Friday, July 27, 2012

Part 3 - Nationals

After a months leave of absence, I am going to finish updating on life... So here we go, Part 3, Nationals!

Like I said before, we arrived in NC around 5:30 am and drove to the arena at 6.  Chris had a coach's meeting to go to, so Lauren and I just kind of wandered around.  The arena was huge!  It was held at the NC State Fairgrounds, so it was a pretty nice complex.
The arena was huge! Here I am after getting all dolled up!

Mom and Grandma, so glad they could come
I had to be at the arena so early because I needed to draw a number to tell me what horse I would be on. At least that's how the competition had gone for the past 3 days.  For Sunday though, they decided to change it.  Chris came out of the meeting and told us that I wasn't drawing until the class before mine.  This made the day a bit more difficult than we had thought.  Had I drawn at 6:30 am, I would have been able to sleep as well as watch my horse all day to see what tendencies he/she may have had.  Oh well.
I ended up staying at the arena all day (I was the third or fourth to last class to compete).  I didn't sleep at all, just kind of relaxed in the stands.  The day went on and before I knew it, I had two classes to go.  I rushed into the bathroom to change and get hair and makeup done (thank goodness for Lauren!!!).  Mom and Grandma arrived while I was still getting changed, but it was quite a rush.
My class was called to the draw table, which was a display with a river around it... Rubber ducks were floating along... They called our name and had us pick up a duck with a number on the bottom.  I got to draw first (perks of having the last name Bennethum) and drew number 7, which just so happened to be an OSU horse named Stingray.

This is Stingray, me, and my coach afterwards
At this point nerves are setting in and no I've got to get on a horse.  We had watched him during the day and he had the tendency to go into a canter when he wasn't supposed to and stuff.  He was a little hot that day and just wanted to go fast.  I've had worse draws in my life, so I wasn't too worried, but let's be honest, this was Nationals, it wasn't the rest of my life :)  Anywho once everyone was where they needed to be with cameras, I went to the other arena to get on Stingray.  The handler gave the horse to Chris and walked away, so it was just us getting me ready along with Lauren.  When the time finally came to go in, the handler was nowhere to be found, so Chris got to walk me into the arena.  Coolest thing ever. It was my last ride as an undergraduate and Chris was the first to see me ride at BG.  Kinda sweet!
She's amazing!

I got in the arena and Stingray had this little pitter patter trot that I kept going all through the rail work.  Watching the video afterwards, it looked like he was going to break the entire time, but I kept him going.  It was awesome.  A lot of people complimented me on rail work.  The pattern came and that's when I got nervous.  But I knew that whatever happened, happened and it was just an honor to be in the arena!

I had a good pattern.  I chopped off part of my circle trying to make sure Stingray didn't go into a canter, I overcorrected there too.  But it was a good pattern.  It was all over and all we needed to do was stand in line and wait for the judges.

We all got in line (the 12 of us) and Garth Brooks 'The River' was on the loudspeaker.  Someone commented about it and I just thought it was a perfect song to end my time as a BG student (after all I was technically an alumni at that point, but I was still considered a student for the ride).
The ribbon is huge!!
My goal of the weekend was 10th.  12th and 11th don't get to know what their actual place was and they don't get a ribbon.  10th was the bar I had. I looked around the arena to find people, but could not find Lauren for the life of me (she was in a bright tye dye shirt, hard to miss!).  Mom and Grandma were in the stands, Chris was off to one corner.  She kept giving me thumbs up and smiling.  It was such a happy moment.  The officials came and congratulated us and then they announced the two riders who hadn't made it in the top ten. My number was 122 and the first number they called 'One-twenty...(giant pause!!!! AHH)..... 8' I swear you could just see the relief in my entire body.  I just kept saying there is no way!!! They then went through the placings.... 10,9,8,7.... all the way down to 5th.  They announced 5th place and it was a guy, leaving just 4 girls left.  We linked hands saying its just us, and then they announced my name.  4th place!  I will totally take it.  It was so exciting!

Lauren attacked me outside the arena and Chris gave me a huge hug.  They led me away to a room where I had to sign stuff.  I was so shaky afterwards! We took a bunch of pictures, called Sue and told her, called a whole bunch of other people, it was crazy!
I'm so glad she's in my life!
 I'm sad to see that chapter of my life end, but I hope to continue working with horses.  Two years ago when I started riding as a part of summer camp training, I never thought it would be anything.  It terrified me.  Now it's taken me all over the place and changed quite a bit of my life.  I am so blessed to have had this opportunity, to have such amazing coaches, and amazing support from my family and friends.  Thank you to all who helped me get there.  Such an awesome experience. 4th place.... yeah I'll take it :)
This is our, yeah that just happened pose

Next in my recap... Part 4 - May
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