A Fantastic WEG Experience

Oct 5, 2010 - 8:35 AM
Totilas enjoyed the crowd's reaction to his impressive performances. Photo by Sara Lieser.

I’m not a journalist, just writing straight from the heart, so please forgive me if I seem overly positive. I was just really happy the whole time I was at the World Equestrian Games! Plus, I guess any time I see a horse I’m not too picky, just enjoying them!

My time at WEG was fantastic. I got to see many of the people I know and love. The fact that so many I didn’t know recognized me and voiced their support was incredible. So touching. The way the staff treated me was amazing; there are benefits to being injured!

People often said that it must be hard to watch and not be out there competing. There was no sadness at all seeing the top horses compete. There was just joy to watch them.

I had a lot of time to think during WEG, so this is the culmination of my thoughts.

I also met with Darren Chiacchia there. All brain injuries are different, but I really appreciate him taking the time to meet with me and telling me about his experience. It was beneficial.

The top three riders rode brilliantly. I had never seen Totilas in person before. The way he moves is what we all are after. His nature seems so cool. Edward says piaffe, and he puts his whole body into piaffe. Edward says walk, and he simply walks. Edward says half-pass, he simply half-passes.

What I love is, like my Idy, when he’s done he checks out the crowd. “Did you see that? I was pretty spectacular, wasn’t I?” He knows the crowd is there, and he looks at them in appreciation. I don’t know him, but that’s what I think!

Laura’s horse was different, but he moved with such power, and everything seemed easy. He’s good at everything. Lovely! I knew them before, and they’ve really grown, both together and as a horse and a rider. So fun to see!

And our Steffen. He couldn’t have done any better. He’s so cool under pressure, and trust me, there was pressure. And he just rode like he always rides, didn’t change a thing. And Ravel is Ravel. He looked outstanding, even more mature than at the Olympics. No one but Satchmo can half-pass like that. Such power, such swing, such reach. And those half-passes are hard! Beautiful.

I was so excited watching him do the Grand Prix test for the team, that when he finished, I grabbed Shannon, his wife, and said, “I have to hug someone!” I was shaking like a leaf from excitement. I thanked Akiko because not only did she buy a super horse, but she also kept him with a great rider, and that’s everything.

I didn’t get a chance, but I also owe a huge thank you to Jane Clark. Because she bought the horse at the last minute and had Katherine ride him, we were able to get the placing that secured our Olympic spot for 2012! I owe her a special thanks because it’s because of my ridiculous positive medications test that our Olympic place was at risk!

Katherine and Nartan looked beautiful. The horse looked lovely, better even than at Gladstone, but also I think Katherine’s position is very good, the best I saw. Personal opinion. I think they will be a great pair for the Olympics.

Our other riders, Todd and Tina, also did an excellent job. They had little expensive mistakes, but I can’t complain about the way they rode. No bias here, but they did our country proud!

The fact that Steffen warmed up in a helmet and dedicated his freestyle to me means a lot to me. Thank you, Steffen! Not that it’s the reason he wore a helmet, but that horse is a lot hotter than he looks. Steffen just makes him LOOK calm.

The other one that looked beautiful, and the crowd absolutely loved, was the Spanish PRE, Fuego. He could extend beautifully, do changes, piaffe, passage, walk, pirouette, everything. And fun to watch to boot! Not that the rider has anything to do with it. We all know riders just sit there. Look out, the Spanish are here!

Isabell is always my hero. She just does her thing, top competition or not. She may not have won, but that doesn’t matter at all to me.

The other one I particularly noticed was Ashley Holzer. Pop Art looked exquisite. He moved better than he did at the Olympics. A couple costly unexpected mistakes, but without them, she would have been right up there. There are very few hoses who I think couldn’t be ridden better, but he’s one.

Many people were impressed by the fact I went, but I always told them, I wouldn’t miss it. This is how I am right now, no sense in hiding. I wish I knew how to thank all those people voicing their support. I don’t really. Just know I appreciate it and any positive energy in whatever way, helps. I’ll do my best to ride again ASAP. It may take some time, but I’ll get there!

When I went to Lendon’s long ago, I was an eventer, and I went to Lendon for three months to perfect my dressage. Even before my accident I was still trying. What makes dressage fun is you may get better, but you can never perfect it!

I should also mention the judges. It’s a tough job, and I wouldn’t want to do it. Well done! The order was right on! It was a shame that Parzival bit his tongue, and I know it broke Stephen Clarke’s heart to ring the bell. We all wanted to see Parzival. Luckily the Dutch still claimed gold! I really feel for Adeline. So much work, such greatness, no chance. We all are sad for her.

Also the volunteers, they were fantastic even under hard conditions.  And they were so nice—they gave our country a stellar reputation. I know there aren’t a lot of benefits to the job, but know that you’re appreciated.

I can’t wait to get home, see my horses, and work on my brain, but this was the best week I’ve ever had! Great job Steffen, Katherine, Tina and Todd!



Category: Columns

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