My grooms, best friends, biggest cheerleaders, and parents, all in one- I could not have done any of this without them. Last night was the last round in the Maccabiah Games, the last time I would wear my pinque coat, ride Chin Chinello, and represent the United States in Teddy Stadium. I was so excited to go back in the ring one last time.. until I saw how big the jumps were. I thought they would be 1.25, which is still gigantic, but they were 1.30, which is bigger than the highest level in eventing! Neither Chin Chinello, nor I, had ever shown that high, so I guess you could say I was nervous.
I don’t think I said a word during the course walk. As we passed jump 6, Kate looked at me and goes, “after this jump, you can pull out, you don’t have to do this.” Kate has only known me for a week so I don’t think she realized how hard I’ve worked and that I definitely am not going to quit the competition early when I have made it this far.
The course was technical and huge. We had a triple bar into a triple combination. I’ve never seen or jumped a line like that. To further explain, it was a very wide jump, 3 rails in width instead of the normal 1 or 2, then two strides to a tall vertical, to two more strides to another vertical. After the rider, hopefully, jumps through that line, you have to sit up, reorganize, and kick on to get the forward 7 strides to a huge oxer. Chin Chinello, being the huge horse that he is, was going to have trouble with this line if I didn’t jump in perfectly. The jumps were two big to screw up- Kate and I both knew that. I have never been so nervous in my entire life.
I got into warm-up and immediately felt better. He’s so big, so the jumps looked a little smaller from my “birds eye view.” I warmed up, jumped huge jumps (a vertical that was 1.35!!), and went into the stadium that was filled with the biggest crowd yet. I took one huge breath, gave Chin Chinello a pat to calm both of our nerves, and started my course.
The first jump was great, I turned to the second and the cheers from the crowd after I jumped it clean made Chin Chinello buck. I lost my rhythm and knocked #2, kicked him on to leave a stride out to clean the huge oxer with water under it. I jumped 4, 5, and 6 well, barely hitting another one down because he was tired, and then I turned to the huge triple bar combination.
I JUMPED IT PERFECTLY!
I jumped in, sat all the way back to fit in the 2 strides between both verticals, then kicked on to the huge oxer- it was amazing! I jumped the last 5 jumps, finished the course, and galloped around the ring patting him and hugging him because I DID IT!
As I galloped out of the ring, I see my mom running from her hiding spot (she’s so weird), tears in her eyes, kissing Chin Chinello, hugging me, until I cried. It was the highlight of my trip.
My mom, who was my groom (thank you again), took Chin Chinello so I could talk to the coaches about my round and go see my dad who didn’t have the credentials to be down at the ring and had to watch from the stadium seats. Everyone was so excited and impressed, and I honestly have never been so proud of myself! I finished 25th, and I couldn’t be happier. To my knowledge, there was only one rider on a pool horse that beat me!
My teammates all put in great rounds. Syd rode her horse, Cheese, perfectly and finished 22nd. Cloe and Haley cleaned up and both were in the top 5! I am so sad that the competition is over. It was the best week of my life.
I stay in Israel until the 18th when I leave for Australia. I had to say bye to my amazing parents yesterday, which was really hard since I won’t see them until November. I am counting down the days until they visit!
For now, I am just hanging out in Israel and going to watch the other sports who still have games left. Thank you to everyone who cheered me on throughout my preparation and competition. I can’t wait for my next adventure, and will keep blogging until you guys get sick of me!