Monday, September 14, 2009

The Rollercoaster Kur Championship

I mentioned before that I had a chance to chat briefly with Ulla Salzgeber.   What I had not shared was that I had complimented her on how she handled "the disaster" that occured during her Grand Prix Kur with Rusty at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.   Maybe you remember....

....Ulla demonstrated such incredible professionalism in a situation which would be any competitor's nightmare.   The CD player playing her music *fried* part way through her ride!   The music stopped.   She simply rode on.   Then the bell was rung.   And her ride came to a premature end.

Later, after learning of the technical cause of the problem, Eric Lette, the head of the judge jury sitting at C, allowed Ulla to finish her ride at the end of the class.   Yes, finish.   Not restart.   Ulla had to pick up where the ride was stopped earlier.   So she did.   And she did it very well.   She earned an impressive 80.67% and helped the German team win another Gold Medal.   Truly, truly incredible.   For this, she is definitely one of my dressage heros.

On Sunday morning, I rode my 3rd Level Freestyle with Jeddien in the USDF Region 8 Championships.   It was our 4th time riding a freestyle test in competition and our 1st Freestyle Championships.   Leading up to this moment, I had visualised our ride countless times.   I had mentally corrected angles on the lateral movements, worked through impulsion issues, was ready for flying bucks changing to the right, prepared for spooking, and even imagined my Christie's top hat taking flight.

But what I had not imagined...   Happened.   (And in retrospect, I should have!)   On 3 occasions, my music momentarily PAUSED.   The first time really threw me.   I nearly stopped.   The second time, my brain split into troubleshooting mode (why would the music be pausing?) and trying to figure out how to undo riding ahead of the music (should I circle?).   The third time, I was both heartbroken and angry.   A completely useless combination of emotions in itself really.

I later learned that a few other riders had similar issues with their CD's.   And of course our CD tested out perfectly fine after the fact.   Georg's theory is that the IBM PC used for playing the CD's was "context switching", momentarily giving CPU time to other tasks.

Anyway, with my sheer lack of experience riding Musical Freestyles, I didn't cope well at all.   I lost focus on the one thing that counts:   Ride The Horse!   As my husband Georg put it later, NOW I have that experience.   Ah, yes, another "Learning Experience".

As I left the arena feeling rather pitiful, I looked down at my white show gloves and realized I was wearing my best, cleanest pair of "Ulla" signature Roeckl gloves, the ones I always keep in my top hat case and reserve only for the big occasions.   Hmm.   Little events in life find ways to connect.   I smiled and patted Jeddien.

When the scores were posted, I was amazed to see that the expected winner, Grand Prix rider / trainer Heather Mason from Lebanon NJ, and I were only one point apart in scores!   Not one percent.   One point.   She earned 311.5 points (64.896%).   And we earned 310.5 points (64.688%).

Jeddien and I worked hard to reach the 2009 3rd Level Freestyle Regional Championships.   It was an interesting, fun, and challenging journey.   How awesome to finish the year as Reserve Champions in not one, but TWO Championship classes!


  1. How wonderful! Thanks for sharing both the story and the "rest of the story". ;-)

  2. Yes, thanks for sharing that! Not only is it one more thing to add to the list to prep for, but you did really well! Kudos!

  3. Wow, great score despite the music malfunctions! I just found your blog...looking foward to following your journey in my favorite sport!