or 3 days!) - it's got to be nothing short of a miracle! But, we don't train for hours and hours on end, in hope of a miracle. We train to be better than that - no matter what level we're competing at - BN or 4* - it's all the same. So where and when does one draw the line between learning, luck and excuses? Becky and Kim hit some seriously bad luck. I don't think Karen or Buck would account their stops to learning, luck or excuses - but something was terribly off in both their rides. Karen came right in front of us 2 fences before Mandiba's stop - her face said it all. She was not happy with whatever conversation she and Mandiba were having or not having on the course at that time. She really shook him up in the rollback turn, and I thought - oh yea, Karen's in the game, she's got him now, they're good. But 2 fences later, disaster. Why?

Watching these heartbreaking moments when everything slipped away in just a fraction of a second - I've been thinking a lot about my own eventing season over MUCH SMALLER fences! I know - what the hell does WEG have to do with my Training level events? It's made me think about that line between learning, luck and excuses. Every eventer knows that BN, N and T provide great learning opportunities for horses - we expect them to make mistakes and learn. But for how long? It certainly depends on the horse and the rider. And when they move up to P, I and A - they'll make more mistakes and learn more lessons. That's one of the things I absolutely love about working with horses - they think and they learn, and if you teach the lessons right, they get more confident and they just become amazing - and they take us with them! But when does letting the horse learn become an excuse for a lacking performance? Does it ever? Horses never really stop learning, do they? But at every level, we eventually start to hold them accountable for not making mistakes - if you've been doing BN 10 years and your horse decides to stop at a simple log - that makes you really really angry. I have a feeling Karen and Buck feel that way right now - multiplied by 1000. Anyhow, I don't have an answer - but I'll be thinking about it if I ever get another stupid XC time penalty at Training level (they stop NOW, really!).

Anyhow - if you haven't given up reading this blog yet, I'll reward you with pictures and video!

While we were on Jimmy's XC course walk, he took everyone over to the wishing well corner combination, #8, for sentimental reasons - he said it was the only remaining fence from the 1978 World Championships. It got me thinking - I think I've jumped that jump! So when I got home, I went digging through old videos, and sure enough - I have video proof that in 1992 I jumped the option of 8A or 8B (can't tell which side of the well we jumped!) of the 2010 WEG XC course! There wasn't a corner appendage back then, but it was still a big wide wall with a lot of rocks and cement. I was at the Kentucky Horse Park for Pony Club Championships and Festival with the first horse I took from Novice to Prelim - Decker. Yea, I can hear Jimmy yelling at me for making too big of a move with my upper body - but, it was a big jump and I got excited! :) So here's my 15 seconds of 2010 WEG fame, that happened over 15 years too early!
And here is Mark Todd standing in front of that same jump - 2010 Mark Todd that is.

And now that I've figured out how to put old videos into youtube (watch out world - I have hours and hours of old videos living under my bed!) - here is my very favorite video clip. Not because I was so spectacular - quite the opposite actually. Still in1992 in Kentucky - take a minute out of your life to watch me fall off Decker at the Head of the Lake - which is a bit fancier these days (nope, didn't get wet)! I really don't like falling off and I try very hard not to - which you can probably see by the way I attached myself to poor Decker's face rather than hit the ground! Lesson learned - never assume your horse's feet are coming up the bank with you! And, yes, I realize I screamed like a girl. What can I say? I hope it makes you laugh! It makes me laugh every time I hear it! Check out how deep the water was back then - Jimmy always talks about how shallow water jumps are now - geeze, he really is right!


  1. Cherie, those videos are awesome! How cool to see you back in your Pony Club days! I watched the fall video a few times; it's hard to tell exactly what happened (it looked like you were going to clear it just fine!), but I totally second your choice to grab Decker's face and wrap your legs around his neck (impressive!). That's what you call responsive falling!

  2. Shane, Decker slipped on the mud and his upper body fell forward while scrambling with his legs. Don't think he had studs at that time. Very slippery exit. There was lightening and a storm coming in so we had to get off the course promptly but the wonderful instructor allowed Cherie to go around successfully before heading for the barn. Knew Cherie and Decker took some fantastic jumps at the Kentucky Horse Park but sure didn't expect one to be a WEG problem for Buck---his horse landed on it with his belly.

  3. Glad you guys are getting a kick out of the videos!

    Mom - I'm sure Decker had studs - but mud happens, ya know?! And, in all fairness - turning that wall into a corner made it a heck of a lot harder than the wall we jumped! That's why the corner was the fast route and the two walls the long way!

    Shane - I'm sure sure responsive falling is a marketable skill, but I remain very impressed with my acrobatic ability! Maybe I could market the move to Cavallia! :)