Believe me. Doing a sport like Dressage is a whole ‘nother level! One must look like she is doing nothing while working her butt off.
Fast forward five horses later with only one score left at Third Level to capture the Bronze. But my Friesian Okido was not ready for me to show him Third Level, and, let’s face it, I am not getting any younger. Then, miraculously, through my trainer, Deirdre Rose Sabo-Frary, a wonderful, highly trained horse named Gettysburg SLR became available to me. His wonderful owner, Raelynn Stephens said, “You ride him until you get your medal!”
So, we started training together on April 1, 2021. After about a month, we went to our first show but did not get the score. Over the next few months, we kept trying. Then, Deirdre suggested we sign up for the open show during the Regional Championships. I was dubious because those are some tough judges. But, of course, I went for it.
For my first test, Deirdre warmed him up for me to make sure he was tuned up and listening. Then, I got on and felt ready after a little bit of practice. The test was a fair ride, but I knew when I came out of the ring I had bombed it… I turned the wrong direction in my first walk pirouette! Duh! Nervous? Nawh. Just went blank. Maybe that is nervous?
The next day, Deirdre and I were riding tests at the same time, so Jillian Monk, another trainer at our barn (and a good friend) volunteered to coach me during the warmup. Now, Jillian is an exceptionally fine military veteran, and she has a service dog name Kate, a black lab. (I love labs.) Anyway, Jillian and my daughter Stephanie (a former assistant trainer) were there to help me during the warmup. But it was Kate who deserves the credit. Her eyes were locked on me the entire time, and I swear, it was like mental telepathy. That dog willed me to be the best I could be.
I went into that ring, and Getty and I had never been so together, so one, so Zen. There is something about that service dog… she has mad skills, and she pushed me over the edge.
When the score came in, Deirdre and her husband Jacob came running down the barn aisle screaming, “You did it!” Hugs all around. And then my friend and riding buddy Gretchen Summers came screaming down the aisle, and we hugged and jumped up and down like little girls. Stephanie, my daughter, was laughing hysterically.
Soon the champagne came out, and the entire gang from Salado Creek Tack Shop and all of us from Salado Creek Riding Club in attendance shared in a toast after Jacob popped the cork. Later that night, it was a pizza party on the hotel patio.
As for Getty himself, he is outstanding. How very honored and fortunate I was to be able to train with and show him. So many people came up to me at the show to tell me how beautiful he is. Beautiful and talented, patient and kind, fun and inspirational. (A number of people asked if they could buy him during the show! They asked a price. Deirdre’s dad, Wayne, who was there, just smiled and said, “A million dollars. If you read between the lines, that means he’s not for sale!” Amen to that.)