As per usual I am a little late getting this up. And I will use the same excuse as before. Eventing in England is full on. I have just come back from Blenheim three day event, on Monday I took three horses to Pontispool for a run in the novice and intermediate classes and today (Tuesday) we are packing up the truck again to take the babies to Purston Manor. It’s another quick turn around off to Gatcombe on Friday.
I won’t go into too much detail about Blenheim as this blog is (although belated) about the Olympics. I will say though that despite an unfortunate stop on the cross country, it was pretty exciting to get such a low dressage score and be in the lead going into cross country. He is such a classy horse and I am really lucky to have him.
Now to the Olympics…
I was warned going into the Olympics that it isn’t the same as any other three day event. I’ve been on a few teams before and it is really not the same as that either. Nothing can really prepare you for the magnitude of this show. Looking back at it, it really does feel like a surreal dream that came and went very quickly. I’ve ridden in big atmospheres before but nothing can prepare you for the world stage of the Olympics and the enthusiasm of the crowd. When you trot into that main arena to find the stadiums full, even early on the first day of dressage, you realize there is nothing else like it.
After Shane returned back to the training camp from the brutal media conference where he had to announce his withdrawal from the Olympic team, he acted so admirably and showed what a true sports person he is. After a couple of beers he got quite nostalgic and gave me some advice I will never forget. Two simple sentences; “roll with the punches” and “enjoy it”.
The second we arrived at Greenwich I knew exactly what he meant. It is not a three day event where you are in control. Plans will change. The running order will change, training times will change. Course walks will change. There are press conferences to attend. And we are now a team of individual leaders, used to ruling our own program, suddenly thrown into a team environment where we are not able to be leaders.
If it wasn’t for the advice of Shane Rose I could have found myself struck with stage fright. Instead, I couldn’t help but crack a huge smile when the capacity crowd gave me a very warm welcome into the arena. I was easily able to ride well and I loved every minute of it. We have ridden in front of big crowds at three day events before but the crowds at Greenwich just gave that bit extra. They made up for the limited crowd capacity of Greenwich through enthusiasm. It really did feel like they were carrying me over every fence. When Lani had a slip in front of the first water it was the crowd’s gasp that alerted me too it first, only after that did I feel her craftily putting her legs all back where they were meant to be.
I was delighted to have the mare storm around inside the time. And took equally as much delight in telling our kiwi competitors that the time was easy to make and not to worry about it. They got their own back for that one by picking up the bronze medal. Well played.
Despite not coming home with a medal, I loved every minute of the Olympics and it is something I will never forget.