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October 22, 2011

Dressage Day At The Pan Ams Was The Best Possible

Lauren Billys and Ballingowan Ginger trotted into seventh place after dressage at the Pan American Games. Photo by Shannon Brinkman.

It was the best I could have imagined. It’s like she knew today was the day to do her very best in dressage. She never put up a fight but was compliant and better in the ring than I could have ever expected.

Today my horse, Ballingowan Ginger, and I put in our dressage test for the Pan American Games. It was surreal. As I trotted into the big arena, there was a large audience, huge flower boxes and a big-time feel to the arena.

It hit me, “This is the big times. It is time to stop being a nobody and be somebody.” I think Ginger felt it too, because she stayed up and strong throughout the test.

I couldn’t have imagined a better test in my head. All our training with my coaches for the past few months has built Ginger and me to this point, and we were ready to show them what we were made of. Of course I am biased, but I am also my toughest critic most of the time, and Ginger was fantastic. Each part of the test was consistent, fluid, and sassy. We received a 50.6 that placed us in the midst of some big time riders in seventh place.

Taking this into tomorrow, I realize I sit in a good place. A place that is not too nerve-wracking, but still competitive. A good friend of mine gave me some wise words to calm my mental state in the midst of this event. He asked me, “What are the three things that make you feel good about this competition?” The answers came so easily that it was like I wasn’t even saying them; I just knew they were true.

  1. Ginger is fitter than ever before.
  2. This is the most practice I have put into any show before.
  3. Everything in the past two years has led me to this point, so I feel certain that I belong here and that I am supposed to be here.

These three facts make me feel strong going into tomorrow’s cross-country. This is what we have been working towards. Every gallop since May has been building Ginger for this 9½ minute long course.

I walked the course for a final time today with my coaches, Derek and Bea, and I recited to them my plan. It felt right, the more I walked the course the better I felt, and the more I could picture my horse and I getting over each obstacle and combination.

I am anxiously excited about tomorrow but also exhausted from today. I will get some rest and have fun tomorrow living out this wild journey that has been given to my horse and me because in the end we are all doing this to have fun.

Thanks for reading! 

Until next time,
Ginger & Lauren

LaurenBillys.com