How to Win at Galway Downs, by Katy Groesbeck’s horse

When HN contributor Katy won the Galway Downs CIC**, I encouraged her to indulge in some well-deserved bragging. Being the humble type, she let her horse do the talking.

Photos by Kate Erickson of Grey Brook Eventing, who did a fantastic job of covering the horse trials for Eventing Nation.

From Katy:

Galway Downs International Horse Trials, April 2012: Straight from the Horse’s Mouth, or something like that.

As Leslie astutely said to me in a recent email, “Wins are far and few between” …unless you’re James Alliston or Phillip Dutton, at least. Speaking of which, whoever said that “it’s not about winning” has clearly never won anything because they are glossing over the whole part where winning is AWESOME. OK, all jokes aside, winning is really just the icing on the cake and I think all serious competitors know that the right attitude is everything and you can’t measure success in blue ribbons, or any color ribbon at all, for that matter. But still. It’s great every once in a while to have your hard work pay off.

Anywho, in an unveiled effort to drag out the euphoria of my latest great weekend, I hereby set forth the official Chronicle of Oz the Tin Man’s Big Adventure at the Galway Downs CIC2* (as translated by Katy Groesbeck).

Photo credit: Kate Erickson

Tuesday March 27, 2012:

My Person is a nutcase. This has always been an accurate assessment of her temperament, but now so more than ever. If she stares at my legs or feels my back or makes me practice a walk pirouette one more time, I might have to take matters in to my own hands. Fortunately I am saved for now; rains have put the arenas out of commission since Saturday evening. I can’t wait for her to ride me again… muahahaha.

Wednesday March 28, 2012:

Despite my better intentions, I was well behaved today under saddle. It’s not all that bad really: the human child seems to be extra generous with the carrots and licorice when I behave. I don’t understand why she enjoys practicing circles and zig-zags and such nonsense; doesn’t she know that I only want to GALLOP? I placate her for the time being. I can sense freedom on the horizon if I just bide my time.

I took a nice little trailer ride with a Mr. Kingslee; he is the master of a Miss Gerianne Henderson and family. I quite enjoyed my ride with him, though he himself did not seem to enjoy it all that much. Doesn’t he know that trailer rides always end in FUN??? There are almost always cross country jumps at the destination. My hunch has proved correct today: we’re at GALWAY!! I try to contain my excitement (for it’s just not manly to succumb to such infantile behavior), but alas I give in to my run-and-jump instincts and do a little dance of joy on my hack with The Pale One in the afternoon.

Thursday March 29, 2012: First Horse Inspection      

The Pale One has quite obviously had too much caffeine this glorious morning: she has twisted my beautiful mane into annoying little knots by 8 a.m. Seriously, child? Luckily for her I can smell cross country in the air; I undergo her ministrations patiently in the knowledge that soon I will amaze all with my leaping ability.

I have to see the lovely People with the Stethoscopes now (why are you so shocked that I know what a Stethoscope is? I am brilliant) for some bureaucratic matter. They are always so friendly to me, though today I was not amused to be called “old”–I am a spritely 15, thank you very much!! Then on top of that, they commented on my fat! My Person seemed ecstatic; somehow fat across my ribs validates the hundreds of dollars she spends feeding me each month. Well no matter: I am a God among horses and my svelte physique is only further proof of my prowess. (But really, I am gorgeous. Have you seen me? People call me cute–ha!).

The child is putting slimy goop in my nose and wearing shoes that no sane person would wear around thousand-pound animals with iron on their feet. This usually means that the action is about to begin. My pulse quickens a little and I lift my tail a little higher. Time to go strut my stuff on the avenue! I love when when The Big Voice in the Sky calls my name and people turn their heads to watch me trot by–finally someone realizes my importance!!

Friday March 30, 2012: Dressage and Show Jumping

After a good night’s rest and a brisk gallop about the lunge line, My Person appears at my door in her Penguin Suit (I have never met a penguin in person, but I firmly believe that should I ever have the chance, this is what it would look like). I know this means it is time to prance around the sandbox and show off my circles and loopdy-loos.

I am being very well behaved. I am relaxed. Calm and confident is me. I should just get my award now. We walk over to the sand box–I used to perform here full-time, you know? I am a pro. As I walk towards it, though, I see a cross country jump!! I eagerly try to convince The Pale One that we should jump it. Right now. It is of highest priority, for God has clearly put this jump here next to me so that I can leap over it and know Heavenly joy!! Alas, The Pale Once pretends not to notice and we continue into the sand box. I cannot rid myself completely of the excitement I feel, however. At least I remember what I’m doing, though: My Person asks me to walk where I know I’m still supposed to be cantering. Clearly I was the only one paying attention when we practiced this.

