I came off the cross country course at fence 7.
My horse felt great in the warm up. My horse felt amazing fence 1-6. Big tables, ascending stairs, a massive brush angled line to a double brush. Tick, tick, tick. He jumped out of stride. He jumped well. I rode with efficiency. I rode well.
Until I didn’t.
A hanging log caught us off guard, and with it, a 20.
I represented and popped over, only to have the bank 3 strides later stump him.
And when I went back for a redo, I heard a jump judge say I was eliminated. She proclaimed I had had 3 stops. I had not, and this was confirmed by my barn owner, but what was the point in the argument? So off I went, heading back to the trailers just shrugging my shoulders.
Immediately my phone beeped. Was I ok? Was I safe? Was I upset?
And strangely, I was.
I have realized in my short 33 years how insignificant these shows truly are. I have realized why I am in this sport. And I have come to terms with taking blame and placing blame.
Moreso, I have come to enjoy this sport for the joy it brings me and not the pain.
I loaded my horse back onto the trailer with a pat and hauled him the short 3 miles home. I swung up on my other beast for a quick flat. And then I texted my friend Leah, asking if she was still on the show grounds.
Because while I was attempting to come back in the world of eventing, my friend Courtney was climbing towards a milestone of her own. A bronze medal in dressage. On a horse she had made herself.
And my weekend had ended in defeat, but my soul was still intact. I knew I had to be there. I knew that my weekend had ended right as hers had begun. And I knew how much this weekend meant to her.
So I picked myself up off the Whoa Is Me floor, cracked open a beer, and meandered to the dark side.
And it was amazing.
I know now that I don’t do these competitions for my own self gluttony. The $3 ribbon might hang proudly in my closet, but it is the memories I make which hold true to my mind. The friends standing at the finish flags. The fiancé holding an iPhone firmly as he videos a dressage test. And the popping of a champagne cork as we toast to a goal obtained and a dream made.
Today, it wasn’t my dream.
Today, it wasn’t my champagne cork.
But today, we toasted as high.
To milestones achieved. To goals obtained. But moreso, to friendships made. To the highs and lows with a good group surrounding you. Those people who can laugh at your mistakes while applauding your triumphs.
That is why we do this. That is the fun in the game. And that is the smile on my face at the end of the day.
Today wasn’t my day. Today was hers. And I’m so ok with that.
Congratulations Courtney, you deserve every minute of it.