Jim Wofford loves to tell riders that he's found the secret to winning every event! He leans in close, with a twinkle in his eye and a smirk on his face, and he whispers... "The secret to winning every event is [pause for dramatic effect], you must win the dressage. And jump double clear on cross country and show jumping." He stands back up and grins. Well, of course, Jimmy. It really is just that simple. Shoot me, right?! I've seen him do this to rider after rider, myself included, over the past several years... but today I got to see my wonderful student, Kerry, with the magic in her own eye as she discovered truth does exist in Jimmy's secret to winning.
Today was the final 2012 event for Maryland Horse Trials at Loch Moy. When I arrived this morning to coach Kerry and Atticus, I made a mental note of the temperature displayed in my car. A full 65 degrees colder than the last time Kerry and I both competed at Loch Moy this summer. Yes, I cursed the Sun God that weekend. But, really, were the dramatics so necessary, Mr. Sun God?!
Under sunny skies and crisp air, Kerry put in a lovely dressage test. It's been wonderful watching her transformation from not surviving in the white rectangle (forgotten tests, inexplicable "movements"...), to surviving, to thriving! She is a solid competitor every time she steps in the ring these days, and she has been knocking on the door of real success for some time. While there were still some points left on the table, today's test was a picture of harmony and partnership. And she was well rewarded, being one of only 4 riders in her division of 17 to score in the 30's -- she led the division by over 2 points. I've been saying to her the last few events, "go in there like you think you can win this thing!" Now I get to say, "go in there, and KNOW you can win this thing!".
At the 110 degree summer Loch Moy event, the hilarious and bizarre award went to the horse who dumped his rider on XC and headed straight for the pond, where he refused to leave. Today's hilarious and bizarre award went to the one-eyed Chestnut OTTB who dumped his rider out of his dressage saddle and headed straight for the show jumping ring. He jumped the yellow gate rope and had a look around... just after a poor unsuspecting rider had jumped the first jump on course!!! There was a bit of a scramble, and I never actually heard the judge ring the bell, but I head some yelling at the rider on course, and she quite sensibly pulled up as the loose horse was galloping straight at her! (An added element of difficulty to show jumping?!) Myself and a group of folks jumped into the ring to capture the dressage-hating beast, and thankfully he didn't prove too difficult. The judge and rider [IN THE MIDDLE OF HER ROUND] had a quick conference and the rider proceeded on with jump #2. I'm not sure how they handled her time, but I suspect she was relieved of any and all time penalties! There's one for the Eventing Judge's final exam, "What do you do when..."
Although Kerry was unaware of her "top of the leader board" standing going into jumping, her entire support crew was well aware. I knew she had 1/2 a rail in hand, and oh wouldn't it be nice for her to jump her first clear Training level show jumping round today?! But it wasn't to be. Fence 4B fell to the ground. It made me wish so much that each rail in a combination would only count for a fraction of a rail! But, oh well. It was a lovely course, and I will gladly take her one rail down over a few of the clear rounds I saw today!
Atticus has become a XC machine and they flew around the course making it look like a walk in the park. Video proof:
At the finish line, I told Kerry of her standing after dressage. It was there that I saw the magic in her eyes. She found Jimmy's secret to winning every event. And while it didn't happen today (her rail dropped her to 4th) - Kerry knows the truth in Jimmy's words now. All you have to do is win the dressage and jump 2 clear rounds. It's just that simple.