Did you know William Fox-Pitt and Parklane Hawk won Rolex? You would if you stayed awake to the end of my "rough draft"! Photo by Tracy Porter

I came home from Rolex exhausted, endorphed, and inspired, with too much to do and not enough time. I sat down last week to write my personal Rolex story and writer’s, or in my case, non-writer’s block set in. The weekend was filled with so many moments I wanted to share, but the words just wouldn’t come.

Being a scientific facts and figures kind of person, I did what I do best… I wrote a very thorough (and very dull) recap of all the weekend’s events. On Thursday x, y, and z happened… on Friday a, b, and c happened. You get the gist. I came back to it to five or six times on several different days to edit and hopefully breathe some much needed life into it. :FAIL:

Today at the barn, it hit me like a ton of bricks. Rolex isn’t always about facts and figures, final results, who did what, who wore what, etc… It is about so much more and it’s different for everyone.

So here is what made my Rolex experience so amazing:

After watching some of the best horse and rider pairs in the world, I came home with the desire to ride again.

It’s not that I haven’t been riding all winter and spring; I have. It’s more that I have been getting on and settling for a mediocre ride, setting my goals too low, and allowing myself to be satisfied with just staying on or just getting a little more submission. When you set your goals too low you achieve them too easily and with less satisfaction because you don’t push yourself. Rolex inspired me to be the best horsewoman and rider that I can be and to never stop trying to make myself better.

I watched Allison Springer and Arthur walk around the arena before their dressage test and take the time to smell the flowers and check out the scary judge’s stand at C, then put in a gorgeous, relaxed dressage test on Friday. After taking the long route at fence 27 (finishing with no jumping penalties and adding a handful of time penalties) on cross country, they showed everyone that they could handle the pressure on Sunday and held onto their second place overall standings. Knowing her horse, what spooks him, how he reacts, and how to relax him made the difference this year for Allison.

I need to learn to trust myself and to trust my horse. Improving our relationship will improve my results both at home and at shows. What may work for everyone else may not work for me and I need to ride the horse I own.

Allison Springer lets Arthur take a deep breath and a good look around. Photo by Tracy Porter

Watching Boyd Martin smile and work through Otis Barbotiere’s moment of “exuberance” during one of the flying changes and still put in a beautiful test, made me realize that you can’t let one moment affect your ride. He didn’t let that one hiccup affect the overall picture. He didn’t over correct, become defensive or give up, even with all of the Rolex pressure. When I ride, there is no pressure that I don’t create for myself. There is no sponsor to appease, no owner to answer to, no year end points, or potential client to worry about. The only pressure I have comes from me and sometimes I just need to take a deep breath and kick on.

Boyd Martin and Otis Barbotiere - Otis was a little excited here! Photo by Tracy Porter

Anyways, back to my epiphany moment… I got to the barn this afternoon and a major storm was just starting to blow in. Festin was in one of his favorite states, mud covered, and in desperate need of a good brushing. Festin HATES to be brushed (well, really just touched in general), so I spent the better part of 45 minutes practicing my evasive maneuvers and tacking him up. By the time we walked to the indoor arena, the wind had picked up and thunder was shaking the ground.

I thought to myself, “you don’t have a lesson, your horse hasn’t been worked in three days, and this will probably be counter-productive. Why are you doing this?”. I checked my negative thoughts, climbed into my newly purchased (gotta love the Rolex trade fair!) saddle, and proceeded to have one of the best rides I have had in a long time. Festin tried three of his usual tricks to evade me, but I anticipated them, corrected them, smiled, and rode on. Halfway through my ride, the sound of the driving rain and small hail on the indoor arena roof was deafening, but my horse only had ears for me and we worked as a real team for the first time in months. At the end of my ride, I felt like I had just cantered down the centerline at Rolex and nailed the final halt.

Like this.

Boyd Martin nails a halt on Otis Barbotiere Photo by Tracy Porter

Now to keep the progress coming, the goals set high, and to remember that I do all this for fun and for the love of a horse. Special thanks to Allison and Boyd for giving me that “lightbulb” moment!

Ok, so it's a blurry cell phone shot... Festin and I post-monsoon ride! Good boy Festin!