In October, I flew back East to clinic with Robert Dover, and get another chance to partner with Pavalina. The trip had multiple purposes for me. I wanted to really know if Pavalina was "the one". She is talented, but she is a tricky ride, and I knew there were a lot of complicating factors (eg, I live in Washington, the horse lives in Pennsylvania, and the next competitions were in Florida). In addition, the return to Gladstone (the clinic site) was an emotional prospect - I had last been there in 2006, just 6 months after Margo's passing.
The clinic was full of realization...the biggest being that I need to continue to do my homework to define myself as a rider, and let my own light shine through...let go of the shadows and memories and expectations I have been carrying.
I had no real roadmap coming home from the clinic, unsure how I would proceed to London. I got a very unexpected call after Thanksgiving, asking if I could help support the team that would be competing in Australia....on less than a week's notice. My teammate had been having some health issues, and with only 3 riders planning on going, the leadership felt it would be prudent to bring a 4th, in case any rider (or horse) had an issue, to preserve a team score.
So...off to Melbourne. Talk about a trip that came together by the seat of our britches!!! We spent the first 3 days looking for horses (including the day we arrived, following 20ish hours of flying). Wednesday we got our new mounts moved into the showgrounds, and Thursday held the jog. Whew. The show went very well. The incomparable Paralympian Becca Hart an I shared an incredible Holsteiner mare, "Tammy", and we had a lot of fun. I am also pleased to report that we also kicked a little butt (along with Teamies Mary Jordan and Donna Ponessa). Go USA :-)
Back at home...December brought the arrival of Rocco. Oh, Rocco! He is the absolute joy in my day right now!! He has been out in pasture for about a year, due to an injury. He is coming back into work incredibly well. He is bar none the most talented horse I have ever met, and on top of that, he is truly kind and hard working. I am smitten. There is joy in every moment I spend with him.
I don't know what the future will hold for Rocco and I, but I do know there are 200 days until the London Olympics. I also know that nothing happens unless you take risks. I have taken a few big ones in the past few months, and I suspect that 2012 will mean pushing myself even more.
As always, I couldn't do this without all of your support. Thank you, thank you, thank you.