My warm-up for the final test went really well. Chemaine coached me through my ride, encouraging me to get Speedy deeper and moving out with a better stride. He was a bit stiff and really wanted to be heavy in my hands, so Chemaine had me do a lot of bending and suppling of his neck.
Surprisingly, I felt really relaxed and wasn't worried about Speedy's stiffness. He was either going to let go and relax, or he wasn't. I was looking forward to the ride and was anxious to get out there and give it another try.
As I gave my final salute, my eyes filled with tears. I was really proud of our effort. I knew we weren't going to place as high as I had wanted (middle of the pack), but I had worked really hard and ridden to the absolute best of my ability. To most people, especially those in full training with more expensive horses, that might not have been enough. For me, for those few moments anyway, I felt a huge sense of accomplishment.
Our averaged score for this second test was a 62.000%. I think it's interesting that all five of my score sheets (one from the warm-up ride, two from the "A" ride, and two from this test) were all in the 62% range. That says something about our consistency and about the consistency within the field of judges.
Overall, we finished the Horse of the Year Training Level Championship class for Adult Amateurs in 16th place out of a field of 18 riders. We were "only" nine percentage points below the winner and a mere four percent from the middle of the pack. I am sure that's what the losers always say, but for me, knowing that I was somewhat close to the rest of the field encouraged me. We don't have that much farther to go.
I call it the "Rarefied Air"....many of the horse and rider teams we compete against at these championships are people who ride every day, have very expensive horses that they keep in professional training, and may or may not even need to work for a living. The judging also gets stricter. Just to be there at all is a major accomplishment, so major congratuations to you and your lovely horse! You guys did a great job!
There will always be someone better. I think the trick is to recognize your own success and value what you've managed to achieve while still pushing yourself to do more.
Some bloopers and Oh My!(s) tomorrow ...