2012. What a whirlwind. The ultimate balance between going to a university as a full-time student and three-day eventing may never be a balance I find.
This year really was about that balance and finding myself in my riding. The acquisition of a talented, careful horse named Jitter Bug has pushed my riding to a new level of understanding. I have not only broadened my understanding of the importance of the lower levels through this year with her, but I have also found patience and respect for this time in a horse’s learning process.
With this in mind, many of my students who competed at these levels showed great success, perseverance and joy competing this year. Riding in the same arena with the same jumps, galloping the same tracks, and learning the same tests helped me simplify my understanding of the training pyramid for my horses and these students.
My one and only pure dressage student, Alex Dayka, is an 11-year-old with a passion for her horse and a finesse in the show ring that is so natural. Alex pushed through every challenging ride this year (we all know how hard those are when it comes to dressage) and triumphed when she was named champion at the California Dressage Society Championships for the juniors in training level. The news of her victory brought me so much joy because I could not be more proud of her success at such a young age, but most importantly she reinforced the lesson that patience and perseverance can lead to great success and fun.
Another student, Marta Tabatabai, who has become a great friend, support and groom, had her greatest achievement come after more than a couple wins at the novice level when she capped off the year with a dressage score of 15.2. She came out of the ring saying, “What did you think? I guess it could be better.” What a goof, but I guess we can always strive for a lower dressage score.
In the meantime, I will just push for a test as good as hers.
Lastly, a long-time client, John Marshall, took on a huge feat for Area VI when he purchased and took over the management of the legendary Ram Tap to open it under the new name: Fresno County Horse Park. I can’t express enough gratitude to his selfless support of this sport and his investment in continuing the legacy that this riding facility has held in U.S. eventing. I am excited to see the changes and take part in this process.
Many other fabulous clients of mine suffered through loss, cheered in their victories and supported one another. I can say through it all the horses and riders at Lauren Billys Eventing are better for living 2012.
I cannot express strongly enough to the people of LBE, who are like family to me, my gratitude for their support. My year was full of victory, patience, loss and education (both equestrian and academic). They have had such patience in times that I wasn’t able to come to their aid because of a midterm, stayed persistent in lessons even when I lived in Carmel Valley for the summer to work at Stillwater Farms with Bea and Derek diGrazia, and gave me more encouragement in my hard and amazing times than I received from anyone else. I owe so much to these people who’ve supported me through thick and thin. It brings me such joy and makes me feel truly blessed to be surrounded by such fabulous people. I can’t thank you enough for all the support, love and long phone conversations we’ve had over the past year, two years, or however long.
This year truly ended with a cherry on top with a win at the Galway Downs CCI**.  My main mare, Ballingowan Ginger, jumped back into the sport in August with a vengeance and left nothing on the table except for a few time penalties on cross-country.
For me this fall was about conquering our demons. I felt that the Galway Downs CCI** really helped me feel like we had done that. The most touching part of the event was getting to ride the stadium course in my pinque coat to represent Puerto Rico. I could not have been more proud to wear it in that moment knowing that through a hard-knock last fall, we could come back and represent them to take home the blue ribbon. It was truly touching to have everyone rise for the Puerto Rican anthem and salute the flag. What a moment I won’t forget.
The out-pouring of texts, Facebook messages and phone calls throughout the weekend and those that followed from my family at LBE drove me to feel so encouraged and made me confident to win despite my nerves. Throughout the event, my family, friends and I had so much fun (especially winning the Dubarry’s Best Dressed Award). It helped me stay grounded, put away the possibility of winning the whole event, and focus on riding my best.
Since I suppressed the reality of winning the event, I came home, and the next day it hit me while driving to my genetics class when I realized how much love and support I felt from my eventing community at LBE, Stillwater Farms, Area VI and friends at home. I felt and still feel such gratitude to these people and truly relish the chance to take home a blue ribbon and represent Puerto Rico in a meaningful win that hit a soft spot in my heart.
So on to 2013. My goals include graduating Fresno State University with a double major in chemistry and enology (the science of winemaking), riding at the advanced level, and following the yellow brick road wherever it leads. Thank you to all of your support this past year. I feel fueled and ready to take on whatever lies ahead in this coming year.
Here is to more tears, smiles and unforgettable moments!
Until next time,