Every morning when I wake up, the first thought that crosses my mind is: “I am not going to the Olympic Games.”
Then I start my daily pep talks (to myself), and normally by the time I reach the barn I can get a smile on my face. But it’s very difficult in my situation to keep growing as a person and accept the lessons that need to be learned.
At the Barbury Castle CIC*** last weekend, our final selection trial, I underperformed in the dressage. By no means did I think that my one average dressage mark would keep me off of the team, but I did feel a heck of a lot of pressure to jump a clear show jumping round. So after Tate jumped a beautiful clear, I wiped the sweat off my brow, sure that I had restored faith that I can perform under pressure.
I made sure I was prepared for the cross-country and planned to go quickly. When I was in the warm-up, Boyd fell off Nev, and none of the first riders had made it home. I had been instructed by our coach that the selectors just wanted to see smooth rounds.
Tate jumped beautifully through the first half of the course, and then, with the wet weather, my foot slipped out of the stirrup coming to the largest bounce-drop combination on the course (bad timing seems to be my thing lately).
Tate took care of me though. I hung on, he jumped, and we galloped away from the combination safely. At this point I did take my foot of the accelerator. Cross-country is Tate’s best phase—he didn’t have anything thing to prove. I came home clear with some time penalties.
About 2 minutes after I came across the finish flags, Tate got a slight nosebleed. I was surprised, since this is an issue we’ve had in the past, but has been quite dormant for some time.
The bleeding can be caused by two things: a low-grade infection or an asthma-type allergy. This makes the horses’ lungs have to work quite hard when they take deep breaths and can cause bleeding. If a horse is seen on course with blood in his nose you should be pulled off course.
Tate bled once on the last minute of a course in 2009, and that was when we became aware that he had an allergy. We did massive amounts of testing and scoping and came up with a treatment plan, and he has never bled on course since. He’s had a nosebleed once or twice back at the barn after a long run when he put his head down, but again, this hasn’t happened in a long time.
In hindsight, I should have treated him before Barbury, but he had given me no signs of an infection or an allergy before running. I’ll have to live with that, and I’ve learned from it.
Hindsight as well, I should have gone straight to the selectors and given them my horse’s history and informed them that we have a very good treatment plan that’s proven to work. Instead I went home, took care of my horse and decided that if the selectors were concerned they would talk to me at the vet evaluations that were happening the next day.
Tate looked fabulous and sound through his evaluation. The vets said they wanted to scope him and check his lungs, and so we had three different vets scope him, and they all were very pleased and saw no blood, meaning he didn’t have an intense bleed, but something that should be easily treated.
At this point, I saw no reason to speak to the selectors, but I think I should have. I respect that their job is incredibly difficult, and I needed to give them more information to work with.
I was not named to the team. I am working very hard every day to not let this experience make me angry or define me. My horse is healthy and happy, and that is the most important thing.
The knowledge I’ve gained from every tough experience in my life has given me my edge. It has been all of those disappointments, rough lessons and failures that have given me my best moments in life and led me to every success I’ve had. This experience is no different, and I so look forward to what is to come.
Thank you to everyone who has been so supportive. It may be raining now, but the sun will shine again.