My Person appears in her Penguin Suit again later that day. What is this?? I am confused but I oblige to come out to play again–I am a generous and willing soul (my humble opinion, of course). I soon discover that I’m in for a treat when I see the colorful jumps. I allow myself a moment’s excitement before I regain composure; I love to run and jump no matter what, but I know I need to save my energy for cross-country. THEN I’ll show them. I effortlessly leap over one jump and then another until I reach the last one (always slightly a bittersweet ending), at which point the child beats my neck with enthusiasm. I have learned in time that this is a good thing, and I flick my toes a little higher and prance back to my Adoring Fans. They think I’m wonderful (which I am! Have you seen me?) and I bask in their praise (and licorice!! Please don’t forget the licorice).

Saturday March 31, 2012: Cross Country

THIS IS IT!!! I arise, alert and ready. This is the day I live for, a day for running fast and jumping high and soaring with the birds. My heart beats faster and my eyes brighten as I watch the other Heavenly Creatures leave the barn. I CAN’T WAIT FOR MY TURN!!! My Person better have a word with whoever decides the schedule around this joint; I do not appreciate waiting.

FINALLY!!! My Person dresses us in our Battle Gear and buckles herself into the saddle. I am light on my feet and zoom down to the arena, eager to stretch my legs. I WANT TO GO FAST! An Adoring Fan stops me and asks for a picture–I stand quietly for the process, but all the time my ears are pricked toward the course and I quiver with excitement. I don’t want to miss my turn! One by one, all the other horses leave the arena and get their turn, until it’s just me and My Person waiting to go. Everything gets quiet as I walk towards the box–I am focused and ready and I WANT TO RUN! Even My Person is impatient, I can tell.

5…4….3….2…1….SWEET FREEDOM!!!!!!!!! I’m running and I’m jumping and then I’m running faster and jumping higher. Does life get any better than this?? I see the first water complex up ahead, I know this one well.  I leave a stride out going in (a waste of precious time for my feet to touch the ground, I think) but it makes The Pale One up top squeal. It’s an unpleasant noise; I will remember to not do that again.

And the farther I go, the more jumps I see!!! The whole place is littered with square jumps and bushy jumps and skinny jumps and inside-out jumps (I think My Person calls them “ditches”). OH HOW I LOVE TO JUMP!!! We get to a big jump and I think the child is a little intimidated by it (silly thing doesn’t seem to know I do this stuff in my sleep); she kicks a little extra hard and I spring forward and up, whacking my hind leg as I go. It stings a little, and I can tell The Pale One is concerned, but I tug on the rein and let her know I LOVE TO JUMP!! I would probably do anything for her (but don’t tell her, she’ll get all mushy about it. Yuck) and I keep going–up, down, over–until we are back where we started and I see my Fans waiting. The Pale One is crying and blubbering up top; I think I warned you about the “mushy” tendency. As she gets herself together, I trot up to the crowd, full of energy and ready to go again. I’m really not even sure why we had to stop in the first place. Did I mention I love to jump??

I spend the next ten minutes being fussed over by my peons. They can’t keep their hands off me (and one of them keeps putting a thermometer in an unmentionable place; can’t a man keep his dignity around here??) The People with the Stethoscopes keep listening to my heart and lungs while The Pale One insists on fussing over my leg. She forgets that I’m a manly man and I don’t like to be pampered. Oh well, it makes her feel better. Eventually all my peons decide that I am fine (I could have told them that) and I am free to go back to my palace. I know what waits for me there, and there is only one thing I love almost as much as jumping–bran mash!!!!

Life is good 😀


The Pale One would like to make sure she thanks all of her friends and family who have helped her get where she is. The list is long, but you all know who you are! Also, a great big thanks to the best sponsors ever: Dr. Joe Fanucchi at Meditrax, Louis Blankenship and Kristi Fetzer at Sonoma Saddle Shop, Martin Cohen at MDC Stirrups, Ride On Video, and Nan Rawlings at FLAIR Nasal Strips. And, as ever, a great big hug and whinny to her parents at Cedarhaven Performance Horses. Wish you were there!

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