Well, we did it! Or, sort of. We made it to the T3D at Hagyard Midsouth Team Challenge and Three Day Event, and through the all-important Endurance Day, but I withdrew Taco at the final jog. It was a letdown not to finish, but there will be other three day events. I am thrilled with my horse and I had a truly fantastic team of folks helping me all weekend.
In the lead-up to the event, I had some great help from Amy. She got me confident over showjumps again (forward, forward, forward!) and gave me some really great comments on my dressage test. She also rode Taco when I had to go to California for a couple of days for work. Talk about trying to pack it all into my schedule—what was I thinking?
Anyway, when we pulled out Wednesday morning I felt that I was as ready as I would ever be. Taco, of course, was born ready, so I had not worries on that score. His recovery times on his last gallop had been ridiculously short. He had also been checked out by Dr. Tony, who found that Taco was dragging one toe a little after a flexion test. We decided to treat that hock with Surpass and to try Equithrive, which contains resveratrol and hyaluronic acid. By the time we left, he was feeling and looking good.
We had a smooth drive to Lexington and went through the first in-barn exam smoothly. I had to hurry to get Taco settled and bathed before a lecture by Dorothy Crowell, the main clinician for the T3D, and Dr. Duncan Peters, who was the veterinary delegate. They spoke on care before and after Endurance Day. Much of what I heard was familiar, but I took careful notes and heard several helpful things. After the lecture, I let Taco graze on the lovely green WEG track for a while, and then tucked him in for the night. As I moved around the Kentucky Horse Park, I kept thinking that the competition I had been working toward for the last three years had actually arrived. My task at this point was, I thought, to put all of my preparation to the best use possible.
The next day was completely packed with activity. It started with the mandatory briefing for the T3D, P3D, and CCI* riders, continued with Dorothy's lecture on timing A, B, and C and a steeplechase walk, then the jog, and finally a steeplechase school. I woke up pretty nervous, thinking about doing all of these things and managing to braid and clean up Taco, too. But my strategy was to make a good plan and then just to concentrate on whatever task was before me. This turned out to be a helpful strategy all weekend. Whenever I found myself getting jitters, I asked myself, "what do I need to concentrate on now, at this very moment?"
The briefing and lecture left little time for braiding and primping for the jog, but just before the jog my number one groom and sports psychologist, Carol, showed up. She had brought the shoes and jewelry that I planned to wear for the jog, and she also did her magic on the buckles and clincher browband of Taco's bridle. She has become an expert metal polisher, poor thing! There was a scary moment when I realized that the hoof polish I planned to use had comfrey in it, which is not USEF-legal (although external use is probably fine). So off I went to find some hoof dressing. I arrived back at the stall some minutes later (the vendor had been very talkative) with pine tar. Big mistake! It was cold and went on like molasses, and then proceeded to pick up every speck of dust his hooves encountered.
So it was a hurried pair that made our way to the jog lane—but once there, it was wonderful! I stood Taco up for Dr. Peters and the ground jury, and then we jogged down the lane (the same one used by world-class horses at Rolex and the World Equestrian Games!). Taco floated along beside me and I felt like a million bucks. We were accepted easily and went back to the stall. On the way back, we met poor Carol, whom I had delegated to find a dressage whip for the jog. She had rummaged through the trailer and come up with both a long jumping bat and my Wonder Whip, but by the time she found me again I had already jogged! Note to self: jogs always go faster than you think they will!
Will Stacy stay on during the hack to the steeplechase school? Stay tuned for the next episode!