(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.)
Finally, the day I have been waiting for since I was selected for the team — the horse draw. I cannot explain the amount of preparation that has gone into the anticipation of what horse I will be riding here. I spent my training for the Maccabiah Games riding as many different horses as possible, as much as I could, hoping that my hard work and skill would allow me to adapt to whatever horse I drew.
I am so lucky to have such a supportive team and parents who all came to the draw, just as excited, nervous and hopeful as I was. My teammates and I were holding hands up until I was called up to pick out my horse; I was shaking. I picked up the folded paper, handed it to the head of Maccabi Equestrian, and heard them announce the name, Chin Chinello. Knowing absolutely nothing about if the horse was good or not, my teammates and I cheered an annoyingly absurd amount — cheering not for what horse I got, but that the anticipation of the draw was finally over.
I met with the trainer of the horse, Gal, who also is competing at the games. He assured me that the horse was very genuine and liked to jump. I don’t think I have ever seen my mom happier! I tend to have the worst luck with horses, and she has assured me everyday, for the past six months, that she has a “feeling” I am going to get a really good horse out of the pool. At this point, I think, and certainly hope, she’s right!
My parents, Kate, and I took a van with other riders from countries all around the world (including one Australian woman that we are now best friends with and will be visiting when I move there) to the barn to ride our new horses. I was greeted by the trainer and another Israeli competitor and we got to watch videos of Chin Chinello. which was really helpful. It is always nice to watch how the horse goes before mounting. I could tell that he is a very good jumper, but he is so, so big.
We walked up to his stall; I truly have never ridden a horse that big. Standing 17.2 hands, this beautiful bay gelding walked right up to me and started licking me. Despite his size, it was obvious that he was a huge teddy bear. I hopped on him, ready to ride the gigantic horse, and realized that just getting him to walk forward was a struggle. He is the laziest horse, ever. I had the best leg workout of my life just getting him to canter around the ring. I looked at Kate thinking “how the heck am I supposed to ride this horse over 1.25 jumps?”
Once I started jumping him though, I could tell he loves to jump and is a saint. I was not perfect by any means, but I did jump 1.30 courses and had SO much fun. He isn’t the easiest ride, and it was definitely one of the hardest leg workouts of my life, but I am so happy and relieved that I picked a horse that likes his job and likes to jump clean, which is all that matters.
I cannot put into words how much weight is lifted off of my shoulders after today, and I can’t believe I finally met the horse on which I get to represent the United States.