Texas-Bound!

Last Thursday, I slept for 12 hours straight in the hope that I could sleep off the cold I was beginning to feel symptoms of.  Sadly, my plan failed and I developed what I thought might be a sinus infection.  In addition, I had two tests last week, so by the time Friday rolled around I was wiped out leading up to Regionals.  It took some serious rest and relaxation, plus a surprise visit from my boyfriend (who hand delivered chocolate covered strawberries to me!) to get me as ready as I could be given my stuffed up head.

Regional champion!

Sunday morning, after receiving my number and the pattern for reining, I got dressed in my favorite show shirt.  (I normally only use it for showmanship with Image because it was so expensive, but I figured Regionals was a special occasion and I thought a little “bling bling” could only help me to look my best.)  While I was zipping my chaps, I received a text that my teammate Kiva had drawn for me (like always – remember my posts from earlier in the fall?) and I had Cocoa.  This news was both exciting and nerve wracking for me because I knew there were some better pattern horses in my reining class, but since he was from Albion, I still had a slight advantage.

(“A slight advantage” as in, I had ridden him once previously.  Better than nothing, right?)

I was first to go in my class, which made me nervous because I knew I would be setting the bar for the other reining qualifiers but I did my best to stay calm as I walked into the arena.  I paused at the center of the end rail, then nodded at the judge and began our run in to start the pattern.  Stopping just past the middle cones, Cocoa and I backed a perfectly straight line to center as the pattern called and then I realized something was wrong.  My left rein had come unclipped from the bit so it was dangling from my rein hand.  Luckily I noticed during a point where I was stopped and completing a hesitation, so the ring steward ran over quickly and clipped it back on.

Cocoa and I await rescue after the rein came unclipped mid-run.

The rest of my pattern went smoothly:  my changes of speed were clear and I took advantage of Cocoa’s wonderful back up again at the end of our pattern.  As I walked out of the arena, everyone told me I did great, but I knew there were still seven more riders who had the potential to ride a pattern just as well as I did.

After watching everyone else ride, the announcer started the placings and I sat there nervous as could be, waiting to hear my number on the loud speaker. I didn’t get sixth, I wasn’t fifth, nor was I fourth or third. By then my heart was racing. I didn’t get second.

Had I won it? I thought to myself.  What if I had not even placed?

But then, to my relief, I heard my name in the first position; I had won the class!  All I could hear after that was Denise and the rest of the team hooting and hollering at the other side of the make-up arena and even George, the head of the equestrian program was there to see my win.

Sadly, I was the only Albion rider to qualify for Semi-Finals, the next step on the road to the national championship show, but everyone had great rides and I’m proud of them all.  Now I need to prepare for Texas, the location for semi-finals.  All of my hard work is starting to pay off and I hope Denise and I will have the chance to go take a few reining lessons on some real reining horses between then and now.  I’ve got about six weeks to work hard and I’m planning to give my all because I want to go to Nationals in May!

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