|Taylor's encouraging artwork.|
|Photo Shannon Brinkman|
I love the old saying, “If you don’t ask, you won’t get”. Many people will deny themselves of the things they really want because they are afraid of asking for it, be it connecting with someone new, applying for a job, or maybe even buying a horse that seems out of the budget. The same thing applies to achieving goals … “If you don’t try, you’ll certainly never do it.” It is easy to stop yourself before ever getting to the point of knowing whether or not you measure up to a task, because you are afraid of failing in the end. The thought of actually competing at the 2014 Rolex Three Day Event was overwhelming when I first started the plan in the Spring of 2013, but by allowing myself to concentrate solely on each step of the preparation one at a time and not on Rolex, I was able to feel prepared and ready for the challenge when the time came to actually compete at The Kentucky Horse Park with Billy.
Thanks to the generosity of some great friends, Billy flew to Kentucky the Monday of the show. He arrived fresh and healthy, which was a big boost in my confidence knowing that he was ready for the hardest week of his life. Earl, Taylor and I drove there and made it to Lexington just in time to see him deplane and take him to the horse park. Billy settled in quickly and spent Tuesday hacking around the show and seeing all of the exhilarating sights Rolex has to offer.
|The Californians arrive in Lexington|
|My brother and I standing in one of the ditches on course with Taylor.|
|Photo Sherry Stewart|
|I can't thank this little lady enough for getting me here. Photo Shannon Brinkman|
|Party-time with Sir Mark. NBD|
|I'm sure this has been his profile pic too.|
|That was fun! Photo Shannon Brinkman|
|Good thing I had Dylan to wait with me.|
|Let's goooo! Photo Shannon Brinkman|
The course itself was pure joy to ride on Billy. We went out as a purposeful, willing, and eager team and came back exactly the same, but with a 4**** completion under our belts. That is another feeling that is nearly impossible to describe. The sense of accomplishment and gratitude for your horse, family, and loved ones is so poignant it made even me feel a little teary-eyed. Of course, a horse could never understand how they can change your life. Billy could never know that he made me believe in myself and gave me the courage to try this. But, I do think he knows that we are partners for life and that I would do anything in my power not to let him down, just as he does for me.
|Billy at the famous Head of the Lake. Photo Shannon Brinkman|
|Shake and Bake! Photo Shannon Brinkman|
|Earl, Jon, Sophie and Grant giving the champ the royal treatment.|
The team behind the scenes is just as important as the team out in the spotlight, and it was such a comfort knowing that Billy was in the capable hands of Sophie, Grant and Dr. Laura to keep him comfortable and feeling ready for Sunday. Thank goodness I borrowed Gina Miles’ flat boots for the second jog instead of the wedges I had planned on wearing, because Billy was extremely proud of himself on the jog lane. Somebody should tell him I can’t run, like at all.
|Warmblood freight train coming through! Photo Shannon Brinkman|
|Dr. Laura congratulating me on not falling down. Photo Shannon Brinkman|
Being back in the Rolex Stadium on Sunday was a new sensation of its own. I had the opportunity to complete the Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event 4****! The best of the best in the sport certainly have the same feeling I had at the thought of that. I was so happy to be in the position to complete the event, I truly had no nerves going in and performing in front of the sold out stadium. And Billy was prouder than ever when the crowd cheered him on, his ego growing exponentially with every fan he gained throughout the course.
|Photo Shannon Brinkman|
I have so many people to thank for helping me get to Rolex. Earl always believed that I could do it. My family always supported me, even if they didn’t think I could do it. Hawley gave me the skills and the faith in my ability to use those skills. Dr. Muller, Jamie McDonald, Grant Showalter, and Dr. Werner for keeping him going in tip top form. Team DF for willing me over every fence. My sponsors and contributors that helped to fund this trip. And my friends, eventing and morgan, who made me feel like I wasn’t alone on this journey. THANK YOU!
|It's good to have friends.|
People have asked me if I feel different now after completing Rolex. I have to say no. Just like having a birthday, you're glad it happened (if it was a happy one), and hope to have many more. I feel the same about the path I am on and my purpose in this world. I still feel like I have much to accomplish and much to improve. I still want to enjoy every part of my journey. I guess, in many ways, I will always feel like the journey is the best part of any goal. And when I feel like I am dreaming the impossible and am afraid of what will come of it, I think of a part of Theodore Roosevelt's speech that he delivered in 1910, known as The Man In The Arena:
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
Maybe these words will help you to dare greatly and start a journey of your own that will lead you to unknown adventures and accomplishments.