Frisco and I attended the July 5th & 6th Millbrook Farms Summer Dressage Festival this past weekend. I love to show in Utah, even though it means travelling much farther. I get face time with my long-distance friends and just love it. One thing this show brought home to me(they are all learning experiences) is that going to shows is not just about me. Showing is hard work, stressful, nerve-wracking...it costs a lot of money and it is nice to do well, especially as a professional. I did reach some interesting milestones with Frisco this show, ending on a high note by winning and earning my personal best score of 68.452% in recognized competition on Second Level Test 3 on Sunday, Frisco's first weekend competing at that level. What was great about that score is that we even have some areas that will be easy for us to clean up with experience. It was good for a Regionals qualifying score as well. We also further developed an effective warmup routine which I will need come September and Region 7 Championships. However, the biggest impressions I came away with were from watching other riders.
My husband travels a lot during the summer to get out of the heat, so he met me at the show and I spent a lot of time with him. But I did break away Sunday morning to watch some riders I'd been wanting to watch.
I watched Gary Lawrence show his wife Jan's horse, "Jake", AKA R Loverboy. They put in a lovely performance and I always enjoy watching him ride any horse, but especially a young or inexperienced horse. What amazed me is how well Gary rode in spite of all the work that he and his entire family had put into making this such a great show weekend experience for everyone. It takes a tremendous amount of physical and mental work to organize a recognized competition, beginning months in advance. The family works so well together, even building a brand new water truck in the days leading up to the show, not to mention a brand new show barn! I am pretty sure no one, including Gary, got more than 4 or 5 hours sleep each night, and that is probably a generous estimate. And yet, he gave his horses soft, effective rides. I hope the Lawrences know how much I and the rest of Utah dressage riders appreciate their efforts to put together quality shows at a fabulous facility, with the best footing I have had the pleasure to ride in. The entire Millbrook crew fosters unity and sets a high standard of committment and good will within our dressage community. I am grateful for their example, and I am sure I am not the only one who can say that.
The next rider I watched was Trisha Kerwin. Anyone who has ever attended a show with her will come away with a deep sense of admiration for her. She works harder than anyone I have ever seen. She has very dedicated family, staff and students, but she leads them by example. Ride after ride, even in near record heat, she goes out there and ellicits the most from each and every horse. She is an effective rider with many years and greath depth of experience, and her students also do extremely well, so she is clearly also an equally effective coach. All professionals could stand to emulate her. She is probably the most well-liked trainer I've ever run across, and it is not because she is busy playing the game of politics. In fact no one could be less political than Trisha. It instead is because every one of us admires her continuous hard work and recognizes her for that. Whenever I feel tired, I only have to look out there in the warmup to see her at the end of the show on most likely her fourth or fifth horse of the day, to be reminded: suck it up princess!
Last but not least, I watched Lara Oles ride her new horse Bella in her Para Grade III class. Lara had a freak skiing accident years ago which resulted in stroke-like symptoms. She no longer has use of her right arm, among other challenges, and so must ride one handed. Bella is a horse I had the pleasure of riding when I was very early in my career as a trainer. She is a Canadian Warmblood mare with enormous gaits and a super ability for collection. I was so excited when I heard word that Lara would be her new owner, thinking she would make a very competitive horse for the Para team. I watched the two of them warmup and then perform, under the guidance of Lara's trainer, Annie Sweet. I know very well how hard that trot of Bella's is to sit, two-handed! I often feel exhausted when showing Frisco because of his equally enormous trot. I have to say, I came away from watching Laura's ride very inspired by her obvious basics, fitness, determination and poise under pressure. I will never again complain about being winded from trying to get through a full test of sitting trot on my horse! Laura is an inspiration to all riders and all athletes, fully able or not. She can ride circles around the vast majority of two handed riders any day. I am so excited for her, and hope to see her and Bella's name in lights(with supporting actor roles played flawlessly by her trainer Annie and her husband Dan)!And of course every day of my life I find reasons to appreciate, admire, or be inspired by my husband and his gorgeous daughters. I love them beyond words.
Another show, another learning experience...in the books!
Below is a link to photos taken by ProPhoto/Pam Olsen: