FINALLY, a month later, I can finish the recap! In case everyone has forgotten, here’s Day 1 and Day 2 to refresh your memory. When we left off, Henry and I were sitting in 10th place individually after XC and Team Always be a Unicorn was first in the Adult Team Championship with a 17 point spread over the second place team.
At AEC they run show jumping in reverse order of placing, so I had about 20 people ahead of me in our division before I went. Luckily I think the ring crew was just as ready to be done as we were, because they were ushering horses in and out of there without so much as a pause in between. So fast, in fact, that even though there were 4 other rounds between my first teammate to go and myself, my trainer didn’t make it back down to warm-up until they were calling me to the ring. We quickly jumped 3 fences and off I went up the hill and into the ring…
where I proceeded to ride one of the worst stadium rounds I’ve ever had on Henry. I just couldn’t get a canter that I liked, couldn’t pick a rhythm, kept changing things instead of letting it flow, over-correcting, and basically every choice I made was wrong. I really have no good explanation or excuse. We had a few well-deserved rubs along the way before finally having a rail at the very last fence. I walked out and told my trainer “I deserved that”, and she agreed, because I did. Still, we got our completion medal, Henry got an apology, and I dismounted so I could stand and watch our last two teammates jump.
Jeannette went in and had a trip fairly similar to mine, also having the last rail (damn that stupid last rail, it came down a lot). Then, finally, it was Bobby’s turn. He was in first place after XC so he was the very last person to show jump, and he DID NOT have a rail in hand. At this point I wasn’t even sure what our team had left in hand anymore either, because I hadn’t been able to pay close attention to everyone else. The pressure was on, and I could hardly watch.
I was so nervous for him, I think I jumped every fence with Halo. He had a couple of rubs that made my heart absolutely just STOP, but they stayed in the cups. Finally, after what seemed like an hour instead of a minute, he rounded the turn to the last, saw a little bit of a gap, moved up to the distance, and had another hard tap. In that moment I think time stood still and I lost a good 10 years off my life, but all the poles stayed in the cups. This is the point where I lost my ever-loving mind, screaming like a banshee and jumping up and down like I won the megamillions. Somewhere in the walk between my vantage point and the ingate I started bawling, handed Poor Henry to Poor Trainer (who at that point was laughing at me), and hugged Bobby for a good 30 seconds. Proud doesn’t even begin to describe it. Bobby is a huge turd but I love him anyway and I can’t think of anyone more deserving of that win.
They did the awards for the Adult Team Championship first. Turns out that even with my rail and Jeannette’s rail, we still opened up the gap and finished with 19 points in hand over second place. Since they drop the highest score, all 3 of ours that counted toward the final tally were in the top 10 overall… hard to beat that. The best part is that our trainer made a bet with us that if we won the ATC, she would wear the unicorn mask for our win photos. She thought she could weasel out of it by standing outside the ring and trying to look nonchalant in the hopes that we would forget, but I yelled at her to get her ass in there and put the damn mask on. Everyone got a good laugh out of it and asked who was under the mask… I made sure everyone knew that it was AMANDA MERRITT of ANCHOR EQUESTRIAN. I think she told me that she hated me a couple hundred times but we all know that’s not true. She looked majestic AF.
After we got our team awards (which was so much stuff that it took a whole ‘nother team of people to carry it all) I started to leave the ring because I figured my rail had knocked me out of the top 12. Then I heard them call the 12th place person with a 35.8 and I came screeching to a halt, turned around, and put myself in line. I knew that I finished with a 34.8 but had no idea what place that was… turns out I didn’t change places at all, we stayed in 10th. If I hadn’t had the rail it only would have made a 2 place difference, putting us in 8th. I was actually kind of okay with that because the 10th place ribbon is way prettier than 8th. Shallow people problems.
Henry thought the entire awards ceremony was stupid and refused to look even remotely interested for his award photos, but the victory gallop was pretty damn fun. I will happily run around the ring to “We are the Champions” without complaint any day of the week. It was a pretty cool moment.
All in all, it was a very successful and fun AEC experience. We had a blast, had a great dressage, easy XC, and learned exactly how not to ride stadium. Plus we walked away with lots of awesome stuff. Can’t really beat that!