So… finally the first day's competition. We were 6th in at 9:15. It had poured non stop the previous day - another training day for us - and also all through the night. We arrived and it was still raining and they were frantically trying to get the standing water off the arenas. Then quite unexpectedly the skies cleared and we ended up doing our test in glorious sunshine. I had a great group of friends who had travelled out to support me and the test went well - apart from the fact that my gloves - in the rain in the warmup - seemed to weld themselves onto the reins and so my salute on entry was a battle of trying to get my hand off the reins… Rhaps stood like a rock and we then went on to do a very good test. As I finished and walked out of the arena the commentators started to call out to me - and then started singing Happy Birthday over the loudspeakers - and all the crowd then joined in. It was a crazy moment and a birthday never to be forgotten as everyone cheered and waved! We finished 13th overall with some big nations behind us and we all felt satisfied with the result. After dealing with Rhaps and changing I was then whisked off to a surprise birthday lunch with all my friends which was a total shock as I had been blissfully unaware of all the clandestine planning going on but which made the day doubly special!
Wednesday we had a training day but took it easy - mindful to conserve Rhapsody's energy for Thursday's individual test.
Thursday we were 6th in again - same time same place… but this time Rhapsody was not so focused - in truth he felt a bit fatigued. Not that he had no energy because he was still lively in the warm up but he lacked concentration. I tried hard to energise him and keep his mind on me beforehand and during the test but his mind wandered a little. That said we had a mistake free test even if it was a little flatter than I would have liked. We earned good marks from 4 of the 5 judges but 1 judge's poorer overall mark dropped us down a couple of places which was undeniably disappointing. Having said that - that same judge gave us some of our better marks - 7.5 for walk pirouettes and medium trot. My mood was somber after the test - disappointed that the results were not as good as I had hoped for and that our journey - that I had worked relentlessly towards for the past 2 years - with a lot of help and support along the way - had come to an end. It was hard to come to terms with that bittersweet feeling and once again I could not help getting emotional.
We had a good journey home - Catherine Heilbron's little lorry that she kindly lent me did us proud and got us safely there and back (I am pretty sure I was the only competitor driving their own horse to WEG!) - we were back in Surrey by late afternoon on the Saturday and Rhapsody was in the field with his pony friend before teatime! I am still finding it hard to reflect back on WEG without a tinge of sadness as 'USVI Rhapsody's road to WEG" has obviously come to its conclusion. We had a great time - there were some (well documented) issues with the organisation in Caen but I think we got off lightly compared to others. We were able to watch some great reining and dressage competitions and witnessed Charlotte's record breaking kur on the final day - met some fab people - drank some great cider from the region - and had a once in a lifetime experience on my birthday !!
WEG was a fantastic journey - which I could not have done without some great support from so many including Andrew J Murphy, Regine Fitzner, Deborah Winchester, Catherine Heilbron, Gill Maybury and Simple Systems Ltd… to name just a few!! Rhapsody's road to WEG may now be over but soon we will be working on our next challenge!!