Never in my life have I had any desire to go to Vegas… but toss top world rated equestrians, spectacular horses and a few HJU Sock Sisters together…out came the credit cards and off I went. Having just had knee surgery that had complications, followed by the crap flu, and other not-so-thrilled-about health issues, I had the fear I’d drop dead on the walkway from the parking lot to the stadium but it did not stop me.
For the weeks building up to this trip, I attempted to convince myself this would be a once in the lifetime adventure. Five minutes into the first Dressage session I began planning 2017. To see live horses and riders of this caliber, should never be a once in a life time event for a Horse Junkie.
Only in Vegas does Dressage get an opening act, and yes people, it was Elvis – most appropriate.
I’m not sure if it was the jet lag, lack of sleep (it’s been awhile since the HJU bloggers had seen each other so there was a lot of catching up to do) or a slight hangover (yeah, no comment) but as the first rider entered the stadium and made her cursorily lap, I teared up – this is the real deal! The first bell was rung and the afternoon was off, EIGHTEEN riders in all were competing, Eighteen riders I’ve seen in magazines, books and TV… I am seeing live.
As the first rider came down center line, halt, salute and proceed tracking left, I suddenly became aware that from my seat up above the horse and rider I saw more than I ever have in any other situations. I felt like I was lingering just above the rider and was along for the ride of a life time. Several times I felt my muscle memory cueing up to help with the bend in the corners. My shoulder would go back just a tad more to open the hips for the most amazing extended trot. No wonder I was sore the next day.
All in all rather than taking notes to help with the detail blogs, I got totally caught up in a new spot, a spectator, the camera and pad sat in my lap as my jaw hung wide and I totally enjoyed each and every dressage rider for the pure beauty they and their horse created. The lessons I have had over the better part of a hundred years all rattled in my head. I could see riders stretch down with every step and the relaxing effect it had on the horse. I could not really see the tiny shift in seat bone to aid in the bend, the minute pulse of a finger to soften the horse or the slight pressure of an inside leg, but I could feel it happening.
As a “slightly” over-the-top perfectionist living and loving the “slightly” OCD sport of dressage it was a blast and an inspiration have the opportunity to just sit and enjoy my first FEI World Cup… I’ll get on my game going forward.