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October 10, 2011

Mexico Bound

Photo courtesy of Lauren Billys.

When I was a little girl, I had my very first horse show at a local schooling hunter-jumper show. I remember when Laurel, my riding coach, asked me if I would like to go. I was giddy with excitement and couldn’t be more proud of myself. I rode a school horse named Little Sundance.

The day before the show I brought home the barn’s tack that I would be using to be cleaned. My dad, who is one of my greatest supporters, was so excited that I was invited to show that he stayed up all night with me to clean my tack. We had no idea what we were doing, so we soaked all the leather in water and polished every piece of leather with polish and a buffer.

I remember the night before the show. I was so excited I could barely calm my nerves. I woke up with sweaty palms in the middle of the night with so much excitement that I couldn’t fall back to sleep. The next morning we packed the horse and all the tack and headed to the small show. I rode in the cross bar classes with Little Sundance, where I did my best to jump all the jumps the first time. My tack was certainly shiny, but I could be heard squeaking from three arenas because my tack was all polished.

And, because we had soaked my bridle in water, the leather on my bridle broke at the end of my ride. But nothing could tear me down. It was an unforgettable day. I replayed that mental memory hundreds of times and kept a picture of Little Sundance and me on my binder at school.

I must say things really don’t change. I am currently sitting in my bed waiting for my alarm to go off to leave for LAX and ship my horse to Guadalajara, Mexico, for the Pan American Games. I woke up with the same excitement and sweaty palms that I had as a little girl, but I can reassure you that I have altered my tack cleaning techniques to soap and conditioner, no soaking with water or polishing my saddles.

The lead up to this event within the past 48 hours has been unpredictable. On my way home from the Woodside International Horse Trials, where Ginger and I competed in the two-star dressage and show jumping, my truck quit on the freeway while my horse trailer was attached.

After a nerve wrecking 2½ hours on the shoulder of the 101 South, Momma Bea came to save the trailer off the side of the freeway, and AAA had towed my truck away. This most certainly changed my exit strategy of getting to the airport, but nonetheless we are getting to that airport no matter what today! We will arrive at LAX around 2:30 p.m. and leave at midnight, making us arrive in Guadalajara around 5:30 a.m. Then I will be off to find my Puerto Rican friends through the universal language of Spanglish, and settle Ginger into her new international accommodations.  

Two years ago, I competed in my first FEI competition at Twin Rivers in Paso Robles, California. It was there that Mark Watring approached me about riding for Puerto Rico. I knew that pursuing this might mean the opportunity to attend the Pan American Games. But, as always with riding, I rarely make plans that far in advance because of the likelihood of change, which I believe horseback riders know far too well.

But, I did assimilate a vague plan on how I would get to this point. My coaches pushed me and worked to make Ginger and me a team. Without them, I know I would not be half the rider I am today. With their efforts, those vague plans have become a reality.

Ginger is fitter than ever and READY.

So I have told myself countless times that I will not be nervous, but I am going to own this moment and soak in every detail. I know this will not be my only night of excited and restless sleep, but one of many within the next two weeks. I will carry the same excitement and anticipation as I did with my first horse show with Little Sundance.

So here’s to horse flights, sweaty palms and polished saddles. I am off to start this day that I have been waiting for for the past two years…Wow, this is really happening. See you in Mexico! Hasta luego!

Thanks for reading!

Until next time,
Ginger and Lauren

LaurenBillys.com

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