Grace. Power. Teamwork. Inspiration. Truth. Clarity. A breath of fresh air. That’s what I experienced at WEG that Friday afternoon for the Musical Freestyles. My Roomie and I were able to pretty spontaneously hop over to Paris and then to Caan when a dear soul gave us her tickets to WEG a few days prior. Being in awe was a constant state of being for those three days. Admittedly, I practically lived inside of the movie Sabrina (the newer one with Harrison Ford) in the couple of weeks surrounding our Paris trip. I thought Sabrina’s letter home to her dad in New York was perfect when she spoke of a song being played across the street from her in Paris.
“I’m always surprised at how it moves me. It means seeing life through rose colored glasses, and only in Paris where the light is pink did that song make sense. But I’ll have it in my pocket when I get home, and I’ll take it with me wherever I go from now on.”
Seeing life through rose colored glasses maybe sounds a little bit like a lie… just pretending the world doesn’t turn the way it really does. But then really being in the light, living in the light that is pink, now that’s experiencing rare and true beauty.
The quality of the horses and riders was unlike any other show I’ve experienced in person. Valegro earned every bit of that 92% freestyle. I’ve never seen so much power, precision, and obvious relaxation all bundled together. Telling people about it at home gave me goose bumps for days! And then there was our Laura Graves who put in such a fantastic ride, we were all hooting and hollering when she finished. Being there, seeing and feeling that just makes the dream seem so possible.
It wasn’t the same for me as the other big competitions I’ve been to over here. I didn’t go to the WEG in KY, but I’ve been to the Masters a few times and our big qualifiers. Honestly, those competitions often have the opposite effect on me. I get a little bored. I see the top riders and think, this is the best it can be? All of the blood, sweat, tears, and years and this is the top? I mean no disrespect to our riders, horses or competitions. I know it’s a freaking hard sport, and I’m certainly not at that level. It’s just that the light isn’t pink. BUT it exists. And now I’ve breathed it in.
Courtney referenced the dressage scale at a clinic recently. She had one of the riders raise the bar saying, “Make your expectations like an 11.” It made me think about riding at NEDA Fall and talking to Clair about her test the day after winning her regional championship class. Someone asked her if she won today, why would she go back to do it again tomorrow? Her response was to ride a mistake free test, that Courtney wants perfect. She wasn’t delusional about getting a 100%, but she wanted to improve. The goal isn’t just a blue ribbon, it’s the training.
I’ve ridden with someone in the past who got excited about a 62% or even a 60% at a certain level. This is not an amateur or young rider, this is a trainer on a fancy horse. The “professional.” So in training, basically the goal was achieving a 7 (fairly good). An 8 or 9 would be a miracle and time to pop open a bottle of champagne! Sooo if the goal is a 7 and we’re creatures that constantly fall short, we’re probably going to end up with a score sheet of 5’s, 6’s, and the occasional 7… maybe an act of God gracing us with an 8. However, when the goal is Grand Prix, when the goal is a 10, or like Courtney said, an 11, when the goal is to make a perfect test even after winning regionals, perhaps getting 70 and 80%’s becomes more than possible.
Shanghai my little love is Francine’s 5 year old Oldenburg. That little rascal has a serious grip on my heart. He’s the good boy who wants the cool dude/bad boy persona. I can just see him in a black leather jacket and dark shades helping a grandma with her groceries on the way to his motorcycle. He can be sort of a grump… he’s just very honest when he has a complaint. But when he understands something new and you tell him that you love him and that he’s a rock star, he’ll try his hardest to make you proud again and again.
I’m realizing that he’s a big kid now. He may be just a teenager, but he’s prepping for Harvard and he’s going to get his PhD. We took him to NEDA Fall for his first real horse show at First Level. He started off by jumping errr clamoring out of the ring in the middle of his canter lengthening. Ooops. I was thinking, Well, yea. That just happened. Hmm. I tried to finish the test, but the judge didn’t have the time for it and we were thanked out of the arena. Ha. Ohh dressage. He was worried about the new show setting, but each test he grew a little more confident. The last day he seemed like himself – barely half awake as I hand walked him around his show arena in the A.M. instead of dragon snorting and snooting along the way. He so lit up in the warm up. He was feeling proud and worry free. Feeling the ride, smiles and giggles were poking their way through my ready for business attitude. Man is it fun when it’s right! That test he wrapped up the show by winning with a 76.6%!! I’m beyond thankful for the opportunity to ride him. And just so excited about that little dude!
Here’s to shooting for 11’s. The harmony and power that comes with that standard of dressage training appears to be nothing less than a miracle. I want more than just a taste of that miracle!