(Editor’s note: Andrea Glazer of Louisville, who is competing for Team USA in the 20th Maccabiah Games in Israel, July 4-18, as an equestrian, will be blogging about her experiences from the Jewish state. She has agreed to share her posts with Community. You can also follow her at her blog site, usaequestrianglazer.wordpress.com.)
I can’t believe that the team portion of the competition has concluded, and I also can’t believe that I successfully jumped a strange horse that I had only jumped twice over a 1.20-meter course – equivalent to the highest level in eventing – to help team USA win the silver medal.
Yesterday was the second round in the team competition; it counted towards our individual score as well. I walked out to the stadium before my coach, Kate, got there and immediately felt ill because the jumps were massive.
The wall on the course wasn’t big enough, so they even put rails on top of it! (A photo of the wall is below).
I was the 15th rider to go into the ring, the first for team USA. I was so nervous I had to call my trainer from home, Julie Richards, to calm me down. Thank God, I called her! I think she’s the reason I didn’t get physically ill.
I was most nervous about jumps 3 and 4 ABC. Jump 3 was this huge triple bar (photo below) in a line to jump 4 ABC M, which was a triple combination (three jumps in a row). Since Chin Chinello is so big, I didn’t know if I could get him organized after the huge triple bar quickly enough for the combination. The coaches – Kate, Angel, and Brianne – all talked through my plan with me. If I stuck to it, they said, I would be okay.
Of course, the nerves kicked in during the first round; I wasn’t reacting immediately to the huge jump in. I got too close to the first element in the combination and had the rail down. Despite having a few jumps down, I jumped the last one and reached the finish flags with a huge feeling of relief. I had completed my biggest course ever.
My teammates are such amazing riders, and it’s such an honor to be on the same team with them, cheering them on during their rounds. Syd rode a very difficult horse better than anyone could have, having a few rails that were caused by the horse’s inexperience at the level. Cloe and Haley put in beautiful, accurate and clean rounds to close the gap between the USA and Israel.
Before I got on for the second round, I called Julie again, and talked to all the coaches. Kate and I decided I should leave a stride out in the line from 3 to 4 ABC to give Chin Chinello and I more space before the jump – and also to save time. I could sense that Chin Chinello was getting tired. My second round was very rhythmical and ridden much more accurately than the first. I completely “took a nap,” as Kate said, to jump 2, but the rest of the course felt great. We had a few down due to my error at 2 and Chin Chinello’s fatigue, but even though both he and I are inexperienced at this height, I believe we fit in with the other jumpers.
The two rounds in one day is not easy for the horses. Syd put in a nearly foot-perfect round, with just one rail down. Cloe was next. She also had a great round with one rail down and a time penalty. Haley was the last for the team and, as usual, put in an awesome round. But she hit the second to last fence down. They made a difficult course look easy.
Still, to call this course hard is an understatement. One team didn’t have any members complete it, and over 25 percent of the competitors didn’t get through the finish flags. There were multiple falls, eliminations, tons of rails down, and even some tack malfunctions.
The Israeli team members were the last to go in the second round. Its top rider experienced some equipment malfunction on the second jump of the course. His rein snapped, and it was impossible for him to complete the track with only one rein. Since he was not able to finish, our team almost took the lead, falling short by just two points. I couldn’t be happier with how team USA performed.If you told me last year that I would walk into Teddy Stadium, in a pink coat, with the best team I could ever ask for, to get a silver medal around my neck, I would laugh in your face. Why? Because this time last year I was riding a horse that shouldn’t jump – ever – and I lost all my confidence because of it. I would tremble in fear when approaching any size jump, even cross-rails, because he was so unpredictable. I thought that I would never get back to being the rider I was before I bought him.
I spent the past 12 months working on regaining my confidence, and breaking down my psychological fear of jumping; I can proudly say that the hard work paid off.
The emotions I felt walking back into Teddy Stadium to receive a silver medal at the Jewish Olympics is a dream that I still am not able to wrap my head around. I cannot thank everyone enough for helping me fall back in love with the sport, rebuild my confidence and get me to where I am today (you know who you are), and I can’t wait to put on my pink coat to do one last round tomorrow night to complete the individual portion of the Maccabiah Games.