Area II hosted another great Annual Meeting today - although, it seemed like the snow kept away a lot of people (which definitely worked out just fine for those of us bidding on the silent auction - less competition!). Unfortunately, the snow delayed me a bit and I missed the session on the USEA's new online entry system, Xentry. I guess I'll stick to my paper mail-in entries for another year!
Next up was the Adult Riders forum - with such a small crowd, it was a nice opportunity to ask some questions and brainstorm new ideas for developing the program. In 2009, I received an Adult Rider scholarship - a program which has apparently been on hold for the past 2 years on account of USEA restrictions. However, good news is that lots of paperwork is underdevelopment to revamp the program and hopefully scholarships will be back to Area II soon! With so many upper level riders at our fingertips for lessons and clinics in Area II, everyone agreed that scholarships (that allow riders to choose how to allocate the training funds) are the way to go!
Finally, the coffee and food arrived - and no sooner had I wolfed down a full plate and (not enough!) sips of coffee - I was summoned for a little brain testing! A few folks were there from the local hospital to administer the ImPACT testing to establish a cognitive baseline to utilize later in the event that I might have a concussion and need to determine my neurocognitive functioning (especially to obtain approval to "return to plan" earlier than the standard time-out periods). As I sat down to take the test, I definitely regretted that glass of wine last night and the lack of coffee this morning! But, the cognitive scientist in me was ready to have some fun playing mental games! And, I did have fun! The test revealed "correct" or "incorrect" upon each answer, so you had a pretty good idea of how you were doing. My one complaint about the test design was the portion that required you to hit a key on the LEFT every time you saw RED circle - HELLO?!?! Every eventer knows RED on RIGHT!!! That took me a minute just to remember the stupid instructions! Anyhow, it was a fun little game and now I've got my "clinical report" and I'm all ready for the concussion I hope to never have!
Having missed the first portion of the next session, I found my way into "Increasing Your Own Core: Not the Old Pilates Again!" with Allison Woodruff (www.liberatedhips.com), not having any idea what I was walking into! A few minutes later, the one guy in the room excused himself to head elsewhere. And then we were instructed up and out of our chairs. And then to the front of the room. And then we were handed a sash - with 150 coins attached to it. We exchanged glances. We giggled. Slowly, we did as we were told. We've all spent years following instructions in riding lessons. We thought it was silly, but we were game to give it a try. And bit by bit - we might even have started to have fun! We shook our coins and rolled our spines and shimmied our shoulders! And we tried to explain to our teacher that "hip thrust" was a sitting trot, and that "belly tuck" was a half-halt and she said a "half what?"! And we laughed and shook some more! Definitely a new angle to achieving core strength - and we could all feel it working! After an hour of this - we felt great! Strong, relaxed, flexible - and STARVING!! Thankfully lunch was next!
But lunch wasn't just lunch - we were in for quite a treat! Lynn Symansky was our Keynote Speaker, and she was just fabulously inspiring! She spoke to us about her Pan Am experience - from finishing 3rd at the final selection trials, to being named as a team alternate, to being a final-substitution team member the day before flying out. She was a wonderful speaker and her words beamed of heartfelt passion! And she shared some pretty cool "behind the scenes" photos from the trip - which I think made every aspiring rider in the room dream of being on the team one day (although, hopefully at a destination event that doesn't require armed militia at every corner!!). Lynn said over and over again - never give up. With horses, your plans may change 100,000 times, but that's never a reason to give up. She even spoke about spending 3 weeks walking her horse for 2 hours a day, up the O'Connor's "mountain" to maintain fitness while he was suffering/recovering from cellulitus - and going to Dr. Allen's Virginia Equine Imaging on a Tuesday to get the "okay" - and proceeding DIRECTLY to ROLEX - after a final prep of 3 weeks of walking a hill. Not a recommended plan. But she never lost hope. wow.
And then it was awards time!!! So many awards - so many pretty ribbons! And remember Area II folks, to be eligible for one of these fine awards you must "self-enroll" - I'm sure the 2012 forms will be up on the Area II site soon, so don't forget to make yourself a contender!
Katchi was honored with the Reserve Champion award for the Training Level - Open Division. I came home with a beautiful huge ribbon and an elegant silver frame - engraved with "USEA Area II" at the top and "Training Reserve Champion" at the bottom. Something to keep me dreaming of the day when I have my own barn and can adorn the tack room/office with a history of awards that represent a lifetime of hard work, goals, accomplishment, and memories! I can almost see it now - sitting on a shelf of dark stained wood, high above a wall of saddles and bridles...
And then something super fun happened ... I got to be a substitute "Smurf" when I accepted a very special award for my student, Diane Zrimsek, who won the Area II "Smurfette" award - to honor the Area II adult rider who demonstrated outstanding turnout over the year - and strove to improve the turnout of those around her as well! See, there was this little incident at the Virginia Horse Trials this fall when Diane braved a blizzard at 3AM to braid her horse as well as her roommate's horse (after we had made the mutual decision that frostbitten fingers were not worth perfect braids) - but Diane couldn't sleep, with visions of unbraided ponies dancing through her head! Former Hunter-Princess Diane won the Smurfette award fair and square!
The day finished with 2 more outstanding presentations - "Taking the Confusion Out of Supplements" by Dr. Carey Williams and "Deciphering the New Drug Rules" by Dr. Kent Allen. Both were extremely informative, connecting us to the latest research, news, and rules. And, again, taking advantage of the small group - those of us there were privileged to ask lots of questions! One fun tidbit Dr. Allen shared with us - with the roller coaster FEI the past few years - Dr. Allen will be the FEI Delegate Veterinarian at this year's Olympics - and, well, lets just say he said something along the lines "stay tuned folks, it's gonna be a wild ride!" My interpretation... people are gonna try to cheat with drugs. Drug testing is getting better and better. The FEI powers are totally unpredictable (crazy??). There will be drama.
So that was the Area II Annual Meeting in a nutshell. Don't you wish you were there?!?!