Well, it’s been a few weeks now since Breaking Boundaries and I competed in the Bromont CCI*. I am admittedly late in writing this because I wasn’t really one hundred percent sure what I wanted to say.
To say that the experience was a roller coaster of highs and lows, emotionally and otherwise, would be an understatement. That said, there were definitely more highs than lows with the lows being relatively minor and the highs being pretty great.
The initial jitters were pretty intense as a mix of not knowing exactly what to expect and the reality of the actually going to compete in my first CCI settling in. These were pretty quickly diminished after we arrived at Bromont and got Breaking Boundaries settled in and got ready for the first jog up. We headed down to the jog up area and after realizing that Breaking Boundaries was one of the settled horses amongst the group I began to finally relax a bit. I was nervous because even though I have watched countless jog ups there is an entirely different feeling of unknown when you are actually participating. But, once again, this feeling vanished pretty quickly as we were guided point to point up to the jog strip by the very nice officials. Needless to say, Breaking Boundaries aced his first jog up without any trace of a doubt and even a few comments on how nicely he was shod! The nervousness was beginning to transition into excitement.
Dressage was held over Thursday and Friday with Breaking Boundaries and I competing on Thursday afternoon. We were quite happy about this as he was feeling very ready to heads into the ring and it would give him a day on Friday to chill. All in all our dressage test was a success! There were many personal victories throughout the test and we showed a huge improvement from two weeks prior at Grandview Horse Trials where we rode the same test. Both Breaking Boundaries and I remained very calm and focused throughout the test, leaving the little blips behind and focusing on the next movement. Don’t get me wrong, we still have a lot of room for improvement, but overall each time we go into the ring we improve a little bit more. I might even go so far as to say that I had some fun riding my dressage test!
Friday was spent course walking, course walking, and more course walking! There were a few challenging elements on the course that I spent a lot of time looking and walking and discussing with Casey. The coffin was the most concerning element on course consisting of a vertical to ditch then one stride to a left 90̊ turn and two strides to a two stride angle-angle. Both of the water complexes on course had their own challenges as well. The first water had a big brush coming down the hill to another sharp turn to the bank into the water and out over the Big Yellow Rubber Duck then straight on to a small house. The second water, nearing the end of the course, was all about the skinnies! With all of this in mind, we decided to do a small jump school Friday afternoon to ensure that Breaking Boundaries and I were on the same page regarding our turning aids.
Saturday morning was once again spent course walking! I didn’t ride until closer to ten o’clock and I wanted to have the course fresh in my mind and have a solid idea of the footing since it had rained some. With the course fresh in my mind I was feeling confident as we got reading for cross country. Breaking Boundaries was most definitely feeling ready and was super excited as we headed to the start box. He was so excited I could hardly even take him into the start box before we were actually sent off! When we had the go he left the start box like a rocket and absolutely attacked the entire course! He was on the job from the start and never faltered or blinked an eye at any of the questions. He felt awesome the entire course and only started to slow down as we reached the last five fences. We went for a bit of a coast and he caught his breath between fences 16 and 17 and then he picked up his second wind and finished strong. While we were conscious of the optimum time, we were aiming to finish and not necessarily riding for time. I was actually beginning to think that I had missed my watch, but as we were about five strides out from the last fence I
heard it beep and we finished only 6 seconds over optimum time! Breaking Boundaries recovered excellently in the vet box with amazing vitals that all came back down very well. After getting him back down and relaxed in the vet box we headed back to the stable. We spent the majority of the afternoon icing, walking and using the Game Ready on his legs. He was looking great from head to toe so we finally we left him alone for a little bit for some R&R while we went to get cleaned up.
As most of you know, we decided later Saturday night to withdraw from the rest of the competition as something seemed to be bothering Breaking Boundaries a little bit. It was nothing major, he just was not one hundred percent. He is a phenomenal horse and it was not worth the risk of it becoming something major. As sad and disappointing as it was, it was not really that hard of a decision; the toughness of the course had just shown through a little bit. But now he has had some time to relax and just be a horse and he is feeling much better and will show again another day!
I know it sounds like a cliché, but there is no way that we would have been here without our huge network of supporters. I cannot thank Holly and Casey enough for what they have done, and continue to do, to get us to where we are today and for being there every step throughout the week of Bromont. They have so much experience, not only at that level, but at Bromont itself that they were able to share with me a whole bunch of little tidbits. Then there are my parents, family and friends who were all cheering me on from the get go even when I wasn’t feeling so sure myself. And of course all of our amazing sponsors who have helped us to get here and continue on this year; Riverside Sport Horses, Myers Kemptville Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, Zandonȧ, and Speedy Z Restoration and Repairs. All of these people have been, and continue to be, instrumental in our successes this season.
So I mentioned that I wasn’t sure what exactly I wanted to say. I guess what I want to share the most is this: Things don’t always work out how you imagine them to, and sometimes we have to make difficult decisions along the way. It is through these experiences that we grow and become better individuals, athletes and role models. Doing what is best for the greater good and long term can be difficult when we are caught up in the moment, but always works out better than pushing an envelope just to avoid some disappointment in that moment. Having had a few weeks pass now I can honestly say that the disappointment fades, you go home and make a Plan B, and look forward to what the future holds. So even though Breaking Boundaries and I were not able to complete our first CCI* we did not walk away empty handed. We had a phenomenal experience and Breaking Boundaries showed me that all of our hard work, dressage boot camps, and gallop sets in the pouring rain paid off, and I would not trade the experience for anything. We have now made Plan B and can’t wait to see what the future has in store for us!