Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024

Blogger Sinead Halpin



I recently attended my good friend Lynn Symansky’s wedding in November. I was lying on the beach in St. Croix listening to Hannah Sue Burnett tell a funny story to Jennie Brannigan. Lillian Heard and Ryan Wood had just walked back up to the house and Danny Symansky, Lynn Symansky’s brother, and my husband [Tik Maynard] were swimming in the ocean.

The whole drive I had been chugging Red Bull and giving myself pep talks about developing a thicker skin while anxiously surfing my XM radio. A few weeks earlier I had been having some conversations with peers about our need to cross-country school more often and in more “uncomfortable” situations. It’s pretty easy to set everything up to go according to plan while schooling, and often that is important, but if you’re looking to sharpen your instincts for a championship competition there’s only so much trotting back and forth over a ditch that’s going to help you. 

I was in a field in Germany cursing myself for the wrong choice of shoes because the ground was very, very damp when I was introduced to a well known German eventer from times past. The greeting smile had not left her face when in perfect English she said, “I was there at fence 5 in France.”

I froze. She continued, “He was a bit fresh and in my opinion a bit fast.”

I honestly have been trying to write this blog for a few days and it seems every time I try, I have a mixture of emotions that I struggle to put into words. It seems crazy that last week I was in France representing my country at the World Championships. The result—not optimal, and the experience I am still digesting.

I was paired with the five best teammates I could imagine, a phenomenal coach and a horse-of-a-lifetime, seemed a recipe for success. But a comment made by veteran teammate Phillip Dutton stood out in my head at a pre-game chat.


Le Pin-au-Haras, France—Aug. 27

It's 6:45 a.m. and today is Jog Day.

The week so far has been really about getting as comfortable with our surroundings and getting into a routine. The venue is actually quite rural and doesn't have a World Championship feel but yesterday as I was cantering in the arena with Ingrid Klimke and Michael Jung I knew this was "real.” 

If someone had told me on that day back in 2007 that the leggy, shy chestnut that I was on a day trip to Cherbourg, France to see would be the 2011 USEF National Champion, the U.S. first reserve for the 2012 London Olympics, and ultimately return to France as part of the U.S. eventing team at the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games...I would have told that person to invite me to the land of make-believe they were living in!

This season seems like it has been unusually tough on U.S. eventing. We have lost so many lovely horses and been blindsided by injuries, but we still kick on. 

Yet I have still found myself looking in the mirror, asking, "What am I doing?" and questioning the sport I have dedicated my life to.

At first I thought I had lost it when these questions started entering my head, my positive nature derailed.

"I might as well throw in the towel and take up gardening."

(I have nothing against gardening, for the record.)

“Fake it 'til you make it.” Interesting idea.

Another good one I saw was a tweet from Michael Jordan that said, “Can’t wait for the day I wake up and say I have made it.” I don’t know if that was exactly the quote, but you get the idea.

This sport is constantly messing with your head. Every day you wake up thinking, "OK, this is what I have to get done in order to make it; in order to be a success; in order to achieve my goals."

Well, today (Monday, as I write this) has been a rollercoaster of emotions. I woke up to no alarm clock, because I had nothing in particular to get up for. But still, around 7 a.m., the restless feeling set in.

My right leg was propped up on some pillows, and I stared at the throne it was resting on for about 5 more minutes before deciding to take on the day. Tik had already left for work, so I knew I was on my own.



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