Well, we're two weeks out from Go Time, and the hard moments of saying goodbye have begun. This weekend was my last event, at one of my all-time favorite places: GMHA. At the September event, there's something subtly magical about the crisp brightness of autumn mornings in the green mountains, and I felt very lucky to get to experience it one more time before I left.
Ky was, in a word, perfect. It was the first event I took him to where he felt really settled and mature in all three phases and in his stall back at the barns as well. In the dressage he drew many compliments on how good he's looking at the moment, and I was really thrilled with how great he felt. It was disappointing to just get a 35.5 and end up mid-pack, but oh well. I know how far he's come in the past year, and I was absolutely chuffed with him.
(Ky struttin' in XC warmup; note the small children pointing in awe in the background)
It was a pretty short turnaround to show jumping, and when I got there I found out my ring was running around 10 minutes ahead. The warmup was looking pretty chaotic, so I made a snap decision to just get in, jump the bare minimum number of jumps needed to feel ready, and get in the ring as quickly as possible to minimize the stress. I revved Ky up, reminded myself to keep riding forward without chasing, popped a few fences, and headed over.
And it was our best round we've ever had! Actually, it was one of the best show jumping rounds I've had in years. Like, maybe since the Dually days. It was the first one I can remember in a loooong time where I was able to keep a really even and balanced canter all the way around, make every turn like I'd planned, and hit every distance. It was an awesome, awesome feeling. What a good boy!!!
(What a good boy, indeed!)
The next morning we suited up for what might be my last cross country run in a long time. It was hard not to get a little sad. Eventing has been a fundamental part of my child and early adulthood, and it's followed me from New England to South Carolina to California and back again. I've had my ups and downs with the sport, but there's a wonderful quality to it that has kept me coming back to it even when I've been at my absolute lowest. Some of my greatest achievements have happened in eventing, and some of the happiest moments of my life have occurred in the orbit of this bizarre, close-knit little world.
(Moment of nostalgia: me and Dually at this same event 6 years ago, my first show back after breaking my neck and one of the most nerve-wracking events I've ever been to. Dually was so perfect and took such amazing care of me)
So with all that nostalgia in mind, I'd like to say I had the same sort of round I had in the show jumping, where everything magically melted into place and reminded me of all the hours and miles I've put into becoming the best eventer I can be over the years. Of course, that didn't happen, and I ended up riding like a bit of a twit early on in the course and only found my rhythm around fence 8 or 9.
But, find our rhythm we did, and on the last gallop home I managed to have a brief smile about the wonderful journey I've been lucky enough to go on for the past decade. Ky jumped fabulously and flew around, finishing feeling fresh and happy. I was a little silly and let us go on a bit too much at the end so we wound up with two speed penalties, but we still came home with a pretty purple ribbon so I can't complain.
The great news, though, is that he'll be close by and I'll be able to visit him very easily on my holidays. Even better, I can look forward to having him in my greedy little clutches again in two years' time, as we've arranged a lease rather than a sale. So this may be the end of the dream, but only for now.
(Me, my beloved beast, and some pretty gnarly hair)
In the meantime I can't get too weepy, as Ringo and I still have one show left, and it's a big one to boot: the PSG Championships at NEDA Fall! We have one last lesson tomorrow before we leave on Wednesday afternoon. Wish up luck!