The Secret Life of McKenna and Dorito: T minus 26 days

McKenna reveals what she does in the barn when nobody’s looking, reminisces about her first trip to Rolex, and counts down the days until various upcoming life-altering experiences.

From McKenna:


If there were hidden cameras in my barn, I’d be a little upset. And not for the reasons you think. When no one but Dorito and I are in the barn… OK, well myself and whatever horse I’m riding, I like to turn up my tunes and blast them… and then dance. And sing. And sashay down the aisle. Sometimes I even get a little daring and dance with a broom who acts as Hunter Hayes, my future husband, or sometimes it even does double duty as attractive man AND microphone. As you can imagine I’m not the best dancer nor singer. While I might think I am FANTASTIC at both, others seem to yell and scream at me to stop twirling and belching songs because I’m not on So You Think You Can Dance or American Idol, I just tell them I’m practicing because one day I’ll be good at it. Besides, Dorito really likes to be serenaded. I digress.

The party wagon leaves for Rolex in exactly 26 Days. Along with myself and mom, we have Sydney and Leslie, second-timers but they haven’t been since 2008, and Shannon and Jackson–two first-timers! It’s going to be quite the adventure, a good time, and surely lots of laughs! So since “My First Rolex” stories have been pretty popular recently, I’ll just write about my first Rolex!

It was back in 2008 my mom decided along with Sydney’s mom, Leslie, that it’d be a good idea to take an adventure to Rolex. Syd and I had been eventing for a year, we’d heard about Rolex through Ashley, we’d stalked the scores, and now we were finally getting to go! We flew down Wednesday after school, got settled in, peed our pants in excitement, and arrived in Lexington late that night.

Thursday arrived–the great day we would FINALLY see the horse park! I don’t think I’ll ever forget walking into the horse park and catching glimpse of the first XC jump. Holy smokes, horses were going to jump those?! Yep, they were.

Large jumps, small children

We frolicked around the park, looking at all the shops with googly eyes. We wandered back up to the main arena to watch some prancing ponies and oohed, ahhed, and gasped at their amazingness!

Friday was a repeat of Thursday. As 12-year-olds, we didn’t have much patience for dressage so although we did watch a fair amount we didn’t watch as much as others. (Don’t worry, I have evolved to LOVING to watch it!) Anywho, Friday we had the luxury of getting a course walk from Amy Tryon. Yeah, that’s the one where my mom made friends with Greg Tryon, Amy’s husband… ohhh mom.

Saturday–the day I had been waiting for! It didn’t start so good as I was this close ______ to missing my favorite pair of the weekend go, Karen and Teddy. Syd and I sprinted like we have never before, barely reaching the Head of the Lake just in time. We squirmed our way to the front, and hollered at the top of our lungs encouragement, to the pair that had and has inspired me to no end. We stared in awe of the maxed out footbridge around to the head of the lake drop, the cabin on the island, to the up bank, to a very narrow arrowhead. I remember it like it was yesterday–XC was phenomenal. I think if I wasn’t already in love with eventing, I became hooked. It was soo exhilarating to watch! Although we had a great time watching XC, 2008 was a bit scary for others, with lots of serious falls happening that year at Kentucky but we stayed until the end, lingering afterwards, wishing that there was another day filled with as much excitement. I guess the closest we were going to get to reliving it were the pictures and returning the next year!

Sunday was filled with almost as much excitement as Saturday. I was on the edge of my seat, groaning when a pole hit the ground, cheering for all the riders, and bursting with a smile when my favorites came into the ring. I remember when Teddy came into the ring… I think I was more nervous than Karen! He unfortunately pulled two rails but it was still good enough to put him at 3rd place in his second CCI4*!!! Ultimately, Phillip reigned supreme that year with the fabulous Connaught to capture his first ever Rolex win.

When show-jumping finished, Syd and I rushed down to get as close as we could to the awards. We clapped and cheered more, as our moms sat back at our seats, pondering their experiences themselves and snapping pictures for us.

Along with watching the days were spent finalizing buys, creeping on Max and Karen, getting autographs from other riders, and discovering the real world of eventing.

When we got back from Kentucky, my riding started to reach a new level. All of a sudden I was riding better and better… it was like somehow Rolex just turned me around. My first ride back was an XC lesson which was spectacular–Rolex was an inspiration to me.

Sitting here writing this, I’m also realizing how much people are an influence on me. I’m reminiscing of the old times and realizing who really inspired me when I first started eventing: Teddy and Karen. They were making the impossible possible. Something I dreamed (and dream!) of doing. They gave me hope that I COULD event a pony and that you can’t listen to people who doubt and you can’t doubt yourself. Most importantly, they taught me to believe in the pony powers because they are ever-mighty.

Karen, Max and Hugh Knows

Going into Rolex, we all had no idea what to expect. Coming out of it we were rejuvenated, motivated and even more determined riders, and determined to return the next year! Fortunately for me, my mom saw it the same way as me, and we have not missed a Rolex since. If you haven’t had the opportunity to attend, I strongly advise going… it’s really an eye-opener and you can’t truly appreciate the sport until you’ve been here. And if you’re lucky, you’ll find a new appreciation for horses and riders and the sport as a whole.


Oh, and in case you can’t tell, I’m really not selling Bit Of Britain. I just figured I would try a new tactic to get more readers :). And in case y’all were wondering, I rocked my first derby cross and now I’m off to Morven Park on Sunday to compete. Watch out for the girl in penguin suit waving and sashaying in dressage warmup while belching Britney Spears.

1 Day till Spring break, 3 days till Morven, 26 days till Kentucky, 44 days till I test out being a working student, and 76 days till I leave for Emily’s.

Go Eventing.

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