Saturday, October 9, 2010

WEG Redux; Show Jumping

So I've come to my last WEG recap post. It's been really fun to relieve it all over again, so it's a bit bittersweet to think that there isn't any more competition left to savor (now, if I could have convinced my parents to skip an extra week of school/work, we'd be telling a different story!! But that's neither here nor there ;)). But all good things must come to an end, right?

(Henny looked great!!!)

(Very well-deserved pats for a clear show jumping round that would eventually finish them 40 places better than their dressage score)

Unfortunately for the US fans (myself very much included) the good things came to an end for our team about an hour sooner than we'd hoped or planned for them to. After a middling ride from Buck Davidson that resulted in one rail got things going for the team, Boyd Martin put in an awesome double clear that really got my heart pounding. Yes!!!

(Buck and Reggie, who's got to have some of the best forearm action out there)

After Boyd's ride, we were running up against the clocks to get home, so just managed to squeeze in Phillip Dutton's round on Woodburn before we had to leave. And, egads!!! A rail??? From Phillip?? On the second last fence?? A seriously blanching moment. As my parents and I walked away from the stadium, hearing the disconnected cheering of the crowd at intervals as we headed back to the bus depot, we shared rather dark looks. Could they pull it out? Unfortunately we'd have to find out later, as it just wasn't a possibility to see it ourselves.

(Boyd made it happen and looked classy the entire way)

Just as we got to the airport, Mom managed to get online and find the news: 4th. Dang!!! What a bummer!! I admit that I had gotten REALLY into Team USA, and so it felt like an actual kick to the stomach to hear such news. I can only imagine what the riders must have felt like!

(Phillip's rail marked the beginning of the meltdown)

The good news, though, is that, as a lifelong Red Sox fan (who is, thus, used to being strung along for 2/3 of a season with high hopes and then dropped like a sack of dirt at the final hour), I think I recovered more quickly than most. I was really surprised to see all the negative backlash that went down in the days following: I absolutely agree that there were some parts of the selection and team training that I did NOT agree with, but I think I would have felt that way no matter what the system was. The truth is that selecting for a world championship team is tough, is going to get political in some way or another, and at a certain level the horses are going to get sidelined for other priorities. I've talked to many people who've been involved with the team since the '70s and '80s, and that take away is pretty constant. It's not something I approve of, but it appears to be a fact of life at the elite level of our sport. So, I didn't really get why everyone was so shocked and awed by our selection and process this time around. I'm a red blooded American and want to see my country succeed BADLY, but I don't really get how whining, raging, and pointing fingers (and calling Karen O'Connor fat?? Really??) is going to get us anywhere.

(And let's not forget that there were some serious success stories out there, like Team Canada! Here Hawley Bennett jumps an AWESOME clear round that helped her team secure silver)

(Hawley and Ginny take an impromptu victory lap after their round - I think I would have!!)

The biggest shame was that the whole post-show jumping meltdown seemed to make a lot of people forget the magic that we'd witnessed in the park the day before. Watching cross country had been like capturing lightning in a bottle, and these people were so willing to squander that incredible feeling through griping and vetching. I don't understand, I guess. For me, I know that, win or lose, it was one of the best equine spectator experiences I've ever had. As I said when I first got back, it made me hungry like I haven't felt in a long time to be the best horseman that I can be.

Oh, and it might be fun to pop through the Head of the Lake, too =D

1 comment:

Rachel said...

may I say that my LAST name is Hawley... but people hear it and think "Holly". As my dad's only child (and a daughter), how cool would it be to name a girl Hawley? Like Hawley Bennett? Brilliant ;)

Thanks for the lovely visuals and great descriptions of your experience. I've really enjoyed it.

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