Alex reflects on a gold-medal winning trip to the North American Junior & Young Rider Championships in Lexington, Kentucky.
So 11 hours later we are back home safe and sound from one of the best weeks of my life at NAJYRC. This experience was so incredible – its hard to put it into words. We laughed a lot, cried a lot, made a lot of new friends and made memories that will last a lifetime. There is actually so much to talk about so I will try to make this as brief as possible, though it may be hard!
I think what I mainly want to talk about is how much the team aspect of NAJYRC meant to me. Its such a great feeling to be working with others to achieve common goals. And for us, and I think for all at NAJYRC, this wasn’t just in terms of the riding. There is always a ton of work to be done, and with emotions running high and stress building before competition, you really need that support from your teammates, parents, coaches, chefs d’equipe and everyone else around you.
We helped each other set up, we decorated our stabling together, we helped each other get our horses ready to show. At the beginning of the week, Iliado had an allergic reaction and all my teammates were there making sure that both of us were okay. We painted each other’s nails, brought each other ice packs to make sure we didn’t die of heat stroke. When one of us forgot something, we never had to worry cause somebody would always be there to get it for us. We shared jokes and tears and hugs and words of encouragement. Through all of this, my teammates I became better and better friends, which made sharing the podium with them so indescribably special.
We always dream of a medal. It’s hard to get one, but the past 2 years I’ve been lucky enough to get a few. But this one was the most special. Team gold. Of course it represents how well we rode that day, but it means more than that. It is a positive reflection on our camaraderie and collaboration as a team. It shows that we are close and supportive of each other. It shows that we were all working together to earn a place on the top of the podium. It shows that we tried our hearts out to ride the best that we could for our teammates.
However, this medal was not just a representation of our horses and us. It wasn’t just ours. It isn’t our medal…
This medal belongs to everyone who has helped us along the way so that we could have the chance to go down centreline in that Rolex Stadium. It speaks to the network of support that is imperative to our success. It is our parents, driving us to the barn everyday, even in the middle of winter so that we can be prepared to compete. They fund this endeavour even if it might not be their thing and they pretend to be interested when we go on and on and on about dressage.
It is our coaches who work tirelessly to make sure that we make it out of the ring in one piece and patiently try to teach us until we finally get the hang of it. It is the others at our barn who are never without words of encouragement and faith. It is our grooms who always make sure that our horses are always ready to compete. It is our vets, farriers, nutritionists, chiropractors, massage therapists and all the other professionals who dedicate their lives to ensuring that our horses are healthy and fit to compete for our country.
It is our friends, who stay loyal to us even though we don’t have time to spend with them and all we talk about is horses. It is our sponsors, who give us fiscal and material support. It is everyone who contributed anything, even the smallest thing, to help us earn those medals.
I think we are most proud to be accepting those medals on behalf of everybody who helped us along this whirlwind of a journey.