It appeared to be a normal day as I walked into the arena preparing for the show of my life. This is the day I would ride my pre St George dressage test. I had ridden these tests over and over but never in a competition. The sites and smells appeared to be normal; all I wanted to do before anyone arrived was to envision myself successfully riding through the event with ease.
I began by walking in the arena alone, as if I were riding. This was so I could feel how comfortable I was with my memory of the precise movements to be used in competition. I remember walking down center line, approaching the location I would stop and wait for the acknowledgement of the judge. The footing was perfect and I felt the energy of how the crowd would assist me in building momentum.
As I looked up from bowing my head, pretending to place my hat back on my head something strange happened. There was what appeared to be a person in the judge’s box; shocked I stared. It seemed the judge was acknowledging someone behind me. As I quickly turned to see who, the hair on my neck stood up and I could feel something very unusual happening. I couldn’t believe my eyes; there she was, Brooke Gordon, one of histories greatest riders sitting on her world champion horse!
Let me get out of the way I yelled out having no idea anyone was in the arena besides me. No problem Jim, what are you doing? I remember thinking to myself, “How does she know my name? I am riding later this afternoon and am afraid I may not be ready. I find that I have a better ride if I can have a few moments in the arena visioning my ride.” Good idea, I used to do that as well Brooke commented. That is very comforting to hear, but I wouldn’t have guessed you would need to do that Brooke?
All I could think was how great it would be to watch one of the greatest riders of all time. I knew there would be some points I could learn just by watching.
Hey Jim, go get your horse. What? I thought. Yah, I want to ride with you; let’s have a little competition. Me against you. Are you kidding me? Jim you have ridden recently, I haven’t, and that will give you a clear advantage. Whatever, I thought out loud walking to get my horse not miss the chance of a lifetime.
Brooke had received nearly perfect scores in the most complicated events ever run in dressage history. How on earth can I even hold a candle to what I know she will do? But again, it is a rare opportunity and I will not be found doing anything but taking full advantage of this gift.
I could see my hands shaking as I was preparing my horse. Come on Jim settle down I thought to myself. Final straps were tightened and then off to the arena I and Rembrandt strolled down the corridor to the arena. This walk had never been as long as it was on this morning.
Okay Jim, what do you say we ride your pre St George test? I don’t think so; I have only ridden 4th level tests in competition. I am having serious doubts on my test for today. You have ridden higher levels in practice haven’t you? Yes, but… Stopped in the middle of my sentence Brooke said, “We are riding pre St George Jim!” How can I refute this I thought wondering how well I would be able to overcome my fear.
Jim you go first I want to watch you. Oh, thank you Brooke that certainly is a relief laughing out loud. Yet it really wasn’t, I was nervous to ride in front of Brooke no matter what the test was.
Then and there I decided to ride as I knew I could, and act as if no one were watching. Off I went performing better than I felt possible. I could feel the spirit of opportunity. I had the desire to perform well, and this attitude took me into a natural movement were I felt anything was possible.
After I finished Brooke commented very impressive Jim, here are a couple simple things I want you to consider. Brookes advice was so sincere and to the point. I knew with a few minor corrections my riding could be even better. Jim, my turn, what do you want me to ride? Oh, how can I ask anything of you other than your freestyle event in your last great ride?
Okay, hit me right in the teeth to start! Brooke if you only knew how many times I watched your video of that ride. Okay, I will do this for you, but you must know it has been years. Like riding a bike I blurted out thinking to myself “I shouldn’t have said that to her.”
Off Brooke went down center line. Each of her movements was perfect and pure; it was as if she and her horse were one. I felt her passion and love of the sport as she went across the arena with great ease. Brooke was known to wear a red handkerchief in her breast pocket and today this wasn’t any different. As she was finishing her ride, preparing for her salute, suddenly she appeared to be falling. Oddly enough I could see her handkerchief falling out and floating off onto the ground.
How could this be I was thinking as I felt someone tugging on my shoulder? Wait! I need to see if Brooke is okay. I felt myself getting up and running toward what I thought was Brooke in trouble. Jim, Jim wake up, what on earth are you doing? What, where am I? You slept in Jim; we need to get to the show.
Oh my, you will never believe me. No time to visit, get ready and let’s get going. I franticly got my things together thinking, “How on earth could that have been a dream, it was so real?” If it were a dream, how come I no longer doubt that I can ride my pre St. George test today? My fears are gone.
Later on arriving at the equestrian center I went straight to the arena as I normally do to get a feel of my surroundings. As I walked onto the footing I could feel the same spirit I had enjoyed in my dream just moments ago. Why does this feel as if I have already been here I thought. Suddenly I noticed tracks on the footing from what appeared to be horses that had ridden the same course I saw in my dreams. Then not to far away I could see what seemed to be something red lying in the dirt.
I hurried over to where I had remembered Brooke beginning her fall, there it was, the red handkerchief lying on the ground. Then I thought to myself, it isn’t only in dreams we can perform at our best. All we need to do is believe, and act as if no one is watching.
My fears and doubts were eliminated from my experience gained in my dream. That day I road, “The ride of my life” with near perfection having corrected a few minor issues.
Life’s greatest accomplishments will come when courage lies in our hearts. Nothing, not a single thing can stop the human spirit on fire!