Expect The Unexpected With Horses

May 15, 2013 - 7:00 AM
Cambalda escaped from his handler and took a hard fall at Rolex Kentucky, but he was back in action at Jersey Fresh with Jennie Brannigan. Photo by Megan Brincks.

The rollercoaster in the life of an event rider is often times an interesting one, and I have to say that the past few weeks of my life have lived up to that ride and then some with Rolex Kentucky and now Jersey Fresh in the rearview mirror.

Rolex was such a big buildup, and I know in the back of my mind I was holding my breath, anticipating the downfall that so often comes when you’re trying to get to a premier event like that.

I will admit that Ping caught me off guard in the sense that I figured since I had gotten to Rolex, and he was sound and had done the first trot-up, that I could take a deep breath safe in the knowledge that I had indeed made it to compete at Rolex Kentucky. When Ping got loose while longeing I couldn’t believe the timing and was a bit in shock that I would indeed not be competing that morning. I was shocked at how well my vets, Dr. Kevin Keene and Dr. Dave Bogenrief, handled the situation and really amazed at the ground jury for moving my ride time to Friday.

We tried really hard to get Ping back in action, but come Friday morning I realized that even though my ride time wasn’t until the very end of the day, there was no way I was going to take Ping out there and risk his health, or, to be honest, have him not perform like he could just because I was at Rolex and wanted to go.

Now in hindsight I know I made the right choice, and Ping felt fantastic last weekend at Jersey Fresh. The whole situation really opened my eyes to a number of things. In the end, I wish I was the one longeing Ping because, 1. I would have felt a lot better knowing it was me who was longeing him, and 2. I know the situation hurt my girl Jackie immensely.

It took me a day or two to shake off the shock of it all, but it wasn’t just me who was affected by the situation. Jackie has stood faithfully by my side for the past two years going through things that most younger riders would never have to deal with in their own riding and personal horses all while smiling and digging in to help me with mine. Our relationship is irreplaceable to me.

I also realize that I am quiet and often cold when I am in these situations, and my friends were awesome to me that week. I really appreciate the people who reached out and stood by my side through a tough week. The Gardners were, as always, shining examples of what top-notch horse owners should be. They were incredibly understanding and will be sending Ping and me to Germany. I know I couldn’t have better people by my side in bad and good.

Jersey went really well with Ping coming second in the CIC***. We just added cross-country time to have a nice steady round before Luhmuhlen. I’ve enjoyed the past two weeks for another reason as well. I’ve been galloping for Michael Matz in the mornings before heading to Phillip’s. It’s been really interesting for me to be in a new barn doing something I’ve never done before. I don’t see how this won’t be beneficial to my event career and fitness, and I have enjoyed it so far quite a bit. It’s been nice for me to be completely out of my element and experiencing something new!

Well I better get to bed! The 4:30 a.m. wake-up call comes quickly, and I have six young ones competing this weekend at Fair Hill, which I am excited about!

All the best and thanks for the support!

Brannigan Eventing


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