Rise and shine, Horse Nation! Hope you had a great weekend, and may your re-entrance to reality be a smooth one.
Between the first weekend of USA dressage Olympic and Paralympic selection trials at the Festival of Champions in Gladstone, NJ (see COTH’s coverage here) and the final U.S. selection trial for the US eventing at Bromont (Canada announced its team yesterday; keep it tuned to EN today for the USA’s short list announcement), it’s safe to say that Horse Nation is officially infected with Olympic fever.
I LOVE me some Olympics. The equestrian sports, sure, but everything else as well: swimming, gymnastics, track… you name it, I’ll watch it with rapt attention. I love the commercials, I love reading about the athletes in various sports, I love the opening ceremonies, I love it ALL. I think the Olympics is one of the best things that mankind has ever brought to the table. Every four years, we put aside our differences and join together in athletic communion.
I was 14 or 15 years old during the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. My awesome parents took my two horse-crazy sisters and I not just to the Olympic eventing selection trials, but to the games as well. I still remember having my mind blown by phenomenal dressage performances by the greats–Klaus Balkenhol, Isabell Werth and Anky van Grunsven, plus U.S. riders Robert Dover, Michelle Gibson, Stefen Peters and Gunter Seidel. That year’s U.S. eventing team included both O’Connors, Bruce Davidson, Jill Henneberg and Kerry Millikin, and I knew all the stats on all the riders by heart. It was like all the horse posters on the walls of my bedroom had come to life and were putting on a show just for me.
In 2000, my access to the Olympics got even closer, as I had the opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes look at the Olympic process as a working student for one of the team riders. Walking through the barn at training camp, seeing the country’s greatest horses and riders all under one roof, and having the opportunity to watch them vie for a spot on the team was one of coolest opportunities I’ve ever had.
Since then, I’ve been hooked, and I expect to feel like a kid in a candy story pretty much between now and September. Whatever happens, it’s going to be a heck of a ride.