I’m not rabid about the barefoot thing, but it works for my horses. I have a great blacksmith, Jim Crew, who works with me on him every six weeks. My blacksmith, Megan Fullgraf, does a great job with all my horses, and we work together with Jim Crew as well. Jim, who shoes for the Parellis and gives shoeing clinics all over the country, comes up from Ocala [Fla.] every six weeks or so to make sure that the horses stay balanced. He watches me ride, we trim a bit, and I ride again to make sure that the horses are going the way we all want them to.
I went to March Magic, in Williamston, N.C., which is really two shows stuck together. It was fabulous. I won the Intermediaire class the first day with a 66.31 percent and the next day earned a 64.73 percent in the Intermediaire with a different set of judges. We also earned a 67.81 percent in the FEI freestyle, and a 65 percent in the Intermediaire I with a third set of judges. I was really happy with that progress.
One cool thing that happened in Williamston was that Sasha breathed the whole way through his test, which has been an issue with him. That tells me that he’s really happy with his work. Normally he wants to get halfway through his test and hold his breath, but there he felt happy, forward, interested and comfortable.
Another great thing that happened at that show was seeing lots of people who hadn’t seen me since my surgery. There are only a handful of people there who knew me before I was disabled, but many more people there who had never seen me walk. It was amazing to me to see them and feel lots and lots of support from everyone as I was walking around everywhere. The equestrian community has been fantastic through this process.
My husband, Bill, has been completely supportive of my decision to have the amputation, even though he did not agree with it. Now that he sees how much more comfortable and mobile I am, he’s happier with my decision and understands why I was willing to take the risk of complications from the RSD. It’s easy to say it was the right decision once the outcome is clear, but harder to predict that that will be the outcome.
We now have a date for the selection trials for the team that will go to London, but that doesn’t change my plan. I’ll keep riding and training and going to the gym to make sure I’m as prepared as possible for the trials. [The U.S. Equestrian Federation’s Paralympic selection trial will be held in conjunction with the USEF Para-Equestrian Dressage National Championship during the USEF Dressage Festival of Champions, June 11-13 in Gladstone, N.J.]
What’s really exciting to me is that I was accepted as a demo rider at a J.J. Tate symposium outside Raleigh. It’s being billed as a position symposium, and right now I really need eyes on my position, because my body has changed, and eyes on the ground are the piece of my program that’s missing. I did get some Centered Riding lessons, and that was helpful in getting me very accurate, and I am planning to do several more. I’m pretty good at obtaining information from the sources I do have available to me. I’ve figured out how to put the video camera on a post and tape my rides by myself, so I can watch them and analyze everything.
So the big challenges for me going ahead are getting that outside input and then trying to find a sponsor. I love what I do, but it’s tough on my own.
Fast Facts About Robin Brueckmann
Hometown: Summerfield, N.C.
Olympic Contender: Radetzky, an 11-year-old Trakehener gelding (Pyatt Charly—Ronja, Mago XX) owned by Brueckmann.