It was not the week I’d planned on having.
The Plan looked like this: make prompt recovery from The Plague, get back to work, go to horse show with awesome clients, win everything, party down.
What actually happened looked like this: make absolutely no progress in recovering from The Plague. Cancel lessons Tuesday. Lose voice completely Tuesday night. Cancel lessons Wednesday. Continue to fail to recover, in spite of real effort at rest. Cancel lessons Thursday. Have virtually no recovery in time to leave for show on Friday morning, not having taught a single lesson all week, having been barely able to ride, and not having given my students any help whatsoever. Freak out.
I felt so bad, not just physically—by Friday at least all but my sore throat, weird left ear and voicelessness had subsided, but those three were still really quite annoying—but I felt bad for my people. Of course there’s nothing they were going to learn in the four days leading up to the show that was going to make or break them, but it’s my job to be there for them and make them the best prepared I could.
I felt particularly bad for three people. One was Jamie, for whom this would be her first show. I found Jamie an incredibly wonderful Friesian mare last year, who has been to some shows with us already and been like Mary Poppins—practically perfect in every way. And I knew Jamie was totally ready to show, but still, no coaching for a week was not the ideal for her.
The second was Kathleen, whose mare, Alice, I showed myself. I was able to ride all week but not very well. I felt like I wasn’t giving Alice my best, which meant Kathleen wasn’t getting my best. And I don’t normally ride for owners, so when I do, I want to do it RIGHT. Plus, I helped Kathleen buy Alice in Florida, so I really wanted our first show together to be spectacular.
And the third was Allison, my incredible assistant trainer, who was to make her Grand Prix debut this weekend on Tres, whom we just sold from my mom to another amazing client in the barn (SUCH a great thing!!). I was of absolutely no help to Allison this week, who has done such an incredible job of riding Tres all winter, basically figuring out the Grand Prix on her own as I was in Florida, and he’s not the most straightforward ride in the world at Grand Prix.
But what could I do? I’m a pretty tough chick, so if I’m on my back, it’s bad. BAD. I had a huge salvation in our handy dandy Eartec headsets, which were so sensitive that they could pick up my whispering and carry it to my students’ ears at the show, so I could at least warm my riders up. But Friday was the first day I was well enough to do even that, so off to the show we went.
And as it turns out, The Plan picked back up: go to show with awesome clients, win everything, party down.
Jamie got a 64 percent on her first dressage test ever. Alice and I had a SUPER test on Saturday to win on almost 68 percent, including a 9 for our first centerline. Allison took Tres though his best scoring test ever at the Grand Prix level, earning almost 62 percent in the Brentina Cup test. My FEI Young Rider got her best scores yet at the level; her younger sister was High Score Jr/YR for the show. Kristin, Jane, Judy and Heather all had great rides. We just missed High Score Amateur and High Score Second Level. We formed two teams for the Pro-Am Challenge, and we took both Champion and Reserve. It was, in short, one of the best shows we’ve ever had as a team.
Maybe the secret is that I shut the heck up periodically? (My father says he prefers me silent.)
In all seriousness, it was a really amazing thing, to know that I’ve taught my people not just to be good riders, but also to be good trainers and good planners, good at getting themselves ready for the show when I can’t be there. They’re self-sufficient. And that’s a real win.