Tuesday, February 16, 2010

An Unforgettable Feat in Spain

Barbra Dozier's blog
By barbradozier

Despite of the coming big day, I have managed to appreciate the richness of the vast geographic and cultural diversity Spain has. From the snowcapped mountains of the Pyrenees to the sun kissed shores of the Mediterranean, Spain indeed is one marvel different from what I have back home.

Revelling in the inviting streets of Barcelona, my mind momentarily veered away from the anxiety of the nearing competition. But I know I’m not supposed to lose sight of why I’m there to begin with.

I wake up with the sun streaming in from the white-curtained window sills. I am ambivalent for a week of training, but I am more of confident and exhilarated knowing I’ll be training with the horse that has bonded well with me for years now. My horse has shown more agility and stamina. But I am fervently hoping for it to gain speed as the competition comes closer. A week-long training dispelled some of my fears and reservations. I have years of hard training, sacrifice and experience to give me a shot in this much coveted endurance championship title. Endurance riding is an equestrian sport based on controlled long-distance races. It is one of the international competitions recognized by the Fédération Équestre Internationale or the FEI. There are endurance rides worldwide.

I have employed various methods in training my stallion, including a powered horse walker, lunging and short graded endurance rides to keep him in peak physical fitness and health. I am highly positive on this one. (Al-Nakyme)

It has finally come. I barely slept the night before but my senses instantly rose to life upon seeing a challenging terrain and other sharp looking competitors. I have never felt this nervous for a long time now. This is the endurance championship I have spent the few months back working hard for. I passed off weekends of rendezvous with friends to train for this.

I have to give this my best and even better performance than my last day of training. This type of thing involves not just physical but also immense mental internalization and preparation. The weather seems perfect for the occasion, just partially cloudy but no sign of impending heavy downpour any time before the competition comes to a close. The terrain is reasonable. This is almost similar to the terrain I trained in.

A rider is given the liberty to dress comfortably but still has to be dressed to preserve the image of the sport. I have on a new equestrian helmet I just bought the day I got to Spain. My riding breech is comfortable enough and I have on the boots I have gotten accustomed to wearing in my past competitions. At 77 kg together with the saddle, I am just 2 kg above the minimum weight limit. Still, I do hope to get Best Conditioned or BC award which is sometimes even considered more prized than finishing first. It is determined by a combination of speed, weight carried, and veterinary scores. The veterinary scores are acquired through the veterinary inspections that are conducted at the end of every phase. This is essential to determine whether or not the horse is still fit to pursue the remaining phases especially with respect to dehydration and soundness.

The race started and almost similar to an epic movie, everyone shouted and kicked his horse to mobility. I can feel the power of my horse as it effortlessly trudges up pretty steep elevations. After just a few phases, I already see some walking by their horses. This is valid, but will really slow one down.

It is important that I stay ahead of the pack especially in dusty roads. I have seen how difficult it is to be lagging behind and have thick dust cover my eyes. This time, I am leading. I only see two other riders behind me on this long and dusty path. But they’re inching closer. As I urged my horse to go faster, I feel him gasping but still determined to give me victory. It’s like he knows exactly what’s at stake.

After 60 miles of a more challenging landscape than I thought, I find myself crossing the finish line first! This is the greatest adrenaline in the world. One by one, equally competitive riders are arriving with huge smiles in their faces.

Champion and Best Conditioned! I don’t know when I’ll ever be this happy again.

Barbra Dozier's blog

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