Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Carrie's Rolex Experience - What It's All About...

Really, what IS Rolex all about?

Is it about coming away with the coveted Rolex watch mid way through Sunday afternoon?  Is it about finishing on your dressage score?  Is it about having a completion?  Is it about making the right decision(s) for your horse and putting his welfare before any pipe dreams that you have?  Putting it into perspective, I think every rider over the Rolex Weekend would answer that question differently. 

I think about Mary King.  Did she go into it thinking she was going to finish 1-2?  I would bet probably not.  But she did.  She is incredible...the smile on her face was contagious. 

I think about Peter Barry.  He and his horse Kilrodan Abbot are a pair I have been rooting for for over a year.  They are the true definition of  'Adult Amateur'.  At 54 years young, Mr. Barry just completed his first 4*.  While I do not know Peter from a hole in the ground, I could not be more happy for him.  He is probably on Cloud 9...and he has every right to feel that way. Way to go Peter!!  I want to be you....badly.

I think about Clayton Fredericks' mount 'Be My Guest'...that pair was instantly one of my favourites when they started warming up in dressage...big floppy ears and all. (The horse's ears, not Clayton's.)  I mean, how could you NOT love a horse with big floppy donkey ears?!

I think about Jessica Phoenix - (who not only is a genuinely lovely individual), who had nothing but praise for Exponential after their brilliant xc round.  Not to mention her evident emotion when she literally flung her arms around his neck after their show jumping round on Sunday.  That gave me goosebumps.

I think about Diana Burnett - who has a machine of an xc horse, but who chose to withdraw before xc because something 'wasn't quite right with him'.  That made me respect her.  A lot.  You bet your ass I'll be cheering for them at Burghley from across the pond. 

I think about the man I was standing beside on Friday morning watching Susan Beebee's test on Prowler.  He was giving the play by play to whomever he was speaking to on the other end of his iPhone and the excitement he had in his voice as they cantered down the centre line for the 2nd time.  I felt his excitement!

Sinead and Tate over the Hammock

I think about Sinead Halpin and her weekend of a lifetime.  I could only imagine getting so close to coming to Rolex in 2010, having it go 'poof'' right in front of your eyes, then coming the year after..and finishing 3rd at your first 4*.  The emotion was evident after her clear SJ round as she covered her face to attempt and stop the tears.  I don't think it worked.  The crowd roared...and I am sure that didn't help her any either.  I think she had the biggest cheer...more then anyone else.  We were sitting in the South grandstand - and I think each and every person rode each and every stride of that SJ course with her.  I love it when the riders cry.  Sinead - you just allowed a lot of little girls out there to live out their dreams through you with the weekend you had.  Congratulations and I am so so so happy for you. 

I think about my goals as a rider.  Yes, I think the riders at that level are absolutely bonkers...That trakehner is the scariest thing I have ever seen...that said, it makes me want to achieve that level.  Badly.  Standing in front of that trakehner, I pictured myself galloping up to it, clearing it and then taking off for the next fence.  I now have absolutely zero reason to stand in front of any other xc jump on any of the xc courses I walk from now on and think to myself  'wow, that is BIG'...until we get to Rolex of course. 

I think about all the little girls and boys who got to meet their eventing idols (and yes, I include myself in that 'little girl' category when I met Peter Atkins), get an autograph and get a word in to their heros. 

I think about the majority of the people who I met in Kentucky - the riders, Patricia, Glenn the Geek and Jennifer from HRN, Bobbi the jump judge from Cincinnati who has been jump judging at Rolex since 1978, people from all over the World (I met someone from Germany on Saturday afternoon), the other ammie bloggers, the vendors in the trade fair who are all so passionate about their products, the volunteers...I have nothing to say but 'wow'...and thank you for all that you do, etc etc etc. So, whether it be your goal to win Rolex, ride at Rolex, better yourself as a rider because of Rolex, be part of the support crew for those riders at Rolex or be a part of the cheering crowd on Saturday...we all come together from very different walks of life for one very same common reason: we love the horses and the evident joy they bring to those around them.  To me, THAT, is what Rolex is all about.

Thank you Patricia and Ecogold for giving me a Rolex experience like no other and which will be hard to duplicate.  It was an incredible 3 days and I can't WAIT to get to the Horse Park again in 2012.

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